The human line separated from the chimpanzee line some 5 million years ago or a little more, according to dates derived from molecular "clocks". The earlier members of the human lineage, all of them entirely African, are lumped together as "australopithecines", named for the genus Australopithecus but including other genera too. Later members are placed together in the genus Homo.
Australopithecines have small cranial capacities (about 350 to 550 cc), large faces, jaws and cheek teeth, and the arrangement of the teeth in the jaws (dental arcade) tends to be rectangular. Where the postcranial skeleton is known, the ribcage is funnel-shaped (narrow at the top, expanding downwards), the hipbones a very wide and flaring, and the legs are short (leg:arm ratio intermediate between chimpanzee and human).The feet are basically bipedal and resemble humans, but the phalanges (toe-bones) are more curved. Fossils of the genus Homo have larger cranial capacities (510 cc upward), usually smaller faces, jaws and cheek teeth, and the dental arcades are parabolic. Except in the most primitive members the ribcage, where known, is barrel-shaped, the hipbones do not flare as much and are more curved, the legs are long, and the feet are fully modern.
|A afarensis||A africanus||A garhi||Early Homo|
|Molar & premolar size||moderate||moderate to large||huge||moderate|
|Anterior upper premolar||asymmetrical||more oval||more oval||more oval|
|Tooth enamel thickness||fairly thick||thick||thick||thick|
|Dental arcade shape||rectangular||rectangular||rectangular||parabolic|
|Anterior depth of palate||shallow||varies||shallow||deep|
|Diastema in upper jaw||common||absent||present||rare|
|Anterior pillars on face||no||yes||no||no|
|Supraorbital structure||thin bar||thin bar||thin bar||torus|
|Cranial capacity||343-500||428-ca 515||450||510-752|
As a typical bang-up-to-the-minute biologist, I adopt a cladistic attitude to taxonomy: a family or genus is an evolutionary lineage. I place humans, chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans together in the family Hominidae; so "hominid", a term still all too often used to mean "in the human line", actually refers to other living Great Apes too. At most, humans can be separated from other Great Apes as a tribe, Hominini, so fossils on the human side of the divide are "hominins". Anthropologists as a crew are always about 10 years behind other biologists, so it will probably be quite a while yet before textbooks of human evolution stop using "hominids" in the old sense.
Among the australopithecines, the earliest member is Ardipithecus ramidus, which is about 4.4 million years (ma) old and presents a quite distinct set of traits. The other distinctive clade represents the "robust" or "nutcracker", Paranthropus species, a distinct lineage which can be traced over a million and a half years from 2.5 to about 1 Ma The others are for the moment (for want of a decent cladistic model, really) lumped into the genus Australopithecus, which contains - or did until early this year - at least 4 species:
The indications are that the early hominins were as diverse as any other group of large mammals. Among all the diversity, however, there must have been some actual ancestors and, human nature being what it is, everyone is obsessed with trying to deduce which, if any, of the fossil species might have filled this role. About all we can say so far about the ancestral possibilities of A anamensis is that it is in the right place at the right time and has no specialized bits of anatomy that would exclude it from having been an ancestor. A afarensis seems pretty primitive all around, but of course is more derived in the human direction than A anamensis. So, a plausible sequence begins to emerge. But what of A africanus?
Opinions have been rather divided about Australopithecus africanus. It is later in time than A afarensis and earlier than the first Homo, H habilis, so it fills the time gap; but it has seemed to be in the wrong place. Maybe our ancestors evolved in East Africa, moved south, and then moved back again in time to become Homo (though of course they may have existed in East Africa too but we just haven´t found any yet). But the differences from A afarensis to H habilis seem mostly to be pointing in the wrong direction. On the one hand A africanus had a larger cranial capacity on average, the lower premolars were wider (in A afarensis they were often narrow and fairly apelike), and the dental arcade sometimes tended to be more parabolic. On the other hand it had larger, broader molars and premolars but somewhat smaller front teeth, and a heavily built-up facial skeleton with what one specialist, Yoel Rak, has called "anterior pillars" - prominent bony thickenings alongside the snout and nasal aperture. If A africanus was ancestral to Homo, these last features would have been developed then lost again - a transition we try to avoid in deriving ancestor-descendant lineages.
