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“Ape-Men” have long been regarded as an evolutionary reality. Reports abound of fossil remains of ape-like humans. Scientists have proclaimed these finds to be the evolutionary transition between beast and man. Are ape-men really our ancestors? An examination of the evidence will help you to decide for yourself.

Today’s living world has nothing in it to support the idea of ape-like ancestors for humankind. In light of this, it was hoped that the fossil record would provide such evidence. So, just how convincing is the fossil record? It is interesting to note that the early theories of human evolution were ‘fossil free’. In other words, theories that you would expect to be based on some fossil evidence, were in fact, according to The Bulletin of the Atomic Sciences, “the imagination of nineteenth century scientists.” So, what has been revealed in the more than a century that has passed since the theory was first formulated? Here is how New Scientist magazine described the fossil evidence, “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 tantalizingly incomplete, and the specimens themselves often so fragmentary and inconclusive.” The known fossil record, in fact, would fit on a billiard table. The task of reconstructing man’s evolutionary history would be like attempting to reconstruct the plot of War and Peace with 13 randomly selected pages. Modern-type humans appear suddenly in the fossil record. But, what about the so-called missing links?

A fossil creature that has been presented as the first human-like ape was called Ramapithecus, said to have lived about 14 million years ago. Fossils of it were found in India in the early 20th Century. From these fossils was constructed an ape-like creature, upright, on two limbs. Yet, this complete reconstruction was based on fragments of upper and lower jaws, plus a collection of teeth. From this evidence, artists drew an ape-man and pictures of it flooded the evolutionary literature. And all of this from a few jaw-bone and teeth fragments. Yet more recent discoveries have shown that Ramapithecus closely resembled the present-day ape family. 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 man-ward marching procession? Obviously, a great deal of wishful thinking must have gone into such an effort to make the evidence say what it does not say.”

Another fossil ‘relative’ of humans which gained favor was known as ‘Lucy’. The brain of Lucy, according to fossil evidence, was not large in absolute size, it was a third the size of a human’s brain. Lucy, in fact, had a skull that was very like a chimpanzee’s.

Many other so called links have fallen apart under the evidence – homo erectus, australopithecines, Australopithecus – all have proven to be inconclusive. In spite of this, they are still presented as factual, immutable proof of evolution. Commenting on this state of affairs, English author Malcolm Muggeridge said, “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.”