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“Ape-Men”—What Were They?

“Ape-Men”—What Were They?

 Chapter 7

“Ape-Men”​—What Were They?

1, 2. What does evolutionary theory assert that our ancestors were?

FOR many years there have been reports that the fossil remains of apelike humans have been found. Scientific literature abounds with artists’ renderings of such creatures. Are these the evolutionary transitions between beast and man? Are “ape-men” our ancestors? Evolutionary scientists claim that they are. That is why we often read expressions such as this article title in a science magazine: “How Ape Became Man.”⁠1

2 True, some evolutionists do not feel that these theoretical ancestors of man should rightly be called “apes.” Even so, some of their colleagues are not so exacting.⁠2 Stephen Jay Gould says: “People . . . evolved from apelike ancestors.”⁠3 And George Gaylord Simpson stated: “The common ancestor would certainly be called an ape or a monkey in popular speech by anybody who saw it. Since the terms ape and monkey are defined by popular usage, man’s ancestors were apes or monkeys.”⁠4

3. Why is the fossil record considered important in determining man’s ancestry?

3 Why is the fossil record so important in the  effort to document the existence of apelike ancestors for humankind? Because today’s living world has nothing in it to support the idea. As shown in Chapter 6, there is an enormous gulf between humans and any animals existing today, including the ape family. Hence, since the living world does not provide a link between man and ape, it was hoped that the fossil record would.

4. From evolution’s standpoint, why is the absence of living “ape-men” so strange?

4 From the standpoint of evolution, the obvious gulf between man and ape today is strange. Evolutionary theory holds that as animals progressed up the evolutionary scale, they became more capable of surviving. Why, then, is the “inferior” ape family still in existence, but not a single one of the presumed intermediate forms, which were supposed to be more advanced in evolution? Today we see chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans, but no “ape-men.” Does it seem likely that every one of the more recent and supposedly more advanced “links” between apelike creatures and modern man should have become extinct, but not the lower apes?

How Much Fossil Evidence?

5. What impression do the accounts leave about the fossil evidence for human evolution?

5 From the accounts in scientific literature, in museum displays and on television, it would seem that surely there must be abundant evidence that  humans evolved from apelike creatures. Is this really so? For instance, what fossil evidence was there of this in Darwin’s day? Was it such evidence that encouraged him to formulate his theory?

6. (a) Were earlier theories about human evolution based on fossil evidence? (b) Why could evolution gain acceptance without solid evidence?

6 The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists informs us: “The early theories of human evolution are really very odd, if one stops to look at them. David Pilbeam has described the early theories as ‘fossil-free.’ That is, here were theories about human evolution that one would think would require some fossil evidence, but in fact there were either so few fossils that they exerted no influence on the theory, or there were no fossils at all. So between man’s supposed closest relatives and the early human fossils, there was only the imagination of nineteenth century scientists.” This scientific publication shows why: “People wanted to believe in evolution, human evolution, and this affected the results of their work.”⁠5

7-9. How much fossil evidence for human evolution is there now?

7 After more than a century of searching, how much fossil evidence is there of “ape-men”? Richard Leakey stated: “Those working in this field have so little evidence upon which to base their conclusions that it is necessary for them frequently to change their conclusions.”⁠6 New Scientist commented: “Judged by the amount of evidence upon which it is based, the study of fossil man hardly deserves to be more than a sub-discipline of palaeontology or anthropology. . . . the collection is so tantalisingly incomplete, and the specimens themselves often so fragmentary and inconclusive.”⁠7

8 Similarly, the book Origins admits: “As we move farther along the path of evolution towards humans the going becomes distinctly uncertain, again owing to the paucity of fossil evidence.”⁠8 Science magazine adds: “The primary scientific evidence is a  pitifully small array of bones from which to construct man’s evolutionary history. One anthropologist has compared the task to that of reconstructing the plot of War and Peace with 13 randomly selected pages.”⁠9

