Feature Article - August 2021
by Do-While Jones

The Nesher Ramla Homo

Evolutionists claim to have found yet another human ancestor in Israel.

According to New Scientist,

A previously unknown group of ancient humans lived in what is now Israel for hundreds of thousands of years. 1

That might sound like good news for evolutionists, but the headline of the story is,

Newly identified ancestor of Neanderthals complicates the human story 2

They say,

The newly discovered people were the ancestors of the Neanderthals, who later roamed Europe and western Asia, argues the team behind the work. If that is true, Neanderthals originated in western Asia, not in Europe as many researchers have previously suspected. 3

Once again, evolutionists had to admit that what they once believed is wrong. Their theory had to be revised again. They tried to weasel out of their mistake by implying that they didn’t really believe the old theory. It was just “previously suspected” (not “believed”) so they weren’t really wrong—but we know they did believe it, and they were wrong. Since all their old stories were wrong, why should we believe this new one?

Conveniently, the evidence was destroyed.

The hominin remains were found at Nesher Ramla in Israel, in a quarry operated by a cement factory. Following its identification, the archaeological site within the quarry was briefly protected to allow excavations to proceed in 2010 and 2011, after which it was quarried. “The site itself is gone,” says Israel Hershkovitz at Tel Aviv University in Israel, a member of the team. 4

Nobody will be able to go back and make further discoveries there.

Philosophical Preference

The team hasn’t given the group a species name like Homo neanderthalensis, and simply calls them “Nesher Ramla Homo”. This is because the group says it doesn’t like classing hominins as distinct species if they can interbreed, so also wouldn’t count Neanderthals as a species distinct from us. 5

Real science is objective. It doesn’t depend upon what scientists like or don’t like. Since the theory of evolution is philosophical, not scientific, the team can classify the fossils however they like.

The rest of the Science News article tells what several PhDs (Doctors of Philosophy) think about the fossils. They are simply philosophers giving their opinions.

The Facts

The Science News article was based on the cover story of the June 25, 2021, journal Science.

At first glance, it looks like they found a skull. But, on closer examination, all they found was part of the top of a skull, and most of a lower jaw. The blurry part of the picture of the skull on the cover is all imaginary.

Here is exactly what was found:

There is nothing particularly significant about the top of the skull. It is just a curved piece of bone, which presumably (but not necessarily) goes with the jaw that was found. (The blue parts are clay added to fill in missing parts.)

It isn’t much to go on—but it is enough to make evolutionists think “Neanderthals originated in western Asia, not in Europe as many researchers have previously suspected.” That should lead any rational person to wonder, “Just how compelling was the previous evidence that Neanderthals originated in Europe if these two fragmentary fossils can make evolutionists change their minds?” What they previously believed and have insisted that you believe without question, must not have been that compelling after all!

Courtroom Drama

From these two fossils and some stone tools found in nearby dirt, it is now “known” that

Nesher Ramla Homo was an efficient hunter of large and small game, used wood for fuel, cooked or roasted meat, and maintained fires.  6

What if this had been said in court? They allege that Nesher Ramla Homo efficiently murdered and cooked large and small game. The evidence consists of sharp stones (which may have been the murder weapon) and two bones (which might have put Nesher Ramla at the crime scene) and the assumption that the crime scene was not contaminated during the last 126,000 years since they think the crime occurred. Isn’t there any room for reasonable doubt?

