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A brief history of human evolution: challenging Darwin’s claim
© The Author(s) 2018
- Received: 13 August 2018
- Accepted: 26 September 2018
- Published: 29 October 2018
There is a consensus among evolutionists today that man first appeared in Africa approximately four million years ago. Others counter this theory saying, “... when shall we speak of man as man”? The timeline they give is approximately one million years and to fully understand one million years is still a difficult task.
However, another even better way to understand time and man is to study it in terms of generations. So, keeping in mind that primitive people married and had children early, twenty years will make an average generation. According to this there would be 50,000 generations in a million years. Keeping this in mind if we calculate generations we find that 250 generations back take us to the time when written history began. While, another 250 generations back would take us to the time (10,000 years ago), when cultivation began, and man started settled life. Now we are left with 49,500 generations of men, plus a time span of 990,000 years. Keeping these statistics in mind let us ask the question once more, when should we speak of man as man?
Therefore, this paper attempts not only to understand the timeframe “when we can really call Man? – Man” in light of the so-called history of human evolution but also to understand that if the specie roaming the earth for a million years was truly man’s ancestor, as is claimed by Charles Darwin. Then what took man’s ancestor so long to show signs of development that we only witness in the last 12000 years.
Moreover, while keeping man’s progress under consideration of the last 12000 years, it will further shed light on why there are serious reservations about Charles Darwin theory of human evolution. As many scientists, evolutionists, archeologist and different religious scriptures strongly claim that man came to the earth fully developed and did not evolve from a lesser specie.
Prehistory simply means the time before written history began. More than 99% of man’s story is prehistory. The consensus by the historians is that man is about 1 million years old, but he did not write anything, until 5000 years ago. Although, prehistoric man did not leave us any written records he unintentionally left us information on his way of life, which is interpreted by different kinds of scientists. These scientists are specialist in physical anthropologists, human paleontologists, archaeologist and other fields. It is their job to find out what happened before written history began (Braidwood 1964a, b). Some historians believe that it is their duty to bring together various facts given by these scientists and put them together in such a way as to reach objective conclusions. E. H. Carr has two ideas on what an objective historian is: one is that he “... has the capacity to rise above the limited vision of his own situation in society and in history – a capacity which... is partly dependent on his capacity to recognize the extent of his involvement in that situation, to recognize, that is to say, the impossibility of total objectivity”, and his other idea is “...simply that he gets his facts right, but rather that he chooses the right facts, or, in other words, that he applies the right standard of significance” (Marwick 1970).
Man has been blessed with the best attributes and qualities among all living species. It is one, specie that can control all other species with its intelligence and wisdom. It is the one specie that has the ability to reason and think rationally. C. M. Bowra says, “based on the humanistic faith that man is worth studying for his own sake”, that “Human beings are the element in our environment which is of most consequence to every child of man” (Grant 1965, 1952). Therefore we should not be a surprised when we see many theories and counter theories with regard to the dates of the origin, the evolution or the different phases of this development.
“New discoveries and new techniques for the interpretation of the evidence of mankind’s past appear almost daily. The newer finds and techniques necessitate reconsideration of older evidence. Slowly but surely we move toward fuller understandings of those beings whose history holds the greatest fascination for all of mankind-men themselves.”
Whatever, material I have put together in this paper and whatever hypothesis, assumptions or conclusions, I shall make will be based on the work done up until this time. What the future discoveries behold is still unknown and mysterious to all of us.
There are many different ways and views about how to understand prehistory and history. Pre-historians have given two main ways to accomplish this task. One is either to go down the ladder of time, whereas the other is to climb up the ladder. I will follow the first path for this paper.
“...David was king of Israel less than 150 generations ago, Julius Caesar was alive just 100 generations ago, Columbus was there 25 generations ago and the United States is just 10 generations old. So, the current scenario is that there were 49,750 generations of men before written history began!” (Braidwood 1964a, 1967b)
And another 250 generations back would take us to the time (10,000 years ago), when cultivation began and man started settled life. Now we are left with 49,500 generations of men, plus a time span of 990,000 years. Keeping these statistics in mind let us ask the question once more, when should we speak of man as man? Can the human mind accept this fact that for such a long period of time and for so many generations, man did not make any effort to change either his surrounding or his life style? Why was he only a hunter and a gatherer for thousands and thousands of years? Why did it take him such a long time to change himself and his way of life? Or would it not be wrong to say here that it was not really man who was roaming the earth at that time, but some other species, with fewer qualities than what man has been blessed with. Some human evolutionists have tried to call these species man’s ancestors and they believe that man eventually evolved out of these species, whereas others have refuted this concept. According to them, man did not evolve out of any other species: man was born a man with the best of qualities among all living species.