9 Just how sparse is the fossil record regarding “ape-men”? Note the following. Newsweek: “‘You could put all the fossils on the top of a single desk,’ said Elwyn Simons of Duke University.”⁠10 The New York Times: “The known fossil remains of man’s ancestors would fit on a billiard table. That makes a poor platform from which to peer into the mists of the last few million years.”⁠11 Science Digest: “The remarkable fact is that all the physical evidence we have for human evolution can still be placed, with room to spare, inside a single coffin! . . . Modern apes, for instance, seem to have sprung out of nowhere. They have no yesterday, no fossil record. And the true origin of modern humans​—of upright, naked, toolmaking, big-brained beings—​is, if we are to be honest with ourselves, an equally mysterious matter.”⁠12

10. What does the evidence show about the appearance of modern-type humans?

10 Modern-type humans, with the capacity to reason, plan, invent, build on previous knowledge and use complex languages, appear suddenly in the fossil record. Gould, in his book The Mismeasure of Man, notes: “We have no evidence for biological change in brain size or structure since Homo sapiens  appeared in the fossil record some fifty thousand years ago.”⁠13 Thus, the book The Universe Within asks: “What caused evolution . . . to produce, as if overnight, modern humankind with its highly special brain?”⁠14 Evolution is unable to answer. But could the answer lie in the creation of a very complex, different creature?

Where Are the “Links”?

11. What is admittedly “the rule” in the fossil record?

11 However, have not scientists found the necessary “links” between apelike animals and man? Not according to the evidence. Science Digest speaks of “the lack of a missing link to explain the relatively sudden appearance of modern man.”⁠15 Newsweek observed: “The missing link between man and the apes . . . is merely the most glamorous of a whole hierarchy of phantom creatures. In the fossil record, missing links are the rule.”⁠16

12. In what has the lack of links resulted?

12 Because there are no links, “phantom creatures” have to be fabricated from minimal evidence and passed off as though they had really existed. That explains why the following contradiction could occur, as reported by a science magazine: “Humans evolved in gradual steps from their apelike ancestors and not, as some scientists contend, in sudden jumps from one form to another. . . . But other anthropologists, working with much the same data, reportedly have reached exactly the opposite conclusion.”⁠17

13. What has resulted from the inability to find “missing links”?

13 Thus we can better understand the observation of respected anatomist Solly Zuckerman who wrote in the Journal of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh: “The search for the proverbial ‘missing link’ in man’s evolution, that holy grail of a never dying sect of anatomists and biologists, allows speculation and myth to flourish as happily to-day as they did 50 years ago and more.”⁠18 He noted that,  all too often, facts were ignored, and instead, what was currently popular was championed in spite of evidence to the contrary.

Man’s “Family Tree”

14, 15. What has the evidence done to the evolutionary human “family tree”?

14 As a result, the “family tree” often drawn of man’s claimed evolution from lower animals changes constantly. For example, Richard Leakey stated that a more recent fossil discovery “leaves in ruins the notion that all early fossils can be arranged in an orderly sequence of evolutionary change.”⁠19 And a newspaper report regarding that discovery declared: “Every single book on anthropology, every article on the evolution of man, every drawing of man’s family tree will have to be junked. They are apparently wrong.”⁠20

15 The theoretical family tree of human evolution is littered with the castoffs of previously accepted “links.” An editorial in The New York Times observed that evolutionary science “includes so much room for conjecture that theories of how man came to be tend to tell more about their author than their subject. . . . The finder of a new skull often seems to redraw the family tree of man, with his discovery on the center line that leads to man and everyone else’s skulls on side lines leading nowhere.”⁠21

16. Why did two scientists omit a family tree for evolution in their book?

16 In a book review of The Myths of Human Evolution written by evolutionists Niles Eldredge and Ian Tattersall, Discover magazine observed that the authors eliminated any evolutionary family tree. Why? After noting that “the links that make up the ancestry of the human species can only be guessed at,” this publication stated: “Eldredge and Tattersall insist that man searches for his ancestry in vain. . . . If the evidence were there, they contend, ‘one could confidently expect that as more  hominid fossils were found the story of human evolution would become clearer. Whereas, if anything, the opposite has occurred.’”

