Endless African surprises

The controversy over the Javanese and Peking people has long since subsided, not to mention the Castenedolo man and the European Eoliths. And as for the struggling scientists, most of them have long been buried in their graves, and their bones oscillate between the two alternatives – decomposition or fossilization. Nowadays, only Africa – the homeland of n & Australopithecus and Homo habilis – remains a contested battlefield that scientists are fighting for in support of one or another theory of human evolution.

The first major African discovery came in the early twentieth century. In 1913, Professor at the University of Berlin, Hans Reck, conducted research at the Olduway Gorge in Tanzania, then part of German East Africa. One of his African workers was looking at fossils when he saw the end of a bone protruding from the ground. After clearing the debris accumulated on the surface, the worker saw parts of a fully preserved human skeleton embedded in the rock. He called out to Rek, who ordered the entire block to be removed from the solid sedimentary rock that contained the skeleton. The individual bones, including the entire skull (Fig. 12.1), were to be released using hammers and chisels. The skeleton was then transported to Berlin.

According to Rec’s research, there were five different levels in Olduwa. The skeleton originated from the top of layer I, now estimated to be 1.15 million years old. At the particular site where the Rec worked, the upper levels (layers III, IV and V) were destroyed by erosion. However, layer II was covered with remnants of bright red layer III and layer V (Fig. 12.2). Only 50 years earlier, these two layers may still have been in place. To these should be added a hard, calcareous calcite crust. Apparently erosion destroyed layer IV before deposition of layer V.

Recognizing the significance of his find, Rec carefully examined the possibility that the human skeleton might have fallen into layer II as a result of a funeral. Here is part of his observations: “The wall of the tomb should show a clearly distinguishable border – a line in the profile that separates it from the undisturbed rock. The filling of the grave should demonstrate the abnormal structure and heterogeneous nature of the excavated and newly filled materials; among them there should be fragments of calcite bark that are easily distinguishable. Despite the very careful research we have done, we have not been able to identify any of these features. On the contrary, the rock directly around the skeleton did not differ from the one in color or hardness, thickness, structure or arrangement. ”

Louis Leakey examined the skeleton’s intentions in Berlin, but identified it as later than what Reck himself said. The two visited the site where the discovery was made. There, Leakey became convinced that Reck had the right to designate the modern human anatomical skeleton as synchronous to layer II.

In February 1932, two zoologists, K, Foster Cooper, of Cambridge, and DS Watson, of the University of London, stated that the complete preservation of the skeleton discovered by Rec indicated that it was a late funeral.

Leakey agreed with Cooper and Watson that the skeleton had fallen into Layer II as a result of a burial, but that burial occurred at the time when the layer was formed.

In a letter to the magazine, Leakey stated that no more than 50 years ago, the reddish-yellow top of layer II would still be covered by the undisturbed bright red deposits of layer III. Therefore, if the skeleton was buried after the final formation of layer II, mixing of the bright red and reddish-yellow sediments should have been observed in the grave filling. “I was fortunate enough to personally meet the skeleton in Munich while it was still in the original rock block,” Licky wrote, “and I could not see any trace of such mixing or any other disturbance.”

However, Cooper and Watson were not pleased. In June 1932, they also sent a letter to Nacher stating that it was possible that the red pebbles of Layer III might have lost their color. This could explain why Reck and Leakey didn’t notice them in the structure of the rock around the skeleton. However, AT Hopood disputed this claim. He noted that the upper part of layer II, in which the skeleton was found, was also reddish, and stated the following: “The reddish color of the continental rock is an argument against the theory that the inclusions of layer III have discolored.”

It seemed that despite Cooper and Watson’s attacks, Reck and Leakey would hold their own. In August 1932, however, a geologist from the Imperial College in England, PG X. Boswell, published a confusing text on the pages of the Night.

Prof. T. Molison had sent a sample of what he said to be the continental rock from around the skeleton of Rec to Bozuel from Munich. It should be noted that Molison was not a completely neutral country. As early as 1929, he stated that the skeleton was of a native Maasai tribe buried in the not too distant past.

Boswell stated that the Molyson sample sent him had “(a) bright red pea-sized grains, just like those of layer 3 and (b) pieces of concrete limestone, indistinguishable from that of layer 5”. Boswell concluded that this proves the fact that the skeleton was buried after the formation of layer V, which also contained layers of similar limestones.

The presence of bright red Layer III pebbles and layers of Layer V limestone in the Molisson sample clearly requires some explanation. Both Reck and Lycie have carefully examined the continental rock at various times over a period of 20 years. In addition, they reported neither layer III nor calcareous impurities. What is more, you were looking for just such impurities. In this sense, the sudden appearance of red pebbles and limestone pieces is quite remarkable. It can be assumed that at least one of the participants in the discovery and in the ensuing controversy is guilty of either extremely careless observations or fraud.

The debate over the age of the Rek’s skeleton was further complicated when Lickie brought new rock samples to Oldway. Boswell and J. D. Solomon studied them at the Imperial College of Science and Technology. The results were promulgated in a letter to the Nair magazine – March 18, 1933 – signed by Leakey, Rek and Hopood.

The letter contained the following highly intriguing statement: “Samples from layer II, collected exactly at the ‘human object’ – at the same depth and in the immediate vicinity of the place where the skeleton was discovered – consist of quite typical materials of this layer, which are quite distinct from it. from specimens from the continental rock around the skeletons provided by Prof. Molisson of Munich. “This suggests that the specimens that Prof. Molisson had sent to Bosulus may not have been representative of the materials from the immediate location ahozhdenie the skeleton.

However, as a result of new observations on mainland rock samples, Reck and Leakey apparently came to the conclusion that the rock samples around the skeleton did indeed represent some type of grave filling and were distinct from Pure II. As far as we can tell, they did not offer any satisfactory explanation for their previous view – that the skeleton was found in a clear, clearly distinguishable context from layer II.

Instead, Reck and Leakey agreed with the conclusion of Beausoleil, Hopood, and Solomon that “it seems very likely that the skeleton had fallen into Layer II a second time, and the time when it did not occur before the large displacement separating Layer V from the lower ones.

It is not entirely clear why Reck and Leakey have changed their mind about skeletal dating to Layer II time. Maybe it was just Reck who felt tired of fighting the old battle against ever-increasing opponents. The discovery of the Beijing man and the additional findings related to the Javanese Pitcairn-rope made the scientific community unite behind the idea that the only secure inhabitant of the Middle Pleistocene planet was this transitional primitive man. The presence of a skeleton of anatomically modern Homo sapiens in layer II could only be explained as a relatively late burial.

Leakey, who continued to oppose that the Java man (Pithecanthropus) and the Beijing man (Sinanthropus) should be regarded as the forerunners of modern humans, left almost alone. He also made additional discoveries in Kenya – at Canam and Kanzera. According to Lycie, the fossils found there provided incontrovertible evidence for the parallel existence of Homo sapiens, Pithecanthropus and Sinanthropus (the same applies to the skeleton of Rec). In view of this, he may have abandoned the battle of the controversial skeleton of Rec to secure support for his own new discoveries at Canam and Kangera.

There is also substantial circumstantial evidence to support the above hypothesis. Leakey’s statement, which he rejected from his earlier opinion on the age of the skeleton of Rec, appeared in the journal Natch on the day the committee met to decide the findings of Kanam and Kangera. The members of the committee were some of the most obvious opponents of the skeletons of Rec – Boswell, Solomon, Cooper, Watson and Molison.

Although Reck and Leakey have rejected the thesis that the skeleton is of the age of layer II, even their revised opinion – that the skeleton was buried in layer II at the time of formation of layer V – still gives a very anomalous date for the human skeleton with developed anatomy. Current estimates suggest that the base of layer V is about 400,000 years old. Yet, modern scientists believe that humans – as we see them today – emerged about 100,000 years ago. This is illustrated by the findings in the Border Cave in South Africa.

In the lower levels of Layer V, stone tools, identified as “Orinsky”, were found. This term first appeared in connection with the well-crafted guns of Homo sapiens sapiens found at Orinac in France. According to the traditional view, such tools appear early about 30,000 years ago. These findings confirm the fact that humans with modern anatomy – as we can infer from the skeleton of Rec – existed in this part of Africa at least 400,000 years ago. The alternative is to attribute them to Homo erectus. However, this would mean that erectus is attributed much more power than is currently thought.

In his 1935 book, The Stone Age Residents of Kenya, Leakey once again stated that Reck’s skeleton was buried in Layer II, starting from the surface that existed during the formation of Layer V. In doing so, he proposed a much later era. Leakey stated that the skeleton of Rec was similar to that of the Gamble Cave; this field was about 10,000 years old. From a geological point of view, however, the only thing that can be said for certain (assuming the theory of burial corresponding to layer V) is that the age of the skeleton can range from 400,000 to only a few thousand years.

