A New Ape-Man Claim and Old Errors in Turkish Daily Milliyet

The 23 September, 2006, edition of the Turkish daily Milliyet reported that a fossil finding discovered in Ethiopia belonged to an approximately 3-year-old member of Australopithecus afarensis under the headline “A giant discovery in evolution.” The 3.3-million-year-old fossil was nicknamed Selam by scientists. Selam was referred to in the article as “the first hominid,” and propaganda was made to the effect that human beings emerged by descent from ape-like creatures. It was also claimed that the lower part of the baby’s body resembled a human being while the upper part resembled an ape, in an attempt to reinforce the fictitious “half-man, half-ape” image assumed by the theory of evolution. However, the claims made in the daily consisted of a repetition of a familiar evolutionist error, and the new fossil constituted no scientific support for scenarios of human evolution.

Noteworthy timing 

The headline in question is most noteworthy as being timed to coincide with a “sensation gap” in terms of the human evolution scenario.

Readers will remember that, in 2004, claims of human evolution hit the headlines in a sensational manner with the Flores Man bones discovered in Indonesia. With its short stature and small brain volume, Flores Man was compared to the Hobbit in the novel of J. R. R. Tolkien, and attempts were made to raise it to the status of an icon of evolution through descriptions by many evolutionists such as “a revolution in anthropology” or “the most important discovery of the last century.” Daily Milliyet described Flores Man as “our dwarfish relative” and supported this furor by sensationally reporting illusory evolutionist speculation regarding the bones. (Milliyet, 28 October, 2004)

However, the sensation did not last long, and scientific studies initiated regarding the bones revealed that Flores Man was one race of the present-day humans. In fact, evolutionist interpretations of the bones announced as “the discovery of the century” were unable to survive even for two years.

According to evolutionists, the best thing to do in the event of a sensation gap is to raise another sensation instead. It appears that evolutionists, left in a difficult position by the demolition of their claims regarding Flores Man, attempted to keep the scenario of human evolution alive by raising another storm in the media concerning the latest fossil discovery.

Evolutionists must see that clinging to Australopithecus afarensis will avail them nothing

No matter how much the claims made concerning Selam appear to involve a new supposed ape-man, the fact is that they consist of the repetition of various old evolutionist errors. We refer to this as an “old” error because Australopithecus afarensis, in which Selam was included, is a species that has been known for more than 30 years. It is an extinct species of ape whose general anatomy closely resembles that of the chimpanzee. It has been estimated to have lived in South and East Africa between 4 and 1 million years ago. What placed this species, known from the famous fossil “Lucy,” at the center of evolutionist claims is the claim that its pelvis and knee joints resemble those of human beings, and therefore, that it was bipedal, walking on two legs like human beings. Lucy, 40% of whose skeleton has been preserved, has been estimated to be 3.2 million years old. Lucy was elevated to the status of an ancestor of man and was the subject of widespread evolutionist propaganda for decades.

However, the claim that Lucy (Australopithecus afarensis) walked on two legs and was the ancestor of man has been refuted by various studies conducted by evolutionist experts themselves. The literature contains studies that definitively reject the idea that Lucy walked upright like human beings. To summarize in brief:

  1. Despite being a proponent of the theory of evolution, the renowned anatomist Lord Solly Zuckerman concluded that Australopithecines were only an ordinary species of ape and were very definitely not bipedal.i
  2. Charles E. Oxnard, another evolutionist anatomist known for his research in this field, concluded that the skeletal structure of Australopithecines resembled that of modern-day orangutans.ii
  3. In 1994, Fred Spoor, Bernard Wood and Frans Zonneveld, all specialists on anatomy, reached a similar conclusion through a totally different method. This method was based on the comparative analysis of the semi-circular canals in the inner ear of humans and apes which provided for sustaining balance. There were some concrete differences between the canals of humans, who walked upright, and apes, that walked bent over. The inner ear canals of all the australopithecines, and, what is more, all the Homo habilis specimens, examined by Spoor, Wood and Zonneveld were identical to those of apes of our day. However, all the Homo erectus inner ear canals were identical to those of human beings alive today.iii This finding yielded two important results:

a. Fossils referred to as Homo habilis did not actually belong to the genus Homo, i.e. humans, but to that of Australopithecus, i.e. apes.
b. Both Homo habilis and Australopithecus were creatures that walked stooped forward–that is to say, they had the skeleton of an ape. They have no relation whatsoever to man.

  1. In 2000, Australopithecines’ forearm bones were examined by B. G. Richmond and D. S. Strait, and the report was published in Nature magazine. Comparative anatomy research showed that this species had the same forearm anatomy as apes living and walking on four legs today.iv

The evolutionist claim that Lucy is the ancestor of human beings was definitively rejected by scientific developments. The above inconclusive anatomical comparisons, as well as new fossil discoveries, made it impossible for Lucy to be placed in the imaginary human family tree, and Lucy fell from grace. The claims to the effect that Lucy was the ancestor of man were literally invalidated.

