Fossils Found in Spain Seen as Last Link to Great Apes

Patrocles

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cool news! more of human evolution is being discovered in Spain!

cheers to an ancestor, Pierolapithecus catalaunicus!
:toast:

courtesy of the NYT:

Fossils Found in Spain Seen as Last Link to Great Apes
By JOHN NOBLE WILFORD

Published: November 19, 2004
Scientists in Spain have discovered fossils of an ape species from about 13 million years ago that they think may have been the last common ancestor of all living great apes, including humans.

The new ape species and its possible place in prehuman evolution are described in today's issue of the journal Science by a research team led by Dr. Salvador Moyà-Solà of the Miquel Crusafont Institute of Paleontology in Barcelona. The fossil remains were found near Barcelona and named Pierolapithecus catalaunicus.

In the report, the researchers concluded that the well-preserved skull, teeth and skeletal bones promised "to contribute substantially to our understanding of the origin of extant great apes and humans."

Dr. David R. Begun, a paleontologist at the University of Toronto who is familiar with the research but not a member of the team, called the fossils "a great discovery," adding, "I am convinced it is a great ape."

About 25 million years ago, Old World monkeys diverged from the primate line that led eventually to apes and humans. About 11 million to 16 million years ago, another branching occurred, when primates known as the great apes - which now include orangutans, chimpanzees, gorillas and humans - split from the lesser apes, represented by today's gibbons and siamangs.

Although the great ape group includes humans, Dr. Brooks Hanson, deputy editor for physical sciences at Science, said, "it's important to remember that we've had millions of years of evolution since then."

The lineage leading to humans branched off from the chimpanzee line an estimated seven million years ago.

The scarcity of fossils from those periods has handicapped scientists searching for evidence of the common ancestors of great apes that emerged after the split between them and the lesser apes. Some candidates for that role have included Kenyapithecus and Afropithecus, but Dr. Moyà-Solà said their fossils appeared to be too primitive to be the common ancestor.

Dr. Moyà-Solà's team said the overall pattern of their fossil skeleton suggested that the species was either the last common ancestor of great apes and humans, or close to it.

Dr. Begun said some aspects of the specimen's face, palate and teeth made him think that the species was perhaps a little farther down the evolutionary line of great apes than the common ancestor, but was a significant find, nonetheless.

The newly discovered individual, probably a male, weighed about 75 pounds and had a stiff lower spine and flexible wrists that would have made it a tree-climbing specialist. The researchers said its arboreal abilities were more similar to those of later great apes than to the more primitive monkeys.

The Pierolapithecus rib cage, or thorax, is wider and flatter than a monkey rib cage and similar to that of modern great apes, Dr. Moyà-Solà said.

"The thorax is the most important anatomical part of this fossil, because it's the first time that the modern great-apelike thorax has been found in the fossil record," Dr. Moyà-Solà said in a statement by the journal.

In a conference call from Barcelona on Wednesday, another member of the research team, Dr. Meike Köhler of the Barcelona institute, said the Pierolapithecus probably ate fruit, judging by its teeth, and had a flat face and wide nose somewhat like a chimpanzee's.

The age of the fossil species, between 12.5 million and 13 million years, "coincides quite well with ages for the common ancestor proposed by geneticists," Dr. Köhler said.

In their report, the researchers noted that the skeleton showed that those early great apes "retained primitive monkeylike characters" and thus did not seem to support "the theoretical model that predicts that all characters shared by extant great apes were present in their last common ancestor."

Finding the ancestral ape in Spain, and not Africa, posed no problem for scientists. The Mediterranean Sea expanded and contracted frequently in the past, permitting the dispersal of life between Africa and Europe. The Pierolapithecus, paleontologists said, probably lived on both continents.
 

Blackcloud6

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Boy, for a bunch of Phd's, they sure readily jump to conclusions.

Jump number 1:
that they think may have been the last common ancestor of all living great apes, including humans.
Jump number 2:
Dr. David R. Begun, a paleontologist at the University of Toronto who is familiar with the research but not a member of the team, called the fossils "a great discovery," adding, "I am convinced it is a great ape."
Although the great ape group includes humans,
So when was theory of evolution finally proven to be fact?