Well-preserved specimens of Homo appear at around 2 Ma in East Africa, mainly at Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania), where Homo habilis occurs, and at Koobi Fora (Kenya), where 2 species are present, a habilis-like species and the larger Homo rudolfensis. Both, especially H rudolfensis, have large molars, but the premolars are less expanded than in A africanus. The cranial capacity is 510-680 cc in H habilis and about 750 in H rudolfensis. The postcranial skeleton in H habilis, at least, is every bit as primitive as in australopithecines (it is "well known" that the legs are even relatively shorter than in "Lucy", but Asfaw and others  point out that the evidence actually will not sustain this conclusion; this was shown earlier by Korey ). A couple of hundred thousand years after these 2 early Homo species appeared, the first more modern-looking species, Homo ergaster with its long legs, shortened forearms, short face, prominent nose and beetle-brows, and a cranial capacity over 800 cc, appears in the record and is well on the way to becoming us.
The early Homo-bearing beds also have stone tools. Chimpanzees modify grass stems, branches and other perishable material, and they use stones to crack nuts but do not modify the stone. Presumably australopithecines did at least as well as chimpanzees, but not until Homo are there signs that stone was deliberately modified to form tools.
Where, then, did Homo spring from? There has been a big gap in the record before 2 Ma - back to 2.5, if we think that A africanus was the ancestral stock, or to 2.9 if we reject A africanus and take it back to A afarensis. (A related question, where did Paranthropus spring from, has now gone some way to being answered by the discovery, in the mid-80s, of "the Black Skull", from 2.5-ma deposits at Lomekwi, west of Lake Turkana. This specimen is beautifully intermediate between A afarensis and the later (1-2 Ma) Paranthropus specimens we find at Koobi Fora, Olduvai and so on). Until this year, there were just a few suggestive scraps:
The Uraha mandible and Hadar maxilla are early Homo, there is no disagreement about this. The Chemeron temporal and Sts 19 are much more controversial. Even if we narrow it down to just the first two, we come to the interesting conclusion that by 2.3 Ma two species already seem to be in existence, the same two species that we find in the 2 Ma deposits at Koobi Fora
And now, and now... hot off the presses ... a paper by Asfaw and others (Nature 1999 Apr 23; 284:629-5) describes a new species which they think "is descended from Australopithecus afarensis and is a candidate ancestor for early Homo". The new species is Australopithecus garhi from Bouri, on the Middle Awash River in Ethiopia. The age is 2.5 Ma, and the remains are associated with large antelope remains with cut-marks on them, apparently from stone tools. The primitive stone tools themselves were found not at Bouri itself but at the nearby, contemporaneous site of Gona.
The type specimen of Australopithecus garhi is a partial cranium. From nearby sites, and perhaps belonging to the same species or perhaps not, come several postcranial bones including a partial skeleton, a fragment of a second cranium, and 2 mandibles (one fairly complete). The specific name, garhi, means "surprise" in the Afar language, and a bit surprising it is, too. It is basically australopithecine, with a small cranial capacity (450 cc), rectangular or slightly diverging dental arcade, and very prognathous face. It lacks the anterior pillars of Australopithecus africanus, and it even has a gap (diastema) between the lateral incisor and the canine, a primitive feature seen in A afarensis but not in A africanus. From the photos, it looks very like A afarensis, but the authors point out some more "advanced" features like the premolar shape and the more anteriorly placed malar (cheekbone) root. Like many australopithecines, including some A afarensis, it has a sagittal crest for anchoring large temporal (chewing) muscles. But what is astounding about the specimen are the huge premolars and molars. The canine, for example, is larger than any other hominin, the anterior premolar is larger than any except for some specimens of Paranthropus boisei (the East African "nutcracker" species), and the second molar is larger than any Homo, though within the range of A africanus.
