[The image above is the Lucy display developed by Dave Menton for the Creation Museum in Kentucky, revealing how the fossils of Lucy depicted on holographs fit accurately on an ape morphology. This article is an excerpt from the updated expanded edition of my book on Homo naledi that I am currently working on]

The Australopithecine is viewed by most evolutionists as an ape-like ancestor that precede humans in developing an evolutionary lineage. Tim Bromage states, “the development of early hominids must have been more like apes than modern humans.”1)T. Bromage, “Faces from the past,” New Scientist, (January 11, 1992), p. 33 A. W. Mehlert explains, “The most important stage in this chain of alleged events was the transformation of a quadrupedal chimp-like ‘common ancestor’ into a supposedly erect group of creatures described as australopithecines some 4 to 5 million years ago (Ma). These curious animals, mostly discovered since 1924 in various regions of southern and eastern Africa, have become the only candidates for the alleged transition to ‘primitive’ man. Another protohuman which supposedly links these creatures to humans is the so-called habiline group, which supposedly arose after the gracile australopithecine stage around 2 Ma, and which thereafter evolved directly into Homo erectus approximately 1.8—1.9 Ma.”2) A. W. Mehlert, “Australopithecus and Homo habalis–Pre-Human Ancestors?” creation ex nihilo technical journal, vol. 10, no. 2 (August 1996), p. 219 Describing these Australopithecine creatures by their sub-groups as evolutionists categorize them, he stated:

The present classification of the subfamily is as follows:

(a)  Australopithecus africanus (the gracile forms including Taung),

(b) A. robustus (a more heavily built and coarser form),

(c) A. boisei (a much coarser form of robustus), and

(d) A. afarensis (found in 1973-1974 in Hadar, Africa), which is believed to be the ancestor of all later australopithecine forms and of humans. Some authorities believe it is not a valid taxon, and should be included as only a sub-species of A. africanus.3)A. W. Mehlert, “Australopithecus and Homo habalis–Pre-Human Ancestors?,” creation ex nihilo technical journal, vol. 10, no. 2 (August 1996), p. 220

Later discovered subgroups such as A. anamensis, A. bahrelghazali, A. deyiremeda, A. garhi, and Lee Berger’s discovery of A. sediba should be included as well.

Dr. Donald Johanson, who discovered the famous “Lucy” fossil gives a description of Australopithecus afarensis:

1) Despite great variability in size, all the fossils were samples from a single species….

2) Although small, these were extremely powerful creatures…. Our hominids look to have been at least as strong as chimps….

3) They were fully bipedal….

4)Their arms were slightly longer for their size than the arms of humans….

5) Their hands were like human hands, except for a tendency for the fingers to curl a bit more. Certain of their wrist bones were extremely apelike….

6) Their brains were very small, of a size comparable in scale to the brains of chimpanzees….

7) Their overall appearance could be summed up as follows: smallish, essentially human bodies with heads that were more ape-shaped than humans-shaped. Their jaws were large and forward-thrusting. They had no chins. The upper part of their faces were small and chimplike. The crowns of their skulls were very low. Male or female, they probably were hairier than modern humans.4)Donald Johanson and Maitland Edey, Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, Simon and Schuster (New York, NY: 1981), p.274-275

Offering a simple division to generalize the Astralopithecine creatures,

They were divided into two type—a slender “gracile” type and a burlier, more primitive-appearing “robust” type…. The big burly specimens from Kromdraai and Swartkrans, although measurably different from the gracile species, were obviously the same general kind of creature.5)Donald Johanson and Maitland Edey, Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, Simon and Schuster (New York, NY: 1981), p. 70

Charles Oxnard, a very influential evolutionist, discussing these “robust” type wrote, “the australopithecines (from Olduvai and Sterkfontein, Kromdraai and Makapansgat), are now irrevocably removed from a place in the evolution of human bipedalism, possibly from a place in a group any closer to humans than to African apes, and certainly from any place in the direct human lineage.”6)Charles Oxnard, The Order of Man, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT: 1984) p. 332  Lucy, which is designated Australopithecus afarensis, was of the gracile type being generally believed to have been the type that would give rise to what eventually became Homo—human.