DNA, Fossils and Dirt

There were two papers in Science about the discovery. The paper by Herskovitz and his team described the fossils. The paper by Zaidner’s team described the dirt (and therefore the presumed age) where the fossils were found. One of the editors of Science introduced the two papers this way:

New genomic studies, new fossils, and new dates of existing ones suggest that our African origin has a deeper history—one that took place in the context of high population and lineage diversity and which was intermeshed by periods of contact with Eurasian hominins using the Middle East as a geographical bridge. On pages 1424 and 1429 of this issue, Herskovitz et al. and Zaidner et al., respectively, report new archaic Homo fossils and stone tools in Nesher Ramla, Israel, that date to about 126 thousand years (ka) ago. This discovery, at the crossroads of Africa and Eurasia, adds substantial complexity to our reconstruction of those potential interactions, raising questions about the co-existence of different hominin populations in this region and complex population dynamics in the Late Pleistocene. 7

If the fossils and tools confirmed what had previously been taught to children as indisputable fact, they would not have “raised questions.” But the questions weren’t raised when the fossils were discovered. The questions had always been there. These fossils just made it impossible to ignore the questions that reasonable people naturally had for years.

According to Lahr,

It has long been known that early modern human populations were in the Levant [Israel] ~130 to 100 ka ago. The hominin fossils from Nesher Ramla now suggest that a different population, with anatomical features more archaic than those of both humans and Neanderthals, lived in this region at broadly the same time. 8

It hasn’t “long been known.” It just has “long been said.” If it were really known, then there would not now be a different suggestion. If it were true for the long period of time during which it had been said, it would still be true now.

The interpretation of the Nesher Ramla fossils and stone tools will meet with different reactions among paleoanthropologists. Notwithstanding, the age of the Nesher Ramla material, the mismatched morphological and archaeological affinities, and the location of the site at the crossroads of Africa and Eurasia make this a major discovery. But how does this discovery affect the hominin evolutionary landscape of the last half million years (see the figure)? Beyond the particulars of historical reconstructions, the finds add another piece to the puzzle of how late, cultural-bearing hominin species formed, survived, and disappeared. Hershkovitz et al. refer to the fossils as the “Nesher Ramla  Homo,” avoiding formal taxonomic attribution. Their argument is that the taxon into which most researchers classify European and African Middle Pleistocene hominins, Homo heidelbergensis, is too variable and the Nesher Ramla mandible shows clear differences to its type specimen. One could also ask, to what extent is a species-based nomenclature useful when dealing with demographically and spatially dynamic populations that experienced some level of cultural and/or biological interaction? Answers will vary as much as species concepts vary, but the relatively rich resolution of recent hominin evolution offers a stage for testing, paleontologically and genomically, broader ideas in evolutionary biology. 9

A “type specimen” is the first fossil found of an unknown species. All subsequent fossils are compared to the type specimen to see if they came from the same species. The Homo heidelbergensis type specimen is the Mauer 1 jawbone. The Nesher Ramla jaw is clearly different (“mismatched” in their words) from the Mauer 1 jaw, so why make the connection? They make the connection simply because they want there to be a connection.

The “mismatched morphological and archaeological affinities, and the location” refer to the facts that the Nesher Ramla jaw doesn’t look like they thought it should look, and wasn’t found where they thought it should be found.

The evolutionists’ desire to discover the origin of species is complicated by the fact that there isn’t agreement upon what a species is, so, “Answers will vary as much as species concepts vary.”

From bonobos to Caribbean pupfishes, genomics is changing our understanding of the process of speciation and species formation. Closely related species can differ substantially in the extent to which they experienced adaptive introgression—events of interbreeding with another species that generate new combinations that may result in phenotypes that overcome specific selective challenges. Given the complex and dynamic history of expansions, interactions, extinctions, and sometimes private histories in the genus Homo, similar differences should be expected in the processes that generated diversity. One of these differences will be in the outcome of intergroup contact. We are only too painfully aware of the disparate long-term consequences of contact to colonizers and colonized. It should, therefore, not be surprising to find that the cultural and genetic legacy of interpopulation contact in our deep past also differed according to social, economic, demographic, and technological circumstances. For disciplines that build historical narratives on the basis of shared similarities, this poses major challenges. 10

That paragraph was a masterful combination of doubletalk and spin. In plain English, evolutionists formerly compared physical characteristics of species to determine which species were most closely related. When DNA analysis was developed, evolutionists expected the species that looked most alike to have the most similar DNA, and the DNA analysis would objectively confirm their beliefs. Instead, it turned out that DNA analysis often disagreed with traditional classification, so evolutionists face “major challenges” to make sense of the data. They claim that interbreeding is what messed up their analysis. But, by the traditional definition of “species,” different species can’t interbreed and produce fertile offspring, so that excuse doesn’t really fly.