About the mandible, Asfaw and colleagues say little, except that its morphology would be compatible with belonging to the same species. The stone tools might have been made by A garhi, or they might not. As for the postcranial bones, the authors are careful to explain, they too need not belong to the same species. There could be one species that left its head in the deposits and another that left its postcranial skeleton there (and of course either or neither of them might have made the stone tools). But for what it is worth, and it is worth a good deal, Asfaw and colleagues give a brief description and an interesting diagram of the limb bone proportions. The femur-to-humerus ratio was like Homo ergaster and modern humans (long femur, short "Lucy"-sized humerus), but the forearm (radius and ulna)-to-humerus ratio was long like a chimpanzee or, for that matter, like "Lucy".
Radius as % of humerus
|Humerofemoral index: |
Humerus as % of femur
|Pan paniscus (Bonobo)||91.9||97.8 ± 2.1|
|A.afarensis ("Lucy" skeleton)||90.7||84.6 ± 2.8|
|Bouri (perhaps A.garhi)||97.9||ca. 70.4|
|H.habilis (OH 62)||[79.5-93.2]||[94.3 ± 7.7]|
|Homo sapiens (African)||79.6 ± 2.5||73.3 ± 1.7|
What are we to make of it? One, 2 or 3 species? What we have is
Suppose Australopithecus garhi made the tools and was the ancestor of Homo. Where do the 4 early Homo specimens presumed older than 2 Ma fit in? The Bouri cranium lacks a base, so that prevents direct comparisons with both Sts19 and the Chemeron temporal. Asfaw and colleagues do not describe the Bouri-region mandibles, so that (for the moment) excludes comparisons with Uraha. But the Hadar maxilla is definitely different from the one found at Bouri. In fact, it could be lost among the Olduvai maxillae, more than 300 000 years later. So, if A garhi is ancestral to Homo, either there was a rapid change in maxillary morphology in the intervening 200 000 years, or else the Bouri specimen is a late survivor of its species. We must not exclude a speeding-up of evolutionary rates, nor must we fall into the trap of assuming anagenesis (evolution without branching).
It´s an exciting time to be alive if you´re interested in human evolution. New countries are getting onto the paleoanthropological map: India, Syria, Eritrea, Chad, Malawi, and Portugal. Every new fossil fulfils certain expectations but opens up a whole barrel of new research questions. Fossil discoveries are matched by new discoveries of just how human our nearest living relatives are. And the press is avid for them all, as well it might be. Keep on your (bipedal) toes; if you miss this week´s reports you might already be out-of-date.
Cladogenesis is the term used to describe the branching off of new taxa. These branches — or clades — are based on several criteria which make the descendants along a particular branch different from their ancestors and from related taxa on other branches. Each new branch exhibits a combination of novel characteristics that are unique to that branch mixed with some "familial" characteristics which this branch shares with its evolutionary ancestors. Although certain novel traits may be diagnostic for members of an evolving lineage, it is often the combination of unique and shared characteristics that defines new branches.
The basis of constructing a valid cladogram is the ability to identify the characteristics of the ancestral population and those of the descendants (http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/0_0_0/evo_06). Characteristics found among the ancestors and shared by most or all members of related taxa are referred to as primitive. In cladistic studies this word is understood as "original" or "primal" and not as "crude" or "simple". In order to avoid confusion, some writers refer to these traits as conservative or simply ancestral. Shared, conservative traits link the members of related branches to a common ancestor. On the other hand, characteristics that are found in various evolutionary branches that differ from those of the ancestors are considered derived. In many cases these derived characteristics are unique modifications of widely shared ancestral characteristics. Derived traits distinguish the members of one evolutionary branch from the members of another branch.