Jump number 3:
Dr. Meike Köhler of the Barcelona institute, said the Pierolapithecus probably ate fruit, judging by its teeth, and had a flat face and wide nose somewhat like a chimpanzee's
Finding the ancestral ape in Spain, and not Africa, posed no problem for scientists. The Mediterranean Sea expanded and contracted frequently in the past, permitting the dispersal of life between Africa and Europe. The Pierolapithecus, paleontologists said, probably lived on both continents.
Here they expalin away a problem with an unproven theory that just happens to fit.

I'll end with this quote:

Real discoveries of phenomena contrary to all previous scientific experience are very rare, while fraud, fakery, foolishness, and error resulting from overenthusiasm and delusion are all too common (Cromer 1993).
 

Patrocles

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Blackcloud6 said:
Boy, for a bunch of Phd's, they sure readily jump to conclusions.

Jump number 1:

Jump number 2:

So when was theory of evolution finally proven to be fact?

Jump number 3:



Here they expalin away a problem with an unproven theory that just happens to fit.

I'll end with this quote:
oh puhleeeeze, Darwin was right and we all need to deal with it!
First off, in the field of science, a theory is a hypothesis that has repeatedly been shown to be true when compared to hard, observable/repeatable data! The theory you speak of is a whimsical idea and that is not the theory of science....different meanings completely.
The Theory of Evolution shows that evolution does occur, has occured, and is occuring.
 
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Overseer

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You know, in the Dark ages they believe creationism to the point that they thought that when a mouse walked into a room, it actually just appeared as it walked into the room (it didn't exist until observed by a person).

At least we've come that far finally. :surprise:
 

Rabbi

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When it comes to the mysteries of Creation (and they are mysteries whether some people acknowledge that or not) Creationists will never be swayed by any scientific facts that contradict the ideas they were raised with or that give them mental comfort. I don't believe in evolution although I do consider it a possibility (hence the term theory). We just don't know all the facts yet and probably never will. But it is interesting when other species so closely related to Homo-Sapiens are found. It tends to disprove Creationism (not that there is ANY proof of Creationism.)
 

Prester John

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I don't think there is anything wrong with a god that creates the universe via a big bang and then allows evolution to be a tool of creation once life has begun. At least it would be consistant with the observable universe.
 

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Prester John said:
I don't think there is anything wrong with a god that creates the universe via a big bang and then allows evolution to be a tool of creation once life has begun. At least it would be consistant with the observable universe.
Agree completely.
 

Patrocles

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Prester John said:
I don't think there is anything wrong with a god that creates the universe via a big bang and then allows evolution to be a tool of creation once life has begun. At least it would be consistant with the observable universe.
agreed, too! I think it was Stephen Hawkings who mused out loud that what he enjoyed about science was being able to understand the mind of God (?).

Gods and religion are outside of the fields of scientific inquiry. evolution being a fact of is not proof of the existence/nonexistence of a God(s).
 

Stage

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Overseer said:
You know, in the Dark ages they believe creationism to the point that they thought that when a mouse walked into a room, it actually just appeared as it walked into the room (it didn't exist until observed by a person).

At least we've come that far finally. :surprise:
That CAN happen if you drink enough!
 

Prester John

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Patrocles said:
agreed, too! I think it was Stephen Hawkings who mused out loud that what he enjoyed about science was being able to understand the mind of God (?).

Gods and religion are outside of the fields of scientific inquiry. evolution being a fact of is not proof of the existence/nonexistence of a God(s).
I enjoy reading Paul Davies too. I wonder what Hawkings thought of god's state of mind when he did his initial work on black holes? And I wonder if he has changed his opinion (if he did have one) with his recent revision of his work on black holes.
 

Blackcloud6

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Funny, I never mentioned Creationism in my first post. I was pointing out that these particular group of scientists were jumping to conclusions on their find.

Many scientists become to eager to "prove" what they want tp prove. It happens more often then you think. These guys were voicing speculation as it it was fact. When you have Phd after your name, your statements can tend to have some authority, so one must be ethically cautious with what one says and who it is said. Methinks these Phds were talking in excitiment when in fact they should reserve their judgments utnil further study is concluded. (I'll bet when their findsings are published in a scientific journal they will be more reserved)

As to the Evolution theory, it remains just a theory. It does make sense and does have much supporting evidence. But yet remains just a theory.