Later Rainer Proch tried to remedy this situation by using the radiocarbon method to date the skeleton itself. In 1974, he announced that he had received 16,920 years. But this dating poses several problems.

First, it is unclear whether the sample really comes from the skeleton of Rec. The skull was considered too valuable to be used for analysis. The rest of the skeleton disappeared from the museum in Munich during World War II. The director provided several small fragments of bones, which Pro said “most likely” belonged to the original skeleton.

From these fragments Proch managed to collect a sample of only 224 g, which is about one third of the normal amount. And although the bone age was 16,920 years, other materials from the same site showed much different values ​​- both larger and smaller.

Even if the sample was indeed from the skeleton of Rec, it may have been contaminated with much later carbon. This would cause you to get an incorrectly younger age. In 1974, the surviving pieces of Rek’s skeleton – if they really were from it – had been thrown around the museum for 60 years. During this time it was possible that bacteria and various other microorganisms containing late carbon had penetrated deep into the bone fragments. In addition, they may have been contaminated while lying in the ground. Finally, the bones were soaked in an organic preservative, which also contains late carbon.

He did not explain what chemical methods he used to eliminate the late carbon-14 introduced by the preservative and other contaminants. Therefore, we cannot know the extent to which its influence has been neutralized.

The radiocarbon method only applies to collagen – a bone-in protein. It can only be extracted from the sample by an extremely rigorous purification procedure. Scientists then evaluate whether the amino acids (the constituents of proteins) of the sample match those found in collagen. If this is not the case then it must be assumed that they have penetrated the bone secondary. These amino acids, which are of a different age than those of the bones, may yield an incorrectly lower radiocarbon age.

Ideally, each amino acid should be dated separately. If some of them give different values ​​than others, then the sample is contaminated and cannot be used for radiocarbon dating.

Regarding the radiocarbon analyzes of Rec, reported by Pro, the laboratories in which they were made were not able to date each amino acid individually. This requires dating technology (mass spectrometry accelerator) that was not yet in use in the early 1970s. These laboratories were also unaware of the rigorous protein purification procedures currently considered mandatory. The only possible conclusion is that the dates provided by Rec are incorrect. They may be mostly erroneously small.

There have been described cases where bones from the Olduva Valley defile made impossible small radiocarbon dating. For example, a sample of the Upper Ndutou layers gave a value of 3340 years. These deposits, which are part of layer V, are between 32,000 and 60,000 years old. The age of 3340 is at least ten times smaller.

In his post, Proch said the following about the skeleton of Rec: “In theory, a few things speak against the early dating of this hominid. One of them is its morphology. “This goes to show that the modern skeletal morphology is one of the main reasons that made It doubtful to relate it to Layer II or even to Layer V.

In the review we made of the findings in China, we introduced the concept of “possible chronological boundaries” to be considered as the surest indication of the age of a disputed find. According to available data, the possible age of the Rek skeleton could range from 10,000 years (late Late Pleistocene) to 1.15 million years (late Pleistocene). There are many facts that support the original opinion of Rec who referred to Layer II. Of particular importance is his observation that no disturbance was observed in the thin sedimentary layers from the immediate vicinity of the skeleton. Against the thesis for later burial speaks also the great rigidity of layer II. Subsequent publications supporting the timing of Layer V appear to be based largely on purely theoretical objections, questionable information, uncertain analyzes and highly speculative geological justification. But, leaving aside the questionable radiocarbon dating, even this data does not rule out the possibility that the skeleton of Rec may be 400,000 years old.

The skulls from Kanzera and the jaw from Kanam

In 1932, Louis Leakey announced the discovery of new materials at Canam and Kangera, near Victoria Lake in Western Kenya. According to him, the jaws of Kanam and the skulls of Kanzera were convincing evidence of the existence of jaaNoto sapiens during the early and middle Pleistocene.

When Liky visited Kangera with Donald McKinus in 1932, they discovered several stone axes, a human femur and fragments of five human skulls, which were labeled Kangera 1-5. The fossil-rich layers at Kanzera are equivalent to Layer IV of the Olduva Valley, between 400,000 and 700,000 years old. However, the morphology of the Cancer fragments is quite modern.

At Kanam, Leakey first found teeth from Mastodon and a one-to-one tooth from Deinotherium (an extinct elephant-like mammal), as well as several rough stone tools. On March 29, 1932, one of Leakey’s workers, Juma Gitau, brought him a second tooth from Deinotherium. Leakey told him to keep digging in the same place. Gitau was working just a few yards from Likie when he unbuttoned a block of travertine (a hard but brittle sediment consisting of calcium carbonate) and crushed it with his pick. He saw a tooth protrude from one of the pieces and showed it to Makinus, who identified him as human. MacKinnas called out to Lyki.

When they began releasing Gitau’s find from travertine, they saw the front of a human mandible, which still had two premolars (precursors). Leakey decided that the jaw, which originated in the early Pleistocene formation of Canam, was too similar to that of Homo sapiens, and announced its discovery in a letter to the Nechar. The Kanam strata are at least 2 million years old.

For Lyki, the fossils discovered at Canam and Kanzera were proof that – in parallel with the Java and Beijing men, and perhaps earlier – there was a hominid very similar to the modern human species. If that was indeed the case, the hominids of Fr. Java and Beijing (now united as Homo erectus) could not have been human direct ancestors; this also applies to the Piltdown man with his monkey-like jaw.

In March 1933, the Human Biology Section of the Royal Anthropological Institute came together to examine Likie’s discoveries at Canam and Kangera. 28 scientists attended the meeting, chaired by Sir Arthur Smith Woodward. The information was organized into four separate categories: geological, paleontological, anatomical and archeological. The Geological Issues Commission concluded that the human fossils of Canam and Kangera were of the age of the strata in which they were discovered. The Paleontology Commission stated that the Kanam strata refer to the early and the Kanzera strata to the Middle Pleistocene at the latest. Archaeologists have noted the presence of stone tools in both places – in the same layers where the human fossils were discovered. Anatomists said that the Skulls of Kanzera showed “no traits, that do not qualify as Homo sapiens. ” The same was true of the hip bone from Cancer. As for Canam’s jaw, experts said it was unusual in several respects. Yet they “failed to identify any detail that was incompatible with its reference to Homo sapiens.”

Shortly after the 1933 conference that supported Leakey’s findings, geologist Percy Bozul began to doubt the age of the Canam and Kanzera fossils. Leakey, who had already been able to trace Boswell’s attacks against the skeleton of Rec, decided to take him to Africa. He thought that would dispel his doubts. However, the events did not go exactly as expected.

After returning to England, Bozuel delivered an article in the Naycher, denying the findings of Kanam and Kangera: “Unfortunately, it was impossible to find the exact location of both discoveries.” Bozwell estimated that in both cases the geological conditions are confused. He stated that “the clay layers found there are often disturbed by landslides.” This led him to conclude: “The uncertain circumstances surrounding the discovery of the materials … make me leave the human fossils of Canam and Kangera in a ‘waiting position’.”

Responding to Boswell’s accusations, Leakey said he personally was able to show him the exact locations of the fossils. Here is what he writes: “At Kanger 1 I showed him the exact place where the residual pile of deposits was located, in which the Skull Kanger 3 was discovered in situ… The fact that I showed Professor Boesul the exact place is confirmed by the fact that then [1935] I found a piece of bone that I found in 1932. ”

As for the location of the Canam jaw, Leakey says the following: “We initially made a profile of the plunge – using a Zeiss-Watts level – on the opposite side of the western gorge near Canam. Because of this, we were able to determine the location within a few feet, which we did. ”

Bozul suggested that even though the jaw was found in the Early Pleistocene formation at Canam, it did penetrate in some way later – by sliding of layers or through some cracks. To this, Likie replied: “I cannot accept this interpretation, since there is no evidence to support it. The extent to which the fossil is preserved is in every respect identical to that found in the early Pleistocene parallel fossils. “Leakey adds that Boswell told him that he would be inclined to accept the authenticity of Canam’s jaw if it did not have a humanoid chin.

Nevertheless, Boswell’s opinion prevailed. In 1968, however, South African scholar Philip V. Tobias stated the following: “At first glance, there is every reason to consider Kangera’s case again.” And it really did. In Leakey’s biography, Sonya Cole writes the following: “In 1969, Louis attended a UNESCO-sponsored conference in Paris on the problems of the origin of Homo sapiens … The delegates, who were about 300, unanimously supported the thesis that the Cancer skulls were from the Middle Pleistocene. ”

Here is what Tobias says about the Canam jaw: “In fact, none of what Bozulal said denied or even called into question Lyki’s mandible that the mandible (the lower jaw) refers to this very layer.”

