Home » Intelligent Design » Icon of Evolution “Lucy” Bites the Dust

Icon of Evolution “Lucy” Bites the Dust

Another icon of evolution, the world famous fossil “Lucy” was found to not be in the modern human lineage at all. The interesting part of this is that this is extremely newsworthy but because it casts a very unflattering light on so many scientists who, uncritically it seems, placed Lucy in the modern human line of descent, you won’t find it widely reported except in the Darwin-denier blogs and websites. This strategy is common when embarrassing mistakes are found in widely accepted evolutionary dogma. Keep it mum and let the embarrassing news become common knowledge over a long span of time. Haeckel’s embryos are a fine example of it.

Apr. 16, 2007 0:21 | Updated Apr. 16, 2007 15:39
Israeli researchers: ‘Lucy’ is not direct ancestor of humans
By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH

Tel Aviv University anthropologists say they have disproven the theory that “Lucy” – the world-famous 3.2-million-year-old Australopithecus afarensis skeleton found in Ethiopia 33 years ago – is the last ancestor common to humans and another branch of the great apes family known as the “Robust hominids.”

The specific structure found in Lucy also appears in a species called Australopithecus robustus. Prof. Yoel Rak and colleagues at the Sackler School of Medicine’s department of anatomy and anthropology wrote, “The presence of the morphology in both the latter and Australopithecus afarensis and its absence in modern humans cast doubt on the role of [Lucy] as a common ancestor.”

The robust hominids were discovered in southern Africa 69 years ago and are believed to have lived between 2 million and 1.2 million years ago. Their jaws and jaw muscles were adapted to the dry environment in which they lived.

Rak and colleagues studied 146 mature primate bone specimens, including those from modern humans, gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans and found that the “ramus element” of the mandible connecting the lower jaw to the skull is like that of the robust forms, therefore eliminating the possibility that Lucy and her kind are Man’s direct ancestors. They should therefore, the Israeli researchers said, “be placed as the beginning of the branch that evolved in parallel to ours.”

Their research has just been published in the on-line edition of PNAS, the Proceedings of the [US] National Academy of Sciences.

Lucy, which means “you are wonderful” in Amharic, was discovered (40 percent of its skeleton) by the International Afar Research Expedition in Ethiopia’s Awash Valley. Fitting the bones together, they said it was an upright walking hominid (Homo sapiens, which comprises modern Man and extinct manlike species). They later found its jaws and additional bones.

Further analysis led the Afar researchers to believe it was of a female, and the skeleton listed as AL 288-1 was nicknamed Lucy because the Beatles’ song “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” was often played at the camp.

The specimen was only 1.1 meters tall, estimated to weigh 29 kilograms and look somewhat like a common chimpanzee. Although it had a small brain, the pelvis and leg bones were almost identical in function with those of modern humans, proving that these hominids had walked erect.

Although fossils closer to chimpanzees have been found since then, Lucy – which is housed in the national museum in Addis Ababa – is prized by anthropologists who study Man’s origin.

Rak and his colleagues also wrote that the structure of Lucy’s mandibular ramus closely matches that of gorillas, which was “unexpected” because chimpanzees are the closest living relatives of humans, and not gorillas.

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28 Responses to Icon of Evolution “Lucy” Bites the Dust

  1. 1
    The Scubaredneck

    Anyone have a MP3 file for the appropriate Queen song?

    ;-)

    The Scubaredneck

  2. “Anyone have a MP3 file for the appropriate Queen song?”

    LOL! These icons come and go like clockwork. At least there’s no pig-parts involved in this one.

  3. This brings to mind the recent fall of a related icon, the skull KNM-ER 1470, homo habilis, the supposed transition between Australopithecus afarensis and homo sapiens.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17873752/

  4. If memory serves, Lucy had a prominent place in the Chicago Museum of Natural History display on evolution. It’ll be interesting to see how long they leave the display there before changing it in the light of this new evidence.