Let us briefly review human evolution, in order to understand this concept and to try to find answers to questions that are still confusing us today. Let us begin with the evolution of animals. Zoologists have classified the members of the animal kingdom according to their differences and similarities. We humans fall under this kingdom because we move and eat with our mouth; we are vertebrates because of our backbone, and we are mammals because we are warm-blooded and we breast-feed our offspring. We are primates because we have grasping hands, flexible limbs, and a highly developed sense of vision. We are also members of the family Hominoidea, the taxonomic group which includes both humans and apes, because of the absence of a tail, swinging arms, and the shape of our teeth. The term hominoid refers to all present and past apes and humans, while hominid refers specifically to present and past humans (Price and Feinman 1993, 1997a, 1997b, c, d, e, f). Hominids are known as walking creatures with comparatively large brains; humans today are the sole living representation of this group. According to some evolutionists, fossil bones and genetic studies indicate that the hominids shared an ancestor with the great African ape. It is at this point that the record becomes more complex, when the study of primate evolution turns into the study of hominid evolution. According to Richard Klein of Stanford University, determining the genus and species of the fossil bones of early humans is a very difficult task. The fragmentary pieces of the early fossil finds represent only a few hundred separate individuals. Determining the age of the fossils is also very difficult. He says paleo-anthropology is more like a court of law than a physics laboratory, where we reassess and even redraw the whole family tree on finding a new fragment (Price and Feinman 1993, 1997a, 1997b, c, d, e, f).
Although we humans differ considerably from apes, genetically we are closest to them of all hominoids. As far as our genetic composition is concerned we share 98.4% of our genetic material with chimpanzees, while gorillas are only 2.3% different from us genetically. These statistics show great similarities and suggests that the last ancestor shared by the great ape and human lines was probably a chimpanzee-like creature. Thus, changes in genetic regulatory mechanism play an important role in the evolution of different lineages.
Geography had quite an important influence in shaping the development of humanity. It was in the middle of the Tertiary period (5–25 million of years ago) when the climate was much warmer and wetter than what it is today, and tropical forests grew across much of Africa, Europe and Asia that an increase in the variety of mammals occurred. Many species of apes lived in these forests, including one that is considered by some to be the ancestor of modern humans.
Then sometime around 5 million years ago, towards the end of the Tertiary time, the global temperatures began to cool, ice caps formed at the poles, and the climate grew drier. As a result, the area of the tropical forests grew smaller, giving way to expanses of open woodland and grasslands. These developments did not occur all at once but evolved slowly. In East Africa the hominoids groups were trapped in shrinking patches of forest. Before this they had lived in the trees and moved on four feet when travelling around the forest bed. Now in order to cross wide stretches of open land quickly, some hominoids began walking on two feet, like modern humans. It was under these conditions that the hominids split from this ape or the hominoid group. It is believed that this whole process of hominization began in Africa, which is the only continent where fossils of early hominids dating back to four - 5 million years are found today. The distinction was made due to their new mode of locomotion, known as “bipedalism” (walking on two feet rather than on four). These early hominids are called australopithecines: specialist believe in addition to walking upright with two feet, they had comparatively larger brains and they depended on tools for their survival (Bahn 2002a, b, c, d, e).
While studying the fossils we also need to study how these beings modified objects and landscapes, thus creating an archaeological record. It is important to study both, as it helps us to understand how human beings evolved into what they are today. Some of the best evidence comes from sites at Hadar, Swartkrans, Olduvai, Laetoli and Koobi Fora. Some new fossil finds from Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania have pushed back the age of the earliest known hominids and have modified our understanding of their appearance and behavior (Price and Feinman 1993, 1997a, 1997b, c, d, e, f).