Dr. Donald Johanson, who discovered Lucy, afirmed A. afarensis was: “a nonhuman, extremely apelike creature…. Lucy, because she is so embarrassingly un-Homo-like…Nobody has suggested calling her Homo.”7)Donald Johanson and Maitland Edey, Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, Simon and Schuster (New York, NY: 1981), p. 303 A biology textbook described Lucy: “An adult female, Lucy was only 3 feet… and weighed no more than 60 pounds…”8)Jay Phelan, What Is Life: A Guide to Biology, W. H. Freeman & Company (New York, NY: Third Edition 2015), p. 483 Richard Leakey reported, “All the australopithecines developed their dentitions quickly, like apes . . . Bromage found that australopithecine faces are built like ape faces, not human faces.”9)Leakey, R. and Lewin, R., 1992. Origins Reconsidered, Little, Brown and Co., London, p.156 As we will see, the teeth play a major role in distinguishing what to classify fossils due to a number of reasons. Here Leakey addresses the fact that apes mature physically more rapidly than humans which is true for austalopths indicating an ape-like characteristic. Stephen Jay Gould recounts Oxnard’s perspective of australopihecines:

[Dr. Charles] Oxnard is our leading expert on the quantitative study of skeletons…. Oxnard has argued in several books and articles that australopihecines are anatomically more different from us than other experts imagine. He views them as bipedal like us, but also capable of motion with all fours (probably for climbing) in a manner ‘far more sophisticated than that of which any human is capable.’ In short, he sees australopethicines as uniquely different from apes and humans, not as imperfect people on the way up.10)Stephen Jay Gould, “A Short Way to Big Ends,” Natural History, Vol. 95 (January 1986), p. 28

The ability to walk upright (being bipedal) becomes the essential aspect that the argument hinges on. For example, Mehlert warns, “If a palaeontologist already believed that australopithecines possessed an upright stance, then this will influence his reconstruction, and the result will be that he would give it a flatter face.”11)A. W. Mehlert, “Australopithecus and Homo habalis–Pre-Human Ancestors?” creation ex nihilo technical journal, vol. 10, no. 2 (August 1996), p. 223 The skull itself can reflect whether the creature was bipedal or not, by observing the foramen magnum. “This is the scientific name for the opening in the underside of the skull where the spinal cord is attached. In apes the opening is more towards the rear of the skull and ‘points’ downward and backward. In humans it faces more downward than backward, thus reflecting the fully upright stance of humans where the head is perched on top of the spine.”12)A. W. Mehlert, “Australopithecus and Homo habalis–Pre-Human Ancestors?,” creation ex nihilo technical journal, vol. 10, no. 2 (August 1996), p. 222

As evidence for how Lucy’s reconstruction was altered to fit the artists desired human-likeness preconceived in their mind by their evolutionary presuppositions, Jay Matternes the artist who drew Lucy based on the skull reconstructed by Tim White, admitted:

The projection and the drawings were oriented in the Frankfurt Horizontal (F.H.), a straight line from the portion (a standard landmark on the skull just above the auditory meatus) to the lowest point on the rim of the orbit (usually the left, but in this case the right). This is thought to be the angle at which the human head is normally carried, but I suspect that with a head as badly balanced as A. afarensis, the F.H. would not in fact have been horizontal; that it woud have sloped downward more from the vertebral column.13)Jay Matternes in the Appendix of Donald Johanson and Maitland Edey, Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, Simon and Schuster (New York, NY: 1981), p. 377

The honesty from Jay Matternes is appreciated and it should be noted that his drawings were based in Tim White’s reconstruction, which Johanson’s book comments under a picture of it: “Tim White made this reconstruction of an afarensis skull, using parts of several individuals. The section at the back of the skull is the crushed cranium mentioned in the text. It contains 107 separate pieces.”14)Donald Johanson and Maitland Edey, Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, Simon and Schuster (New York, NY: 1981), p. 352 This gave Tim White ample room for artistic license when reconstructing this skull. The artist elsewhere presents doubts of the skulls reconstruction.

