Australopithecus: The Smithsonian Institution calls it an early human species...but what do others say about Australopithecus?

*** PREFACE ***

The Smithsonian Institution's "Human Origins Initiative" website (* lists Australopithecus as an early human species...but what do others say about Australopithecus?

*[on September 11, 2013]

The following is excerpted from Evolution Encyclopedia (at, Vol. 2, Chapter 18 Appendix Part 1, Ancient Man, 9. Australopithecus (emphases ours).

[Note: there are different varieties of Australopithecus (subject Smithsonian webpage lists five varieties). These include ape/monkey types as well as Australopithecus africanus (known as "Taung Child") that obviously looks like a human skull (it will be discussed below).]


 This big word means "southern ape," and stands for an odd assortment of bones found in dry areas of east Africa. Some of the bones are human, some are ape, put them together and great theories emerge. Strong hopes have been pinned on these bones; in fact, for several years now they have occupied the center of attention. And that for a simple reason: there is little else to talk about yet, to date, nothing definite seems to emerge from a study of them.

Here was what was claimed:

"It was Australopithecus . . that eventually evolved into Homo Sapiens, a modern man." --*Robert Reinhold, "Bone Traces Man Back 5 Million Years," The New York Times, February 19, 1971, p. 1.

"By all the evidence men at last had met their long unknown, early ancestors. . . The evidence was overwhelming.. the missing link had at long last been found." --*Ruth Moore, Man, Time, and Fossils (1981), pp. 5-8, 318.

But the claims do not fit the facts:

"But I MYSELF REMAIN TOTALLY UNPERSUADED. Almost always when I have tried to check the anatomical claims on which the status of Australopithecus is based, I have ended in failure." --*S. Zukerman, Beyond the Ivory Tower (1970), p. 77.

Australopithecines were not human.

"Finally, the quite independent information from the fossil finds of more recent years seems to indicate ABSOLUTELY that these australopithecines, of half to 2 million years and from sites such as Olduvai and Sterkfontein, ARE NOT ON A HUMAN PATHWAY." --*C E. Oxnard, Homo (1981), p. 242.

However, *Leakey concluded that the australopithecines walked liked modern man:

"In his book, The Making of Mankind, published in 1981, Leakey had stated that 'we can now say that the AUSTRALOPHITHECINES DEFINITELY WALKED UPRIGHT.' " --*Richard Leakey, The Making of Mankind (1981), p. 71.

But others disagree:


The facts square with apes, not with men:

"The fact that the anterior portion of the iliac blade faces laterally in humans but not in chimpanzees is obvious. The marked resemblance of AL 288-1 to the chimpanzee is equally obvious." --*J: T. Stem, Jr. and *LR. Susman, American Journal of Physical Anthropology 80:279 (1983).

The australopithecines were merely apes.

"The skull form of all australopithecines is extremely ape-like . . the australopithecines show too many specialized and ape-like characters to be either the direct ancestor of man or of the line that led to man." --*Ashley Montagu, Man: His First Million Years (1957), pp. 51, 52.

"Our findings leave little doubt that . Australopithecus RESEMBLES not Homo sapiens but the LIVING MONKEYS AND APES." --*Solly Zukerman, Beyond the Ivory Tower (1970), p. 90.

Its brain is far too small:

"This brain was not large in absolute size; it was a third the size of a human brain." --*Robert Jastrow, The Enchanted Loom: Mind in the Universe (1981), p. 114.

 Viewed as a whole, the skull is like that of an ape, not that of a man.

"When compared with human and simian [ape or monkey] skulls, the Australopithecine skull [a skull found in East Africa] is in appearance overwhelmingly simian [ape or monkey]--not human." --*Sir Solly Zukerman, "Myth and Method in Anatomy," in Journal of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (1988), Vol. 11 (2), pp. 87-114.

It was *Raymond Dart who first discovered the African skulls (which later came to be known as "Dartians") and named them Australopithecus [this is found on the aforementioned Smithsonian website labeled as, "Taung Child", "Species: Australopithecus africanus".], ("Southern Ape's). But *Milner explains in detail why they are actually human in every way, except in having slightly larger brow ridges and jaws. But that, of course, could be caused by arthritis and rickets, such as afflicted the Neanderthals in Europe.

"Again, seeking that 'link' between men and apes, in 1924 Raymond Dart named his famous Taung fossil 'Southern ape' or Australopithecus--another unfortunate label, according to Kurten. Subsequent discoveries have shown that in their teeth and jaws, in their pelvic structure and upright posture as well as in their use of stone tools, these creatures DO NOT RESEMBLE APES, BUT REPRESENT A DISTINCTLY HUMAN LINE, older than Homo erectus (Java Man, which is another human skull).

"In 1947, the British anthropologist Sir Arthur Keith first proposed the colloquial name 'Dartians' for Australopithecus ahicanus [sic] and its relatives

"When compared to modern apes, the distinctiveness of the Dartians becomes apparent. Where apes have huge canines and gaps for them in the opposing tooth rows, the Dartians have small teeth and no canine gaps. Form and shape of the molars and premolars is similar in humans and Dartians, showing marked differences from ape tooth forms. And although Dartians had heavy jaws and brow ridges--superficially ape characteristics--the attachments of jaw muscles and overall skull shape are more like humans' than apes'. Dartian feet are human in form, without an opposable big toe, and their legs and pelvises indicate bipedal [upright, two-footed] posture.

"In contrast, the modern apes are not Customarily bipedal; they lean forward and walk on folded fingers of their hands to aid their relatively short legs." --*R Milner, Encyclopedia of Evolution (1990), p. 107.


*Leakey thinks they walked like modern apes.

"This australopithecine material suggests a form of locomotion that was not entirely upright nor bipedal. The Rudolf australopithecines, in fact, may have been close to the 'knuckle-walker' condition, NOT UNLIKE THE EXTANT [NOW EXISTING] AFRICAN APES." *Richard E.F. Leakey, "Further Evidence of Lower Pleistocene Hominids from East Rudolf, North Kenya," Nature, May 28, 1971, p. 245.

The skull of the Australopithecine is like that of an ape.

"THERE IS indeed, NO QUESTION which the Australopithecine skull RESEMBLES when placed side by side with specimens of human and living ape skulls. It is the APE--so much so that only detailed and close scrutiny can reveal any differences between them." --*Solly Zuckerman, "Correlation of Change in the Evolution of Higher Primates, " in *Julian Huxley, *A. C. Hardy, and *E.B. Ford (Eds.), Evolution as a Process (1954), p. 307.


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