“Ardi” – An Archaeological Conundrum for Evolutionists

by Joshua Gurtler

Ardipithecus ramidus or “Ardi,” for short, is the latest in a series of extinct primate fossils that have been passed off as missing links in the ape-to-man evolution controversy. Regarding Ardi, National Geographic Magazine stated, Scientists today announced the discovery of the oldest fossil skeleton of a human ancestor. The find reveals that our forebears underwent a previously unknown stage of evolution more than a million years before Lucy, the iconic early human ancestor specimen that walked the Earth 3.2 million years ago” (Shreeve, 2009).

Far from illuminating the supposed “descent of man,” Ardi actually generates far more questions than answers for Darwinists, and in reality should be viewed as a boon for creationists. Words and phrases that come to mind after reading the evolutionist explanations of Ardi are: hypothesis, conjecture, grasping at straws, stab in the dark, “we’ve got nothin’.” Am I being too harsh? In the eleven articles that detailed the discovery and reconstruction of Ardi in the journal Science, the authors used the words “probably” at least 77 times, and the words “suggest,” “suggesting,” “suggestive,” or “suggests” at least 117 times (Science, 2009). Does that sound like scientific precision? Hardly – and it only gets worse.

What Do We Know?

Ardi is not a new discovery. A team of researchers led by Dr. Timothy White (U.C. Berkley) first uncovered Ardi’s species eighteen years ago (1992) at Aramis in the Afar depression of Ethiopia. This was reported in 1994; however, after nearly two decades of work and millions of dollars siphoned from American and Japanese taxpayers [Leakey Foundation, 2009] 125 crumbling bone fragments from thirty-six scattered skeletons were pieced together (Gibbons, 2002). Some of these bones were so chalky that their margins reportedly turned to dust while being cleaned. Darwinists’ best guesses describe Ardi as a 110 lb., 4 foot tall female primate that lived ca. 4.4 million years ago and either walked on all fours all the time, or upright on two feet on the ground (bipedally) as well as quadrupedally in trees.

Here is where things get sticky. If Ardi was, in fact, bipedal, Darwinists admit that decades of evolutionary teaching will now be overturned and that man could not have descended from the great ape line (e.g., chimpanzees, bonobos, and gorillas) but (according to their scenario) must have evolved simultaneously with these animals, although along different evolutionary lines (Gibbons, 2009a). They call this process “convergent evolution.” Put more simply, convergent evolution occurs when two lines of animals coincidentally evolve matching body parts concurrently. The classic example is the unrelated human eye and the octopus eye, with essentially indistinguishable physiological mechanics that just so happened to have evolved independently. More than one scientist has concluded that the chances of two different evolutionary lines of animals (read gorillas and humans) coincidentally evolving identical anatomical features is a statistical improbability. Harvard evolutionist and paleoanthropologist David Pilbeam stated, “I find it hard to believe that the numerous similarities of chimps and gorillas evolved convergently” (Gibbons, 2009a).

At the very best, Ardi nullifies years of Darwinian teaching about human ancestry and presents a distinct narrative for the evolution of man. At worst, Ardi represents the next in a 100+ year series of extinct primate skeletons that have been pawned off to the unassuming and non-scientific public as proof of evolution, until the next discovery comes along overturning everything we’ve been taught heretofore. Creationists should never be ashamed to challenge humanist ideology – and our work becomes much easier when the evolutionists themselves disagree with their own arguments. What follows is a sampling of admitted Darwinist difficulties with Ardi.

Darwinists Refute Darwinists

(Note: According to Darwinists, in order for Ardi to have significance in the evolution of modern man, she had to have walked upright on two legs, known as bipedalism. If she didn’t walk upright, evolutionists admit that she is nothing more than just another extinct primate.)

1. Pro-evolution Ann Gibbons published an article in Science, “A New Kind of Ancestor: Ardipithecus Unveiled,” which casts doubt on Ardi’s bipedalism (Gibbons 2009b).

2. Dr. Carol Ward is not confident that Ardi was bipedal based on the following report: “However, several researchers aren’t so sure about these inferences. Some are skeptical that the crushed pelvis really shows the anatomical details needed to demonstrate bipedality. The pelvis is ‘suggestive’ of bipedality but not conclusive, says paleoanthropologist Carol Ward of the University of Missouri, Columbia” (Gibbons 2009b).