DNA analysis doesn’t prove that species evolved from a common ancestor because species didn’t evolve from a common ancestor—but that obvious conclusion somehow escapes evolutionists.

Dates

Evolutionists believe that older creatures must be the ancestors of younger creatures. That’s as silly as believing that since George Washington lived before the famous racehorse Secretariat, Secretariat must have evolved from George Washington. Silly as it is, evolutionists believe that chronology can help them figure out evolution, so they have invented a geologic timescale and ways to assign dates to fossils. By their reckoning, fish lived before horses, so horses must have evolved from fish (through missing amphibian and reptilian links).

Based partly on the kinds of tools found in the dirt around the Nesher Ramla Homo, they think he lived during a geological time period they call the Middle Pleistocene (MP).

During the late MP, the centripetal Levallois method was used as the main mode for the production of flakes and blades in many sites in Africa and western Asia (Fig. 1 and table S1).   11

Zaidner’s team found sharp rocks (“flakes” and “blades”) which they think were primitive tools. They look like they were made by the centripetal Levallois method of chipping away flakes of stone around 100,000 years ago. Of course, you could probably get a Boy Scout merit badge making similar stone tools today, but that’s beside the point. They believe stone tools made this way had to have been made during the Middle Pleistocene period.

Our study of the lithic assemblage from stratigraphic Unit VI of the site, associated with the Nesher Ramla fossils (Fig. 2, B to D), indicates that late MP Homo fully mastered the Levallois technology. 12

To their credit, they recognize that the lithic (stone tool) dating technique is unreliable, so “caution” should be used when assigning dates based upon lithic technology.

MP Homo fossils often lack a cultural context, and their behavior and technology remain poorly known. Nonetheless, it is commonly suggested that MP Homo produced Lower Paleolithic industries [Acheulian, or core-on-flakes (27–32)]. The evidence from Nesher Ramla demonstrates that late MP Homo fully mastered advanced Levallois technology that until only recently was linked to either H. sapiens or Neanderthals. The use of the centripetal Levallois method by the Nesher Ramla Homo suggests caution in using lithic technology as a marker for the presence and dispersals of H. sapiens out of Africa in MIS 5. 13

To confirm their lithic dates, they turned to other equally foolish dating techniques.

A combination of electron spin resonance/uranium series (ESR/U-series), thermoluminescence (TL), and optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating methods was applied to date the site and the human fossils (tables S3 to S5 and text S2). Three herbivorous teeth unearthed from Unit VI (I2 and I3) were analyzed using a combined ESR/U-series approach to overcome the changes in the uranium content of the dental tissues that may have occurred since the burial time. The obtained ages range from 114 ± 12 ka to 140 ± 9 ka, leading to a weighted mean age of 126 ± 6 ka. The same approach yielded ages between 120 ± 9 ka and 128 ± 8 ka for animal teeth recovered in the overlying layer (Unit V) with a weighted mean of 122 ± 3 ka. Figure 3A and table S4 show equivalent doses, dose rates, and uranium uptake parameters for the enamel and dentine tissues (p- or n-values for the U-series and the Accelerating Uptake model, respectively; see text S2), and all the ESR/U-series ages. In addition, the TL dating method was applied to nine burnt flint samples collected from Unit V, ~50 cm above the fossils. The TL ages (Fig. 3A, table S3, and fig. S2) range from 191 ± 13 ka to 104 ± 11 ka; however, because these samples belong to a well-defined 20- to 40-cm-thick archaeological layer, they are likely to be coeval. Thus, the 191 ± 13 ka age appears to be an anomaly, confirmed by simple statistical tests (Chauvenet’s criterion or the χ2 test). When this result is ruled out as an outlier, the individual ages of the eight remaining flints are compatible within a 2σ error interval, and their weighted mean is 128 ± 4 ka. 14