Various scholars have described the jaw of Kanam, which has a completely modern chin, in various ways. In 1932, a committee of English anatomists declared that there was no reason for it not to be classified as Homo sapiens. The leading British anthropologist Sir Art Kate treated her the same way. However, in the 1940s, Kate changed her mind and decided that the jaw was of some kind of Australopithecus. In 1962, Philip Tobeys stated that it most closely resembles the jawbone of Rabat in Morocco (from the end of the Middle Pleistocene) and the late Pleistocene jaws, such as those of the Cave with outbreaks in South Africa and Diret-Dawa in Ethiopia. According to Tobias, they exhibited certain neo-dertal features.

In 1960, Louis Leakey abandoned his original view that the jaw was sopzeTZS-like and claimed to be from female Zinjanthropus, Leakey had discovered a zincanthrope in 1959 in the Olduva Gorge. For a short time, he introduced him as the first creature to make the tools – that is, the first human being. Later, however, remains of Homo habilis were discovered in Olduvai. Lycie quickly removed the zincanthrope from his position as the first cannon maker and ranked it as robust Australopithecus boisei.

In the early 1970s, Likie’s son Richard, who worked at Lake Turkana in Kenya, discovered fossil jaws of Homo habilis that resembled that of Kanam. As the accompanying fauna was the same, Likie Sr. changed his mind once more and stated that the jaw from Kanam should be classified as Homo habilis.

The fact that, over the years, scientists have attributed the Canam jaw to almost all known hominids (Australopithecus, Australopithecus boisei, Homo habilis, Neanderthals, early Homo sapiens and physically modern Homo sapiens), proves the difficulty of classifying fossil females .

Tobias’s opinion – that the Canam jaw belongs to an early type of Homo sapiens with Neanderthal features – has become very popular. Yet, as can be seen from, which shows the outline of the mandible (lower jaw) of Canam compared to that of other hominids, the outline of her chin (h) is similar to that of the Border Cave specimen (e) – designated as Homo sapiens sapiens – and that of a contemporary representative of the local population of South Africa (g). All three have two main features of the modern human chin – a recess at the top and a protrusion at the base.

But even if we accepted Tobias’ view that the Kanam jaw was Neanderthal, we would not have expected the appearance of Neanderthals during the early Pleistocene more than 1.9 million years ago. According to most scientists, the Neanderthal hominids appeared about 400,000 years ago and existed until 30,000-40,000 years ago.

In order to fix the exact age of Canam’s jaw, K. Oakley of the British Museum conducted tests to determine the content of fluorine, nitrogen and uranium.

Bones buried in the ground absorb fluorine. The Kanam jaws and the Kangaroo skulls had the same content of this element as the other bones of the Early and Middle Pleistocene formations in which they were found. These results support the hypothesis that the human bones from these two sites are with the age of the animal remains found with them.

Nitrogen is an integral part of bone proteins. Under normal conditions, bones lose their nitrogen over time. Oakley found that nitrogen in the cranial fragment of Cancer 4 was at the limit of extinction (0.01%), whereas in the fragment of Cancer 3 it was completely absent. Two animal bones, none of which showed nitrogen, were also analyzed. According to Oakley, the presence of “measurable” amounts of nitrogen in the skull of Kangaroo 4 indicated that all human remains were “significantly younger” than the Kangaroo fauna.

However, some sediments, such as clays, retain nitrogen – sometimes for millions of years. It is possible that the complete disappearance of nitrogen from Kanzera 4 was prevented by clays. In any case, there was no nitrogen in the Cancer 3 fragment just like in the animal bones. It is therefore possible that all remains are the same age.

The uranium content of human Fangier fossils (8.7 ppm) coincides with that of animal bones in the same field (26-216 ppm). This could mean that they are the same age.

Yet human bones show an average of 22 particles per 1 million, while that of animal bones is 136 particles per 1 million. According to Oakley, this significant difference between the mean values ​​meant that human bones were “significantly younger” than the concomitant fauna. The values ​​obtained for Kanam were similar.

Oakley himself notes, however, that the content of uranium in groundwater can be very different depending on the location. For example, the Late Pleistocene animal bones from Kugata – near Canam – had higher uranium content than the Early Leo-Leocene ones from Canam.

It is also important that the values ​​of uranium reported by Oakley in 1974 were clearly not the first to be obtained. In an article published in 1958 – shortly after the Canam jaw content testing was presented – Oakley noted the following: “When I applied the same bone tests to Cancer, I found no difference between the human remains and those of the concomitant fauna. “Obviously Oakley was not satisfied with these early analyzes and later made new ones; they clearly produced more acceptable results.

The review we made of the chemical analyzes of the Canam and Kanzera fossils may lead us to the following conclusions. Fluorine and nitrogen content tests have shown that human bones are just as old as animal remains from the same layers. Undoubtedly, this interpretation can be challenged. Test results for uranium content testify; The fact is that human remains are younger than the surrounding fauna. However, this conclusion is also not explicit.

Taken as a whole, the results of the chemical and radiometric analyzes did not eliminate the possibility that the human fossils of Canam and Kanzera could be contemporary with the accompanying fauna. IIpi This position of the Kanger skull, which is said to have a modern anatomy, could be as young as age 1 in the Olduva Gorge, which is between 400,000 and 700,000 years old. The taxonomic status of Kanam’s jaw remains uncertain. Modern researchers are hesitant to call it physically modern, although such a classification is not possible. If the jaw is with the age of the Kanam fauna, which is earlier than the layer I of the Olduva Gorge, it would mean that it is more than 1.9 million years old.

The birth of Australopithecus

In 1924, Josephine Salmans spotted a fossil skull on a baboon decorating a fireplace in her friend’s home. Salmans, who at the time was an anatomy student at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, took the skull and brought it to her professor, Dr. Raymond A. Dart,

The baboon skull in question originated in a limestone quarry near Buxton, near a small town called Taung. It was located about 200 miles (322 km) southwest of Johannesburg. Darth asked a friend of his – geologist Dr. RB Young – to visit the quarry and see if anything else could be found. Young collected several clumps of fossils and sent them to Darth.

The two boxes of fossils arrived at Dart’s home just on the day his friend’s wedding was supposed to take place. Darth’s wife asked him not to deal with the fossils before the party was over, but he opened the caskets. In the second crate, he saw something that puzzled him: “Among other materials, I found practically an entire cast from the inside of a skull. The brain cavity was the size of a large gorilla. Dart then found another piece of rock that apparently contained the facial bones.

After his guests left, Dart set out on the difficult task of freeing the bones from the mainland. Because he did not have the right tools, he used his wife’s crochet hooks and began to carefully pound the stone with them. “What began to take shape,” he writes, “was the face of a baby with a full set of milk teeth and barely visible molars. I doubt any parent has ever been prouder of his child than I was this Christmas with his Tung baby. ”

After freeing the bones, Darth reconstructed the skull. He characterized the baby’s Taung brain as unexpectedly large – about 500 cm3. The average brain volume of a large adult male gorilla is only about 600 cm3. Dart also noted the lack of a shaft and the presence of certain human-like features in the teeth.

Darth also noticed something else – the foramen magnum (the opening above the spine) was located in the middle of the base of the skull, as it is in humans, not backwards, as it is in humanoid apes. According to Dart, this meant that the creature was upright. This automatically made it a human ancestor.

He sent a message to the prestigious British magazine Naycher. “The specimen,” Dart stated, “is of great importance because it illustrates the existence of an extinct species of humanoid monkey that is intermediate between humans and the now existing anthropoids.” According to the accompanying fauna, he estimated his age to be about 1 million years. Darth christened the baby from TungAustralopithecus africanus, the “South African Monkey.” According to him, the Austro-Pitaka was a common precursor to all other hominids.

In England, Sir Arthur Kate and Sir Arthur Smith Woodward treated Darth’s message with extreme caution. Kate was inclined to take Australopithecus to chimpanzees and gorillas.

Grafton Elliott Smith was even more critical. In May 1925, he gave a lecture at the University College, stating: “Unfortunately, Darth did not have access to the skulls of small chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans, which were in a developmental stage corresponding to that of the Taung skull. . If he had such materials, he would have found that all the characteristic features he points to as proof of closeness to man – the position and poise of the head, the shape of the jaw and many details of the nose, face and skull – meet with gorillas and chimpanzees at an early age. “Gratton’s criticisms of Elliott Smith remain valid to this day. As we shall see, despite the elevation of the Australopithecus to the position of human ancestor, there are still scientists who are skeptical.

Darth was amazed at the cool welcome from British science. For many years he remained silent and stopped looking for fossils. In the 1930s, British researchers, led by Sir Arthur Keith, continued to assert their negative stance on Darth’s Australopithecus. Kate also had a Peel-Down man whose age was close to that of a Taung baby. His skull resembled that of Homo sapiens. This fact clearly spoke against the inclusion of an australopithecus with his monkey skull in the genealogy of man.