It was sometime between 500,000 and 200,000 years ago that the fossils of H. erectus start to disappear from the fossil records and were replaced by fossils that show a mosaic of features found in H. erectus and H. sapiens (literally wise men). Though these fossils differ considerably from one another they collectively are known as archaic H. sapiens. They are poorly dated and paleoanthropologists find them difficult to classify and to relate specifically to H. sapiens. There are two major interpretations of the evidence of these fossil records. Punctuationists favor the “replacement model”: according to them H. erectus was a single, long- lived, geographically dispersed species, and had only one sub-population most probably located in Africa around 200,000 to 130,000 years ago that underwent evolutionary changes there to produce H. sapiens. Their descendants then later migrated to other regions. Whereas, the gradualists favor the “regional continuity model”. According to it H. erectus eventually evolved into H. sapiens gradually throughout the entire regions, retaining regionally distinct physical characteristics (Schultz and Lavenda 1998a, b, c, d). However, archaeologists have found no record to back the claim that either H. erectus or archaic H. sapiens was truly our ancestor. There is no evidence of personal ornamentation - jewelry, beads, or any kinds of art form, exists, nor are there paintings, sculptures or engravings that show that use of more than basic instincts. The ability to think and reason is still missing (Ingold 1994a, b, c). Therefore, whether they were really our ancestor, might be questioned.
In Europe a specie known as Neanderthals flourished between 130,000 and 35,000 years ago, they are considered by some to be the descendant of archaic H. sapiens. A large collection of fossils remains, tells us that they were shorter and more robust than modern H. sapiens with bulbous noses that helped them to survive cold conditions by reducing heat loss. But during the 1980s, new evidence revealed that Neanderthals appeared in Europe and western Asia at the same time anatomically modern H. sapiens appeared in Africa. These dates and the new evidence have made paleoanthropologists revise their traditional understanding of the relationship between Neanderthals and modern peoples. The archaic H. sapiens could no longer be considered the ancestors of the Neanderthals as data found in Israel suggests that the Neanderthals and the moderns lived side by side in south-western Asia for at least 45,000 years without losing their anatomical distinctiveness. Even more puzzling is the fact that both were using tools made in the same way. Mousterian experts disagree whether Neanderthals created a religion and whether hunting was important to them, but there is compelling fossil evidence from many sites and regions that they buried their dead and looked after their sick and old. Moreover, it seems probable, given the scant evidence for any form of art or ornamentation, that they did not make use of symbols, which is a critical element in the development of human language. Another thing that concerns us today is whether the Neanderthals and the moderns interbred, and whether the modern human populations today contain any Neanderthal genes. This situation creates a dispute among historians today (Schultz and Lavenda 1998a, b, c, d). There are many questions that come to mind. Why did the Neanderthals look after their sick and old? Why did they start to bury their dead? Why were they using tools? Some believe that all these actions can be related to basic instincts. Tool use is not a distinctive characteristic of humans but; animals too may use or even make simple tools; however, using tools to make other tools does distinguish humans from animals. For example, the sea otter wields a rock to break open the shell of an abalone. And the anthropologist Jane Goodall has observed chimpanzees using a variety of tools in their daily life: thrashing about with branches for display, using clubs and missiles for defense, selecting a twig and stripping its bark to probe the nests of termites and attract them to the stick, then to be eaten by the wise chimp. West African chimps even use stone and wooden hammers to crack and open nutshells (Price and Feinman 1993, 1997a, 1997b, c, d, e, f).
So, the question becomes was the Neanderthal man’s ancestor? Because when it came to something like creating symbols for speech they were unable to do so, since it required more brain capacity, reasoning and intelligence that they unfortunately lacked. The question whether the Neanderthals and modern humans interbred was recently addressed by paleoanthropologists who claim, that there was no interbreeding between the two. Mitochondrial DNA studies suggest that all humans living today are part of a relatively homogeneous population that originated in Africa within the last few hundred thousand years. In 1997, genetic researchers extracted and decoded a mitochondrial DNA fragment for the original Neander Valley specimen. The analysis revealed significant differences in its DNA from all living humans, suggesting that there was an ancient split between the two lineages, perhaps more than 500,000 years ago. Although, Neanderthals did not disappear from Western Europe until 30,000 years ago, possibly later, it is a common belief that modern H. sapiens may have forced them into extinction (Bahn 2002a, b, c, d, e).
Now let’s enter the last and the most important phase of human evolution. This phase is further divided into two phases. During the first phase, there is a general consensus among paleoanthropologists today that modern human (H. sapiens) evolved in Africa sometime between 100,000 to 150,000 years ago and spread around the globe. Recent studies in genetic evolution also support the view that Africa was the home of the original human population. However, debate continues about the nature of their dispersal. Most believe that a spreading wave of modern humans replaced existing populations of archaic H. sapiens entirely. This process of dispersal was complex and involved multiple movements of people and genes. In the caves of Qafzeh and Skhul in Israel remains of modern humans similar to found in Ethiopia and Tanzania, (150,000–100,000 years ago), and in South Africa (100,000–90,000 years ago) have been found. This is the first evidence that we have of modern humans (if they were) outside of Africa. Though, the fossils of these modern humans are still associated with the archaic stone tool traditions (like those of the Neanderthals), and like the ones also associated with the race of modern Africans (Bahn 2002a, b, c, d, e).
