Re: Is this all there is?

Christopher G. Beetle (
Tue, 23 May 1995 16:34:44 -0400

On 16 May 1995, Phil Nicholls wrote:

> Christopher Beetle <> writes:
> > Here is one case from Forbidden Archeology for your
> > inspection--the Laetoli footprints.
> >
> > Excerpted from Forbidden Archeology, by M. Cremo and R. Thompson,
> > pp. 742-747. Copyright (c) 1993 by Govardhan Hill, Inc.
> [Excerpt deleted]
> Cremo and Thompson do a fairly good job of describing some of the
> debate over the Latolei footprints. However, there conclusion that
> this is evidence for anatomically modern Homo sapiens rests on the
> premise that if the foot was modern the rest of the critter was
> modern also. Modern means just like ours.
> Wrong. Very wrong. In most organisms mosaic evolution is the rule,
> not the exception. Assuming that the footprints are modern-looking,
> this may simply be evidence for an early species of Homo, something
> pre- Homo habilis. Anatomically modern Homo sapiens is defined by
> features of the skull, not the foot.

Cremo simply says that the Laetoli footprints are consistent with
anatomically modern Homo sapiens. But taken in the context of
other fossil material and artifacts in Forbidden Archeology the
case for anatomically modern Homo sapiens (AMHS) is somewhat
strengthened. Does anyone want to see more excerpts?

Phil Nicholls's proposal of pre-habilis Homo at 3.6 million years
is interesting, but the OH 8 foot, generally attributed to
habilis, is apelike. See Forbidden Archeology, pages 705-706:

---------------------------------------------------------------- The OH 8 Foot

As mentioned earlier (Section 11.4.2), a fairly complete foot
skeleton, labeled OH 8, was found in Bed I at Olduvai Gorge.
Dated at 1.7 million years, the OH 8 foot was associated with
other fossils classified by L. Leakey as Homo habilis (OH 7) and
was also attributed to this species (Lewis 1980, pp. 275, 290).
M. H. Day and J. R. Napier (1964) said the OH 8 foot very
much resembled that of Homo sapiens, thus contributing to the
overall humanlike picture of Homo habilis. According to Day and
Napier, the OH 8 foot showed that Homo habilis walked upright.
But O. J. Lewis (1980, p. 291), anatomist at St.
Bartholomew's Hospital Medical College in London, wrote: "The
attribution of these remains to the taxon Homo has been a source
of controversy." He showed the functional morphology of the OH 8
foot was more like that of chimpanzees and gorillas (Table 11.4).

Table 11.4

Apelike Features of the OH 8 Foot Reported by O. J. Lewis (1980)

1. Articulations between the metatarsals "are like the
chimpanzee" (p. 294).
2. Ankle joint surfaces "retain the apelike form" (p. 291).
3. Form of the talus (ankle bone) is like that "seen in the
extant African apes" (p. 291).
4. Disposition of the heel similar to that of gorillas and
chimpanzees (p. 291).
5. Hallux (large toe) capable of being extended sideways, with
some "residual grasping functions" (p. 293).

Commenting on the 1964 study by Day and Napier, Lewis (1980,
p. 294) noted that "conservative arboreal features of the tarsus
[ankle] . . . escaped comment." The suggestion that the OH 8
ankle manifested arboreal features is intriguing. It certainly
does not serve the propaganda purposes of evolutionists to have
the public visualizing a supposed human ancestor like Homo
habilis climbing trees with an aboreally adapted foot rather than
walking tall and brave across the African savannahs. When the
owner of the OH 8 foot did walk on the ground, it probably did so
in a chimpanzeelike manner, said Lewis (1980, p. 296).
From Lewis's study of the OH 8 foot, one could therefore
conclude that Homo habilis was much more apelike than most
scientists have tended to believe. The OH 62 discovery supports
this view. Another possible conclusion: the OH 8 foot did not
belong to Homo habilis but to an australopithecine. This view was
favored by Wood (1974b) and Lewis (1980, p. 295). A related
conclusion is that Homo habilis itself was, as Oxnard (1975b)
proposed, simply a variant of Australopithecus. Oxnard, said
Lewis (1980, p. 295), thought "the australopithecines (including
OH 8) were at least partially arboreal primates retaining
efficient climbing capabilities associated with a bipedal
capacity probably of a type no longer seen." Of course, the
proposal that Australopithecus was even partially arboreal defies
the conventional view that this creature was humanlike from the
neck down and walked fully upright on the ground. In Section
11.8, we give a detailed discussion of this issue.
Over the years, scientists have described the OH 8 foot
skeleton as humanlike (Day and Napier 1964), apelike (Lewis
1980), intermediate between human and ape (Day and Wood 1968),
distinct from both human and ape (Oxnard 1972), and orangutanlike
(Lisowski et al. 1974). This demonstrates once more an important
characteristic of paleoanthropological evidence--it is often
subject to multiple, contradictory interpretations. Partisan
considerations often determine which view prevails at any given
point in time.


So to have Homo at Laetoli with an AMHS type foot means an
evolutionary reversal--i.e. Homo sp. with AMHS foot at 3.6
million years, H. habilis with arboreal foot at 2 million years,
then Homo with AMHS foot again.

Also to have fully bipedal Homo with AMHS type feet at 3.6
million years would remove, it seems, all the known
australopithecines from the human line. One would then expect to
find Homo sp. fossil material in the 4-5 million year range.
Cremo says that's fine with him--a step in the right direction,
but is Phil ready to go to bat for that at the next annual
meeting of the American Anthropological Association or the
American Association of Physical Anthropologists?


Day, M. H., and Napier, J. R. (1964) Hominid fossils from Bed I,
Olduvai Gorge, Tanganyika: fossil foot bones. Nature, 201:
Day, M. H., and Wood, B. A. (1968) Functional affinities of the
Olduvai Hominid 8 talus. Man, Second Series, 3: 440-455.
Lewis, O. J. (1980) The joints of the evolving foot, part III.
Journal of Anatomy, 131: 275-298.
Lisowski, F. P., Albrecht, G. H., and Oxnard, C. E. (1974). The
form of the talus in some higher primates: a multivariate
study. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 41: 191-216.
Oxnard, C. E. (1972) Some African fossil foot bones: a note on
the interpolation of fossils into a matrix of extant species.
American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 37: 3-12.
Oxnard, C. E. (1975b) The place of the australopithecines in
human evolution: grounds for doubt? Nature, 258: 389-395.
Wood, B. A. (1974b) Olduvai Bed I postcranial fossils: a
reassessment. Journal of Human Evolution, 3: 373-378.


Chris Beetle <>