Sunday, 29 January 2012

Chimps complain that their links are missing

We have all heard the Victorian term 'the missing link' used by anti-evolution campaigners and we have all heard it used as a puerile and pejorative put-down.

The odd thing is that so many missing links have been found in the line between us and our last common ancestor with the apes.  Setting aside the Piltdown Man hoax - a masterpiece of mischief or a disastrous prank - there are a lot of fossils of human-like ancestors and their distant cousins, stretching back through the 6 million years since humans began to separate from chimpanzees.

Piltdown hoax in leafy England!  A false positive in the search for missing links.

Naturally there are debates about the lineage of all these mysterious fossils.  Scientists debate about which are the direct ancestors and which are not, but in the grand scheme of things, considering the gradual nature of evolution, it matters very little.  There is a visible trend towards homo sapiens, world-wide.

Creationists would have you believe that this trend is false, and that every gap filled makes two more gaps.  Their scientific evidence for such an assertion comes from one place which is obviously riddled with error and inconsistency - the bible!

Surprisingly, chimpanzees would not have the same problem about missing links if they had the cognitive powers to worry about such things.  You might find it hard to believe, but no fossils of chimpanzees have ever been found between their current form and our common ancestor.  This is probably because they are forest dwelling creatures, and in such an environment the chance of being fossilised after death is even lower than it is anywhere else in the world.  You are much more likely to be eaten swiftly.

Fortunately they are blissfully unaware that their links are truly missing.

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