In its May 1999 edition the French scientific journal Science et Vie wrote, under the headline “Adieu Lucy,” that apes of the species Australopithecus did not represent the origin of man and that they should be removed from the relevant family tree.v

The retreat of evolutionist claims about Lucy was expressed in this way by the science writer Tim Friend in an article published in USA Today:

“Lucy”s scientific name is Australopithecus afarensis. She looked very similar to a modern bonobo chimpanzee, with a small brain, a protruding face and large molar teeth. But Lucy has been losing favor over the past 10 years as the direct ancestor of the genus homo… most say they now believe that the idea of tracing humans in a straight line back to an ancestor such as Lucy is too simplistic.vi

Selam Is No Help to Lucy 

The report in daily Milliyet mentioned not one of the above facts about Australopithecus afarensis. Instead, it referred to Lucy as “the famous hominid” and to Selam as “the first hominid.”

First and foremost, the description of Lucy as a “hominid” is disputed even among evolutionists. Therefore, Milliyet’s description of the fossils in question as “hominid” is based merely upon pro-evolution preconception and has no scientific objectivity. Moreover, since Selam is also an Australopithecus afarensis baby it is also tied in to the results of the scientific studies described in the preceding section. Since Selam is of the same species as Lucy, and in the light of the above studies, it is a creature that was unable to walk upright like human beings do, and cannot be their ancestor. In short, Selam constitutes no support for the evolutionist claims concerning Lucy.

On the contrary, it provides evidence that works against the tale of Lucy being part of an ape-like line that descended from the trees and adapted to bipedalism. This is revealed even by the concerned report itself. Looking at the Milliyet report, Selam’s anatomical characteristics are summed up under five headings and are reported as follows:

  1. The shoulder blades resemble those of the gorilla far more than those of a human being.
  2. Its neck is short and thick, like those of the great apes. The human neck, on the other hand, is more flexible for a more comfortable posture when running.
  3. The balance organ in the inner ear is close to that of apes.
  4. The fingers are very curved. This points to a climbing ability.
  5. The tongue bone resembles that of chimpanzees. It is estimated that it produced sounds like chimpanzees.

Now read over items 1 to 5 again. It is obvious that all the features listed are ape-like characteristics ideally suited to life in the trees. It thus becomes apparent how meaningless it is to use such a headline as “A giant discovery in evolution” to describe this fossil. At best, this discovery can only be described as one to do with Australopithecines.


Selam makes the ape-like characteristics of Australopithecus afarensis even clearer than ever. This finding may be regarded solely as a valuable source of information about A. afarensis’ lifestyle and way of moving, not about the evolutionary links claimed. The report in Milliyet, however, was written from a perspective of blind devotion to the theory of evolution, determined to ignore the findings that work against it, no matter how powerful they may be. The disregarding in this report of scientific studies showing that Lucy cannot be the ancestor of man and could not walk on two legs as human beings do, shows that Milliyet is acting out of bias and has adopted the human evolution scenario as a dogma.

Note: This article also represents our response to the newspaper reports listed below:

Ntvmsnbc.com, “The oldest hominid discovered”
Posta, 21 September 2006, “The oldest baby”
Radikal, 21 September 2006, “A 3.3-million-year-old baby discovered”
Sabah, 21 September 2006, “A 3.3-million-year-old skeleton discovered”
Birgun, 21 September 2006, “The youngest and oldest evidence for evolution”
Cumhuriyet, 22 September 2006, “Man’s oldest ancestor discovered”

i. Solly Zuckerman, Beyond The Ivory Tower, New York: Toplinger Publications, 1970, pp. 75-94
ii. Charles E. Oxnard, “The Place of Australopithecines in Human Evolution: Grounds for Doubt”, Nature, Vol. 258, p. 389
iii. Fred Spoor, Bernard Wood, Frans Zonneveld, “Implication of Early Hominid Labryntine Morphology for Evolution of Human Bipedal Locomotion”, Nature, Vol. 369, June 23, 1994, pp. 645-648
iv. Richmond, B.G. and Strait, D.S., Evidence that humans evolved from a knuckle-walking ancestor, Nature 404(6776):382, 2000.
v. Isabelle Bourdial, “Adieu Lucy,” Science et Vie, May 1999, Vol. 980, pp. 52-62
vi. Tim Friend, “Discovery rocks human-origin theories,” USA Today, 21 March 2003: http://www.usatoday.com/news/science/2001-03-21-skull.htm  

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