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Human evolution: Simmering conflict between genetic and paleontology data erupts

In article, In “Genetic Data and Fossil Evidence Tell Differing Tales of Human Origins” (New York Times, July 26, 2012), Nicholas Wade unpacks a puzzle in human evolution studies:

After decades of digging, paleoanthropologists looking for fossilized human bones have established a reasonably clear picture: Modern humans arose in Africa some 200,000 years ago and all archaic species of humans then disappeared, surviving only outside Africa, as did the Neanderthals in Europe. Geneticists studying DNA now say that, to the contrary, a previously unknown archaic species of human, a cousin of the Neanderthals, may have lingered in Africa until perhaps 25,000 years ago, coexisting with the modern humans and on occasion interbreeding with them.

The geneticists reached this conclusion, reported on Thursday in the journal Cell, after decoding the entire genome of three isolated hunter-gatherer peoples in Africa, hoping to cast light on the origins of modern human evolution. But the finding is regarded skeptically by some paleoanthropologists because of the absence in the fossil record of anything that would support the geneticists’ statistical calculations.

One paleontologist calls the geneticists’ view “irresponsible” and another invokes the devil, when advising us to “sup with a long spoon” when dealing with them.

Of course, the paleos have a point: Genetics is the new kid on the block, and may have a few things to learn. One of them is about the catfighting among paleontologists, now projected onto them.

See also: New York Times report on human evolution controversy vindicates book, Science and Human Origins

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4 Responses to Human evolution: Simmering conflict between genetic and paleontology data erupts

  1. “the absence in the fossil record of anything that would support the geneticists’ statistical calculations” is a problem for Darwinists? Hilarious.

  2. It sounds like a problem for the whole field, almost totally dominated by Darwinists. So they all own the problem.

  3. Reminds me a bit of this:

    Bones, molecules…or both? – Gura – 2000
    Excerpt: Evolutionary trees constructed by studying biological molecules often don’t resemble those drawn up from morphology. Can the two ever be reconciled?,,, When biologists talk of the ‘evolution wars’, they usually mean the ongoing battle for supremacy in American schoolrooms between Darwinists and their creationist opponents. But the phrase could also be applied to a debate that is raging (between Darwinists) within systematics.
    http://www.nature.com/nature/j.....230a0.html

    The universal ancestor – Carl Woese
    Excerpt: No consistent organismal phylogeny has emerged from the many individual protein phylogenies so far produced. Phylogenetic incongruities can be seen everywhere in the universal tree, from its root to the major branchings within and among the various taxa to the makeup of the primary groupings themselves.
    http://www.pnas.org/content/95/12/6854.full

    But then again, the fossil record itself never really provided support for Darwinism in the first place so this spat between them is just really the tip of the iceberg as to how just far down this problem really goes for Darwinists!

    “No wonder paleontologists shied away from evolution for so long. It seems never to happen. Assiduous collecting up cliff faces yields zigzags, minor oscillations, and the very occasional slight accumulation of change over millions of years, at a rate too slow to really account for all the prodigious change that has occurred in evolutionary history. When we do see the introduction of evolutionary novelty, it usually shows up with a bang, and often with no firm evidence that the organisms did not evolve elsewhere! Evolution cannot forever be going on someplace else. Yet that’s how the fossil record has struck many a forlorn paleontologist looking to learn something about evolution.” -
    Niles Eldredge , “Reinventing Darwin: The Great Evolutionary Debate,” 1996, p.95

    Footnote:

    “Fossil evidence of human evolutionary history is fragmentary and open to various interpretations. Fossil evidence of chimpanzee evolution is absent altogether”. Evolutionist Henry Gee, Nature 2001
    http://www.nature.com/nature/j.....131a0.html

    When we consider the remote past, before the origin of the actual species Homo sapiens, we are faced with a fragmentary and disconnected fossil record. Despite the excited and optimistic claims that have been made by some paleontologists, no fossil hominid species can be established as our direct ancestor.
    Richard Lewontin – Harvard Zoologist
    http://www.discovery.org/a/9961

    Evolution of the Genus Homo – Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences – Tattersall, Schwartz, May 2009
    Excerpt: “Definition of the genus Homo is almost as fraught as the definition of Homo sapiens. We look at the evidence for “early Homo,” finding little morphological basis for extending our genus to any of the 2.5–1.6-myr-old fossil forms assigned to “early Homo” or Homo habilis/rudolfensis.”
    http://arjournals.annualreview.....208.100202

  4. stjones:

    I wonder if this is steve jones from Panda’ Thumb?

    “the absence in the fossil record of anything that would support the geneticists’ statistical calculations” is a problem for Darwinists? Hilarious.

    Nothing is a problem for Darwinists: they just invent a story.
    IOW, it’s unfalsifiable—as Darwinist prove each and every day.

    But to the objective viewer of these things: you have geneticists using “molecular clock” models—which have never been shown to be reliable, and which, per Michael Denton, is easily shown to be contradictory—to tell us all kinds of things, usually, telling us how “fact” evolution is and exactly when lineages split, etc. etc.

    And then you have paleontologists saying: “What are you talking about. There’s no evidence for what you’re talking about in the fossil record.”

    But when has evidence ever stopped a Darwinist from theorizing anything that makes him happy. Darwinist don’t need facts; after all, evolution is a fact.

    So, stjones, indeed, this isn’t a “problem” for Darwinists. And it’s hilarious that we should think so. With a little bit of imagination, a story is sure to show up soon.

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