Creation Factsheet No. 17: Apes and Men

Factsheet No. 17


Did 'ape-men' exist? We all know that there is nothing between apes and humans living on earth today. Does the fossil record reveal any evidence of such 'missing links' in the past? Most people seem to have been persuaded that they did, having seen detailed reconstructions of these supposed ancestors of ours. Disregarding hoaxes and mistakes like Piltdown and Nebraska Man, we will take a closer look at some of the fossils which are presented as evidence for human evolution.


Picture of a Bonobo Chimp

Strictly speaking, evolutionists don't claim that humans evolved from apes, but that apes and humans evolved from a 'common ancestor' which lived as much as 40 million years ago. No fossils of this imaginary creature has turned up, so there is no evidence that it even existed. Following the discovery that an earlier supposed sub-ancestor — Ramapithecus — was only a type of orang-utan, the earliest fossils claimed to be our ancestors are the australopithecines. The word means 'southern ape', and we believe this is an apt description. Their fossil remains are quite numerous, but the claim that they walked upright and were our ancestors is not accepted by all evolutionists. Well-known anthropologist Richard Leakey has written, 'Australopithecus... was probably a knuckle-walker, not an erect walker.'1

Picture of the Fossil Lucy

One of the most famous of these was a 40 1/6 complete skeleton nick-named 'Lucy'. Donald Johanson, who found the skeletal remains, claimed that this creature walked upright, and was our direct ancestor. This claim is based largely upon a knee joint, which Johanson claims is similar to the human knee joint. However, when pressed he admitted that he had found it about 1 mile away from the main skeleton, and over 200 feet lower in the strata!2 As a matter of fact, Lucy was very similar to the bonobo or pygmy chimps which are living today, which walk by-pedally some of the time, but are certainly not evolving into humans! The brain size of the australopithecines was similar to that of the average gorilla. There is no convincing reason why they should be regarded as 'ape-men'.


Fossils labelled Homo habilus are also claimed to be intermediate between apes and humans, but the evidence suggests that fossils with this label are actually a mixture of australopithecine and modern-type human fossils.3 One specimen — known as 'skull 1470' looked very modern, and had a brain size of 800c.c., which is well within the human range.

When Richard Leakey discovered it he wrote, 'Either we toss out this skull or we toss out our theories of modern man.4 Why? Because it was dated at 2.9 million years old — 'too old' to be a true human. It was later redated at 1.9 million years old, but this is still too old to fit the evolutionary scenario.


Picture of Neandertal ManEvolutionists and creationists are now agreed that fossils labelled Homo erectus were fully human. Their brain size of 1000 c.c. was well within the modern human range (which varies from 800 c.c. to 2800 c.c.). Also the Neandertals — once the brutish, hairy ape-men of popular books — are now classified as fully human. Their average brain size was actually larger than ours — 1600 c.c., as against our average of 1400 c.c..


From time to time the media announces the discovery of some new 'ape-man', and the public are often misled as to the facts. News headlines in July 2002 announced that a new 'missing link' had been found in Chad. It was called Sahelantrhropus tchadensis but nick-named 'Toumai'. The next day, almost all scientists except the one who found it were saying it was just a female gorilla! There was no correction in the news media, so the public was left believing that further proof of evolution had been found. Australopithecus kadabha was the name given to a group of bones collected over 5 years from five different locations. One toe bone — which was said to be important evidence of the fossil's place in our family tree — was found 10 miles from the others! We would ask how scientific it is to put such a collection of fossil bones together and then claim they represent a single individual or a stage in evolution.

Picture of the Toumai Skull


When we consider all the facts about the fossils of our supposed ancestors we find no support for the view that we descended from 'ape-men'. The australopithecines were extinct apes, Homo habilus is a false taxon, being a mixture of ape and human fossils, and Homo erectus and Neandertal Man were fully human. There never were any 'ape-men', simply apes and humans as now, with nothing in between.5 However, it should also be noted that some of the main differences between ourselves and apes are not discernable in the fossil record. Consider our sense of beauty, our creativity, our sense of history, and our spiritual nature. There is a huge, unbridgeable gulf between the smartest ape and the least intelligent human being. This is just what we would expect on the basis of what the Bible says about man's origin: 'The Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground.' (Genesis 2:7)


  1. R Leakey, Science News Vol. 100, 27th Nov. 1971.
  2. D Johanson in a lecture at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, Nov 20th, 1986.
  3. See 'Homo habilus: The little man who isn't there', in Bones of Contention by Dr. Marvin Lubenow, Baker Book House 1992, pp. 157-168.
  4. R Leakey, National Geographic Vol. 143, No. 6, 1973, pp. 819-820.
  5. For an up-to-date assessment of relevant fossils, see Is Man Descended from Adam? by Reinhard Junker, Biblical Creation Society, 2000.

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