After Darth withdrew from the scene, the battle to defend the Australopithecus as a human ancestor was initiated by a friend of his, Dr. Robert Broome. He was extremely interested in Darth’s discovery from the beginning. Shortly after the baby’s birth from Taung, Broome came into Dart’s lab. Later, Darth would write the following: “He went to the table on which the skull stood, and fell to his knees,” in awe of our forerunner, “as he put it.” Yet to kneel in reverence, British science requires the discovery of an adult Australopithecus. In early 1936, Broome swore to find him.

On August 17, 1936, GW Barlow, the superintendent of the Limestone quarry at Sterkfontain, gave Broome a skull cast of an adult Australopithecus. Later, Broome went to the site where the find was made and found several fragments of the skull itself. Of these, he reconstructed the entire skull, naming its owner Plesianthropus transvaalensis. The age of the strata in which the fossils were discovered is estimated to be between 2.2 and 3 million years.

More discoveries followed, including a lower femur (TM 1513). In 1946, Broome and GW X. Shepherds described her as more or less human. UE Le Gro Gro Clark, who was initially skeptical of this description, later acknowledged that the femur “shows a similarity to that of Homo, which is so large that it is virtually equivalent to identity.” In 1981, Christine Tardiou once again confirmed this assessment, stating that the main diagnostic features of the femur from Storkfontain were “characteristic of the modern man”. As it was found separately, it is unclear whether it should refer to any Australopithecus. It is therefore possible that it belonged to a more developed hominid. It may have been anatomically similar to modern humans.

On June 8, 1938, Barlow gave Broome a fragment of his upper jaw and palate, which had a single molar (molar). When Broome asked about the origin, Barlow escaped without giving an answer. A few days later, Broome reappeared and urged Barlow to reveal the source of the fossil.

Barlow told him that he had received it from Gurt Terblanche, a local student. Broome met Gurt, took a few more teeth from him, and they headed to the nearby Cromdray Farm, where the boy had found them. When they arrived, Broome was able to find several fragments of a skull. When he made a partial reconstruction, he found that the skull was different from that of an australopithecus from Storkfontain. He had a larger jaw and bigger teeth. Broome christened the newly discovered representative of the Australian-pinto Paranthropus robustus. Cromdray is currently estimated to be between 1 and 1.2 million years old.

Broome also found fragments of the shoulder bone and the elbow bone. Although referring to the rugged Australopithecus baptized by Paranthropus, he noted the following: “If they were found isolated, probably every anatomist in the world would identify them as undoubtedly human.” In 1972, X. McHenry analyzed of TM1517 shoulder bone and placed it within “human borders”. In the same study, the shoulder bone of a robust australopithecus from Kobe Fora in Kenya falls outside these boundaries. Therefore, the TM 1517 fossil may have belonged to something other than robust Australopithecus. It is not excluded that the shoulder and elbow bones found at Cromdray – like the femur from Sterkfontain – are from more advanced hominids that looked like the anatomy of modern humans.

World War II interrupted the studies Broome was conducting in South Africa. After all, Robert Broome and J. T. Robinson discovered fossils of austral Australopithecus called Swantcrans, which he called Paranthropus crassidens. This creature had large and strong teeth and a bone comb at the top of its skull. The comb served to grip the strong chewing muscles.

Also at Swartcrans Cave, Broome and Robinson found a jaw of another type of hominid. She was smaller and more human than Paranthropus crassidens, and both researchers attributed her to a new hominid, which they called Telanthropus capensis. Layer 1 at Swartcrans, where all the Paranthropus bones were found, is now believed to be between 1.2 and 1.4 million years old. Layer 2, where the lower jaw of Telanthropus was found – labeled SK 15 – is between 300,000 and 500,000 years old. In 1961, Robinson reclassified the jaw from Swartcrans to Homo erectus.

Again at Swartcrans, Broome and Robinson found another humanoid mandible. The fragmentary fossil (SK 45) originated from the base layer where the bones of Paranthropus were found. In 1952, the two researchers stated the following: “Its shape is closer to that of modern Homo than to the jaw of Telanthropus.” Later, Robinson referred SK 45 to Telanthropus and then to Homo erectus. However, we have some reasons (without being indisputable) to consider other possible characteristics.

In the postwar years, Broome discovered another skull of Australopithecus (St 5) at Storkfontain. He later found other remains of an adult female in the same place, including parts of the pelvis, spine and legs. According to Broome, their morphology, as well as some characteristics of the skulls of Shtarkfontain, testify that the Australopithelians were upright.

In 1925, Raymond Dart explored a cave gallery in Makapansgat, South Africa. Having noticed the presence of burned bones, he concluded that these were traces of hominids that used fire. In 1945, Philip V. Tobias, who at the time was a Dart doctoral student at the University of the Witwatersrand, discovered in the cave deposits at Makapansgat the skull of an extinct species of baboon. He attracted Darth’s attention to the find. In 1947, after more than two decades of pause, Dart himself returned to field work to search for bones from Australopithecus at Macapansgat.

There he discovered pieces of skulls and other bones from Australopithecus, as well as traces of fire. Because of this, Darth called the creature Australopithecus prometheus, a titan who stole fire from the gods. Today, this creature, along with the specimens of Taung and Sterkfontain, is classified as Australopithecus africanus, which differs from the robust species of Cromdrayai and Swartkrans.

At Makapansgat, Darth discovered 42 skulls of baboons, 27 of which had a broken bone. The other seven had marks on the left side of the forehead. Drawing on this information, Darth created a rather grim portrait of Australopithecus prometheus, a bloodthirsty primitive man who smashed baboons’ heads with primitive bone tools and grilled their flesh in the Makapansgat Cave.

“Human ancestors,” Darth says, “differed from humanoid apes in that they were murderers; these were predatory creatures that fiercely attacked the victims, beat them to death, then tore apart the oiled bodies, tearing off their limbs, quenching their insatiable thirst with warm blood, and gently swallowing the still trembling flesh. ”

Modern paleoanthropologists create a different picture by characterizing the Australopithecus as a carnivorous creature, rather than as a hunter and a firefighter. However, the recent discoveries of Broome and Dart have convinced a number of influential scientists – most notably in Britain – that the Australopithecus was not just another species of extinct humanoid monkey, but a real human ancestor.


The next major discovery was made by Louis Leakey and his second wife, Mary. On July 17, 1959, she came across the fractured skull of a young male hominid. This occurred at the FKL deposit where layer I of the Olduva Gorge was being studied. When they assembled the skull, Lewis and Mary Leakey stood in front of a creature that had a sagittal (arrow) comb – a bone edge that ran along the length of the skull. In this respect, it is very similar to Australopithecus robustus. This did not prevent Lickie from announcing a new type of hominid – mostly because the creature’s teeth were larger than those of South African robust representatives. Lyki christened the new find Zinjanthropus boisei. Zinj is one of the names of East Africa, and bbisei comes from the name of Mr. Charles Boyce – one of the first sponsors of Licky.

Lyki became a superstar that paleoanthropology had never seen before. The National Geographic Society honored him with funding, the publication of richly illustrated articles, television shows and a worldwide lecture tour.

Despite the huge advertising, the reign of zincanthrope was short-lived. In Leakey’s biography, Sonia Cole writes the following: “Assuming that Louis had to persuade the National Geographic Society that there was a very likely candidate for the” first person “in the face of zincanthropus – this was necessary to ensure his continued support . Yet it was hardly necessary to make so much noise. Even a layman could not be misled by the skull: the Zincanthropus — with its gorilla-like skull crest and its low forehead — looked much more like rugged South African Australopithecus than modern humans. In fact – to be honest – it has nothing to do with the latter. ”

Homo habilis

In 1960, almost one year after the discovery of the zincanthropus, one of Likie’s son, Jonathan, found a skull of another hominid nearby (OH 7). In addition to the skull, bones from the hand were also referred to the individual OH 7. In the same year, bones from the hominid foot (OH 8) were also discovered. In the following years, more and more findings, mainly teeth and fragments of jaws and skulls, continued to appear. Individual fossil individuals were given colorful names: The Child of Johnny, George, Cindy and Twiggy. Some of the bones were found at the bottom of layer II of the Olduva Gorge.

South African anatomist Philip Tobias estimated the cranial volume of OH 7 to be about 680 cm3 – much larger than that of the zincanthropus, which was only about 530 cm3, and larger even than that of the largest skull of Australopithecus – about 600 cm3. Still, this value was about 100 feet lower than that of Homo erectus.

Louis Leakey decided he had finally found the true master of the tools from the lower levels of Olduwai – the real first person. His status was confirmed by the larger brain. Lyki called the creature Homo habilis – the “skillful man”.