According to paleoanthropologists a second phase began roughly around 40,000 years ago, when “a behavioral revolution” took place: whether it was the continuity of the race or whether the race of the: “so called out of Africa H. sapiens” was totally replaced by the current human race are two questions that are under continuing discussion. But no one can disregard or refute the dramatic changes of many both in anatomy and in behavior, that have taken place over the last 40,000 years when compared with the previous million years. Recent evidence from molecular biology has added support to this picture of rapid and recent change, resulting in the current humans that are not only genetically but also behaviorally and anatomically modern. Evidence also points to an African center for the origin of modern humans. As they moved out of Africa they very soon replaced the variety of other Homo geneses roaming the world (Ingold 1994a, b, c).
Modern humans besides having many biological differences from other homo species are according to some “closer to the angles”. We possess many attributes that differentiate us from other species. Our large brain and intelligence enables us to think rationally and make decisions rather than to follow basic instincts like other species. We as humans have moved from purely instinctual behavior to reason and thought. We, in a given situation may flee from a fire, but we can also turn back into the same fire to save someone else (Price and Feinman 1993,1997a, 1997b, c, d, e, f). It is during this phase, that we see fully developed linguistic and modern technological skills which appear to have developed in the modern man. There is general disagreement as to when this really happened, as the evidence found in this regard is both uncertain and open to doubt. Some believe it was 100,000 years ago, whereas others say it was as recent as 50,000 to 40,000 years ago. However, according to the archaeological record, it is only after 50,000 years that we find abundant examples of art and advanced technology. The first uncontested ritual behavior evidence that we have are the ostrich eggshells beads found from Enkapune ya Muto (Kenya) dating to 46,000 years ago. Beside these archaeologists also witness the appearance of ornaments, engravings, sculptures, and other form of symbolism, which unmistakably confirm the presence of modern human language. But the fossils of this time remain ambiguous, because they lack any anatomical evidence for linguistic abilities. Despite lack of evidence found in the fossils, the archaeological record speaks louder than words. The manipulation of these symbols (ornaments, engravings, etc.) are linked with the fundamental improvements that occurred in technical abilities, which undoubtedly played an important role in the global spread of the modern human species. Their ability to invent new technologies and cope with different environments helped them to colonize the globe at a rapid speed (Bahn 2002a, b, c, d, e).
“...toolmaking, talking, symbolizing animals: Only they laugh; only they know when they will die; only they disdain to mate with family members; only they contrive those visions of other worlds called art. They have not just mentality but consciousness, not just needs but values, not just fears but conscience, not just a past but a history. Only they have culture.”
According to the famous anthropologist Leslie White, culture is our “extrasomatic” means of survival, it is the nonbiological, nongenetic behavior and sociability that have carried us through the millennia and spread us into diverse environments across the planet. So, in short, culture is a group of ideas and actions that are learned and transmitted from one generation to the next generation. Human culture embodies our experiences and behaviors which are summarized in our language and are transferred to us through our parents and peers. It is as impossible to have human identity without social contact as it is to have biological existence without parents. There is a famous story that Tarzan of the comic book and movie was an ape before he met Jane. It is only culture that enables us to find our place on earth, to create Gods, to anticipate death, to travel to the worlds beyond, and last but not the least to study archaeology, in order to find answers about our past (Price and Feinman 1993, 1997a, 1997b, c, d, e, f). It was this cultural development, which was both very rapid and at an alarming speed, that until today evolutionists, biological scientist, paleoanthropologist and many more have been unable to understand. For example, if we can believe the evolutionist man’s ancestor first appeared on earth 4 million years ago and then slowly evolved into Modern Human only around 40,000 years ago. While keeping this in mind we witness, that after 40,000 to 10,000 years age man not only developed new technologies, but he also modified his environment. And only 10,000 years have taken him from bows and arrows to thermonuclear weapons, and the production of the latter has taken only twenty more years (The New Encyclopedia Britannica n.d.).
“If my theory be true, numberless intermediate varieties, linking most closely all of the species of the same group together must assuredly have existed... Consequently, evidence of their former existence could be found only amongst fossil remains.”(Darwin 1964)
“The point emerges that if we examine the fossil record in detail, whether at the level of Orders or of Species, we find – over and over again – not gradual evolution, but the sudden explosion of one group at the expense of another.”(Ager 1976)
“Creation and evolution, between them, exhaust the possible explanations for the origin of living things. Organisms either appeared on the earth fully developed or they did not. If they did not, they must have developed from pre-existing species by some process of modification. If they did appear in a fully developed state, they must indeed have been created by some omnipotent intelligence.”(Futuyma 1983)
Fossil records today back this claim that all living species emerged fully developed and in a perfect state on earth.
