Fossil Pretenders

“Is its explanatory power any more than verbal?
…Evolution not only conveys no knowledge, but seems somehow
to convey anti-knowledge, apparent knowledge
which is actually harmful to systematics…” 1
Colin Patterson

It was May 19, 2009, when the fossil “Ida” was introduced to the world as “the scientific equivalent of the Holy Grail.” 2 Split from a block of shale by amateurs in 1983, the lemur-like Ida measured a mere 50 or so centimeters from head-to–tale.

Children playing in jeep

Now and then overzealous headlines proclaim the début of a fossil alleged to be the common ancestor humans share with chimps or apes. Despite strenuous spinning, huffing and puffing by some hard-liners, evolution’s curious quest to map a genetic trail leading from molecule-to-monkey-to-man remains forever lost in the morass of myths.

Under the auspices of New York’s prestigious American Museum of Natural History, one enthusiastic sponsor gushed that the Ida fossil “will probably be the one that will be pictured in all textbooks for the next 100 years.” 2

Another optimist added a genealogical twist declaring Ida to be “the eighth wonder of the world,” noting “we’re not dealing with our grand-grand-grandmother, but perhaps with our grand, grand, grandaunt.” 2 A Princeton paleontologist dissed skeptics by welcoming the fossil as “almost certainly part of the lineage that led to monkey, apes and humans.” 3

Still, Ida’s auspicious introduction “as the eighth wonder of the world” didn’t measure up to that overblown expectation. Her 15-minutes of fame passed into oblivion abruptly, making way for another female fossil, destined to dethrone Ida and steal her crown. Unearthed in 1994, “it took a multi-disciplinary team fifteen years to excavate Ardi, digitally remove distortions, and analyze her bones.” 4

Ardi’s resume included the claim she lived 4.4 million years before the present—one million years before the date previously assigned to the still famous Lucy. One-hundred-twenty-five fragments of Ardi’s fragile, fossilized bones were pieced together with the help of computer technology. The composite result resembled a four-foot tall female ape, with “a body and brain only slightly larger than a chimpanzee.” 4

Capable of walking on two legs, Ardi’s feet displayed a long, oblique-angled, “opposable big toe,” 4 facilitating tree navigation. It took scientists mere months to conclude the “ fossil of the early primate called Ida…is not a direct ancestor to humans, as initially claimed during her debut this year.” 5

As to Ardi’s linkage, “not all paleoanthropologists are convinced that Ar. ramidus was our ancestor or even a hominin.” 4 Believed ability to stand erect does not necessarily equate “biped” status nor does biped status, in and of itself, qualify for sharing common ancestry with humans.

Although Darwin never met fossil queens Ida, Ardi, or Lucy, he relied on imagination to champion stunning assumptions as to human ancestry. The surreal linkage of successor life forms resulting from his postulated organic chain of physical traits, acquired by gradual use or disuse of body parts, over multi-millions of years, has yet to earn prominent recognition in human family photo albums. The faces of Aunts Lucy, Ida or Ardi are nowhere to be seen.

Evolution once relied on paleontology’s fossil bone fragments in an attempt to identify common ancestry. But fossil cemeteries fall short of establishing linkage.

In contrast, microbiology science looks beyond fossils to DNA. Missing clear-cut evidence of a series of mutated DNA strings to corroborate evolution’s postulated transitions, positive proof of Lucy’s, Ida’s or Ardi’s imagined link to humans remains wishful thinking.

This is an excerpt from a chapter of the 2016 Edition
of “Three Days Before the Sun”, now available
from leading online retailers.


Copyright © 2012 Warren L. Johns.  All Rights Reserved.  Contact: