This item is available on the Apologetics Press Web site at:

AP Content :: Sensible Science

Genes Don’t Jibe With Fossils
by Brad Harrub, Ph.D.

Fifty years ago, scientific knowledge regarding the origin and antiquity of man was based on discoveries made by anthropologists, such as the world-famous Leakey family. Scientists would uncover fossilized bone fragments, and then speculation would begin as to what features the original creature possessed, and precisely where it fit on the evolutionary tree of life. Each new discovery was heralded as a major scientific contribution—no matter how fragmented the fossil, or how few remains actually were discovered. But as more and more fossils were unearthed, many scientists took delight in designating their finds as entirely new species, providing the scientist with the privilege of designating a new scientific name. While being able to name a new species of hominid was beneficial to one’s career, the real advantage came in announcing the discovery of the oldest upright-walking hominid fossil. The race was on to find the “missing link” that led back to a common ancestor humans allegedly shared with the apes.

But, with the elucidation of the molecular structure of DNA in 1953 (Watson and Crick, 1953, 171:737), James Watson and Francis Crick propelled evolutionary theory down a different path. Suddenly, many scientists began identifying genetic differences and similarities in animal species, in an effort to bolster Darwinism. For decades, these two independent fields of science lived in harmony: anthropologists continued digging up fossils, and geneticists published papers on mutation rates and concentrated their efforts on the human genome project. But their once amicable relationship is now “on the rocks,” as geneticists publish ages that do not coincide with the ages previously assigned by anthropologists.

Nick Patterson and his colleagues conducted a study identifying the genetic divergence between humans and chimpanzees (Patterson, et al., 2006, 441:1103). This study focused on the difference in proportion of nucleotide base pairs between a sample of humans and chimpanzees. Their theory is that the divergence between the two groups can be calculated as a function of time versus the number of differences between the two groups. In their report, the team observed: “Our analysis also shows that human-chimpanzee speciation occurred less than 6.3 million years ago and probably more recently, conflicting with some interpretations of ancient fossils” (441:1103). While sounding politically correct, the words are still a bombshell for the field of evolutionary anthropology. It is the equivalent of saying: “The anthropologists got it wrong. We have a new date for when humans branched off from the apes.” Consider what this latest evolutionary revision will do to some of the alleged missing links that already were comfortably nestled near the bottom of man’s evolutionary tree.

For instance, in Figure 1 of Patterson’s report, several line drawings demonstrate the alleged historical relationships between various primate species (441:1104). One of the species noted is Aegyptopithecus zeuxis, which has long been considered by many evolutionists as the creature that linked humans to apes. According to Richard Leakey and Roger Lewin’s book Origins, A. zeuxis was a creature they suggested lived 28 million years ago, and that they identify as “the first ape to emerge from the Old World monkey stock” (1977, p. 52). The name zeuxis was used in reference to this “connection” or “link” between humans and apes. But alas, if Patterson’s team is correct, this “link” that led to the speciation of humans and chimpanzees did not occur until 6.3 million years ago—a difference of over 20 million years. A. zeuxis would no longer be the link.

Additionally, evolutionists need to reconsider the status of Dryopithecus africanus, labeled as Proconsul in Figure 1. According to Leakey and Lewin, D. africanus was “the ancestor to both apes and humans,” and “is the stock from which all modern apes evolved” (1977, p. 56). Paleontologist David Pilbeam admitted: “It has come to be rather generally assumed, albeit in a rather vague fashion, the pre-Pleistocene hominid ancestry was rooted in the Dryopithecinae” (1968, 219:1335). With the geneticists calling dates into question, evolutionists can no longer “assume” anything—even in a vague fashion.

Patterson’s group also indirectly called the status of Ramapithecus brevirostris, Orrorin tugenensis, and Sahelanthropus tchadensis into question. But these three species already had been the subject of much controversy. For instance, paleontologist David Begun of the University of Toronto has admitted that scientists have been completely unable to tell whether Orrorin was “on the line to humans, on the line to chimps, a common ancestor to both, or just an extinct side branch” (2001).