  5. [...] for supporters of evolution that you won’t see reported in the newspaper: Icon of Evolution “Lucy” Bites The Dust Bookmark to: [...]

  6. And another one gone…
    Too bad it probably won’t make the paper or the news. This site list some others that were exposed.
    http://www.plesiosaur.com/crea.....ge-003.php

    Even Richard Leaky himself admitted a problem with Lucy, on T.V.no less.

    “If pressed about man’s ancestry, I would have to unequivocally say that all we have is a huge question mark. To date, there has been nothing found to truthfully purport as a transitional species to man, including Lucy, since 1470 was as old and probably older. If further pressed, I would have to state that there is more evidence to suggest an abrupt arrival of man rather than a gradual process of evolving”. Richard Leakey, world’s foremost paleo-anthropologist, in a PBS documentary, 1990.

    And so it goes…

  7. I actually find this “news” pretty strange.

    Why? Because French premiere science magazine “Science et Vie” published all the evidence anyone should ever have needed demonstrating that Lucy was no ancestor of humans back in 1999. – issue 980

    Their cover story feature article was entitled “Adieu Lucy” (Farewell Lucy).

    Lucy bit the dust at least 8 years ago!!

    I’ve reported on this on several different evo/ID debate forums several times as well as writing one of the LiveScience site’s staff writers about it (he just ignored it like it couldn’t be true).

    Hmmm… Seems to me that the implications of this actually being rather old news are not very good.

  8. I actually added the Science et Vie news on Lucy to the wikipedia article Cradle of Humanity back in sept 2005.

    I was surprised it was not deleted – the added paragraph (“As of 1999″) is still there.

  9. What is the issue here? If, as some are suggesting, this eliminates any evidence for the evolution of man, then we’re looking at special creation and the whole ID thing is out the window. Otherwise, evidence for evolution of a different branch of the tree of life is still evidence of evolution. I really fail to see what the impact of this is?

  10. Phevans:

    “What is the issue here? If, as some are suggesting, this eliminates any evidence for the evolution of man, then we’re looking at special creation and the whole ID thing is out the window. Otherwise, evidence for evolution of a different branch of the tree of life is still evidence of evolution. I really fail to see what the impact of this is?”

    I don’t understand your comment. Darwinists have built a lot of “pseudo-evidence” in support of their theories. Pseudoevidence of OOL, of speciation by RM+NS, of the “speciation” of man from apes, and so on. Nothing of these “evidences” is true or convincing. Therefore, each time the pseudo-evidences are evidently falsified, it is perfectly natural that we in the ID field, who have never believed them, take notice (even after a few years, it is always important to become aware of what is known). The issue is not any “special creation” for man. The issue, in ID (again, I am speakingn only from an ID, scientific point of view, no religious implications here) is just the origin of life and of complex biological information. That includes every stage at which complex biological information is added to the pre-existing scene, and that includes the dutiful confutation of every false “explanation” supposed to explain that fact outside of a design perspective.
    So, it is perfectly right to comment about the debunking of Lucy, just as it is perfectly right to comment on the debunking of the RNA world, of so called macroevolution examples, and so on. And believe me, the impact of all this is very, very great, and darwinists’ reactions are the best evidence of that.

  11. I’ve read recently a Genetics textbook for high school, here in Romania, and found that Haeckel’s embryos are still presented as proof for evolution! Incredible!

  12. Ironically, this may mean that Lucy could have more chance of being man’s direct ancestor under an ID perspective than under NDE, since ID allows for “pre-programmed” macroevolution as the result of design in the activation of hidden information in the genetic code. Front-end loading allows for abrupt and unpredictable transformation.