Let’s counter Charles Darwin’s claim about the ‘origin of man’, that he evolved from some ape-like creatures. The evolutionists who back him claim, that during the 5 million years of man’s evolution, man evolved from one stage of species to another. How these different stages evolved one after the other have already been discussed in detail. So, in short, according to evolutionists who give counter arguments claiming that, the first stage that is, Australopithecus also known as South African ape is nothing but an old ape that has become extinct. Extensive research was carried out by anatomists from both England and America, namely, Lord Solly Zuckerman and Prof. Charles Oxnard, have showed that they belonged to an ordinary ape species that became extinct and bore no resemblance to humans (Zuckerman 1970a, b; Oxnard 1970).
“What has become of our ladder if there are three coexisting lineages of hominids (A. africanus, the robust australopithecines, and H. habilies), none clearly derived from another? Moreover, none of the three display any evolutionary trends during their tenure on earth.”(Gould 1976)
This claim was also backed by Lord Solly Zuckerman, who studied Australopithecus fossils for fifteen years, finally concluded that there is, in fact, no such family tree branching out from ape-like creatures to man.
“We then move right off the register of objective truth into those fields of presumed biological science, like extrasensory perception or the interpretation of man’s fossil history, where to the faithful [evolutionist] anything is possible – and where the ardent believer [in evolution] is sometimes able to believe several contradictory things at the same time.”(Zuckerman 1970a, b)
“...the theory of evolution is a claim evidently at variance with scientific findings. The theory’s claim on the origin of life is inconsistent with science, the evolutionary mechanisms it proposes have no evolutionary power, and fossils demonstrate that the intermediate forms required by the theory never existed. So, it certainly follows that the theory of evolution should be pushed aside as an unscientific idea.”(Yahya 2002a, b, c)
“It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, so we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”(Lewontin 1997)
So, in short, the evolutionists who give materialist answers to the hundreds of questions that arise in the conscious thinking mind of the modern man today, are not only further creating confusions but have in a way failed to satisfy the logical and rational human mind. How can one believe that an unconscious matter can create life? How can one believe that matter created thousands and thousands of living things and living species with their own distinct attributes, qualities, and characteristics when scientist until today are not sure even how a small thing such as a simple cell can be formed? They know that it is formed when proteins come together, but how they come together, in what ratios and form a cell is a process that they have failed to understand (The Usborne Internet Linked Encyclopedia of World History, s.v., “human cell” 2000). For many years now engineers from around the world have been trying to make a three-dimensional television that can match the quality of the human eye. Yes, they have being successful in making a three-dimensional television screen, but you cannot watch it without putting on special glasses; moreover, it only creates artificial three dimension. Similarly ears, engineers have failed to produce a device that can ensure the same quality and clarity of sound that the human ear perceives. Another thing which is even more important than seeing and hearing abilities is the ‘consciousness’ that man has been blessed with (Yahya 2002a, b, c). It is this consciousness that creates the major difference between man and all other living species. It is this that takes man one step ahead of all others. It is this ability that makes us flee from a fire, but we can go back in the same fire to save someone. It is this ability that helps us to understand and comprehend, that despite of the best of qualities given to us in this world, there are certain things that are still beyond our reach, control and comprehension. Even we humans have limitations, and this concept was well taken and understood even by early man since antiquity. He also knew that he had no control over the elements and there was some “Divine Force” somewhere, which had everything under its control. Hence it would not be wrong to presume here, that it was at this point in time around approximately 50,000 to 40,000 years ago, that the modern man entered the scene, and all the other species predating him were not actually ‘man’, or his ancestors. Hence, man was born a man with the best of qualities and a consciousness to understand the ‘Divine’ which has helped him not only to conquer but also to rule the world.
To my PhD Co-Supervisor Dr. Musarrat Hasan.
Availability of data and materials
The datasets generated or analyzed during the current study is not publicly available due [REASON WHY DATA ARE NOT PUBLIC] but are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
I am the sole author of this manuscript. The author read and approved the final manuscript.
Dr. Sarah Umer – Assistant Professor Institute of Visual Arts & Design at Lahore College for Women University, Lahore, Pakistan.
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