Foley/Milton debate, message 5a1

See also:
Date: Wed, 22 Oct 97 13:15:13 MDT
In-Reply-To: <>
Subject: Foley's reply to Milton

Because Richard Milton's last message was getting quite long, I will
respond to it in parts.  This first part responds to his claims about Java

> > >    Glen [Kuban] 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?
> >
> >   RM
> >>> For a clear resume of the real facts see John Reader _Missing Links_,
> >>> 1981, [details of discovery of Java Man followed ...]
> >
> > JF
> > I don't dispute any of his facts about how Java Man was discovered.  But
> > does he give any evidence that Java Man is a gibbon?  I'll bet he says, 
> > as I do, that Java Man is Homo erectus.
> If you consult the reference I gave, you will find that John 
> Reader explains how Eugene Dubois' 'discovery' is entirely bogus and 
> consists of an ape-like skull cap that was found in a different place and 
> at a different time from a human thigh bone.

I did consult it, and I found that:

  "The new specimens [the Sangiran and Peking skulls] matched what there
  was of Dubois' fossils, and suplied enough of what was missing to satisfy
  everyone that the Java and Peking fossils all represented an early form
  of man, with almost nothing of the ape about him."

This is meant to support your claim that Java Man was a gibbon?

>     RM
> >>> 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. 
> >
> > JF
> > On what is this understanding based?  Do you know of *any* scientists
> > qualified in paleoanthropology who believe this?
> Dr Rudolph Virchow, Director of the Berlin Society for Anthropology and
> founder of the science of pathology in its modern form, examined Dubois'
> fossils and wrote: "The skull has a deep suture between the low vault and 
> the upper edge of the orbits.  Such a suture is found only in apes, not in 
> man.  Thus the skull must belong to an ape.  In my opinion this creature 
> was an animal, a giant gibbon in fact.  The thigh bone has not the 
> slightest connection with the skull." (See H. Wendt, From Ape to Adam, 
> 1972, pp 167-168).

This quotation dates from 1896 (i.e. over a century ago) when only one such
fossil was known.

> Virchow's conclusion was supported by many others who examined Dubois' 
> fossils at first hand including Marcellin Boule, Director of the Human 
> Institute of Paleontology in Paris, who said that the thigh bone was 
> "identical to that of a modern human whereas the skullcap resembled that of 
> an ape, possibly a large gibbon."  (See M. Boule, Fossil Men: Elements of 
> Human Paleontology, 1923).

But then in a later edition of Fossil Men by Boule and Vallois (1957), we
find that Boule changed his mind in no uncertain manner:

  p. 118: Figs 75 and 76 show that, in its principal characters, the Trinil
  skull-cap is really intermediate between that of an Ape, like the
  Chimpanzee, and that of a Man of really low status, such as Neandertal
  Man. (p.118)

  p. 120: In his brain, as well as in his skull, Pithecanthropus may then
  truly be considered as intermediate between the Great Apes and Man. (p.120)

  p. 124: The half human, half simian appearance of Pithecanthropus stands
  out with particular clarity.

  p. 124: The views of these various authors may, however, be reduced to
  three: (1) Pithecanthropus is an Ape; (2) he represents a transitional
  form between the Anthropoids and Man; (3) he is already a Human, or
  rather a Hominian.

  These differences of opinion are at bottom more apparent than real.
  Those who believe in the simian character of Pithecanthropus really look
  upon it as an Ape superior to all living Apes, while those who believe in
  its human character regard it as inferior to all known Men, living or
  fossil.  ...  the fact remains that in all its characters known to us,
  this fossil stands in an intermediate, or if terminological exactitude be
  preferred, an interposed, position.  This is a positive fact admitted by
  all competent naturalists.

  ^^^ ^^^^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^^^^^

Doesn't sound much like a gibbon, or that Boule thinks it's a gibbon.

> My final reference is that of Eugene Dubois himself, the discoverer of so-
> called "Java Man", who eventually dropped his hominid claim and in 1932 
> wrote, "_Pithecanthropus_ was not a man, but a gigantic genus allied to the 
> gibbons on account of its exceedingly large brain volume and distinguished 
> at the same time by its faculty of assuming an erect attitude and gait." 
> (Quoted by Stephen Jay Gould in "Eight Little Piggies, 1993, p 135.)  Gould 
> quotes this with the bizarre aim of proving that Dubois did _not_ think 
> Pithecanthropus was a gibbon!

But the above quote doesn't say Java Man was a gibbon, only "allied to a
gibbon", which is consistent with also believing that it was evolving
towards humans.  The same Gould article also quotes Dubois as saying:

  "... I still believe, now more firmly than ever, that the Pithecanthropus
  of Trinil is the real 'missing link'."

The following report is from Nature, 136:234, Aug 10, 1935:

  E. Dubois: On the gibbon-like appearance of Pithecanthropus erectus.
  While possessing many gibbon-like characteristics, P. erectus fills the
  previously vacant place between the Anthropomorphae and man as regards
  cephalic coefficient. (Amsterdam Royal Acad., Proc 38, No 6, June 1935)

This and Gould's article make it quite clear that Dubois was continuing to
claim Java Man as an ape-man (albeit a gibbon-like one) and still
considered it a human ancestor.

To remind everyone, Milton said that it was a "FACT" that Java Man was a
gibbon, accepted by "any competent authority".  I listed 9 living,
recognized paleoanthropologists who all say it was Homo erectus (I could
easily find more).  Richard countered with three quotes, 101, 74, and 65
years old, the second of which is from Boule who later changed his mind,
and the third of which is from Dubois, who always considered Java Man an
ape-man and a human ancestor.

