Foley/Milton debate, message 2

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From: Richard Milton <>
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Reply-To: Richard Milton <>
Date: Sun, 17 Aug 1997 15:34:43
Subject: Re: Milton's response to Kuban

I am replying to Jim Foley's post regarding my response to
Glen Kuban. I have attempted to reorganise the previous
material to keep the voices separate and the debate
intelligible -- please let me know if I have not succeeded.

>RM "Java Man" is now accepted as having been an extinct ape, and
>    every single claimed "missing link" fossil has been re-assigned
>    either as an extinct ape or as a human essentially the same as
>    modern humans. 
>GK  This is false.  Java Man refers to a set of fossils assigned to
>    Homo erectus, which is not considered just an extinct ape by most 
>    scientists, but rather an extinct species of our own genus, Homo. 
>RM  Glen is becoming confused again.  FACT: Java "man" was a gibbon
>    (see any competent authority). 
>Glen is correct.  *Every* competent authority I'm aware of (Leakey,
>Johanson, Walker, Trinkaus, Wood, Day, Tattersall, Brace, Campbell, etc)
>considers Java Man to be a member of Homo erectus.  Richard, which
>competent authorities do you have in mind?

For a clear resume of the real facts see John Reader _Missing Links_, 1981, 
and the references therein. Briefly, the femur and skullcap which Eugene 
Dubois put together to make _Pithecanthropus erectus_ were found by a gang 
of convicts working unsupervised in locations that were separate and were 
not recorded because no geologist or paleontologist was present.  
Subsequently, other limb bones of _modern_ humans were found near the site. 
The association of the two fossils was prompted entirely by Dubois' avowed 
desire to find a missing link.

The leg bone was almost certainly that of a modern human.  It is my 
understanding that the skullcap is now regarded as that of an extinct 
gibbon-like creature.  But the important fact is not the origin of the 
fossils but that the association of the femur and skull cap is not 
scientifically justified.

It was in recognition of these facts that the restoration of Java 'man' 
paid for by Ernst Haeckel was removed from the Leiden Museum to its 
basement and in the mid 1980s, the exhibit of Java 'man' was removed from 
public display in the American Museum of Natural History.

To apply the word competent to anyone who claims that the association
of these fossils is valid seems to me an unusual use of
the term. 

> RM  We have apes and we have men.  We do not have anything to connect
>     them.
> GK  Furthermore, like other YECs Milton deals only a few specimens of 
>     something (and that not even accurately), while ignoring the bulk of
>     the fossil evidence.  There are now numerous known specimens of Homo
>     erectus.  They do seem to show sub-modern features, but ones far more
>     advanced than modern apes.  It's interesting that Milton and other YECs
>     insist that all these hominid fossils are either all ape or all human,
>     and yet in cases like Home erectus, they can's seem to decide which.
> RM  Hint to Glen:  'Homo' means man.
>To say that Homo erectus fossils can't be transitional merely because
>they're in the genus Homo doesn't follow.  After all, it could be (and I
>would say is) that erectus is more primitive than us and different
>enough to be in another species, yet similar enough to be in the same
>genus.  Seems to me that to determine if something is transitional or
>not, we need to look at it's *anatomy*, not its name.

This is a piece of semantic gymnastics.

Pithecus (as in _Australopithecus_) means ape.  Homo means man.  These are 
not just semantic niceties which can be changed at will depending on how 
clever a debater you are.  They are a direct reflection of scientific 

The Linnean catalogue of classification is very jealously guarded by those 
scientists whose job is the description of type specimens and nowhere is it 
more closely guarded than in the case of human fossils and the fossil of 
possible human ancestors.

There are cases where overenthusiastic Darwinists have tried to introduce a 
new species in order to prove the existence of a missing link, but where 
later, scientific accuracy prevails and the 'missing link' is discredited.

For example, in 1959, Louis Leakey announced the discovery at Olduvai of 
Zinjanthropus, East African man.  The new formula name, with its 
'anthropus' ending was chosen by Leakey to insist that his discovery was 
entirely novel, was not related to Dart's Australopithecine discoveries in 
the South, and was definitely hominid, not an ape.  In 1965 Professor 
Philip Tobias of Witwatersrand University examined, measured and described 
the Olduvai fossil skull in the official type description in which he 
reassigned the specimen as Australopithecus (Zinjanthropus).  The Olduvai 
find was merely a variety of ape.

Of course it is true that we must look at the anatomy of the fossils 
themselves.  But it is dangerous to allow Darwinists like the Leakeys to 
construct 'missing link' theories on their estimate of the fossils: safer 
to trust the type description which is usually done by specialists on the 
basis of comparative measurement and in the calm of the lab, not in the 
headlines of National Geographic.

Is Jim saying that he knows of cases where names are not an accurate guide 
because fossils described as _Homo_ are in fact apes, or cases where 
fossils described as ape are in fact human? If so then let him present the 
evidence for that claim.  It would be a most startling scientific claim. 
And if Jim has no such evidence then how can he challenge the idea that 
fossils assigned to _Homo_ are human and those assigned to 
_Australopithecus_ are apes?

>So you are saying that all the Homo habilis fossils are human?

I'm saying there is nothing to distinguish them from modern humans.
_Homo habilis_  was discovered by the Leakeys at Olduvai in 1964.   
The habilines are calculated to have had a small brain: perhaps only 
half the size of the average modern human's.  But the habilines were 
also small in stature, so their brain was not small in relation to 
their body size, rather like modern pygmies.

