Friday, March 13, 2009

AiG gets it wrong on Homo Erectus Footprints

Here's an excerpt from a recent post at Panda's Thumb:

A recent paper (Bennett et al. 2009) announced the discovery of 1.5 million year old fossilized footprints from Ileret, Kenya, almost certainly belonging to Homo erectus (see also this commentary article by Ann Gibbons). Homo erectus was already known from fossils such as the Turkana Boy to be very similar to modern humans below the neck, and completely adapted to bipedal locomotion. So it was no suprise when the footprint analysis showed that the owners of the Ileret footprints had a fully modern foot shape and were pushing off their big toes and shifting their weight exactly as modern humans do.

Answers in Genesis, of course, was delighted to report on this, claiming that it confirmed their belief that Homo erectus was a modern human (never mind the more primitive features of pelvis, shoulder and skull found in Homo erectus). But AIG carefully avoided mentioning information from the paper that did not fit with its agenda.

There is another famous set of fossilized hominid footprints, the 3.7 million year old Laetoli footprints from Ethiopia, thought by scientists to belong to Lucy’s species, Australopithecus afarensis, or something closely related to it. Creationists in general, and Answers in Genesis in particular, have always claimed that these are same as small modern human footprints (e.g. here, or here). The new paper however contains some evidence against that claim.

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