17, 18. (a) How can what some evolutionists consider “lost” be “found”? (b) How does the fossil record confirm this?

17 Discover concluded: “The human species, and all species, will remain orphans of a sort, the identities of their parents lost to the past.”⁠22 Perhaps “lost” from the standpoint of evolutionary theory. But has not the Genesis alternative “found” our parents as they actually are in the fossil record​—fully human, just as we are?

18 The fossil record reveals a distinct, separate origin for apes and for humans. That is why fossil evidence of man’s link to apelike beasts is nonexistent. The links really have never been there.

What Did They Look Like?

19, 20. On what are drawings of “ape-men” based?

19 However, if man’s ancestors were not apelike, why do so many pictures and replicas of “ape-men” flood scientific publications and museums around the world? On what are these based? The book The Biology of Race answers: “The flesh and hair on such reconstructions have to be filled in by resorting to the imagination.” It adds: “Skin color; the color, form, and distribution of the hair; the form of the features; and the aspect of the face​—of these characters we know absolutely nothing for any prehistoric men.”⁠23

20 Science Digest also commented: “The vast majority of artists’ conceptions are based more on imagination than on evidence. . . . Artists must create something between an ape and a human being; the older the specimen is said to be, the more apelike they make it.”⁠24 Fossil hunter Donald Johanson acknowledged: “No one can be sure just what any extinct hominid looked like.”⁠25

21. What, really, are the depictions of “ape-men”?

21 Indeed, New Scientist reported that there is not  “enough evidence from fossil material to take our theorising out of the realms of fantasy.”⁠26 So the depictions of “ape-men” are, as one evolutionist admitted, “pure fiction in most respects . . . sheer invention.”⁠27 Thus in Man, God and Magic Ivar Lissner commented: “Just as we are slowly learning that primitive men are not necessarily savages, so we must learn to realize that the early men of the Ice Age were neither brute beasts nor semi-apes nor cretins. Hence the ineffable stupidity of all attempts to reconstruct Neanderthal or even Peking man.”⁠28

22. How have many supporters of evolution been deceived?

22 In their desire to find evidence of “ape-men,” some scientists have been taken in by outright fraud, for example, the Piltdown man in 1912. For about 40 years it was accepted as genuine by most of the evolutionary community. Finally, in 1953, the hoax was uncovered when modern techniques revealed that human and ape bones had been put together and artificially aged. In another instance, an apelike “missing link” was drawn up and presented in the press. But it was later acknowledged that the “evidence” consisted of only one tooth that belonged to an extinct form of pig.⁠29

What Were They?

23. What really were some fossils that had been presumed to be ancestors of man?

23 If “ape-man” reconstructions are not valid, then what were those ancient creatures whose fossil  bones have been found? One of these earliest mammals claimed to be in the line of man is a small, rodentlike animal said to have lived about 70 million years ago. In their book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, Donald Johanson and Maitland Edey wrote: “They were insect-eating quadrupeds about the size and shape of squirrels.”⁠30 Richard Leakey called the mammal a “rat-like primate.”⁠31 But is there any solid evidence that these tiny animals were the ancestors of humans? No, instead only wishful speculation. No transitional stages have ever linked them with anything except what they were: small, rodentlike mammals.

24. What problems arise in trying to establish Aegyptopithecus as an ancestor of humans?

24 Next on the generally accepted list, with an admitted gap of about 40 million years, are fossils found in Egypt and named Aegyptopithecus​—Egypt ape. This creature is said to have lived about 30 million years ago. Magazines, newspapers and books have displayed pictures of this small creature with headings such as: “Monkey-like creature was our ancestor.” (Time)⁠32 “Monkeylike African Primate Called Common Ancestor of Man and Apes.” (The New York Times)⁠33 Aegyptopithecus is an ancestor which we share with living apes.” (Origins)⁠34 But where are the links between it and the rodent before it? Where are the links to what is placed after it in the evolutionary lineup? None have been found.