  13. “Pseudoevidence of OOL, of speciation by RM+NS, of the “speciation” of man from apes, and so on.” –gpuccio

    I think Phevan’s point is that, for evolutionists, if this news is indeed accurate, it means there is one more branch on the bush of great ape evolution that didn’t lead to modern man. There remains Homo habilis, Homo erectus, etc, etc. The basic evolutionary paradigm doesn’t change. Yet, in principle, ID does not preclude directed and/or guided evolution. So there is nothing in the reworking of a particular branch of human ancestry that represents a victory for ID. Fossil lineages of human ancestry, insofar as it embodies common descent and the fossil record, is something most of us (excluding YECS) should be able to agree on. All this really shows is that evolutionary biologists can be wrong. I never had any doubts about that.

  14. great_ape:

    “All this really shows is that evolutionary biologists can be wrong. I never had any doubts about that.”

    I would be very happy if more people were like you in that regard!

    The point is, evidence must be evidence. The failure of accepted evidence which was supposed to be sound is a very bad indicator, although in some measure it can be considered physiological.
    If not a victory for ID, examples like the one referred in this thread, if confirmed, are indicators of bad methodology, or worse of bad ideology. As you well know, my point of view (and not only mine) is that current biology is heavily flawed because of ideology, and that its methodology and attitude are often not reliable.

    Regarding common descent, as you know I can happily agree about that, but only if facts will support that point of view. I have no ideological prejudice about common descent (and it seems that I am not in big company…). In my opinion, there are evidences of common descent (especially DNA homologies), but they are probably acritically overrated. So I stick to common descent, but I keep an open mind. Evidences like the Cambrian explosion, indeed, are slightly disturbing in that sense.
    Again, we need evidence, facts, and a methodologically valid appreciation of facts. My personal opinion, for instance, is that evidence for design is at present by far more convincing than any evidence for common descent, and yet official “science” strongly (it’s an euphemism) rejects the first, and fanatically accepts the second. That’s not good, for me. Not good at all.
    The point, again, is that we must never minimize problems regarding evidence and its interpretation. On the contrary, those problems are exactly at the core of our difficulties. In that sense, Phevans’ post was, in my opinion, generically defensive and ideologically biased.
    That’s not the case, instead, for your post. It’s not that I want again to praise you, but as far as you sincerely express and motivate your point of view, however different it may be from mine, and are ready to honestly consider any answer, you are engaging in a very healthy practice: intellectual confrontation, aimed at the search for truth.

  15. great_ape:

    “So there is nothing in the reworking of a particular branch of human ancestry that represents a victory for ID.”

    Darwinism lives, and dies, with intermdiates. An intermediate form on an already extremely short (vis-a-vis geologic time) branch is lost. This represents a real problem for Darwinian explanations of human origins. In that sense, it’s a victory for those of us who are convinced that RM+NS does not get you a cat from a dinosaur.

  16. great_ape and gpuccio,

    I recently read a book by Darrel Falk defending gradualism as the mechanism for evolution. It was 80% science and 20% his personal theology.

    One of the chapters was on molecular similarities as evidence for common descent. He called the chapter “Tracing lineages by Tracking genes.” It is quite persuasive in support of common descent. I have some specific questions on what he said.

    His main evidence for common descent was pseudogenes produced by gene duplication and then one of the two genes deteriorates with specific similarities that shows up in different species. He uses goats and cows and different types of apes and contrasts the apes with several types of monkeys which do not have the the pseudogene. He specifically pointed to a deletion sequence which would be almost impossible to happen independently.

    As I said it is pretty persuasive for common descent. One of my questions is that if this is true and there is common descent then is there any evidence that the goat and cow evolved by a gradual process or could an abrupt process accomplish the same thing and then the genes then deteriorate further through gradual mutations over time. In other words, the fact that similar morphological species have the same pseudogenes with different mutations does not necessarily imply that the two species arrived here gradually just that over time non functioning genes will mutate slowly.

    He also said all introns begin with an identical sequence and end with a different but identical sequence. Thus, the cell processes know to cut them out and just where to do so because of specific markers. Is this true and are the beginning and ending markers always identical?

    Also within these introns which are cut out are frequently imbedded extraneous codes such as retroviruses and other anomalies that are another way to infer commonality between species. Also these similar imbeddings are usually at the same place in similar chromosomes.

