The First Human Species: Were Cavemen Real?

The First Human Species:  Were Cavemen Real?

By Kat Kent, Dec 29, 2016

This question has been asked more than once, usually from a believer in the evangelical or fundamentalist Christian sects. Why the confusion on such an elementary subject? The term “caveman” has been broadly used to refer to stone age hominids, as many did live in caves, as well as other structures. Christians have decided to narrow that definition. It seems that some Christian apologists are trying desperately to reconcile the bible literally with that which science has found to be indisputable. In trying to fit science into their creation narrative, a great deal of corruption of information had to be included. But the extent to which the scientific facts were bent was egregious. And ripe for causing much confusion among even their own followers.

The Christian argument takes a hard right almost immediately, when it comes to the time frame for these beings. In order to fit into the Christian Genesis narrative that claims the earth is only 6000 yrs old, much liberty was taken in developing the Christian time line for the existence of stone age men. The claim is that only 8 people existed after the flood of Noah around 2350 BCE, and that all of humanity on earth then descended from Noah’s three sons. The entire family moved to what is now Iraq, and built the city of Babel, around 2242 BCE. From there was a migration to all parts of the earth, where Noah’s descendants “might have slept in caves”. The cavemen were not actually all living in caves, but using them for temporary shelter. Eventually, the earth was embroiled in the “Ice Age” (which actually happened 26,000 years ago), and most of these “cavemen” died off leaving only those descendants that became modern day man. This is where the Genesis narrative picks up with Abraham, about 300 years after Noah’s descendants leave Babel.

More than just a little far fetched, the Christian theory ignores many scientific facts, making it more of a fairy tale for gullible adults. Fossil discoveries have shown that the human family tree was much more diverse than previously thought, and that many human species existed at the same time, rather than evolving one after the other. And with each new find, including those in recent years, the time line for the existence of homo hominids is pushed further back. Currently, hominid fossils have been found that date back to 3.5 million years ago. “Australopithecus afarensis” was the first known hominid. The “homo” hominids (humans that walk on 2 legs) have been dated as far back as 2 million years ago, along with the first evidence of stone tools. Scientistsbelieve that stone technology evolved in parallel with the expanding brain and socialization of the various homo species. There is evidence to prove that more than half a dozen species of these ape-men existed concurrently. But for the next million years they would remain primitive. A small band of around 30,000 of these humans are the sole survivors of this evolutionary process which, through climate change, drove them south into Africa where they came to dominate the world and to be known as homo sapiens. Science has identified 7 species of homo sapiens, with modern man being “homo sapien sapien”.

In recent decades, there have been thousands of remains found and identified, but three had extraordinary repercussions. Prior to 1974, there was a huge gap of found fossils that connected these hominids through evolution to the various “homo sapiens”, or modern man. All that changed with “Lucy”, or fossil AL288-1, a human skeleton, found by Donald Johanson and Tom Gray on November 24, 1974, at the site of Hadar in Ethiopia. It was quite apparent that she belonged to a previously unknown human species.

Forty percent of Lucy’s skeleton was found, which had many human, as well as ape-like traits. Most importantly, she walked on two legs. Many other bone fragments and relics were found in the same area as Lucy, from the same strata (layer of earth),which indicate that Lucy lived in a community of “australopithecus afarensis” who walked upright and looked somewhat human-like, but were much smaller than we are. They existed 3.5 million years ago. Lucy died as a young, but fully grown adult, and stood only 3.7 feet tall and weighed 64 pounds.

In 1997,in a valley close to the village of Herto, Ethiopia, an amazing find was made that would answer several questions regarding human evolution. An international team of researchers, co -led by Tim White, professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley, found 3 homo sapien skulls, 2 adults and one child dating from 160,000 years ago, 40,000 years older than previous remains of homo sapiens. This find provides new evidence for the ‘Out of Africa’ theory – that modern humans evolved only in Africa and not in several places around the world. Clark Howell of UC Berkeley states, “The fossils are unmistakably non Neanderthal and show that (modern) humans had evolved in Africa long before the European Neanderthals disappeared. They demonstrate conclusively that there was never a Neanderthal stage in human evolution.” Neanderthals, as well as 4 other “homo” species existed concurrently during this stage of evolution.