We discussed thermoluminescence and electron spin resonance in detail in a previous article,15 so we won’t go into it in detail again. Suffice it to say that thermoluminescence and optically stimulated luminescence dating techniques are based on how much something glows in the dark. It is like trying to figure out how long ago your child actually went to bed by looking at the glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling of his bedroom. The longer the lights have been turned off, the dimmer the stars. The obvious fallacy in this method is that their brightness depends upon how long the bedroom lights were on before they were turned off.

TL and OSL depend upon the notion that rocks captured energy when they were exposed to the sun. When they were buried, they started losing this energy. So, the less optical energy they have, the longer they have been buried. ESR depends upon electrons getting unpaired by radiation, and gradually pairing themselves back up when protected from radiation by being buried. It all comes down to guessing how much energy something was exposed to before it was buried, and measuring how much energy is left to determine how long ago it was buried.

They wanted the age of the fossils to be about 128,000 years old. The two methods which gave the desired results were obviously correct , and the one method that gave the wrong age (191,000 years) was obviously wrong , so they simply ignored the outlier and declared it to be “an anomaly.” They didn’t give any reason to disregard the undesired result. They didn’t suggest contamination, or equipment malfunction, or human error, or give any other explanation for why the one age didn’t agree with the other two. They just disregarded the one result they didn’t like simply because they didn’t like it.

It is common for various dating techniques (especially radiometric methods using different isotopes) to give wildly divergent dates for samples. For example, evolutionists believe the Moon is about 4.4 billion years old. The Apollo 11 astronauts brought back rocks from the moon which were carefully dated 116 times by the most qualified scientists. Only 10 of them fell in the range 4.3 to 4.56 billion years old. The other 106 dates ranged from 40 million years to 8.2 billion years. 16 You can find 68 other articles describing the reasons why various dating methods are inaccurate on our Age of the Earth page.17

The dates evolutionists assigned to the Nesher Ramla Homo and other fossils are totally bogus—but that’s beside the point. Even if it were true that the Nesher Ramla Homo fossils really were 128,000 years old, it would not prove that the Nesher Ramla Homo evolved into European Neanderthals. Chronology does not prove paternity.

The Nesher Ramla Homo fossils don’t prove anything.

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Footnotes:

1 Michael Marshall, New Scientist, 24 June 2021, “Newly identified ancestor of Neanderthals complicates the human story”, https://www.newscientist.com/article/2282141-newly-identified-ancestor-of-neanderthals-complicates-the-human-story/
2 ibid.
3 ibid.
4 ibid.
5 ibid.
6 Israel Hershkovitz, et al., Science, 25 Jun 2021, “A Middle Pleistocene Homo from Nesher Ramla, Israel”, pp. 1424-1428, https://science.sciencemag.org/content/372/6549/1424
7 Marta Mirazón Lahr, Science, 25 Jun 2021, “The complex landscape of recent human evolution”, pp. 1395-1396, https://science.sciencemag.org/content/372/6549/1395
8 ibid.
9 ibid.
10 ibid.
11 Yossi Zaidner, et al., Science, 25 Jun 2021, pp. 1429-1433, “Middle Pleistocene Homo behavior and culture at 140,000 to 120,000 years ago and interactions with Homo sapiens”, https://science.sciencemag.org/content/372/6549/1429
12 ibid.
13 ibid.
14 ibid.
15 Disclosure, February 2018, “Even Older Fossils”, http://scienceagainstevolution.info/v22i5n.htm
16 Disclosure, June 2008, “The Age of the Moon”, http://scienceagainstevolution.info/v12i9f.htm
17 http://scienceagainstevolution.info/topics-age.htm