There is much buzz in the media recently about a fossil juvenile found in Ethiopia. It was found five years ago, but this month it is announced in the science journal Nature, and in November there will be a major article in National Geographic. I find it interesting that this Australopithecus afarensis is so frequently referred to as a “child.” This is a word typically reserved for human babies—you are unlikely to read of a baby chimp referred to as a “child,” yet many articles acknowledge that the skull is like that of a chimp, and the shoulder blade is like that of a gorilla. This is the reverse tactic used in the abortion debate—those in support of abortion speak of the fetus, while those who are pro-life speak of the unborn child.
Even though apparently all the new evidence on this more complete version of “Lucy” indicates the animal was more monkey-like than human-like, the term child persists. Also notice in the article linked above that the picture of the fossil is full-face, which minimizes the monkey-like depth of the skill, more obvious in this second article. Articles also emphasize that the knees and hips indicate that the animal walked upright, like a man. (Chimps have bowed legs, designed to distribute weight across four limbs, while humans have knees positioned directly under the mass of the central body. I found no articles that mention that tree-climbing apes, such as the spider monkey, have the same knee and hip structure.) If you don’t mind registering with them, check out the NY Times article. Scroll down to the second picture, and you will see not only the elongated skull, but a drawing of the skeleton underneath, revealing that the fingers hung down below the knees, like all tree-climbing apes, yet there seems to be debate whether the “child” “also climbed trees,” besides walking upright on the ground.
Though I’ve enjoyed hunting and studying fossils from childhood, I am neither an anthropologist nor a paleontologist, but I am a sociologist, and I’m making a cultural observation: Evidence is presented in the media from one position only—evolution MUST be true, therefore all fossils MUST support evolution in some way.