Do we have ancestors in common with ape-like 'Lucy'?

What do you think about Lucy?  We read in our biology book that humans and Lucy have a common ancestor.

I believe there is a very important lesson we can learn from Lucy, perhaps the most famous "ape-person" of our day.  But first, for those who don't know her, let me introduce her to you.

In 1973 an obscure anthropologist, Donald Johanson made some extravagant and sensational claims that the fossils he discovered in the Afar region of Ethiopia were the remains of our human ancestors.   Blaring over the loudspeaker at base camp was the song, "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds."  Thus, he nicknamed his find "Lucy."  Her given name is Australopithecus afarensis.  (Australopithecus meaning "southern ape" and afarensis is derived from the region she was found.)  Over the next couple of years about forty percent of Lucy's skeleton was discovered.  Johanson became famous overnight receiving funding from various sources including National Geographic.  His claim was based in large part upon Lucy's knee joint.  Noted authority in anthropology on locomotion C. Owen Lovejoy claimed that Lucy was "bipedal."  This term literally means "two feet" but has come to mean "balancing and moving the body atop two limbs," i.e. walking upright.  Eventually other similar fossils were found and Lucy and her relatives began being described with terms like "human" and "first family."  She has thus become a fixture in textbooks appearing as a vital part of our family tree.

From what I can understand, the latest date for Lucy is about 3 million years old.  There has been much debate about just how old she is.  During this debate in 1983 a column describing this problem was entitled, "Lucy: The Trouble with Dating an Older Women." 

Unfortunately for Lucy her fine reputation has become tarnished in recent years.  She still has dating problems.  Even with a three million year old date it doesn't allow enough time for evolution to occur.  According to Marvin Lubenow about five million mutational events would need to occur in our genes to account for the differences between humans and Lucy.  Although the book "Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science" published in 1998 presents a tidy sequence of skulls including Australopithecus afarensis, many evolutionists disagree with such orderliness.  Anatomist Charles Oxnard believes australopithecines were not structurally related to humans and many species were living at the same time as humans.  The late Glynn Isaac of Harvard University said, "the australopithecines are rapidly sinking back to the status of particularly specialized apes…"  Even the famous Richard Leakey said there is no good evidence she is a missing link.

The bipedality (ability to walk upright) of australopithecines including Lucy has also been questioned.  The evidence indicates australopithecines walked funny, not like humans at all.  In addition, many evolutionists agree that Lucy was arboreal, i.e. they ate, slept and lived in trees.  Regardless, bipedality is irrelevant and proves no relationship to humans.  Birds are bipedal and this is not evidence they evolved into humans. 

Still however, some evolutionists don't see a problem.  The newest magic wand used to pull off the illusion of evolution is called "punctuated equilibrium."  Simply put, this means there was a rapid burst of evolution in a short time not leaving any fossil evidence.  This has been called, "evolution with a vengeance."  Despite this absurd reasoning Lucy's branch in our family tree is weakening.  If she is eventually pruned there won't be much of the tree left. 

If the evolution of humans were true we would expect to find some kind of transitional forms.  Lucy has proved to be a failed missing link.  No need to worry though, in-between forms are not really needed to prove evolution.  All that is necessary is to believe in a common ancestor.  This meaningless term is the perfect answer to all who question evolution.  This phantom creature is pure speculation and hypothetical but is used to resolve the fact of "missing" missing links.

The problems with Lucy being a missing link or having a common ancestor are very extensive and well documented.  However, she still appears in textbooks and in places like the St. Louis Zoo.  On exhibit there (at least as of February 1997) a statue of Lucy has hands and feet that look very human-like.  Under the guise of "artistic license" many such reconstructions and pictures have been created.  Such deception is misleading the public, and in particular schoolchildren about who or what Lucy actually was. 

If it were 1975 with all the evidence for Lucy being promoted it would be very easy to believe that a genuine human ancestor was found.  Since then it is obvious that Lucy's skeleton resembles that of a modern pygmy chimpanzee.  That's probably what all these australopithecines are; or perhaps an extinct variety thereof.

The lesson Lucy teaches us is very clear.  We must be very prudent when claims are made of supposed missing links or "common ancestors."  Humans will never be shown to evolve because they didn't.  We were created in the image of God.

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©Tom Carpenter
Originally published in the Rockdale/Newton Citizen