3. Anatomist William Jungers of Stony Brook University is unsure that Ardi was bipedal (Gibbons, 2009b). He stated, “This is a fascinating skeleton, but based on what they present, the evidence for bipedality is limited at best” (Shreeve, 2009).

4. Gibbons (2009b) stated that paleoanthropologist Bernard Wood of George Washington University in Washington, D.C. casts doubt on the ancestral significance of Ardi in stating, “I think the head is consistent with it being a hominin (humans and their ancestors, J.G) … but the rest of the body is much more questionable.”

5. Even Ardi discoverer Dr. Timothy White downplayed the idea that Ardi is a missing link in stating, “Instead of thinking of something between a chimp and a human – don’t think of it as a series of links in a chain as much as branches in a tree” (Wright, 2009).

6. Evolution-supporting Time Magazine, commenting on the lack of scientific confidence in Ardi’s bipedality as well as her lineage to humans, stated, “Indeed, looking at the evidence, different paleoanthropologists may have different interpretations of how Ardi moved or what she reveals about the last common ancestor of humans and chimps” (Lemonick and Dorfman, 2009).

7. The left-leaning British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), not confident that Ardi is a missing link of human evolution, reported, “Even if it is not on the direct line to us, it offers new insights into how we evolved from the common ancestor we share with chimps, the team says” (Amos, 2009).

One more glaring problem is Ardi’s supposed 4.4 million year age, which was determined by radiometric dating of nearby volcanic strata (Wikipedia, 2010). The difficulty here is that radiometric dating is notoriously inaccurate. For example, according to radiometric dating, lava flows from Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Ngauruhoe are 3 million years old, although these rocks were only formed within the last 100 years (Austin, 1996; Snelling, 1998).

In summary, Darwinists believe Ardi may have been an extinct primate that may have walked on two limbs or may have walked on four limbs, that may have been in line to apes, or may have been in line to humans, or to both, that may have significance in the evolutionary lineage of man, or may not. Translation: “We’ve got nothin’.”

“The grass withers and the flower falls off, but the word of the Lord endures forever (1 Pet. 1:24, 25, NASB).

References

Amos, Jonathan. 2009. Fossil Finds Extend Human Story. BBC News, October 1. Accessed on 7 February, 2010 at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8285180.stm

Austin SA. 1996. Excess Argon within Mineral Concentrates from the New Dacite Lava Dome at Mount St. Helens Volcano. Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal. 10(3).

Gibbons, Ann. 2002. In Search of the First Hominids. Science. 295:1214-1219.

Gibbons, Ann. 2009a. Ancient Skeleton May Rewrite Earliest Chapter of Human Evolution.” ScienceNOW Daily News. October 1. Accessed on Feb. 12, 2010 at: http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2009/1001/1

Gibbons, Ann. 2009b. “A New Kind of Ancestor: Ardipithecus Unveiled,” Science, 326:36-40.

The Leakey Foundation. “Meet Ardi.” 23 October, 2009. Accessed on 7 February, 2010 at:

http://www.leakeyfoundation.org/?option=com_content&view=article&id=11312

Lemonick, Michael D. and Andrea Dorfman. 2009. “Ardi is a New Piece for the Puzzle of Human Evolution,” Time Magazine October 1. Accessed on 7 February, 2010 at:

Science Magazine. 2009. Special Issue: Ardipithicus ramidus. 2 October. Vol. 326.

Shreeve, Jamie. 2009. “Oldest Skeleton of Human Ancestor Found.” National Geographic Magazine. October 1. Accessed on 7 February 2010 at: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/pf/85209423.html

Snelling A.A. “Andesite Flows at Mt. Ngauruhoe, New Zealand, and the Implications for Potassium Argon ‘Dating.’” Presented at the Fourth International Conference on Creationism, 1998.

Wikipedia. 2009. Ardipithecus. Accessed on 2 February, 2010 at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ardipithecus

Wright, Ted. 2009. “An Archeologist on Ardi.” 9 October. Accessed on 7 February 2010 at: http://blog.soundrezn.com/2009/10/09/an-archeologist-on-ardi/print/