The Rise and Fall of “Ape-Men”

25, 26. (a) What claim was made about Ramapithecus? (b) On what fossil evidence was it reconstructed so as to appear as an “ape-man”?

25 Following another admittedly gigantic gap in the fossil record, another fossil creature had been presented as the first humanlike ape. It was said to have lived about 14 million years ago and was called Ramapithecus​—Rama’s ape (Rama was a mythical prince of India). Fossils of it were found  in India about half a century ago. From these fossils was constructed an apelike creature, upright, on two limbs. Of it Origins stated: “As far as one can say at the moment, it is the first representative of the human family.”⁠35

26 What was the fossil evidence for this conclusion? The same publication remarked: “The evidence concerning Ramapithecus is considerable​—though in absolute terms it remains tantalizingly small: fragments of upper and lower jaws, plus a collection of teeth.”⁠36 Do you think that this was “considerable” enough “evidence” to reconstruct an upright “ape-man” ancestor of humans? Yet, this mostly hypothetical creature was drawn by artists as an “ape-man,” and pictures of it flooded evolutionary literature​—all on the basis of jawbone fragments and teeth! Still, as The New York Times reported, for decades Ramapithecus “sat as securely as anything can at the base of the human evolutionary tree.”⁠37

27. Later evidence proved what regarding Ramapithecus?

27 However, that is no longer the case. Recent and more complete fossil finds revealed that Ramapithecus closely resembled the present-day ape family. So New Scientist now declares: “Ramapithecus cannot have been the first member of the human line.”⁠38 Such new information provoked the following question in Natural History magazine: “How  did Ramapithecus, . . . reconstructed only from teeth and jaws​—without a known pelvis, limb bones, or skull—​sneak into this manward-marching procession?”⁠39 Obviously, a great deal of wishful thinking must have gone into such an effort to make the evidence say what it does not say.

28, 29. What claim was made for Australopithecus?

28 Another gap of vast proportions lies between that creature and the next one that had been listed as an “ape-man” ancestor. This is called Australopithecus​—southern ape. Fossils of it were first found in southern Africa in the 1920’s. It had a small apelike braincase, heavy jawbone and was pictured as walking on two limbs, stooped over, hairy and apish looking. It was said to have lived beginning about three or four million years ago. In time it came to be accepted by nearly all evolutionists as man’s ancestor.

29 For instance, the book The Social Contract noted: “With one or two exceptions all competent investigators in this field now agree that the australopithecines . . . are actual human ancestors.”⁠40 The New York Times declared: “It was Australopithecus . . . that eventually evolved into Homo sapiens, or modern man.”⁠41 And in Man, Time, and Fossils Ruth Moore said: “By all the evidence men at last had met their long unknown, early ancestors.” Emphatically she declared: “The evidence was overwhelming . . . the missing link had at long last been found.”⁠42

30, 31. What does later evidence show regarding Australopithecus?

30 But when the evidence for anything actually is flimsy or nonexistent, or based on outright deception, sooner or later the claim comes to nothing. This has proved to be the case with many past examples of presumed “ape-men.”

31 So, too, with Australopithecus. More research has disclosed that its skull “differed from that of  humans in more ways than its smaller brain capacity.”⁠43 Anatomist Zuckerman wrote: “When compared with human and simian [ape] skulls, the Australopithecine skull is in appearance overwhelmingly simian​—not human. The contrary proposition could be equated to an assertion that black is white.”⁠44 He also said: “Our findings leave little doubt that . . . Australopithecus resembles not Homo sapiens but the living monkeys and apes.”⁠45 Donald Johanson also said: “Australopithecines . . . were not men.”⁠46 Similarly Richard Leakey called it “unlikely that our direct ancestors are evolutionary descendants of the australopithecines.”⁠47

32. If such creatures were still living today, how would they be regarded?

32 If any australopithecines were found alive today, they would be put in zoos with other apes. No one would call them “ape-men.” The same is true of other fossil “cousins” that resemble it, such as a smaller type of australopithecine called “Lucy.” Of it Robert Jastrow says: “This brain was not large in absolute size; it was a third the size of a human brain.”⁠48 Obviously, it too was simply an “ape.” In fact, New Scientist said that “Lucy” had a skull “very like a chimpanzee’s.”⁠49

33. What fossil type may or may not have been human?

 33 Another fossil type is called Homo erectus​—upright man. Its brain size and shape do fall into the lower range of modern man’s. Also, the Encyclopædia Britannica observed that “the limb bones thus far discovered have been indistinguishable from those of H[omo] sapiens.”⁠50 However, it is unclear whether it was human or not. If so, then it was merely a branch of the human family and died off.

