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Australopithecus was fully ape, closer to chimp (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Australopithecus was fully ape, closer to chimp (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.

Claim CC080:

Australopithecus was fully ape, closer to chimp. World-renowned anatomists and evolutionists Solly Zuckerman and Charles Oxnard have shown that Australopithecus did not walk upright in a human manner.


CreationWiki response: (Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

1. Australopithecus africanus and robustus are far more humanlike than apelike. A. afarensis falls somewhere between human and ape, perhaps more on the side of ape. A. ramidus is even more apelike. The claims that africanus and robustus are fully ape are based on old and discredited accounts from just a couple of papers. Oxnard himself considered Australopithecus to be a human ancestor (Groves 1999). The vastly greater evidence that those species are fully bipedal and had other humanlike traits is either ignored, distorted, or baselessly dismissed by creationists (Foley 1997).

Talk.Origins' criticism here is a three-pronged attack.

  1. That Creationists rely on a few old discredited papers.
  2. That Australopithecus was fully bipedal.
  3. That certain australopithecine features—mainly teeth—were human-like.

1. While Charles Oxnard’s 1975 and Solly Zuckerman's 1970 papers are often cited, there have been more recent studies in 1994 and 2000 that support those conclusions. What is really needed is access to the skulls in question, but that is almost impossible, even for most Evolutionists.

2. Even if Australopithecines were fully bipedal, that would not make them any less apes. If Sasquatch (Bigfoot) or the Yeti prove to be living Gigantopithecus then Gigantopithecus would be an example of a fully bipedal ape. Furthermore, it needs to be noted that modern apes do sometimes walk upright in a manner called facultative bipedalism.

That said, there is evidence suggesting that australopithecines were knuckle-walking apes. A 1994 study [1] showed that the australopithecine inner ear was consistent with that of facultative bipedalism, knuckle-walking, and arboreal climbing of apes. It also contrasted them to the obligatory bipedalism of the humans called Homo erectus. More recent evidence shows that australopithecine wrist anatomy was that of a knuckle-walking ape. [2]

3. Australopithecus afarensis clearly had ape-like teeth including well-defined canines [3]. The adult Australopithecus africanus seems to have lost the well-defined canines and gained more human-like teeth [4], yet The Taung Child shows that their children had more ape-like teeth with well-defined canines [5]. The most likely cause of the difference is that in the adults the canine and other teeth have been worn by diet making them look more human than they really are.