Laetoli Footprints Keep on Walking

July 28, 2011

I have written previously about the Laetoli footprints and what they tell us about the history of humanity. Like all good science, there has been further research on the subject that confirms my original contention – that at a time when our ancestors were supposed to be the small, ape-like Australopithecus afarensis, something very like a modern human was walking around. From the article:

Quite remarkably, we found that some healthy humans produce footprints that are more like those of other apes than the Laetoli prints. The foot function represented by the prints is therefore most likely to be similar to patterns seen in modern-humans. This is important because the development of the features of human foot function helped our ancestors to expand further out of Africa.

 “Our work demonstrates that many of these features evolved nearly four million years ago in a species that most consider to be partially tree-dwelling. These findings show support for a previous study at Liverpool that showed upright bipedal walking originally evolved in a tree-living ancestor of living great apes and humans. Australopithecus afarensis, however, was not modern in body proportions of the limbs and torso.

“The characteristic long-legged, short body form of the modern human allows us to walk and run great distances, even when carrying heavy loads. Australopithecus afarensis had the reverse physical build, short legs and a long body, which makes it probable that it could only walk or run effectively over short distances. We now need to determine when our ancestors first became able to walk or run over the very long distances that enabled humans to colonise the world.”

In short, what scientists have long contended to be our primitive ancestor, Australopithecus afarensis, can’t have made those footprints, and thus is unlikely to have been our ancestor.

This fact demonstrates a few problems with evolutionary paleontology – the first is that many evolutionary trees are constructed on presumptions about what think our ancestors must have looked like. Australopithecus fit the image of an ape-like intermediary, and so scientists held it up as ‘proof’ of that ancestry. The problem is, absent genetic evidence, such contentions are always guesswork, guesswork that we now know to be wrong in this instance.

It also demonstrates that our paleontological record of human history is still very incomplete. Obviously something else existed at the time of Australopithecus which made those footprints – yet we have no fossil record of such a creature other than these footprints. This tells us that the story of our biological ancestry is still largely unknown, despite assurances from evolutionists.

Obviously, as someone who believes humans are the product of design, I have no problem with an ancient human with the modern ability to walk upright.