©2003  by Gerard Wakefield
(This article may be copied for educational purposes only.)

"Tree of Life Rejected, Part 2"

Last month (Evolutionary 'Tree of Life' Being Scrapped), I reported that evolutionists are abandoning their "tree of life," which theorizes that humans and apes branched out from a common evolutionary ancestor. This "tree" is based on cladistics, which uses computer programs to compare fossils and fossils fragments in order to determine the identity and evolutionary history of a species.
Cladistics has clashed with more accurate genetic mappings of the human species. Moreover, cladistics and "tree-building" have failed because, as it turns out, visible differences between the remains of two alleged evolutionary cousins do not prove that each represents a "branch" on an evolutionary tree that sprang from a common ancestor. Instead, these differences result from the fact that every living organism, human and otherwise, has a pre-programmed genetic ability to alter its physiology in response to its surroundings.

Thus, the differences among supposed pre-human ancestors like Homo erectus, Neanderthals, Lucy, Java Man, etc., are really just differences that stem from the plasticity of the human genetic code. All these "branches" on the evolutionary tree are not different species of pre-human or ape-man, but human beings who exhibited the astounding changeability pre-programmed into our genes.

A prominent advocate of this new thinking (not new to Creationists, however) is Alan Thorne, former lecturer in the Department of Anatomy, University of Sydney. He had a major hand in the excavation of Mungo Lady, a skeleton found near Lake Mungo in Australia in 1968. Working to extricate the bones from petrified soil, Thorne realized that they belonged to Homo sapiens - modern humans. According to Discover magazine, this discovery "would rock the world of anthropology" (D'Agnese 2002: 53). The magazine explained why:

"In 1968 most anthropologists thought they had a grip on human evolution: Big-browed, thick-skulled humanoids had descended from walking apes. These hulking creatures were eventually replaced by the more advanced, fine-boned humans of our species - Homo sapiens. Throughout Australia, anthropologists had found only big-browed, thick-skulled fossils. That made Mungo Lady a puzzle" (Ibid. 53-54).

This "puzzle" is the fact that Mungo Lady was found to be OLDER than the hulking, big-browed, thick-skulled types. This cast doubt on the theory that, around 2 million years ago, Homo erectus and other species spread out from Africa and evolved into several species at different spots on the earth. Later, Homo sapiens evolved in Africa and, 120,000 to 100,000 years ago, fanned out across the globe, driving the earlier species into extinction. Discover reported that Thorne "believes that the species his opponents insist on calling Homo erectus was in fact Homo sapiens….As he sees it, there was no later migration and replacement: 'Only one species of human has ever left Africa, and that is us'" (Ibid. 54). The magazine went on to report that

"if Thorne and his camp are right, much of what we think we know about human evolution is wrong. In the world according to Thorne, the human family tree is not divided into discrete species such as Homo erectus, Homo antecessor, Homo heidelbergensis, and Homo neanderthalensis. They are all Homo sapiens. Yes, Thorne agrees, from the outside all these hominids look different from each other, but so do humans today - a Korean, a Nigerian, and a Dane hardly resemble each other. Our ancestors displayed great variety, but they were similar in the only way that mattered: They were the same species, which meant they could have sex with each other and produce fertile offspring" (Ibid.).

That is what Creationists have always said. Differences in appearance among supposed evolutionary cousins do not stem from their having a common ancestor, but are the result of variety within a single species, even if that variety is enormous, such as the difference between a great Dane and a Chihuahua within the dog species. It is good to see evolutionists catching up.


D’Agnese, J. 2002. “Not out of Africa.” Discover 23, no. 8.

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