This area of the skull is the only part of the White reconstruction about which I have any question. In most hominid and pongid skulls the space between the anterior margin of the coronoid process and the posteriorsurface of the zygomatic process of the maxillary is relatively reduced. If that space were to be reduced in this skull, the entire upper face would slope backward more steeply from the rostrum giving the effect of greater alveolar prognathism and a more apelike profile, and a consequently reduced endocranial length. However, it is evident that Dr. White restored the skull at every point as carefully as the available fragments would warrant. Whatever slight distortions of skull proportion there may be are due to crushed and distorted parts of the fossil itself.15)Jay Matternes in the Appendix of Donald Johanson and Maitland Edey, Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, Simon and Schuster (New York, NY: 1981), p. 378

Of course, attempting to assemble a skull from crushed fragments that originate from separate individuals has little chance of turning out accurately. This is especially significant as Johanson repeated mentions sexual dimorphism, explained as, “Males are not only larger than females; they are also proportioned differently.”16)Donald Johanson and Maitland Edey, Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, Simon and Schuster (New York, NY: 1981), p. 256 If portions of the skull combine male and female fragments, it throws the whole reconstruction into question. Imagine trying to put a puzzle together with pieces of various puzzles. In the end the image will obviously be distorted. If assuming an erect gait the skull will be adapted to sit on top of an upright spinal column.

Contrary to an abundance of evidence, Lucy remains to be presented as bipedal to millions of college students in a popular biology textbook.

”Lucy”—an Australopithecine—was bipedal…17)Jay Phelan, What Is Life: A Guide to Biology, W. H. Freeman & Company (New York, NY: Third Edition 2015), p. 482

Lee Berger, who discovered Australopithecus sadeba and Homo naledi, also assumes this to be true which is a presupposition that can influence his decision to classify his own discoveries. Berger maintains, “The second great part of human evolution, between 4.2 million and 1.5 million years ago, is represented by the range of species known as australopiths… These species all walked upright, as indicated by a pelvis, legs, feet, and spine that share features with the bones of modern humans. They would have been as awkward on all fours as people are today, but they also seem to have retained the ability to climb”18)Lee Berger and John Hawks, Almost Human: The Astonishing Tale of Homo naledi and the Discovery That Changed Our Human Story, National Geographic Partners (Washington, DC: 2017), p. 44 However, other evolutionists hold a different impression describing Lucy’s “leaning posture like the chimp when bipedal”19)Jeremy Cherfas, “Trees have made man upright,” New Scientists (1983), Vol. 97, Issue 1341, p. 174 characterized by “greater bending at hip and knee joints, resulting in a high-stepping gait . . . Lucy lifted her legs rather awkwardly while walking — like a modern human wearing a pair of flippers”20)Bruce Bower, “Hominids down to earth or up a tree? Science News, April 9, 1994, 145(15), p. 231

Mehlert criticized, “A feature not picked up by Johanson, the discoverer of Lucy/afarensis, was that in contrast to humans her shoulder joint is cranially-orientated. In modern humans it faces outwards, parallel to the ground, whereas apes have a socket which faces mainly upwards.”21)A. W. Mehlert, “Australopithecus and Homo habalis–Pre-Human Ancestors?” creation ex nihilo technical journal, vol. 10, no. 2 (August 1996), p. 224 “In addition, Susman says, Lucy’s limb proportions indicate that she had not yet developed an efficient upright gait.”22)Herbert Wray, “Was Lucy a Climber? Dissenting Views of Ancient Bones,” Scinece News, Vol. 122 (August 21, 1982), p 116 Furthermore, Zhlman considers “her to be remarkably chimp-like, particularly in the morphology of the rib cage.”23)Adrienne Zihlman, “Pygmy chimps, people and the pundits.” New Scientist, 1984, 104:40 Richard Leakey signified the results of an examination performed by Peter Schmidt from the Anthropological Institute in Zurich:

He examined the whole trunk, the lumbar region, and the shoulders. He wanted to know how Lucy–Australopithecus afarensis–had moved about the landscape. Specifically, he wanted to know whether she was able to run bipedal, like humans

The shoulders, the trunk, and the waist are important in human running: the shoulders for arm swinging and balance; the trunk for balance and breathing; and the waist for flexibility and swinging of the hips. “What you see in Australopithecus is not what you’d want in an efficient bipedal running animal,” says Peter. “The shoulders were high, and, combined with the funnel-shaped chest, would have made arm swinging improbable in the human sense. It wouldn’t be able to lift its thorax for the kind of deep breathing that we do when we run. The abdomen was potbellied, and there was no waist, so that would have restricted the flexibility that’s essential to human running.”24)Richard Leakey and Roger Lewin, Origins Reconsidered, Little, Brown and Co., (London: 1992), p. 194

The legs also betray the opinion of bipedalism.