A cladogram is constructed on these combinations of ancestral and derived characteristics in related taxa by organizing and diagramming the pattern and sequence in which they could have arisen. Ideally, we want a cladogram based on branches defined by uniquely derived characters that emerge once in an evolving lineage and are shared by all subsequent descendants. This helps us to test our hypotheses about common descent in evolving lineages. A branch that includes all the organisms descended from the same ancestral population is said to be monophyletic.
Because living organisms are a complex combination of traits, however, sometimes it is possible to draw more than one cladogram that might reflect the evolutionary history of a group of organisms. There is a variety of methods that researchers use to evaluate these options, and the appropriate choice depends on the kinds of data available and the specific hypothesis to be tested. The goal, however, is to find the tree that best explains the phylogenetic relationships among the organisms included in the tree.
Two fundamental principles used in evaluating cladograms are parsimony (http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/0_0_0/phylogenetics_08) and robusticity. First, when there is more than one way to draw a cladogram, and when there are no other data that suggest one of these is more likely than the others, we tend to choose the one in which derived traits are re-invented in different branches the fewest number of times. Second, we prefer trees that maintain their basic form, even when different options are applied to the sequence of changes in one or more of their branches. However, when more data are available about the history or the origin of a particular feature, these data are more important tools in determining which of the alternative trees is better. In contrast to exercises in mere classification, we want to base our taxonomy on the cladogram. The guiding principle is that our taxa should be monophyletic. Each evolutionary branch must contain all descendants of a common ancestor.
One of the chief criticisms against the "classical" taxonomy that places humans on one branch of the hominoid family tree and the great apes (African apes and the orang utan) on another is that this arrangement fails on the criterion of monophyly. Based on fossil data, comparative anatomy, and molecular biology, humans and African apes share a recent common ancestor and so a monophyletic clade would include humans and African apes together. Any branch that combines Asian apes (such as the orang utan) with African apes, but excludes the human branch, is invalid because it does not include all the descendants of the common ancestor of Asian and African apes (see http://tolweb.org/hominidae/16299).
There is, of course, a uniquely human clade containing all the hominins (species of the genera Homo, Australopithecus, and Ardipithecus) descended from the first upright walkers among the African apes; however, no clade that excludes humans but includes African and Asian groups is phylogenetically valid because it fails on the basic criterion of monophyly: it must include the most recent common ancestor of all the organisms in the tree and all the descendants of that most recent common ancestor.
Fossil data help to refine cladistic analysis by providing information about the sequence or order in which certain derived traits emerged. Cladistic analysis helps to resolve the "problem" of the so-called "missing links" or the intermediate specimens, because it does not require that fossil species evolve into any related species which emerge later. Instead, it represents the evolutionary history of an evolving lineage in terms of a collection of characteristics which can be passed along to descendant populations — or not!
What if somebody published a 592-page book to answer all the critics of his previous book? That's what Michael Cremo does in Forbidden Archaeology's Impact. In 1993, Cremo and Richard Thompson published Forbidden Archaeology (FA), a voluminous exposé of "anomalous archaeological artifacts" that suggested modern people possibly lived on earth almost as long as the world existed, some 4.3 billion years ago.
Like Christian creationists who accommodate science to the Bible, Cremo and Thompson are Hindu creationists that harmonize science with their sacred Vedic scriptures. The Bhagavata Purana says that men and women have lived on earth for a vast period of time called the Day of Brahma, which is composed of a thousand yuga cycles. Each yuga cycle lasts 12,000 "years of the gods." And since each "year" equals 360 earth years, one yuga cycle equals 4.32 million years while a thousand yuga cycles total 4.32 billion years, summing up the Day of Brahma.
Forbidden Archaeology's Impact describes the notoriety Cremo's first book triggered by including all his personal correspondence, interviews, journal articles, conference papers, and even Internet postings. But Cremo mostly confronts his critics head-on, reprinting their harsh book reviews verbatim while following them up with lengthy rebuttals that he mailed to each reviewer in protest.
And Cremo doesn't suffer critics gladly. He mailed a copy of this book to the NCSE because it includes a voluminous rebuttal to Wade Tarzia's review published 5 years ago in Creation/Evolution 34. So I'll choose my words carefully.