Clearly, Patterson’s genetic data is not in harmony with what anthropologists have accepted as the “norm” for decades. Patterson, et al., admitted: “First, these results place an upper bound on the age of human-chimpanzee speciation that poses conflict with some inferences from the fossil record” (441:1106). In trying to explain this massive difference, they noted: “The apparent conflict with interpretations of the fossil record could be explained if Toumai were somewhat younger than previously reported, or if there was a problem with the molecular clock used for the calibrations to older fossil divergences” (p. 1106, emp. added). A problem with the molecular clock? If that were indeed the case, then the age of every alleged fossil ancestor should be called into question! The so-called molecular clock is the standard used to designate all fossils—animal, plant, and hominids. An error with the molecular clock would send the entire field of evolutionary science into a dark tailspin.

However, Patterson and his colleagues try to provide a solution to this colossal nightmare that they have just unleashed. They suggest that maybe “the hominid and chimpanzee lineages initially separated but then exchanged genes before finally separating less than 6.3 Myr ago” (441:1106). In other words, they contend that the creatures, on their way to becoming human, separated from chimpanzees millions of years earlier, and then (for whatever reason) both of the new species came back together briefly 6.3 million years ago, which allowed genes to be exchanged before the final separation. This speculation is illustrated in a “revised model” drawing in Figure 1e. [Ironic, is it not, how many times the evolutionary theory has to be “revised”—even though students are taught that it is a “fact” of science.] Patterson’s solution allows evolutionists to have their cake, and eat it too. By hypothesizing that humans left the ape line and then revisited it, evolutionists can avoid abandoning all of the alleged “missing links.”

Consider for just a moment how ludicrous this godless theory has become. They allege we evolved from some common ancestor millions of years ago, but for some unexplained reason, we decided to revisit our primate ancestors from whom we had split millions of years earlier. They give no indication of how or why this occurred. Instead, they speculate freely about coming back together in an effort to mend bridges with anthropologists—and to ensure no one ever questions the validity of the evolutionary “history” of mankind. How much mental gymnastics will they continue to employ in order to weave various branches of science together as conflicting data continues to pour in? Just like the little Dutch Boy who tried hard to plug a hole in the levee with his finger, only to see other holes quickly develop, evolutionists’ efforts to reconcile these gargantuan discrepancies are small when faced with the deluge of problems and unanswered questions that continue to plague evolutionary theory.


Balter, David (2001), “Early Hominid Sows Division,” Science, February 22, [On-line], URL:

Leakey, Richard and Roger Lewin (1977), Origins (New York: E.P. Dutton).

Patterson, Nick, Daniel J. Richter, et al., (2006), “Genetic Evidence for Complex Speciation of Humans and Chimpanzees,” Nature, 441:1103-1108, June 29.

Pilbeam, David (1968), “The Earliest Hominids,” Nature, 219:1335-1338, September 28.

Watson, James D. and Francis H.C. Crick (1953), “A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid,” Nature, 171:737-738, April 25.

Copyright © 2006 Apologetics Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

We are happy to grant permission for items in the "Sensible Science" section to be reproduced in their entirety, as long as the following stipulations are observed: (1) Apologetics Press must be designated as the original publisher; (2) the specific Apologetics Press Web site URL must be noted; (3) the author’s name must remain attached to the materials; (4) any references, footnotes, or endnotes that accompany the article must be included with any written reproduction of the article; (5) alterations of any kind are strictly forbidden (e.g., photographs, charts, graphics, quotations, etc. must be reproduced exactly as they appear in the original); (6) serialization of written material (e.g., running an article in several parts) is permitted, as long as the whole of the material is made available, without editing, in a reasonable length of time; (7) articles, in whole or in part, may not be offered for sale or included in items offered for sale; and (8) articles may be reproduced in electronic form for posting on Web sites pending they are not edited or altered from their original content and that credit is given to Apologetics Press, including the web location from which the articles were taken.

For catalog, samples, or further information, contact:

Apologetics Press
230 Landmark Drive
Montgomery, Alabama 36117
Phone (334) 272-8558