Since Richard said:

  "It is my understanding that the skullcap is NOW regarded as that of an
  extinct gibbon-like creature."

surely it's not too much to ask for a *living* qualified scientist who
agrees with him?  Instead, he had to go back to the last *century* to
find one, and even then it was a minority view that was refuted by later
evidence, as his own sources document.

>     RM
> >>> 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.
> >
> >JF
> >I consider this totally irrelevant.  I think the association to the same
> >individual is probably incorrect, and many of the above scientists 
> >probably do too.  That has nothing to do with how the skullcap is 
> >classified.
> On the contrary. It is the _only_ issue relevant to how the skullcap is 
> classified. The only compelling reason for thinking the skullcap anything 
> other than an ape is its "association" with the femur of an upright walking 
> human.  Once you accept that no such association exists then you are left
> with the inescapable conclusion that Dubois' Java "man" _never_ existed 
> except in the overworked imaginations of ideological Darwinists like Dubois 
> himself.
> If the ape skullcap is _not_ legitimately associated with any human 
> remains, as Jim himself now admits, then perhaps Jim can tell us how the 
> skullcap can justifiably be described as 'Java Man' or any other kind of 
> man?  What _scientific_ reason is there for thinking it human or ancestral 
> to human?

Anatomy.  Because the Java Man skullcap had a capacity of around 900-940
cc, far larger than any ape.  Because we have found later similar skulls
that are more complete and are obviously not from apes.

For example, from Wendt's "In Search of Adam" (you might also find this in
the Wendt book you quoted), about the discovery of the Sangiran II skull:

  "The skull of Sangiran and that of Trinil, in the words of the
  anthropologist Weidenreich, "were as like as two eggs."  It only differed
  in being much more nearly complete.  The structure of the temporal
  sections and the position of the gap at the back of the head showed
  unmistakably that the owner had been no ape but a human being, an "early"
  specimen, to be sure, with a brain volume of 775 cc." (p.301)

There is also the extreme similarity between the Java Man skullcap and the
Turkana Boy skull (
Is the Turkana Boy skull a human or an ape?  If human, how can you then
claim that the very similar Java Man is an ape?

>     RM
> >>> 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.
> >
> >JF
> >References?  This seems *highly* unlikely, given that Ian Tattersall, head
> >of the Dept. of Anthropology at the AMNH, and curator of their human
> >evolution exhibit, discusses Java Man prominently in his books "The Human
> >Oddyssey" and "The Fossil Trail".  In these books it is clear that both
> >Tattersall and the scientific community accept Java Man as Homo erectus.
> There is nothing at all inconsistent with Dubois' "Java Man" being proved 
> bogus, removed from the AMNH yet Darwinist scientists continuing to speak 
> and write as if it were proven true. That is how Darwinism works. 
> Its power as a scientific urban myth is so great it transcends factual 
> evidence. This is the central point my book makes.
> Perhaps Jim will tell us _where precisely_ today in the American Museum of 
> Natural History we can see the casts of Eugene Dubois' "Java Man" fossils 
> that were on show until the 1980s?

Sure. I emailed Ian Tattersall to ask him, and here is his reply:

  Dear Jim: In the mid-1980s the entire ageing "Hall of Man" (including a
  Java cast) at the AMNH was removed, to make way for the new Hall of Human
  Biology and Evolution, in which casts of Homo erectus from Java as well
  as elsewhere are prominently displayed.  Hope this helps.  Good luck,

Since he did not specifically mention Dubois' skullcap, I asked him about

  >Ian, thanks for that info.  Can you confirm that the original Trinil 2
  >skullcap discovered by Dubois is one of those casts?

  I sure can.  Best, Ian.

So I'm curious about why you claimed that Java Man is no longer in the
AMNH.  By the way, I know Richard is familiar with the British Museum of
Natural History exhibits.  What do they say Java Man is?

>  JF
> >I don't know anything about the Leiden reconstruction or why it might have 
> >been removed.  Any references on this?
> I've already given you the reference to this. See John Reader, 'Missing 
> Links', 1981.  If you consult it you will see the photograph of 
> "Java Man" standing forlornly in the basement on page 53.

So he is.  Doesn't mean Java Man is a gibbon, of course.  As Reader points
out, Java Man is now thought to be more human-like than Dubois'
reconstruction, not less.

> > JF
> > Not a single scientist I am aware of would call Homo habilis a modern 
> > human or an ape.  (I gave 5 quotes above showing differences from modern 
> > humans). Not a single scientist says that Java Man is a gibbon, something 
> > Richard claims is a "FACT" accepted by any competent authority.  Not a 
> > single scientist disputes that Homo erectus is morphologically more 
> > primitive than Homo sapiens.  
> Here Jim has once again grossly overstated his case when he makes 
> statements like 'Not a single scientist ...'  However one can make his 
> statement approximately true by a simple change to 'Not a single Darwinist 
> scientist...'  when it at once becomes tautologically true and is merely a 
> statement about ideological interpretations of ambiguous data.

Would you be happier if I said "Not a single recent qualified
paleoanthropologist" thinks Java Man is a gibbon?  Now do you know of any
exceptions?  Since you now seem to agree that no evolutionary scientists
thinks Java Man was a gibbon, why did you say earlier that "any competent
authority" would accept that statement as true?  Do you use some strange
definition of "competent authority" that excludes the entire
paleoanthropological community?

Jim Foley

In theory, theory and practice are the same, in practice they're not.

Previous -  UP -  Next