Friday, October 29, 2010

Developments in paleoanthropology

There's a couple of interesting new papers in paleoanthropology this week. Nature has a report from Jaeger et al. on mid-Eocene anthropoid fossils from Libya. They're just teeth, but they represent taxa from Afrotarsiidae, Parapithecidae and Oligopithecidae, and there's also a species of Karanisia, which is a strepsirrhine. Why do we care? I'm glad you asked. Strepsirrhini represents the lorises, lemurs, and galagos. Haplorrhini includes the monkeys and apes, as well as those other three taxa listed above. The presence of this diverse set of primates in the mid-Eocene extends the stratigraphic range of these groups. In evolutionary terms, that means that these groups were already present in the Eocene, which Jaeger et al. interpret as evidence of much earlier primate evolution in Africa than previously expected or as evidence of migration to Africa of multiple primate lineages. From a creationist perspective, I think this is interesting especially in light of Kurt Wise's Post-Flood Continuity Criterion, by which he hopes to identify baramins simply by which groups extend down to the Flood/post-Flood boundary (the K/T). These new fossils could therefore indicate the presence of multiple baramins of apes.

The other paper by Liu et al. comes from PNAS online, and details the presence of anatomically modern humans from China dated to 100,000 years before present. This paper is only interesting to me insofar as it becomes more problematic for Reasons to Believe's "RTB Model" of human creation. According to Rana's book Who Was Adam?, Adam was a guy who lived about 50,000 years ago. Before that, there were only soulless hominid animals. (Hominid animals that lived on after the creation of humans and interbred through bestiality with us, but that's another story.) Now not only do we have pre-human hominids, but also pre-human humans. That didn't have souls. We knew this before, of course, but it's nice to see yet more evidence that the "RTB model" is really hard to swallow.  But I'm sure RTB will figure out a way to spin this paper to provide yet more evidence for the "RTB model" and evidence why young-age creationism is "totally falsified."

Jaeger et al. 2010. Late middle Eocene epoch of Libya yields earliest known radiation of African anthropoids. Nature 467:1095-1098.

Liu et al. 2010. Human remains from Zhirendong, South China, and modern human emergence in East Asia. PNAS DOI 10.1073/pnas.1014386107.

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