Cremo strenuously protests the ad hominem attacks targeted at Forbidden Archaeology and its abridged edition, Hidden History of the Human Race. And in the reviews he cites, some critics did unnecessarily tease, trivialize, and spoof the authors' deadly serious presentation of their major evidences for human antiquity. And I agree that those reviewers should have analyzed FA's claims more seriously and professionally.
But their scorn could have been provoked by the book's blunt, in-your-face debut. As a publicity stunt, Cremo and Thompson mailed dozens of free, unsolicited copies to various paleoanthropologists to trigger a response. And when these recipients opened their packages to discover a book from the International Society for Krishna Consciousness dedicated to His Divine Grace AC Ghaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and consisting of a thousand-page assault on their profession, accusing them of unwittingly and deliberately suppressing evidence, what were they to think? Perhaps that this book was someone's spooky, surreal prank?
Paleoanthropologists have have grown to expect the taunts of Christian anti-evolutionists who appeal to biblical authority. Now they have to put up with Hindus attacking evolution by invoking cyclical kalpas, manvantaras, and yugas while accusing anthropologists of worshiping at the altar of Darwinian fundamentalism and metaphysical materialism. Gee, where have we heard that before? What kind of reception did Cremo expect?
Besides, many critics had genuine problems with Forbidden Archaeology that went beyond "Darwinism". For all its densely technical discussions of archaeological anomalies, many critics complained that Cremo and Thompson bombarded readers with abundantly useless data. For example, FA devotes 400 pages to analyzing anomalous stone tools depicted in obscure literature over the past 150 years. Worse, these specimens no longer exist. So FA compensated by providing page after page of drawings taken from their original sources. But in his reprinted review on page 103, Kenneth Feder frets that these illustrations are absolutely useless because it is impossible to determine whether these Paleolithic tools are drawn to scale or accurately rendered.
In Forbidden Archaeology's Impact, Cremo boasts that he's overthrowing the Darwinian worldview; but Darwinism is the study of biology, not Stone Age finds. And Cremo ignores animal evolution entirely. In 2 reprinted letters, Cremo says he's writing a book that cites land plants found in Cambrian strata (from reports published 50 years earlier) and fossils of flowering plants found in Jurassic strata (about 213-144 million years ago). Most paleobotanists say that angiosperms didn't appear until the late Cretaceous period (about 70 million years ago). But Cremo never explains why these potential revelations threaten biological evolution.
In their separate reviews reprinted in this book, Tarzia and Bradley Lepper revealed Cremo's biological misunderstandings while critiquing his "ape-man" chapter. Forbidden Archaeology and its abridged version, Hidden History of the Human Race, claimed that Bigfoot, Yeti, and other backcountry "wildmen" really exist and threaten evolution. Why? Because if someone caught a live Sasquatch, that would prove ancient hominids still coexist with modern humans.
But on page 159, Tarzia accuses Cremo and Thompson of "ignoring the possibility of shared common ancestry." Cremo's 14-page rebuttal to Tarzia ignores that criticism. On page 203, Lepper says, "Cremo and Thompson devote an entire chapter to reports of 'living ape-men' such as Bigfoot, which, even if true, contribute nothing to their thesis that anatomically modern humans lived in geologically recent times. Chimpanzees are 'ape-men' of a sort, sharing 99% of our genetic makeup, and their coexistence with Homo sapiens sapiens does no violence to evolutionary theory."
Cremo's response to Lepper on page 213 is oddly revealing: "While evidence of the coexistence of anatomically modern humans with more apelike hominids today does not do any violence to evolutionary theory, their coexistence in the distant past would do some violence to it. And the evidence documented in Hidden History suggests that they did coexist in the distant past."