After its discovery, zincanthropus was rapidly downgraded to Australopithecus boisei, a slightly more robust species of Australopithecus robustus. Both species are characterized by co-vital (arrow-shaped) combs and are not currently regarded as human ancestors, but as a blind evolutionary clone that later disappeared.

All work with the sagittal (arrow shaped) comb complicates things a bit. Male gorillas and some male chimpanzees also have such combs. However, females do not. Therefore, here is what Mary Leakey said in 1971: “The possibility of Australopithecus robustus and Australopithecus africanus to represent, respectively, male and female individuals of the same species, should be seriously considered.” True, it will turn out that generations of specialists have been a huge mistake with Australopithecus.

Louis Leakey decided that the discovery of Homo habilis – a creature that was modern to early Australopithecus but had a larger brain – provided conclusive evidence in favor of his thesis that Australopithecus did not form part of human lineage. They should be considered simply as a side branch. And since Homo erectus was thought to be descended from Australopithecus, it also had to be removed from the evolutionary line that led to the emergence of man.

In that situation, where did the Neanderthals go? According to some authorities, they illustrated precisely the transition between Homo erectus and Homo sapiens. Lycie offered another explanation: “Is it not possible that they are variations of the result of the crosses between Homo sapiens and Homo erectus? One might argue that such crosses would make hybrids unable to reproduce. Leakey, however, pointed out that crosses of American bison and livestock produce fertile offspring.

A tale of two shoulder bones

In 1965, Brian Paterson and W. W. Howels discovered a shoulder bone from Kenin-poo in Kenya that was surprisingly very human-like. In 1977, French workers found a similar bone at Gombor in Ethiopia.

The piece of shoulder bone from Kanapoi – actually a well-preserved distal (lower extremity) – was discovered on the surface, but apparently originated from a layer that was about 4.5 million years old.

Patterson and Howels found that this shoulder bone was different from that of gorillas, chimpanzees and Australopithecus, but it was similar to human. They noted that “among our sample, there are those… whose measured values ​​are almost exactly the same as those of Canapoy Hominoid I.”

The two researchers did not even think of referring the shoulder bone from Kanapoi to an anatomically modern man.

Yet, if a physically modern human being died at Kanapoi 4-4.5 million years ago, he (or her) would have remained a shoulder bone identical to what was found.

Two University of California anthropologists – Henry M. McHenry and Robert S. Corucini – also confirmed the humanoid morphology of the shoulder bone of Canapo, They concluded that “the shoulder bone of Kanapoi was almost indistinguishable from that of a modern Homo” and that it “shows the early appearance of the elbow joint, humanoid to the smallest detail.”

In his 1975 study, physical anthropologist CHE Oxnard also agreed with their analysis. Here’s what he says: “We can undoubtedly confirm that the Kanapoi fossil is very human-like.” This led Oxnard to suggest – just as Licky had done – that Australopithelians are not part of human evolution. However, if we retained their position in the genealogy of man, it would lead to the acceptance of a far too incredible development – from humanoid shoulder bone from Kanapoi to much more inhuman in Australopithecus and then again to more humanlike.

The Gombore shoulder bone, whose age was estimated to be around 1.5 million years old, was found along with rough stone tools. In 1981 Brigitte Senut stated that, in the Gombere fossil, “there is nothing that distinguishes it from a modern human bone.” It seems that we have two very ancient and very human shoulder bones that we need to add to the list of evidence that calls into question the generally accepted scenario of human evolution. One is Kenapoi in Kenya, which is 4-4.5 million years old and the other is from Gombo in Ethiopia, more than 1.5 million years old. They support the view that, over a long period, human beings of the modern type have coexisted with other humanoid and apes.

The Discoveries of Richard Leakey

In 1972, Louis Leakey’s son, Richard, discovered a fractured hominid skull at Lake Turkana in Kenya. Richard’s wife, Mivey, was a zoologist and was involved in the reconstruction of the skull, which was designated ER 1470. Its brain volume was over 810 ste3 – larger than that of robust Australopithecus. At first, Richard Leakey hesitated to identify the skull ER 1470 as a separate species, but eventually referred to the name Homo habilis.

The skull was discovered in a layer lying under the so-called Tuff KBS – a 2.6-year potassium-argon stratum layer. The age of the skull itself was estimated at 2.9 million years – the same as that of the most ancient Australopithecus. Later, Tuff KBS’s dating was challenged, with critics suggesting an age of less than 2 million years.

Some distance from the location of the skull ER 1470, but at the same level, two very similar human thigh bones were found. The discovery was made by John Harris, a paleontologist at the Kenyan National Museum. He called out Richard Leakey, who later reported that “these femurs do not look like the Australopithelians, but are surprisingly similar to modern humans.” Other researchers have concluded that they are different from the bones of Homo erectus.

The first femur, which also contained fragments of fibula and tibia (the two long bones of the leg below the knee), was designated ER 1481 and the other was ER 1472. Another fragment, described as ER 1475, was found. attributed to Yao habilis.

However, in a magazine article, Leakey stated that these bones “cannot be distinctly distinguished from these p & nto sapiens if the variational boundaries of the species are taken into account.” Later, in an article in The National Geographic, he confirmed this view, stating that the bones were “almost indistinguishable from those of Homo sapiens.” Several other scholars supported Leakey’s conclusions. BA Wood – an anatomist at the Chering Cross Medical School in London – concluded that the femur “belongs to a creature in the” human walk “motor group.

Although this is hardly thought of by most scientists today, we might think of referring the femurs from the Koobi Fora to hominids that were very similar to modern humans but lived in Africa about 2 million years ago.

The femurs ER 1472 and ER 1481 show that the highly anomalous findings are not unique to the nineteenth century. They continue to occur with surprising frequency to this day. They are, so to speak, under our noses, but almost no one recognizes them for what they really are. ^ We can make a pretty impressive list, even just in Africa: the skeleton of Reka, the jaw of Ka-nam, the skulls of Kanzera, shoulder bone from Kanapoi, shoulder bone from Gombereau and femur from Lake Turkana. All of them are either directly identified as residues of Homo sapiens or described as very humanoid. With the exception of the mid-Pleistocene skulls from Kanzera, all others originate from strata of the early Pleistocene or Pliocene.


In 1974, BA Ud described a talus (ankle bone) discovered at Lake Turkana. It was found between Tuff KBS and a similar layer above – Cooby Handicap Tuff. Oud made a comparative analysis of bone, comparing it to ankle bones from modern humans, gorillas, chimpanzees and other tree primates. The conclusion was that “the fossil corresponds to the thalus of modern man.”

The human-like thallus ER 813 is between 1.5 and 2 million years old, which places it within the chronological range of creatures such as Australopithecus robustus, Homo erectus and Homo habilis.

In a later post, Wood reported that his tests confirmed “the similarity of KNM-ER 813 to modern human bones” and showed “no particular differences with the ankle bones of modern bushmen.” In this context, we may also consider the possibility that the ankle bone KNM-ER 813 may have belonged to a person with a modern anatomy who lived during the early Pleistocene or even late Pliocene.

If this talus is indeed a creature very similar to modern humans, it is included – along with the femurs ER 1481 and ER 1472 – in a series of finds that brings us back millions of years. This would eliminate Australoplasts, Homo habilis and Homo erectus as human ancestors.

HE 62: Become the Real But mo habilisl

Various fossil artists and paleoanthropologist publications have created a very typical image of Homo habilis. They depict him with an essentially human body, but with a monkey-like head.

This highly speculative portrait of Homo habilis remained valid until 1987, when Tim White and Don Johanson announced that they had discovered in the defile Alduwai the first individual, Homo habilis (OH 62), in which the bones of the skeleton were clearly interconnected with the skull.

According to the skeletal remains, the creature was only 3.5 feet (1.07 t) tall and had relatively long arms. The graphic reconstruction of the new Homo habilis is much more ape-like than the earlier ones.

Johansson and his associates concluded that it was highly likely that scientists incorrectly attributed to Homo habilis many limb bones discovered before 1987.

The finding of OH 62 comes in support of our suggestion that the femurs from the Koobi Fora – ER 1481 and ER 1472, described as very similar to those of Homo sapiens – may have belonged to people of modern anatomy who lived in Africa through the late Pliocene. Some scientists have attributed them to Homo habilis, but the new idea of ​​this hominid rules out a similar feature. Is it possible that the femurs are from Homo erectus? GE Kennedy, for example, attributed the thigh bone ER 1481 to exactly erectus. However, Trinkhaus noted that the basic measures of this bone – with one exception – are within the bones of modern humans.