    Also I gather that these intron have deteriorated and by the nature of the deterioration you can estimate the time frame when the original embedding took place.

    I understand these two phenomena are the basis for most of the inferences to common descent that is current. But nowhere did I find anything that was compelling for a gradual process of new species formation only that non functioning sections of code mutate slowly.

  17. Great_ape

    I think Phevan’s point is that, for evolutionists, if this news is indeed accurate, it means there is one more branch on the bush of great ape evolution that didn’t lead to modern man. There remains Homo habilis, Homo erectus, etc, etc. The basic evolutionary paradigm doesn’t change.

    It is certainly not clear that you still have homo habilis. That legendary piece of musemology. Even TalkOrigins admits that homo habilis is a “waste basket” taxon. A motley assortment of bones from what are probably different species thought to represent some vague transition from australopithecines to homo sapiens.

    The primary argument to assert the transitional status of homo habilis was its alleged brain size. However,KNM ER 1813 only has a brain capacity of 513 cc, which is not larger than an australopithecine. OH 7 had a brain volume of only 363 cc, which is smaller than an australopithecine. KNM ER 1470 was reduced from 750 cc to 526 cc, which again is not larger than an australopithecine. That leaves only KNM ER 1805, which was never clearly homo habilis, and OH 24 or “Twiggy”, which is a fanciful reconstruction of skull fragments thought to be just under 600 cc. If it were true, Twiggy would be slightly larger than an australopithicene but the reconstruction of Twiggy is a prime example of how the best evidence for evolution is always the instances where researchers get to fill in the fill in the blanks themselves.

  18. In that sense, it’s a victory for those of us who are convinced that RM+NS does not get you a cat from a dinosaur.

    As you should not be convinced. Mammals are synapsids and dinosaurs are diapsids. Those lineages separated over 300 million years ago. But then, you probably already knew that and were just being cheeky.

  19. Phevans said:
    “I really fail to see what the impact of this is”

    The issue speaks to credibility. National Geographic, for example, reported as recently as 2006 that Lucy was a “missing link” and “an early human ancestor.” Whole article is here: http://news.nationalgeographic.....ution.html

    Why would a leading source of popular science news publish this stuff 7 years after the fact—information which they either knew was wrong or should have known was wrong, assuming that the information ascribed to “Science at Vie” is accurate?
    To me it’s very relevant because this sort of intellectual dishonesty (or laziness…) severely damages the credibility of the message. Why oversell the evidence? Why not just admit that it’s not conclusive? Could it be that so many of the grand conclusions we hear about are more about ideology and less about science?

  20. jerry,

    although I am not specifically an expert of this field, I will try to comment on your questions according to my understanding.
    First of all, I agree with you that the most convincing evidence for common descent is represented by DNA sequences which can with some certainty be identified as truly random (errors, virus insertions, etc), and which are found in similar pattern in different species. Indeed, the homologies in genes (and, more generally, in functional DNA) can always be explained on a functional basis, as reuse of the code, or as a necessary configuration of code to provide some function. In that sense, I think that homologies are overrated, because I understand that they are evaluated (see BLAST and similar software) on the basis of the improbability of their random occurrance (please, someone correct me if I am wrong), therefore ignoring in principle any other explanation of the homologies themselves, like design or function. This is a good example of how a prejudiced ideology can alter the correct and complete evaluation of data. If you assume that any improbable enough homology means commonality of descent, you are only using a Dembski-like argument in a wrong context, and ignoring the most likely explanation for what you have observed.
    The homology of purely random sequences, instead, is more convincing in support of common descent. But the problem here is different: we should be certain that the configuration we observe is truly random. Unfortunately, I don’t know the subject well enough and I would be happy to learn from someone here, and so it is very difficult for me to really assess how convincing are the various evidences of this kind. Regarding introns, for instance, I would be very cautious. Indeed, introns are most certainly a highly functional part of DNA, probably more important then exons themselves. Therefore, any reasoning about introns has the same problem as reasoning about exons: homologies are probably due, in most cases, to similar function, and therefore to design.
    Duplications, pseudogenes and viral insertions are probably more interesting. I know very little about viral insertions, but I would again be very cautious about duplicated genes (in my opinion, a non random, designed component of DNA). In another thread, I have already suggested the similarity between gene duplication and modification and the programming procedures of copying, pasting and modifying existing code.
    As a supplementary note, I would remark that it is also possible that we observe partial common descent, in a general context where not every species is derived from a common ancestor.
    Finally, about graduality or abrupt modification. As I have already said in another thread, I do believe that both time modalities are in principle compatible with designed common descent, while only the gradual modality seems to me reasonable for non designed evolution (but, really, non designed evolution does not seem reasonable to me in any way). Some evidence (Cambrian explosion, and the lack of intermediate forms) seem to favour non gradual modifications, but it is also true that a gradual design would be more compatible with the “traditional evidence” of darwinian science, provided that any of it be true.