I read that passage over and over, trying to make sense of Cremo's response. If he concedes that humans and nonhuman hominids coexisting today would not undermine human evolution, then what was the purpose of his ape-man chapter to begin with? And if modern humans and apelike hominids coexisted in the distant past, paleoanthropologists will always presume that they shared an even earlier ancestry. For example, even though some paleontologists and ornithologists currently disagree over whether birds diverged from Cretaceous maniraptorans (a specific group of dinosaurs) or earlier Triassic thecodonts (tree-dwelling reptiles), neither side claims their disagreement invalidates the conclusions of common ancestry for dinosaurs and birds.
What's more, Cremo is oblivious to biological context. One of many reasons why scientists accept evolution is because humans share numerous anatomical traits with all living mammals, not just primates. But if we embrace the notion that modern people lived on earth 600 million years ago, long before the arrival of other mammals, reptiles, fish, vertebrates, or any animal with a skeleton or hard body part, then biological patterns would be rendered senseless.
Even if we overlook the implausibility of humans' thriving in an oxygen-starved world without available food sources, think about what it would mean to have people living on earth, eons before the first arthropods arrived. Finding fossilized humans at every level of the geologic column would not be anomalous at all. Those finds would be the rule, not the exception, and a Darwinian paradigm would have never seized a foothold to begin with.
But of all the criticisms aimed at Forbidden Archaeology, Cremo objects most to those who labeled it pseudoscience, which is understandable. Cremo and Thompson toiled for 8 years on this comprehensive reference work, and calling it a pseudoscience is the same thing as labeling it a fraud. But when I read Forbidden Archaeology's Impact's reprinted correspondence that Cremo exchanged with his sympathizers and supporters, he appears too stubborn and sanctimonious to follow scientific rules. For example, if Cremo and Thompson wanted their debut to be taken seriously, they should have first submitted their findings through an extensive peer-review process, but Cremo thinks "peer-review" simply means conspiracy and censorship. Like all creationists, Cremo's not looking for real answers - just believers.
Next, let's examine portions of the two following letters that Cremo wrote to his supporters. This first one on page 300, is addressed to Dr Horst Friedrich:
In your review, you note that Richard Thompson and I did not discuss the idea of recurring catastrophes or the evidence for advanced civilization mentioned in the Vedic literatures of India. That was deliberate on our part. In Forbidden Archaeology we wanted first of all to demonstrate the need for an alternative view of human origins. In our next book, tentatively titled The Descent of Man Revisited, we shall outline the alternative, drawing extensively upon Vedic source material. This will include, of course, the recurring cataclysms of the yuga cycles and manvantara periods, as well as discussion of Vedic descriptions of advanced civilization in ancient times, and in an interplanetary context as well. I hope that will satisfy you! A new picture of human origins will have to be comprehensive, in the manner you suggest in your NEARA Journal article, incorporating evidence not only for archaeological and geological anomalies, but also paranormal phenomena of all types, including evidence for extraterrestrial civilization.
That's only the beginning. Cremo goes on to describe, in complete detail, 3 unique avatarian manifestations of the Godhead and explains how Shrila Prabhupada spread Krishna consciousness around the world through God's "confidential empowerment". The religious significance of Cremo's research is paramount.
However, Forbidden Archaeology's harshest critics were paleoanthropologists, and it was amusing to watch Cremo lecture professional scientists on how to do their jobs. He even admonished Lepper for not properly understanding Thomas Kuhn's prerequisites for scientific revolutions. Yet despite all this, read the following portion of this letter addressed to Dr William Howells on page 337:
Historically, I would say that the Judaeo-Christian tradition helped prepare the way for the mechanistic worldview by depopulating the universe of its demigods and spirits and discrediting most paranormal occurrences, with the exception of a few miracles mentioned in the Bible. Science took the further step of discrediting the few remaining kinds of acceptable miracles, especially after David Hume's attack upon them. Essentially, Hume said if it comes down to a choice between believing reports of paranormal occurrences, even by reputable witnesses, or rejecting the laws of physics, it is more reasonable to reject the testimony of the witnesses to paranormal occurrences, no matter how voluminous and well attested. Better to believe the witnesses were mistaken or lying. In my opinion, there is even today quite a lot of evidence for paranormal phenomena. Unfortunately, this evidence tends to be suppressed in the intellectual centers of society by the same process of knowledge filtration that tends to suppress physical evidence that contradicts general evolutionary ideas.