The discoverers of OH 62 had to cope with the evolutionary stage between the new – more apes – Homo habilis and Homo erectus. The two species have only been separated for about 200,000 years. However, the transition between them implies many significant changes in morphology, including a significant increase in size. Richard Leakey, using the model of growth of a modern man, estimated that a young Homo erectus, discovered in 1984 (KNM-WT 15000), would reach a height of over 6 feet (1.80 t) at maturity. ). The mature OH 62 was only about 3.25 feet (1 m) tall. It seems improbable that the evolutionary leap – from the small monkey-like OH 62 to the larger, more human-like KNM-WT 15,000 – has taken less than 200,000 years.

However, advocates of the highly contested punctuation model of evolution can accept such a transition without much trouble. Unlike traditional gradualists, pactu-nationalists argue that evolution has taken short periods of rapid change and long periods of stagnation. In this way, theory can shelter a variety of problematic evolutionary anomalies, such as the transition from habilis to erectus.

“The too small body dimensions of the individual, OH 62,” his discoverers declare, “indicate that the notions of human evolution, which postulate a gradual increase in size, over time are likely to be rooted in the prejudices of the gradualists, and not in the facts. “However, the same may be true of the views of punctuationists. If we look at the paleoanthropological facts in their entirety, we will find that throughout the Pleistocene, as before, there existed in parallel various primitive or humanoid creatures, some of them resembling modern humans.

The conventional notion of Homo habilis was called into question not only by new materials, such as OH 62. Earlier, various fossil materials related to Homo habilis were discovered, which were initially identified as very humanoid but later characterized by other scientists. as extremely primitive.

As noted earlier, a relatively whole footprint, designated OH 8., was discovered in layer I of the Olduva Gorge, its age was estimated to be 1.7 million years and it was attributed to Homo habilis. In 1964, M. X. Day and J. R. Napier stated that the foot was very similar to that of Homo sapiens, thus contributing to the human-like image of Homo habilis.

Later, however, O.J. Lewis, an anatomist at the College of Medicine at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London, demonstrated that the OH 8 step was more like that of a gorilla and a chimpanzee. He described it as “tree” – adapted to life on trees. This poses a problem. The publicly presented image of a supposed human predecessor – such as Homo habilis – climbing trees with specially adapted footsteps certainly does not meet the propaganda goals of evolutionists; rather, they would like to introduce him proudly striding across the African savannahs.

When one reads a study of Lewis on step 8, he is left with the impression that Homo habilis was much more ape-like than most scientists would like to believe. The discovery of OH 62 only supports this feeling. Another possible solution: foot OH 8 did not belong to Homo habilis, but to some Australopithecus. It was Lewis who chose it.

Over the years, various scientists have described the OH 8 step as humanoid, monkey-like or transitional between May-moon and human, as different from human, and from May-moon or as orangutan-like. This comes to demonstrate once again one of the main characteristics of paleoanthropological facts – they are often the subject of numerous and contradictory interpretations. Usually, biases determine which particular opinion will prevail at a given moment.

In the Olduway gorge, palm bones, designated OH 7, were also found; they were also identified as referring to Homo habilis. In 1962, J. R. Napier described the palm as very humanoid, especially in some respects – fingertips, for example. As with the OH8 step, subsequent research has shown that the arm is very similar to a monkey, which has provided two alternatives – or to deny it referring to

Homo habilis, or to call into question the universally accepted human-like image of Homo habilis, whose construction contributed to its initial interpretation. The monkey features of the palm led Randall L. Susman and Jack T. Stern to suggest that it was used in a “climbing-hanging lifestyle”.

In other words, Homo habilis, or whatever creature there owned the palm of OH 7, must have spent a great deal of time hanging on the branches of the trees by hand. This very monkey-like image is definitely different from the extremely human-like portraits of JaaNoto habilis and other human ancestors that one can find in illustrated popular books and television films of the National Geographic Society. In the light of conflicting data on Homo habilis, some scholars have argued that in the first place, there was no reason to “create” this species at all.

But if the bones that have hitherto been attributed to Homo habilis do not really belong to this species, then what are they? T. J. Robinson argued that Homo habilis was an error rooted in the mixing of skeletal remains of Australopithecus africanus or erectus. Others have suggested that all the bones are from Australopithecus.

In the end, it turns out that Homo habilis has the density of a desert mirage – either humanoid, monkey-like, real or fictional – according to the mood of the observer. Taking all the contradictory views into account, we will find that most of the Homo habilis related materials are likely to belong to several different species. Among them are a small australopithecus tree (OH 62 and some of the findings from the Olduva Gorge), primitive Homo type (skull ER 1470) and people with modern anatomy (femur ER 1481 and ER 1472).

Oxnard criticizes Australopithecus

Homo habilis is not the only human ancestor that has been heavily criticized. According to most paleoanthropologists, the Australopithecus must be regarded as a direct human precursor and have a very human-like body. Defenders of this view claim that the Australopithecus walked upright – practically just like a modern man. But right from the start, there were scientists who opposed this notion. Influential English researchers, including Sir Arthur Kate, have said that Australopithecus is not a hominid, but a species of apes.

This negative assessment remained valid until the early 1950s, when, as a result of the “cumulative” effect of the emergence of new finds and the fall of the Piltdown Man into traditional paleoanthropological thought, a niche for the humanoid Australopithecus was created.

But even after he gained popular recognition as a ho-minid and a direct human predecessor, the criticism did not abate. Louis Leakey went on to argue that Australopithecus is an early and very monkey-like departure from the basic line of human evolution. Later, his son Richard stood in a similar position.

In the early 1950s, Sir Solly Zuckerman published his comprehensive biometric studies. They showed that the Australopithecus was far less human-like than those who wished to make it part of the lineage of Homo sapiens. From the late 1960s to the late 1990s, Charles E. Oxnard renewed and expanded the Zuckerman attack launched by using a multivariate statistical analysis. According to him, “it seems very improbable that any of the Australopicians … has a direct phylogenetic connection with the Knowledge.”

Oxnard found that the brains, teeth, and skulls of Australopithecus are very similar to those of modern humanoid apes. The shoulder bone looked fit for a body to hang from the branches of the trees. The palm bones had a curve like the orangutan ones. The pelvis seemed fit for four-legged walking and acrobatic behavior. The same could be said for femurs and ankles. “While waiting for more information to emerge, Oxnard writes in 1975,” we are left with the image of medium-sized animals that live on trees and are able to climb, exhibit a number of acrobatic numbers and perhaps hang on hands. ”

In 1973, Zuckerman and Oxnard presented a joint report at the Zoological Society Symposium in London. At the closing session, Zuckerman made some important remarks. He stated: “Over the years, I have been almost alone in the struggle against the traditional image of Australopithelians – alone, that is, with my colleagues at the school I set up in Birmingham. I am afraid that we have not been able to achieve much. Much more influential voices intervened in the problem and what they said was included in textbooks around the world. ”

This situation has not changed much since Zuckerman’s statement. Authoritative voices in paleoanthropology and the scientific community as a whole have been able to preserve the humanoid image of Australopithecus. Numerous, well-documented evidence that contradicts this conventional wisdom remains closed on the pages of professional journals, from which they have no opportunity to influence the public and even their educated circles.

Summarizing the decades-long controversy over the nature of Australopithecus, in 1984, Oxnard writes: “In all the noise at one time – whether these creatures were closer to humans or to monkeys – it was thought that they were human-like. The results of this may not have been confined to the defeat of the opposite opinion, but may have included the burial of that part of the facts on which it relied. If that is indeed the case, then it is probably still possible to dig up this other part of the facts. They may be more compatible with the new idea; perhaps they will find other possibilities – it is these Australopithelians who are like neither African apes, humans, nor anything in the middle, but clearly distinct from both. ”

Of course, this is precisely the point that this book seeks to defend. There is hidden information. We ourselves have rediscovered a considerable amount of such burial facts relating to the early history of modern man.

In a summary of his findings, Oxnard states: “Different fossils of Australopithecus are usually distinguished from both human and monkey bones … If we look at them as a separate species, they turn out to be a mosaic of scars that are unique to them and such. On the question of the anatomical uniqueness of Australopithelians, Oxnard adds, “If these estimates turn out to be true, they significantly reduce the possibility that any Australopithecus may be part of his own lineage.

Like Lewis and Richard Leakey, Oxnard argues that the development of the Homo species begins much earlier than is accepted in the conventional evolutionary scenario. In this regard, Oxnard drew attention to some of the fossils we have already considered – the humanoid ankle bone ER 813, which is 1.5 million years old, and the shoulder bone of Kanapoi, which may be more than 4 million years old. Drawing on these materials, Oxnard concluded that the Homo species is at least 5 million years old. “The traditional notion of human evolution,” says Oxnard, “must be seriously modified or even denied … New possibilities need to be explored.”