The Human Family

34. How have ideas changed about Neanderthal man?

34 Neanderthal man (named after the Neander district in Germany where the first fossil was found) was undoubtedly human. At first he was pictured as bent over, stupid looking, hairy and apelike. Now it is known that this mistaken reconstruction was based on a fossil skeleton badly deformed by disease. Since then, many Neanderthal fossils have been found, confirming that he was not much different from modern humans. In his book Ice, Fred Hoyle stated: “There is no evidence that Neanderthal man was in any way inferior to ourselves.”⁠51 As a result, recent drawings of Neanderthals have taken on a more modern look.

35. What were Cro-Magnon types?

35 Another fossil type frequently encountered in scientific literature is Cro-Magnon man. It was named for the locality in southern France where his bones were first unearthed. These specimens “were so virtually indistinguishable from those of today that even the most skeptical had to concede that they were humans,” said the book Lucy.⁠52

36. What are the facts regarding apelike fossils of the past, and humanlike fossils?

36 Thus, the evidence is clear that belief in “ape-men” is unfounded. Instead, humans have all the earmarks of being created​—separate and distinct from any animal. Humans reproduce only after their own kind. They do so today and have always  done so in the past. Any apelike creatures that lived in the past were just that​—apes, or monkeys—​not humans. And fossils of ancient humans that differ slightly from humans of today simply demonstrate variety within the human family, just as today we have many varieties living side by side. There are seven-foot humans and there are pygmies, with varying sizes and shapes of skeletons. But all belong to the same human “kind,” not animal “kind.”

What About the Dates?

37. Biblical chronology indicates that humans have been on earth for how long?

37 Biblical chronology indicates that a period of about 6,000 years has passed since the creation of humans. Why, then, does one often read about far longer periods of time since acknowledged human types of fossils appeared?

38. Do dates that are determined by radioactive decay and that are in conflict with Bible chronology prove that the Bible is in error?

38 Before concluding that Bible chronology is in error, consider that radioactive dating methods have come under sharp criticism by some scientists. A scientific journal reported on studies showing that “dates determined by radioactive decay may be off​—not only by a few years, but by orders of magnitude.” It said: “Man, instead of having walked the earth for 3.6 million years, may have been around for only a few thousand.”⁠53

39. Is the radiocarbon “clock” always reliable?

39 For example, the radiocarbon “clock.” This method of radiocarbon dating was developed over a period of two decades by scientists all over the world. It was widely acclaimed for accurate dating of artifacts from man’s ancient history. But then a conference of the world’s experts, including radiochemists, archaeologists and geologists, was held in Uppsala, Sweden, to compare notes. The report of their conference showed that the fundamental assumptions on which the measurements were  based had been found untrustworthy to a greater or lesser degree. For example, it found that the rate of radioactive carbon formation in the atmosphere has not been consistent in the past and that this method is not reliable in dating objects from about 2,000 B.C.E. or before.⁠54

40. How do historical records support Bible chronology as to the age of the human race?

40 Keep in mind that truly reliable evidence of man’s activity on earth is given, not in millions of years, but in thousands. For example, in The Fate of the Earth we read: “Only six or seven thousand years ago . . . civilization emerged, enabling us to build up a human world.”⁠55 The Last Two Million Years states: “In the Old World, most of the critical  steps in the farming revolution were taken between 10,000 and 5000 BC.” It also says: “Only for the last 5000 years has man left written records.”⁠56 The fact that the fossil record shows modern man suddenly appearing on earth, and that reliable historical records are admittedly recent, harmonizes with the Bible’s chronology for human life on earth.