  21. gpuccio,

    Thanks, for your comments. It looks like pseudogenes and maybe introns are some of the best support for common descent but they are not necessarily indicative of anything else such as gradualism.

    Maybe others here may have thoughts on this and what may be additional indications of common descent. I understand that common descent could mean many lines of descent.

  22. “assuming that the information ascribed to “Science at Vie” is accurate?”
    See link HERE

    The feature article is described “Adieu Lucy ; Les dévouvertes qui bouleversent notre généalogie” which translated means, “Farwell Lucy; The discoveries that overturn our genealogy”

    A picture of the cover story can be accessed HERE

    Like I said, it’s rather surprising, if not embarrassing for this to come up 8 years later in the US.

    National Geographic’s 2006 “Fossil Find Is Missing Link in Human Evolution, Scientists Say” story is just more proof of how far out of date, out of sync and out of touch NG really is. Otherwise, if they were aware of the French article (which was supported by eminent scientists across Europe), it is nothing less than pure intentional deceit – which would not be surprising from them considering their crappy record of lies and manipulations.

  23. Steve B.

    The issue speaks to credibility. National Geographic, for example, reported as recently as 2006 that Lucy was a “missing link” and “an early human ancestor.” Whole article is here: http://news.nationalgeographic.....ution.html

    Excellent point. Growing up I heard so much about Lucy. I recall reading about Lucy not only in science classes but also in my 7th grade history class.

    Lucy was knuckle walking tree climber with a brain no bigger than a modern gorilla’s. Australopithecines have a brain size of 430 – 550 ccc, gorilla’s 450-550. Analysis of Australopithecines’ semicircular canal shows that it resembles that of extant apes and that Australopithecines probably did not walk upright any more than modern gorillas do.

  24. Didn’t they find another “Lucy” recently? From what I recall, they had not extracted the entire foot at the time. That must have been almost a year ago. I have been waiting to see if the big toe looked more like a thumb. My guess is that it did, which is why I don’t recall hearing anything else.

  25. ID Front-loading? Present-day “evolution” before your eyes.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5479501/

    Monkey apes humans
    by walking on two legs
    Macaque at Israeli zoo walks upright
    after near death experience

  26. http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....01101.html
    Modern Man, Neanderthals Seen as Kindred Spirits
    Monday, April 30, 2007; Page A06

    The two groups saw each other as kindred spirits and, when conditions were right, they mated.

    “Given the data we now have, it would be highly improbable to argue there is no Neanderthal contribution to the early European population that came out of Africa,” Trinkaus said. “I believe there was continuous breeding between the two for some period of time.

    “Both groups would seem to us dirty and smelly but, cleaned up, we would understand both to be human. There’s good reason to think that they did as well.”

  27. [...] Uncommon Descent | Icon of Evolution “Lucy” Bites the DustApr 26, 2007 … Another icon of evolution, the world famous fossil “Lucy” was found to not be in the modern human lineage at all. The interesting part of this is … [...]

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