Lucy in the sea of ​​controversy

Despite Oxnard’s research, most scientists still support the doctrine that Australopithecus is a direct human ancestor. One of them is Donald Johansson. He studied anthropology at the University of Chicago under the direction of F. Clark Howell. While still a PhD student and tempted by the romance of searching for fossils, Johansson accompanied Howell on an expedition to Africa, where he participated in exploration of the Omo field in Ethiopia.

Later, Johansson returned to Africa, but this time headed his own expedition. The target was Hadar – a site in the Ethiopian region of Afar. One afternoon he found the upper part of the tibia, one of the long bones between the knee and ankle. The fossil was definitely some kind of primate. Nearby, Johansson found the distal part (the knee joint) of the femur. From the way the femur and tibia feed, Johansson concluded that he had discovered an entire knee joint, not from an ancient monkey, but from a hominid – a precursor to modern humans. The layers where the fossils were discovered were more than 3 million years old, which automatically made them one of the most ancient remains of hominids in general.

In subsequent scholarly publications, Johansson reported that the Hadar knee (AL129) was 4 million years old and belonged to a primitive Australopithecus, however, who was completely human.

The following season, Ethiopian Alemayehu Asfav, who worked with Johansson at Hadar, discovered fragments of a fossil jaw. Classifying them proved to be a difficult task. Johansson asked Richard Leakey to come and see them. Leakey accepted the invitation and arrived with his mother – Mary Leakey – and with his wife, Mevey. The four with Johansson examined the jaw and identified it as referring to the Homo species, which meant that they were the most ancient human fossils discovered so far.

On November 30, 1974, Donald Johansson and Tom Gray searched Site 162 near Hadar and collected fragments of mammalian bones. After a while, Gray suggested they give up and return to the camp, but Johansson suggested they check the nearby gully. They found almost nothing. Just as they were about to leave, however, Johansson noticed a fragment of a bone in his arm lying on the surface. When they looked around, they noticed that other bones were also rolling around – apparently from a single homini day individual. Johansson and Gray started bouncing and screaming in the heat as they realized they had found a find of utmost importance. That evening, the team staged a party that many times featured the Beatles’ Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds song.

To determine the dating of the fossils, Johansson used a combination of a variety of methods – potassium-argon, paleomagnetic, and nuclear decay rates. The results showed an age of about 3.5 million years.

In 1975, Johansson returned to Hadar, this time bringing in a photographer from the National Geographic who was able to capture another major discovery. On a hillside, Johansson’s team found the fossil remains of 13 different individuals, including male, female and child. The group was named “First Family”. They had the same geological age as Lucy had been estimated to be – about 3.5 million years.

With the advent of the First Family, the important discoveries in Hadar, which included the knee of Hadar, the jaws of Alemayehu and Lucy, were over. We will now turn to the ways in which these fossils have been interpreted and reinterpreted by different groups of scientists.

When classifying his findings, Johansson initially relied on the views of Richard and Mary Leakey that the jaws of Alemayehu and members of the First Family should be classified as Homo. However, if Lucy and the AL 129 femur were Australopithelians – so Johansson thought – it would mean that there were two types of hominid in Hadar.

Later, Johansson came under another influence and changed his attitude to a number of Hadar fossils. The source of this influence was paleontologist Timothy D. White, who worked with Richard Leakey on Lake Turkana. White was also able to convince Johansson that the Khadar hominids were of a species unknown to this point. They called it Australopithecus afarensis – in the Ethiopian Afar region.

According to Johansson and White, Australopithecus afarensis – the most ancient Australopithecus ever discovered – initiated two different lines of development. The first led to the Robustian Australopithecus; Australopithecus africanus was an intermediate unit in it. The second ended with the appearance of Homo sapiens, passing through Homo habilis and Homo erectus.

Australopithecus afarensis: Maybe too human?

Johansson said Australopithecus afarensis had a “small, human body”. However, several other scholars have sharply diverged from this notion. They created an image for Lucy and her relatives that was much closer to a monkey cue. In most cases, these views are similar to earlier studies conducted on Australopithenians Oxnard, Tsu-Kerman and other scientists.

The Hadar fossils did not contain the entire skull or Australopithecus afarensis, but Tim White succeeded in assembling a partial reconstruction, using the skull fragments and jaws of the upper and lower jaws of several individuals of the First Family. According to Johansson, the reconstruction “strongly resembled a small female gorilla.” In this regard, there was complete agreement between Johansson and his critics. Everyone thought that afarensis had a very monkey head.

As for the body of Australopithecus afarensis, Randall L. Susman, Jack T. Stern, Charles E. Oxnard, and a number of others identified it as very monkey-like, thus disputing Johansson’s claim that Lucy walked as a human. Lucy’s shoulder blade was almost identical to that of modern human apes. The shoulder joint was turned upwards, indicating that Lucy was most likely using her hands to climb trees and hang on branches. The bones of the arms were similar to those of the primates living on the trees, and points could be observed on the spine to grasp extremely developed back and shoulder muscles. The bones of the palm and wrist showed aptitude for strong grasping; this was also evident from the curved phalanxes of the fingers.

Try to imagine the effect that a drawing of Lucy would have that is climbing or hanging on the branches of a tree. This will definitely hurt her image of a creature whose status is close to human. Even assuming that Lucy may have evolved into a human being, we cannot but admit that her anatomical features were misrepresented – for propaganda purposes.

Before we get to grips with Australopithecus afarensis, let’s just mention that a number of scientists, including Richard Leakey and Christine Tardio, have defended the position that fossil materials actually include bones of two or even three different species.

The scientific community has not yet succeeded in creating a unified picture of what Australopithelians, including Australopithecus afarensis, actually looked like. This ambiguity encompasses both their morphology and their evolutionary connection with modern humans. Some see them as their predecessors, while others, like CHE Oxnard, do not.

Traces of Letoli steps

Letoli is located in northern Tanzania, about 30 miles (40 km) south of the Olduva Gorge. In Masai, laetoli means ‘red lily’. In 1979, members of an expedition led by Mary Leakey noticed some footprints on the ground. It turned out to be fossil footprints of animals. Some of them were apparently left by hominids. The prints were preserved in layers of volcanic ash, which yielded a potassium-argon date of between 3.6 and 3.8 million years.

In the National Geographic, an article by Mary Leakey entitled “Steps in the Ashes of Time” was printed. In the analysis she makes on the footprints, she cites the words of Louise Robbins, a step expert at the University of North Carolina, who stated that “they look too human and too modern to be found on such an ancient rock.”

Those of you who have followed us on this intellectual journey will hardly find it difficult to recognize in the footsteps of Letoli the potential proof that human beings with modern anatomy existed in Africa more than 3.6 million years ago. We are, however, somewhat surprised by the fact that we encounter such a fractal anomaly in the unexpected context of the comparatively recent annals of standard paleoanthropological studies. What amazes us the most is the fact that scientists with a worldwide reputation – the best in their field – were able to look at these clues, describe their human characteristics, and not even come to the idea that beings who are left them, they could have been just as human-like as we are.

Their thoughts flowed through the usual, firmly established channels. Mary Leakey writes the following: “At least 3,600,000 years ago – across the Pliocene – someone I would designate as a direct ancestor of a man walked freely and confidently on two feet … His foot shape was just like ours.”

Who was this precursor? Assuming Leakey’s point of view, the steps of Letoli must have been left behind by a creature that preceded the appearance of Homo habilis, but was not an Austro-Lopiteque. If we take the other view – that of Johansson and White – that must be traces of Australopithecus afarensis. In both cases, it is a creature that had a monkey head and other primitive features.

But why was this not a creature with a fully human foot and a fully human body? Nothing in the prints themselves precludes this possibility. In addition, in this book we have collected quite a few fossil evidence – some originating specifically from Africa – that are consistent with the existence, during the late Pliocene and early Pleistocene, of modern anatomically human beings.

Are we not exaggerating the human traits of Letoli’s prints? Let’s see what various scientists have said about this. Louise M. Robbins, who did the primary analysis of Letoli’s traces for Mary Leakey in 1979, later published a more extensive publication. Several different groups of traces were found at Letoli, which were indicated by different letters. In describing the “G” traces left by three individuals, according to Mary Leakey, it was possible to refer to the family-Robbins found that all traces “exhibit a number of traits that are characteristic of the structure of the human foot.” She specifically noted that the toe points straight ahead – as in humans – and not sideways, as it does with humanoid monkeys. Robins concluded that “the four functional areas – the fifth, the arch,

M. X. Day studied the traces using the photogrammetric method. Photogrammetry is the science of measuring the right dimensions through photography. His study showed that the prints had “a close resemblance to the anatomy of the feet of a modern man who has never worn shoes; could be said to be a normal human condition. ” Day’s conclusion is very typical: “Now there can be no debate that Australopithelians were standing up and walking on two feet.”