41. What did a pioneer in the field of radiocarbon dating say regarding “prehistorical” dates?

41 In this regard, note what Nobel prize winning nuclear physicist W. F. Libby, one of the pioneers in radiocarbon dating, stated in Science: “The research in the development of the dating technique consisted of two stages​—dating of samples from the historical and the prehistorical epochs, respectively. Arnold [a co-worker] and I had our first shock when our advisers informed us that history extended back only for 5000 years. . . . You read statements to the effect that such and such a society or archeological site is 20,000 years old. We learned rather abruptly that these numbers, these ancient ages, are not known accurately.”⁠57

42. What did an English author comment about the difference between evolutionary accounts and the Genesis account?

42 When reviewing a book on evolution, English author Malcolm Muggeridge commented on the lack of evidence for evolution. He noted that wild speculations flourished nevertheless. Then he said: “The Genesis account seems, by comparison, sober enough and at least has the merit of being validly related to what we know about human beings and their behavior.” He said that the unfounded claims of millions of years for man’s evolution “and wild leaps from skull to skull, cannot but strike anyone not caught up in the [evolutionary] myth as pure fantasy.” Muggeridge concluded: “Posterity will surely be amazed, and I hope vastly amused, that such slipshod and unconvincing theorizing should have so easily captivated twentieth-century minds and been so widely and recklessly applied.”⁠58

[Study Questions]

[Blurb on page 84]

Why did “inferior” apes and monkeys survive, but not a single “superior” “ape-man”?

[Blurb on page 85]

Early theories of human evolution were “the imagination of nineteenth century scientists”

[Blurb on page 85]

“The primary scientific evidence is a pitifully small array of bones”

[Blurb on page 87]

“The search for the proverbial ‘missing link’ . . . allows speculation and myth to flourish”

[Blurb on page 88]

“Every drawing of man’s family tree will have to be junked”

[Blurb on page 90]

There is not “enough evidence from fossil material to take our theorising out of the realms of fantasy”

[Blurb on page 93]

“Ramapithecus cannot have been the first member of the human line”

[Blurb on page 95]

“There is no evidence that Neanderthal man was in any way inferior to ourselves”

[Blurb on page 98]

“Posterity will surely be amazed . . . that such slipshod and unconvincing theorizing should have so easily captivated twentieth-century minds”

[Box/​Pictures on page 94]

At one time Australopithecus was accepted as a human ancestor, “the missing link.” Now some scientists agree that its skull was “overwhelmingly simian [ape]​—not human”


Australopithecus skull

Chimpanzee skull

Human skull

[Picture on page 84]

Since the living world does not provide any link between man and beast, evolutionists hoped that fossils would

[Picture on page 86]

An evolutionist acknowledges: “We have no evidence for biological change in brain size or structure since Homo sapiens appeared in the fossil record”

[Picture on page 89]

On what are drawings of “ape-men” based? Evolutionists answer: “the imagination,” “pure fiction in most respects,” “sheer invention”

[Pictures on page 91]

A shrewlike rodent is said to be an ancestor of man. But there is no fossil evidence of such a relationship

This monkeylike creature has been called one of our ancestors. No fossil evidence exists for this claim

[Pictures on page 92]

Based on just teeth and parts of jawbones, Ramapithecus was called “the first representative of the human family.” Further evidence showed that it was not

[Picture on page 96]

As is the case in the fossil record, today there is great variety in size and shape of bone structure in humans. But all belong to the human “kind”

[Picture on page 97]

Humans have all the earmarks of being created separate and distinct from the apes

[Diagram/​Picture on page 90]

Piltdown man was accepted as a “missing link” for 40 years until exposed as a fraud. Parts of an orangutan jaw and teeth had been combined with parts of a human skull


(For fully formatted text, see publication)

Dark areas are fragments of human skull

Entire light area fabricated from plaster

Dark areas are fragments of orangutan jaw and teeth