We must look, then, at the valgus degree of thigh and knee — the extent to which the leg can flex at the knee, that is, how the legs carry the body weight. In the case of the chimp this angle is zero, with the thigh and lower leg forming a straight line, with the centre of mass of the body falling inside the legs. In humans the angle of valgus is around nine to ten degrees, placing the lower leg directly under the body’s gravity centre. Lucy’s valgus angle is around 15°, which is high. Prost concluded that Lucy’s greater angle favours other supporting evidence that Lucy and other australopithecines were adept tree climbers.

We should remember that the cited valgus angle for afarensis is based on measurements of the fragment AL 129-a, which is questionable because of the distance separating it from site 288. Another femoral fragment from nearby site 333 (the ‘First Family’), and which is included in the A. afarensis composite, yields an angle of only 9°.

Prost pointed out that among primates, the spider monkey and the orang have about the same degree of valgus as humans; yet both are extremely agile in the trees. It seems the valgus angle means little. Prost, Susman and Stern nevertheless argue that Lucy’s angle reflects her ability to climb, and that her bipedal gait, when she used it, was very much like that of a chimp or spider monkey.

For much the same reasons Tardieu also believes that all the smaller afarensis specimens must have spent a lot of time in the trees, like orangs and monkeys.25)A. W. Mehlert, “Australopithecus and Homo habalis–Pre-Human Ancestors?” creation ex nihilo technical journal, vol. 10, no. 2 (August 1996), p. 229

The questionable nature of the knee is due to the fact that it was found in a location that geologically was dated 500,000 years earlier than the rest of the fossil fragments. Dr. Johanson stated, “That would make Lucy and the ‘First Family’ close to 3.5 million years old; the jaws and knee joint close to 4.0 million years old.”26)Donald Johanson and Maitland Edey, Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, Simon and Schuster (New York, NY: 1981), p. 203

Another line to consider are Lucy’s feet. “This is another vital piece of evidence to be considered; the joint of the tibia and the foot. It appears that the small afarensis specimen had a very ape-like talus. In the larger specimens the talus has a forward tilt, while Lucy’s ankle tilts backwards even further than a gorilla’s. In humans the joint faces slightly forward for ease of an erect full-striding gait.”27) A. W. Mehlert, “Australopithecus and Homo habalis–Pre-Human Ancestors?,” creation ex nihilo technical journal, vol. 10, no. 2 (August 1996), p. 230 There have been many attempts to produce Lucy with human looking feet based on an assumption that her kind had made footprints that were preserved in Laetoli, Tanzania. Russel Tuttle has written much on these footprints. In 1989, he wrote, “In discernible features, the Laetoli prints are indistinguishable from those of habitually barefoot Homo sapiens.”28)Randall H. Tuttle., D. M. Webb, and M. Baksh, “The pattern of little feet.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology (1989), 78(2):316 Two years later he confirmed, “[Casts]. . . further illustrate the remarkable humanness of Laetoli hominid feet in all detectable morphological features.”29)Randall H. Tuttle, and D. Webb, “Did Australopithecus afarensis make the Laetoli G footprint trail?” American Journal of Physical Anthropology,1991, supplement, 12, p. 175 Elsewhere he revealed, “The footprints of both the Machiguena and the Laetoli G bipeds exhibit strong heel, ball, and first toe impressions and a well-developed medial longitudinal arch, which is the hallmark of human feet.”30)Russell H. Tuttle, “The Pitted Pattern of Laetoli Feet,” Natural History, Vol. 99 (March 1990), p. 63 He concludes, “In sum, the 3.5-million-year-old trails of Laetoli site G resemble those of habitually unshod modern humans. None of their features suggest that the Laetoli hominids were less capable bipeds than we are. If the G footprints were not known to be so old, we would readily conclude that they were made by a member of our genus, Homo…. In any case, we should shelve the loose assumption that the Laetoli footprints were made by Lucy’s kind, Australopithecus afarensis.”31)Russell H. Tuttle, “The Pitted Pattern of Laetoli Feet,” Natural History, Vol. 99 (March 1990), p. 64 Notice how the debate about these prints solely revolve around the alleged age. Other footprints have cause similar struggle in academic circles. “On sites reaching from Virginia and Pennsylvania, through Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri and westward toward the Rocky Mountains, prints similar to those shown above, and from 5 to 10 inches long, have from time to time been found on the surface of exposed rocks, and more and more keep turning up as the years go by. What made these prints? As yet the answer is unknown to science. They look like human footprints and it often has been said, though not by scientists, that they really are human footprints made in soft mud before it became rock.”32)Albert G. Ingalls, “The Carboniferous Mystery,” Scientific American, Vol. 162 (January 1940), p. 14 This author also related that it was due to the alleged age that cause issues. “If man, or even his ape ancestor, or even that ape’s ancester’s early mammalian ancestor, existed as far back as in the Caroniferous period in any shape, then the whole science of geology is so completely wrong that all geologists will resign their jobs and take up truck driving. Hence, for the present at least, science rejects the attractive explanation that man made these mysterious prints in the mud of the Carboniferous Period with his feet.”33)Albert G. Ingalls, “The Carboniferous Mystery,” Scientific American, Vol. 162 (January 1940), p. 14