However, what evidence do we have that the traces in Letoli are left by Australopithecus. We have no reason to exclude the possibility that they may be the work of some unknown creature, much like today’s Homo sapiens.

Physical anthropologist R.X. Tuttle stated the following: “The shape of the prints is indistinguishable from that of a person who usually goes barefoot.”

Tuttle came to the following conclusion: “If we look at the prints of Group G solely on the basis of their morphology, we should classify them as traces of Homo… as they are too close to those of Homo sapiens. However, their early dating is likely to make many paleoanthropologists refrain from adopting such an attribution. I suspect that if the tracks had not been dated or received a later date, most experts would have identified them as left by Homo. “Tuttle also writes:” They look like the footprints of small bare feet like kano sapiens. ”

In addition, Tuttle argued that it was not possible for the traces to be left behind by Australopithecus afarensis. As we have seen, he had long, curved fingers, which Tuttle says it is difficult for him to imagine, “how they fit exactly with the Letoli prints.” This is true of the footstep of any Australopithecus.

Stern and Susman objected. They were convinced that the traces had been left behind by the monkey-like afarensis, and therefore assumed that the ancient hominids had passed through the volcanic ash with their toes bent beneath the foot – as chimpanzees sometimes do. This may explain the fact that the traces left by Australopithecus afarensis in Letoli are similar to those made by a human foot with short fingers.

Is it possible for australopithelians with bent fingers to leave humanoid traces? According to Tuttle, this was extremely improbable. If the Letolis hominids had long toes, he explained, then two different types of traces of those toes would be expected – long open fingers and short bent fingers that would have extremely deep fingerprints. This is simply not the case, so the footprints cannot be left behind by the long-toed steps of Australopithecus afarensis.

Even Tim White, who was convinced that the traces were left by Australopithecus afarensis, stated the following: “The Stern and Susman model (1983) on toes bent” like chimpanzees “requires considerable variability in the lateral lengths of the toes, that can be traced back to Letoli’s prints. However, they do not demonstrate such a peculiarity. ”

Tuttle directly challenged Johansson, White, Latimer, and Love-Joe, who insisted that the Letoli traces were left by Australopithecus afarensis: of life… it is too improbable that Australopithecus afarensis from Hadar, Ethiopia, could have left traces similar to those of Letoli. the child is left behind by Australopithecus afarensis.

In 1987, for example, Tim White published a study on Lettoli’s prints, in which he disputed Tuttle’s claim that they had been left by a hominid that was more advanced than Australopithecus afarensis.

Here’s what White writes: “Among the 26 hominid individuals and among the collection of more than 5,000 vertebrate fossils found in Letoli, there is absolutely nothing to suggest the existence of a more advanced Pliocene hominid in this locality.” But as we have seen In our review of African hominid fossils, there are actually various “things” that testify to rabbit / methz-shaped creatures throughout the Pliocene, some of which were found not very far from Letoli. In addition, it is well known that human skeletal remains are very rare, even in places where human habitation is certainly proven.

White predicted that “in the end, the traces of Letoli will be slightly different from those left by a modern man under similar conditions.” But as far as we can tell for the moment, they are indistinguishable. Even White himself once said, “Don’t make that mistake. They look human. If you take a print left on the sand of a California beach1 and ask a four-year-old “What is it?”, It will immediately tell you that someone has left. However, it will not be able to distinguish it from the hundreds of others, nor would you succeed. The external morphology is the same. It has a well-shaped modern heel, with a sturdy arch and a nice cushion in front of it. The thumb continues straight and does not bend sideways, as it does with monkeys. ”

Tuttle, for his part, notes the following: “With respect to all the distinct morphological features, the steps of the individuals who left the traces of Group G were indistinguishable from those of modern humans.”

Black skull, black thoughts

In 1985, Alan Walker of Johns Hopkins University discovered a fossil skull of hominid west of Lake Turkana, which had received a dark coloration from the action of surrounding minerals. The find was called the “Black Skull” and raised doubts about the notion of human evolution proposed by Donald Johansson.

According to Johansson’s original idea, Australopithecus afarensis initiated the beginning of two evolutionary lines. The arrangement can be depicted as a tree with two branches. The trunk is Australopithecus afarensis. One branch is the development of the species Homo, which passes through Homo habilis and Homo erectus to reach Homo sapiens. The other branch is Australopithecus, which also developed from Australopithecus afarensis.

According to Johansson and White, Australopithecus afarensis preceded Australopithecus africanus, from which Australopithecus robustus emerged. The tendency was the appearance of larger teeth and more massive jaws, as well as larger skulls with a bone edge – sagittal (arrowhead) comb – from above. It served to attach the powerful chewing muscles of rousty Australopithecus. It is believed that or Australopithecus robustus has evolved the holmus: Australopithecus boisei, in which the above features are demonstrated in extreme forms. The Black Skull – designated KNM-WT17000 – resembled that of Australopithecus boisei but was 2.5 million years older than the earliest robust Australopithecus.

How did Johansson respond to the discovery of the Boisei-shaped Black Skull? He acknowledged that the new find made things a little more complicated and excluded the ordering of Australopithecus africanus, Australopithecus robustus and Australopithecus boisei into a single line from Australopithecus afarensis. Johansson suggested four possible arrangements for the four species, without specifying which one should be correct. There was still not enough information, he said, to justify such a choice.

Uncertainty about the number of different species in Hadar and the confused relationships between later hominids (Australopithecus africanus, Australopithecus robustus, Australopithecus boisei and Homo habilis) create difficulties for evolutionists. In 1986 v. Pat Shipman said: “The best answer we can give right now is that we no longer have a very clear idea of ​​who is developing.”

At the heart of this new confusion is an extremely important question – who initiated the Homo line. Shipman describes how once Bill Kimball, one of Johansson’s associates, tried to tackle the phylogenetic problems posed by the Black Skull: in the blank black board. Then he turned to the audience and spread his hands. “Eventually, Kimble came to the conclusion that Australopithecus africanus was at the beginning of the Homo line. Johansson and White went on to claim that Homo came directly from Australopithecus afarensis. After examining several phylogenetic alternatives and concluding that none of them is supported by sufficient evidence, Shipman states the following: “We could argue that we have no evidence whatsoever of where Homo appears; we can remove all representatives of the Australopithecus species from the hominid family… My instinctive reaction to such an idea is so negative that I doubt that I can analyze it rationally. I was raised with the idea that the Australopithecus is a hominid. ”This is one of the most heartfelt statements we have ever heard from a traditional scientist involved in paleoanthropological research.

In the discussion above, we have included only those findings that are currently considered by most scientists to be authentic. It is hardly necessary to mention that if we were to present the evidence for the existence of physically modern humans in the very distant past, this would only further complicate matters.

After looking at the history of African discoveries that have something to do with human evolution, we can make some summary notes. (1) There is a great deal of evidence from Africa that there were creatures in the Pliocene and early Pleistocene that resembled the anatomical point of view of modern humans. (2) The traditional idea of ​​an Australopithecus as a very human-like, two-legged, living creature seems to be incorrect. (3) The status of Australopithecus and Homo erectus as human precursors can be challenged. (4) The status of Homo habilis as a separate species can also be challenged. (5) Even if we confine ourselves to the generally accepted findings, we will find that the large number of proposed evolutionary links between African hominids is quite confusing.




Michael Cremo was born in Schenectady, New York on July 15, 1948. He is a member of the World Archaeological Congress and the European Association of Archaeologists, as well as the Philosophy of Science Association and the History of Science Society.

In 1973, he joined the Hare Krishna movement and took the name Drutakarma Dasa, and after 1976 wrote dozens of articles for the journal Back to Godhead. In 1984, he became Assistant Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at the Baktivedanta Institute. He co-wrote with Sadaputa Dasa (Richard Thompson) the books “Forbidden Archeology” and “The Hidden History of the Human Race” (literally translated “The Hidden History of Human Civilization” but in Bulgarian it was published as “The Secret” history of human civilization ‘), presenting the Vaishnavist views on archeology and the Puranic model as opposed to the Judeo-Christian model.

He presented these ideas to the Third World Archaeological Congress (1994) and to the V World Archeological Congress (June 21-26, 2003), where he organized a presentation session on the topic of “History of Service” -isms “in archeology” in section Colonialism, Identity and Public Responsibility.

Over the years, he has participated in many scientific conferences and symposiums, television and radio broadcasts, lectures and multimedia presentations in many places around the world – the Royal Institute of Great Britain, the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Darwin Museum in Moscow, universities and colleges in: Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arizona, Maryland, Newark, Berkeley, Seattle, London, New Castle, Amsterdam, Lisbon, Louvain, Bern, Groningen, Utrecht, Ghent, Warsaw, Prague, Budapest, Moscow and others .