Once again the media has jumped on the evolutionary bandwagon of hype and speculation of man’s supposed origins and ancient history.

In the latest report, a group of scientists have been studying the remains of hominid specimens found in caves in Sterkfontein and Swartkrans, South Africa.  The specimens have been classified as Australopithecus africanus and Paranthropus robustus.

Using a laser, the researchers removed a tiny piece of enamel from the teeth of 8 A. africanus and 11 P. robustus.  Then they tested each piece of enamel for particular isotopes of strontium.

Different regions have different amounts of strontium isotopes in the food supply which are then consumed by the individuals.  The strontium isotopes are then incorporated into the enamel of the teeth.  By testing the strontium isotopes, the researchers believe they can identify what regions the individuals have lived.

Then the researchers make some assumptions that cannot be verified, but directly impact their conclusions.  In one of the references, it states:

The results showed that the larger teeth, presumed to belong to males, showed most of these individuals lived and died in the region where the Sterkfontein and Swartkrans cave sites are located.

Most of the smaller teeth, presumed to be female, showed that these individuals grew up outside the region.

Note they ‘presume’ the larger teeth belonged to males and smaller teeth belonged to females.  I may be mistaken, but I have yet to read of any proof of sexual dimorphism in either Australopithecus or Paranthropus.  Yet in one of the reports, they stated that since human males are larger than females, the team used this to base their decision of larger teeth belonging to males and smaller teeth belonging to females.

I don’t know about you, but when I look out at the human population, I would be very skeptical in making such an assumption, especially on so few specimens.  Sizes of both sexes of humans run the gamut from small and petit to tall to stocky to large and obese.  I’ve seen many men who were smaller than their wives.  And if you look at the different tribes or ethnic groups of Africans, you will find a number of them where the men and women are virtually identical in size.

However, based on the assumption of sexual dimorphism and tooth size indicating sex, the researchers claim that the strontium isotope studies indicate the females were raised in other areas and migrated to the locations of the caves and the males lived their entire lives in the home territory of the caves.

But what if there was no significant difference in the size between male and female australopithecines and paranthropines?   This would completely nullify the conclusion of this study.

Secondly, the team accepts the evolutionary supposition that Australopithecus might be one of man’s early ancestors.  Even in evolutionary circles there remains some controversy as to whether or not australopithecines are truly a human ancestor or an extinct ape.  Several of the following articles will shed more light on this subject:

Australopithecus and Homo habilis — Pre-Human Ancestors?

New evidence: Lucy was a knuckle-walker

Fossil evidence for alleged apemen— Part 2: non-Homo hominids

Even though no one really considers Australopithecus to be human, the media prints headlines reading, ‘Ancient cave women ‘left childhood homes’ in their attempt to sensationalize evolutionary propaganda.

Therefore the media’s hype about cave women leaving childhood homes is based upon the questionable assumptions made by the research team concerning the size difference of the sexes and the questionable assumption of the Australopithecus specimens being in the direct evolutionary lineage of humans.

Based upon what I could glean from the reports of this study, I would conclude that some individuals of these extinct apes migrated while others remained close to home.

References

Ancient Hominid Females Did All The Roaming, RedOrbit.com, June 2, 2011.

Bowdler, Neil, Ancient Cave Women ‘Left Childhood Homes’, BBC News, June 1, 2011.

Great Dothan Creation Evolution Debate (DVD)

On November 27th, 2007, in Dothan, Alabama, Dr. Rob Carter and Mr. Rick Pierson met for an increasingly-rare debate on the subject of creation vs. evolution. Only 600 people were allowed into the Dothan Opera House to witness the historic event live, but now it is available on DVD for all to see.

Illustrated throughout with graphics and text, this debate DVD is one to watch over and over again.

Bonus Material on a CD-ROM included, containing glossary of terms, study guides and more.

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