From the entire collection of fossil fragments that accumulate the Lucy type, none are as controversial as the pelvis. “Of all the various traits of australopithecines, the pelvis is probably the most often cited by some evolutionists in support of the bipedal hypothesis regarding Lucy, yet even here we find considerable differences of opinion.”34)A. W. Mehlert, “Australopithecus and Homo habalis–Pre-Human Ancestors?,” creation ex nihilo technical journal, vol. 10, no. 2 (August 1996), p. 226 Dr. Johanson declares, “Lucy, who has a humanlike rather than an apelike pelvis…”35)Donald Johanson and Maitland Edey, Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, Simon and Schuster (New York, NY: 1981), p. 347 Others doubt this claim: “early hominids may not have been efficient walkers . . .Lucy had hips that were wide for their size . . . (this) would have been less suitable for sustained walking and running.”36)Sarah Bunney, “The fruits of walking on two legs,” New Scientist, (May 14, 1994), 142(1925):18 “Lucy’s pelvis shows a flare that is better suited for climbing than for walking.”37)Herbert Wray, “Was Lucy a Climber? Dissenting Views of Ancient Bones,” Science News, Vol. 122 (August 21, 1982), p 116 Without being blind by biased presuppositions, the evidence is obvious: “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 (Lucy) to the chimpanzee is equally obvious. “38)Jack Stern and Randall Sussman, “The locomotor anatomy of Australopithecus afarensis.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, (1983) Vol. 60, Issue 3, p. 291

One final line of evidence is observed in the ear canal. “These [ear] canals have a lot to do with balance while locomoting erect. Spoor and his team, using high-resolution computerised tomography, scanned a large number of specimens, including A. africanus and A. robustus, plus two specimens of habilines in addition to a H. erectus specimen, as well as other primates from small squirrel monkeys to gorillas — over 100 specimens of extant or extinct primates of known locomotor habits. According to Shipman’s article, the scans of all australopithecines and habilines told a consistent story — that the bony labyrinths were decidedly ape-like, but in contrast, the canals of H. erectus were identical to those of modern humans. None were ‘intermediate’. Spoor’s team believes that the australopithecines might have balanced on two legs when standing, rather than when moving, just as chimps do when gathering food.”39)A. W. Mehlert, “Australopithecus and Homo habalis–Pre-Human Ancestors?,” creation ex nihilo technical journal, vol. 10, no. 2 (August 1996), p. 233 Shipman’s article mentioned stated, “It’s very difficult to interpret; the only thing that the labyrinth suggests is that [H. habilis] is less bipedally adapted than the australopithecines. It looks much more like gibbons, maybe, or like baboons, certainly not a human pattern.”40)Pat Shipman, “Those ears were made for walking,” New Scientist (July 30, 1994), vol. 143, p. 2 Bruce Bower affirms, “Australopithecines are more similar to chimpanzees than to modern humans in their inner-ear morphology . . . Inner ears like those of modern humans first emerged in Homo erectus.”41)Bruce Bower, “Hominids down to earth or up a tree? Science News, April 9, 1994, 145(15), p. 231

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