One of the ironic aspects of the discovery of _Homo habilis_ is that while 
Darwinists concentrate their attention on interpreting the fossils from 
Olduvai Gorge, attempting to establish the creature's credentials as a 
missing link, they appear to have overlooked the fact that only a few miles 
to the east, in the forests of Zaire are the Mbuti people who are on 
average only four foot to four foot six inches tall and who, in stature, 
brain capacity, and even way of life, are comparable to _Homo habilis_.  
Yet the Mbuti people are modern men in every sense.

> GK  Some YEC's argue Home erectus is all human.  Others that is is just an
>     extinct ape.  If that doesn't belie their claim that it is clearly
>     one or the other, and indicate that it has features of both, I don't
>     know what does.
> RM  No-one is confused here, Glen except you.
>Glen is correct again.  Creationists are horribly confused, and can't
>work out whether fossils like Java Man, Peking Man and ER 1470 are
>humans or apes.  (If anyone doesn't believe this, ask me for examples)

I am unable to say whether creationist are confused on this issue or not as 
I'm not a creationist.  I, however, am not confused.  For the reasons given 
above, those scientists describing the type specimens have assigned them to 
Homo if they are human and Australopithecus if they are apes.  

>That seems odd to me.  After all, no living human skull would be
>mistaken for an ape, and no living ape skull would be mistaken for a
>human, even by a creationist.  And yet there are a number of fossil
>skulls which some creationists claim are human, and some say are apes.
>Doesn't it necessarily follow that these skulls must be more apelike
>than any human, and more humanlike than any ape?  And isn't that the
>sort of thing we would expect to see if humans evolved from apes?

The scientists who described the type specimens and assigned their 
zoological status were not confused.  They were perfectly clear.

>RM   "Lucy" and other Australopithecines are now known to be extinct
>      apes unrelated to humans,
> "Known" by whom?  Australopithicines include several species,
> some of which are still conisdered possible or probably ancestors
> of humans by many workers.  Milton's dismissal is overly simplistic 
> to say the least.

>RM  My dismissal is based on the scientific evidence.  There have
>    been two serious comparative anatomy studies of
>    Australopithecines, one by Dr Solly Zuckerman in the 1950s
>    and one by Dr Charles Oxnard in the 1980s.  (Both
> I hope you're not implying that these are the *only* two such studies. 
> Howell et. al. (Journal of Human Evolution (1978), 7:127-31) list about 
> 15 similar studies which reached different conclusions, and there have 
> doubtless been many more since then.  Also, Zuckerman's studies are way
> out of date, being mostly 30 or 40 years old, and dating from before
> Lucy was even found.
>I object also to the idea that something is "known" if you can find one
>or two studies to support it.  To me, "known" implies that something
>that is accepted by all or almost all workers in the field, otherwise
>we can have the absurdity that a claim and its negation can both be
>"known" to be true.
>By my definition, it is *not* "known" that australopithecines are
>extinct apes unrelated to humans.  Quite the opposite.  That opinion is
>in a distinct minority.

Then why were they named Australopithecus (= Southern ape) by the 
specialists who described their type specimens?  The fact that there is a 
long queue of Darwinists desperate to find a 'missing link' and willing to 
shoehorn each new discovery to fit does not alter the anatomical facts.

>RM  while "Neanderthal man" and "Homo
>    habilis" are known to have been humans not significantly
>    different from living humans. The missing link is still missing.


> Again, "known" by whom?  Not by scientists studying the fossils.
> In the case of Homo habilis in particular, there are a number
> of features that distinguish them from modern humans.
> Are you saying, then, that habilines like ER 1470, OH 7, OH 13 are all
> modern humans?  

I'm saying that there are modern humans, living only a few miles from the 
place where these fossils were found, who have comparable stature and brain 
capacity to habilines (the Mbuti pygmies of Zaire).

> I have one final question for Richard. What *would* be an acceptable
> example of an ape/human intermediate, since he doesn't like any of  
>the claimed specimens?

There are three criteria that distinguish humans from apes anatomically.  
They are:-

1.  The way the skull is joined to the spine, balanced upright in humans, 
sloping in apes.

2.  Human feet are flat for walking upright.  Ape feet are long and 
curved for grasping branches.

3. Ape teeth are characteristically different from human teeth.

These are the important criteria.  Darwinist sometimes try to confuse 
the issue by introducing matters like cranial capacity or pelvic 
construction, but this is largely smoke and mirrors. 

Australopithicines like Lucy have their skulls joined to their spines like 
apes, they have long curved hands and feet for grasping branches (longer 
and more curved than a chimpanzee for instance) and their teeth are those 
of an ape.

Show me a fossil that has feet, teeth and skull posture halfway 
between an ape's and a human's and I'll be very interested to see it.  
Show me a sequence of fossils with progressive development of these three 
criteria from a sequence of securely dated rock strata and I'll be willing 
to accept that there is evidence for an ape-human transition.

So far no-one has found a single such fossil.  Of course, I accept that 
doesn't mean that such fossils will not one day be found, but that is not 
the point I am making.  The point I am making is that some Darwinists are 
so mesmerised by their ideological beliefs that they were willing to make 
scientific claims that are not borne out by observation and measurement and 
this makes their 'missing link' claims nothing more than scientific urban 


Richard Milton
Tel: +44 1732 353 427     Fax: +44 1732 353 427 

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