One should always look at a new find with neutral thought and gatther the facts, the assumptions and weigh all the evidence or you may be lead to the wrong conclusion. The group of scientists in the article, to me, seem to want to porve the theory instead of seek the truth.

For more on what I am talking about (in general) and for lessons on crtical thinking, go to http://skepdic.com Excellent site on learning how to be a true crticial thinker.
 

Blackcloud6

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Oh, I must address this staement from Patrocles directly:
The theory you speak of is a whimsical idea and that is not the theory of science....different meanings completely.
Sir, please go back and read my first post. The only theory I talk about is that of evolution. Nowhere do I mention any thing else. You either read something that was not there or jumped to a conclusion that I believe in Creationism (which I did not mention)to the expense of Evolution. Maybe you did so because of other posts I have made on these forums. If so, that is akin to 2+2=5 sir.
 

purdyrc

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Blackcloud6 said:
Oh, I must address this staement from Patrocles directly:

Sir, please go back and read my first post. The only theory I talk about is that of evolution. Nowhere do I mention any thing else. You either read something that was not there or jumped to a conclusion that I believe in Creationism (which I did not mention)to the expense of Evolution. Maybe you did so because of other posts I have made on these forums. If so, that is akin to 2+2=5 sir.
If you believe that evolution is simply a "theory", then what other "theory" do you believe offers an answer to the question posed by evolution?

- Rick
 
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What was once theory is now truth. Darwin may have called it his Theory of Evolution, or someone else may have coined it about his theory. Evolution is a fact. It is observeable, and reportable. Did man truly evolved from the ape? I believe it is possible, and in my opinion probable. We have evidence that points that way, and none (in my mind) to contradict.

I don't believe an either/or situation needs to be taken: Creationism vs Evolution. It was stated earlier, and I repeat, there is nothing that says we can't combine the two. We can never be 100% sure of the beginning of the universe. Who's to say a god didn't start the whole thing rolling by igniting a cosmic firecracker.

When it came down to the creation of Adam and Eve, who's to say they looked like us? (Now here's the blasphemous part) They could have been our primate ancestors, newly broken from the evolutionary tree. I wasn't there. Were you?

Even if one is a firm believer that the whole thing started almost 6,000 years ago, they must admit that change has occurred during that time. Some changes for good, some bad. But, overall for the good. Man has learned much since those days of superstition and lack of knowledge of the world around us. Man was a much simpler being 4, 5 and 6 thousand years ago. Even a thousand years ago. When the Bible was written, I believe the writers needed to explain their divine inspiration in a manner which was reflective of and on a level with the intelligence of the common man. With few exceptions, there was no literacy, no knowledge of science, and therefore a high level of superstition to explain things they didn't understand.

Who's to say God didn't give us our intellect in order that we discover the true meaning of things? If it all started 6,000 years ago, why did God give us the ability to think for ourselves and to discover things for ourselves? If God did this all to test us, then it is a litttle perverse. If God is omnipotent and all knowing, then why allow us to go down this road of evolutional theory that would eventually draw a great portion of the world population away from the "truth"? Not too consistent with a God who requires devotion and adoration.

As I digress a little further, why would a God, who is claimed by many to be the one true God, allow other religions and beliefs to develop? Again, a bit contrary to the Judeo-Christian teachings that seem to be prevalent in the world. Maybe it's because God is smarter than we think. Maybe he allowed different religions to crop up to meet the needs of the local populace, wherever that populace was in the world. Who's to say that Christ and Buddah weren't the same? In the grand scheme of things their teachings were not that different. Each reflected the needs of the people they reached out to.

There may be a divine start to the universe, but there is no evidence to contradict evolution.
 

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If you believe that evolution is simply a "theory", then what other "theory" do you believe offers an answer to the question posed by evolution?
Rick:

Well, your question is taking me off of the theme of my post, which is that the scientists jumped to conclusions. I'm not arguing the validity or strength of the Theory of Evolution. I pointed out that it is still just a theory that has yet to be proven as fact.

But, I'll be a good guy and play as there is nothing at stake.

To me there are many theories and evolution is the stongest and that we dropped off by aliens is the weakest.

Creationism is a bibilical story. It may or may not be true. In the context of the time it was written, there was very little understanding of the world. Now, I am implying that it is just a story that tried to expalin something that the poeple of the time did not understand. But there are many other reasons for the story such as setting up the "fall" of man into sinfulness, the glory of God, etc. These are theologically important. I can accept that many of "God's word" are stories. My father told me many fantastic stories when I was a child and I still love him. Many of thoise stories had a point and they come from wisdom. The same hold true for God's word.