Found on January 29, 2013, less than 40 miles from where Lucy was found in 1974, was a well-preserved left side of a hominid’s lower jaw with five teeth attached. As this evidence was found in a more shallow strata but in the same region as Lucy, it proves that the homo species evolved in the same region, as the much older Lucy skeleton, and that her species was a part of our evolution, that of Homo Sapiens.  Found by Chalachew Seyoum, an Ethiopian native and Ph.D. student at Arizona State, it the earliest evidence of the Homo genus ever discovered. The bones have been allocated to the new sub-species Homo sapiens idaltu. The fossil’s primitive, sloping chin resembled that of Lucy, but its slimmer molars, symmetrical premolars and rounder, evenly proportioned jaw distinguished it as a member of the Homo genus. The dating of the find pushes back the origin of the Homo genus by at least 400,000 years. Very little had been discovered from that interim 700,000 year period to explain or date the evolution from Australopithecus to Homo that occurred. “The Ledi-Geraru jaw has turned up as if ‘on request,’ suggesting a plausible evolutionary link between Australopithecus afarensis and Homo habilis,” says Spoor. Homo Habilis was the oldest known homo species, or one that resembles modern man.

The second most absurd claim by Christian apologists, in attempting to reconcile their creation myth with science, is to claim that the differences in the appearances of the hybrid ape-human fossils are due to Noah’s three sons being the sole source of human proliferation after the flood, and their descendants would have been subject to the problems of inbreeding. It was this inbreeding that produced the various species of the homo genus.

The truth is that about 1.5 million years ago, a new species of ape-man evolved that was more human than ape.  Homo ergaster had modern human looking noses, and hairless bodies. They did not pant as their ancestors, but had developed sweat glands. And their brains were much larger, at only ⅔ of the size of modern man. A fossil found in Kenya called “Nariokotome Boy” showed a thin boy who had grown to about 5 feet tall, with a narrow pelvis. His eyes were those of a human instead of an ape. All of the species of the genus Homo would have larger brains, a more modern skeleton, and a significantly smaller tooth and jaw size. These new hominids were rapidly evolving the body and brain size that is characteristic of modern humans. But it took more than a million years for the various homo sapien species to develop.

Nearly half a million years ago, an ape-man species called “Homo heidelbergensis” had evolved that looked and behaved in a very human way. Due to weather and environmental changes, they would split into two groups: one migrating north to become the Homo neanderthalensis and the second migrating south into Africa, to become Homo sapiens. It is from this latter group that modern man would evolve.

These were not simple human variences, but profound changes in the way these species walked, ate, and thought, and yes, in the way they looked. Changes in their size, in the size of their heads and brains, and their skeletal structures were profound from one species to another. These are not traits that can be attributed to human genetics within a small family group of a single homo sapien species.

For hundreds of years, man has thought of evolution like a chain or ladder upon which each link or step is a new and single species evolving from the one before it and eventually dying off as the one after takes dominance. This concept stemmed from the religious idea of the “great chain of being” where animal life is lower on the chain than humans and god sits on the top. The term “missing link” implies that there is a gap in historical records that would finally clear up the question of our creation. Yet that could not be further from the truth.

We have more human transitional fossils and evidence to support our evolution than we do the existance of dinosaurs. And we have not found a single shred of evidence to disprove evolution. In fact each new find is another transitional fossil and is another piece which supports evolution. But it can never reconcile with the Abrahamic myth of creation and the 6000 yr time frame. To try to force the two into reconciliation is absurd. The idea that Noah’s sons represents the group of homo sapiens that migrated to Africa does not take into account any of the details of that real event. It is a simple minded way of trying to convince religious followers to take their doctrine literally, since it is the only basis for belief in their diety. Faith is indeed blind, but who is the religious believer’s faith really in? The teachings of their mythical gods, or the teachings and reconciliations of their chosen human clergy?

For further information on this subject, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History maintains a library of fossils from excavations performed all over the world. Here is a link to their “human family tree”, which gives us an idea of which species existed at which time, and those that existed at the same time.  Human Origins Family Tree

They also have a great database of photographs of the fossils found: to view Smithsonian fossil collection:  Human Origins Fossil Database

You may also be interested in viewing the BBC documentary series, “Walking with the Cavemen”.

Further Sources:
“There is No Missing Link in Evolution”
Written byJolene Creighton, May 7, 2015
The Christain Point of View
National Geographic
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
The Bradshaw Foundation
ASU Institute of Human Origins
Adam, Eve and Noah vs Modern Genetics
by Dr Robert W. Carter
Published: 11 May 2010(GMT+10)


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