In other words, Cremo not only accuses the "scientific establishment" of rejecting the paranormal; but also claims that mainstream scientists are immersed in a conspiracy to suppress its evidence. And he has the effrontery to wonder why scientists won't take him seriously?
Frankly, I appreciate Cremo's courage to express his paranormal leanings so candidly. "Intelligent Design" creationists, in contrast, often wriggle and squirm when confronted with theirs. Let me say that if anybody is interested in the cultural and religious groundwork, sincere personal motivations, and epistemological methods employed by Hindu "creation science", Forbidden Archaeology's Impact is the most comprehensive, conclusive reference work on this topic.
Cosmology, spirituality, cerebration — these are the attributes of religion. ...Cosmology reveals the creation. It answers the big questions. ...For better or worse, this is the task of science... now embraced globally as the one truly human instrument of cosmic revelation.Once again, for the true believer materialist-positivist this is all literal nonsense. But most people are not Blastoderms. The physicist-priest John Polkinghorne says that there is "a God-shaped hole in many people's lives." The Czech president and intellectual Václav Havel has been saying something similar for years (Raymo chides him on p 165-6 for going too far with this). Some sociobiologists argue that religious belief has an evolutionary function, and most social scientists ascribe important social functions to religious belief. The recent history of state-mandated atheism belies the canard that, given a choice, people will gladly throw off the oppressive burden of belief. False consciousness and opiates of the people notwithstanding, most people seem to find it very hard — at least very depressing — to believe in nothing larger than themselves.
For the method to work, we pretend for the moment that it is possible to step out of ourselves into the world as it is. To this end we invent names — Cercyonis pegol, Cercyonis meadi — that match the patterns we think we see in nature. Of course, perfect objectivity is impossible. ...Science works...in that wall of liquid between mind and world.... With.science, the arrow of transference is inward, from world to mind, a soul-making vector, incandescent with facts, sparks of the white fire kindled in our hearts.... Only when we are emotionally at home in the universe of the galaxies and the DNA will the new story invigorate our spiritual lives and be cause for authentic celebration. Knowing and believing will come together again at last. Cautious and skeptical as knowers, we can then give ourselves unreservedly to spiritual union with creation and communal celebration of its mysteries.
Forbidden Archeology is an extremely controversial book that has attracted a great deal of attention in the academic world. As might be expected, its anti-Darwinian thesis has provoked many negative reviews, some of which misrepresent the substance of the book. But even those who disagree with the book's conclusion have sometimes recognized it as a genuine scholarly contribution and correctly represented the substance of the book to their readers, as shown by the following excerpts.(http://www.webcom.com/ara/col/books/science/rev.html last accessed on July 19, 1999).
While decidedly anti-evolutionary in perspective, this work is not the ordinary variety of anti-evolutionism in form, content, or style. In distinction to the usual brand of such writing, the authors use original sources and the book is well written. Further, the overall tone of the work is far superior to that exhibited in ordinary creationist literature. Nonetheless, I suspect that creationism is at the root of the authors' argument, albeit of a sort not commonly seen before. It is impossible in the context of this short review to deal in an in-depth way with any of the myriad cases cited by the authors buttress their claims he authors to buttress their claims. Instead, their general approach can be summarized.