I do think that if evolution is true it very well was God's means for putting us here.

But I digress, my origonal post had nothing to do with any of the above. It simply was pointing out that the scientists in the article were jumping to conclusions caused by, what I think, was their excitiment and their deisre to find the proof that turns evolution theory into fact. That is bad science.
 

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I think if you want to see proof of evolution in action you probably don't need to go further than a microbiology lab and see survival of the fittest as bacteria respond to threats with exploitation of mutations.

But then being microbial I suppose you wouldn't literally be able to see it would you.
 

Patrocles

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Blackcloud6 said:
Funny, I never mentioned Creationism in my first post. I was pointing out that these particular group of scientists were jumping to conclusions on their find.

Many scientists become to eager to "prove" what they want tp prove. It happens more often then you think. These guys were voicing speculation as it it was fact. When you have Phd after your name, your statements can tend to have some authority, so one must be ethically cautious with what one says and who it is said. Methinks these Phds were talking in excitiment when in fact they should reserve their judgments utnil further study is concluded. (I'll bet when their findsings are published in a scientific journal they will be more reserved)

As to the Evolution theory, it remains just a theory. It does make sense and does have much supporting evidence. But yet remains just a theory.

One should always look at a new find with neutral thought and gatther the facts, the assumptions and weigh all the evidence or you may be lead to the wrong conclusion. The group of scientists in the article, to me, seem to want to porve the theory instead of seek the truth.

For more on what I am talking about (in general) and for lessons on crtical thinking, go to http://skepdic.com Excellent site on learning how to be a true crticial thinker.
please see my first response to you about the definition of theory in the scientific field....better yet, take a cruise on the internet to find the definition of theory used in science. I would do it for you but I'm too lazy at the moment. Evolution is a scientific theory which means it has consistently stood up to scrutiny and evidence...it isn't some half-baked, whimsical idea thought up whilst Darwin was drunk on wine! :laugh:
Evolution will most likely become a the Law of Evolution, but for the moment scientist know that evolution does occur, but the exact mechanisms of evolution have not been fully elucidated.

I bet a whole dollar this post would have gone on to the subject of creationism...I was just heading off folks at the pass! wahhooooo and thank gawd!
:laugh:
 

Patrocles

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Blackcloud6 said:
Rick:

Well, your question is taking me off of the theme of my post, which is that the scientists jumped to conclusions. I'm not arguing the validity or strength of the Theory of Evolution. I pointed out that it is still just a theory that has yet to be proven as fact.

But, I'll be a good guy and play as there is nothing at stake.

To me there are many theories and evolution is the stongest and that we dropped off by aliens is the weakest.

Creationism is a bibilical story. It may or may not be true. In the context of the time it was written, there was very little understanding of the world. Now, I am implying that it is just a story that tried to expalin something that the poeple of the time did not understand. But there are many other reasons for the story such as setting up the "fall" of man into sinfulness, the glory of God, etc. These are theologically important. I can accept that many of "God's word" are stories. My father told me many fantastic stories when I was a child and I still love him. Many of thoise stories had a point and they come from wisdom. The same hold true for God's word.

I do think that if evolution is true it very well was God's means for putting us here.

But I digress, my origonal post had nothing to do with any of the above. It simply was pointing out that the scientists in the article were jumping to conclusions caused by, what I think, was their excitiment and their deisre to find the proof that turns evolution theory into fact. That is bad science.
It is not bad science. They look at the facts/evidence (skull shape, teeth imprints, teeth wear, bone lengths, etc) and see if it fits their hypothesis. If it does then they consider it true. Unlike creationism (IIRC, the new 'hip' term for the same thing is "intelligent design"....puhleeze! ha ha). If it doesn't fit the idea then they throw out the IDEA and forumlate a new hypothesis and repeat their investigation...lather, rinse, repeat.

Also, this skeleton will also be subject to studies by multiple independent investigators/labs. So you may be right in that these guys are jumping the gun...but they will be corrected if they have been a bit too eager.

This method is unlike creationism where the evidence is made to fit the idea.

again, please investigate the scientific definition of theory!
cheers
 
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