The authors base virtually their entire book on a literature search and most (though not all) of that literature dates to the early twentieth century. In so doing, the authors have resurrected nineteenth-century claims of "Tertiary Man" (see Grayson 1983), apparently superimposing on this a belief in the instantaneous appearance of anatomically modern Homo sapiens at some point in the very distant past, asserting that the evidence for this is at least as good, and usually better, than that cited for a much later and evolutionary origin for our species. The authors maintain that the analytical techniques applied by nineteenth century scientists to incised bones and "eoliths" that led some to conclude that these very ancient items were the result of human activity, are nearly the same techniques as those applied today to accepted evidence. Therefore, the authors assert, the conclusions reached by nineteenth and early twentieth -century researchers that these very ancient objects were cultural in origin are of equal validity to the identification of more recent (late Pliocene) cultural objects by modern scientists. Thus, when a nineteenth-century researcher using a standard microscope of the time claims that striations found on bones dating back tens of millions of years are butchering marks, this is the equivalent, in the authors' view, of a modern researcher identifying cut marks using a scanning electron microscope. I doubt that many working in the field would agree. ... When you attempt to deconstruct a well-accepted paradigm, it is reasonable to expect that a new paradigm be suggested in its place. The authors of Forbidden Archaeology do not do this and I would like to suggest a reason for their neglect here. Wishing to appear entirely scientific, the authors hoped to avoid a detailed discussion of their own beliefs (if not through evolution, how? Is not within the last four million years, when?) since, I would contend, these are based on a creationist view, but not the kind we are all familiar with.
The explicit aims of the authors is to reconcile paleoanthropology to the Vedic ideas that "the human race is of great antiquity" and that "various human and apelike beings have coexisted for a long time" (p xxxvi). That does not sound particularly challenging; but unsatisfied with the apparently easy harmony between normal science and their nebulous theology, the authors decided to redo anthropology. The argument is simple: think of all the generalizations we can make about human evolution. Now think of all the exceptions, paradoxes, mistakes, and hoaxes. Now switch them. That is this book. As the Fire-sign Theatre once proclaimed: "Everything you know is wrong!" (But then, they were trying to be humorous, too). For unclear reasons, given the looseness of their religious thesis, this book is anti-evolutionary. The authors are trying to argue that humans have always been on earth, even unto the pre-Cambrian, when there was not much for them to eat or breathe.... The best that can be said is that more reading went into this Hindu-oid creationist drivel than seems to go into the Christian-oid creationist drivel. At any rate, this is a must for anyone interested in keeping up with goofy popular anthropology; at well over 900 pages, it is a veritable cornucopia of dreck.
Forbidden Archeology, a new Bhaktivedanta Institute book, argues that anatomically modern humans have existed for millions of years, which disproves the theory of human evolution; the authors make no specific claims for other kinds of biotic evolution. The book also claims that archaeologists have become a "knowledge filter" (p xxv ff) since the 19th century, laboring under a predisposition to ignore evidence for anatomically modern humans having existed for millions of years. Sometimes the book develops a dishonesty theory-evidence is said to be "carefully edited" (p 150) by scientists so that younger investigators do not see evidence that invalidates the theory of human evolution.Note that the italicized quotations are carefully selected summaries of the book or, as in the case of my review, selections of kind opinion (despite an overall negative judgment). In any event, the quotes so selected may appear to suggest that the reviewers are re-stating the book's premises ... and agree! Note that the introduction to this web-page states that the reviewers correctly summarize the substance of the book ... and again fosters an aura of overall agreement between the authors and book reviewers.
The authors have worked hard in collecting and quoting an enormous amount of material, much of it from the 19th- and early 20th-century, certainly interesting for its historical perspective. Their evidence is as diverse as it is detailed, including, for example, eoliths (crudely broken stones some have considered early tools), "wildmen" (Big Foot, etc), and even a fossilized shoe sole from the Triassic period. Despite all this hard work, I think the book falls short of a scientific work primarily (but not entirely) because (1) its arguments abandon the testing of simpler hypothesis before the more complex and sensationalistic ones, and (2) the use of so many outdated sources is inadequate for a book that seeks to overturn the well-established paradigm of human evolution — scholars must not work in isolation, especially today, when multi-disciplinary approaches are needed to remain on the cutting edge of knowledge. However, for researchers studying the growth, folklore, and rhetoric of pseudo-science, the book is useful as 'field' data.