Fossils accurately record human evolution (this is the central idea of paleoanthropology's paradigm)

Allan Krill
Jul 3  
Edited Jul 4

According to MSRP, scientists are working within so-called ‘research programmes’, which are somewhat similar to Kuhnian paradigms. A research programme consists of a static ‘hard core’ of fixed beliefs, and a dynamic ‘protective belt’ of auxiliary hypotheses and background knowledge (Figure 1).

Paleoanthropology is a Kuhnian paradigm or a Lakatosian research program. As such, it has a 'hard-core central idea' and a 'protective belt' of heuristics, theories, and hypotheses.

I think the hard-core central idea is this: Fossils accurately record human evolution.

Here is what I think are some of the heuristics, theories, and hypotheses: 
  • Encourage fossil discoveries by giving finders inalienable rights (no hands-on study or chemical testing by outsiders)
  • Encourage public interest in fossils (new species and good stories bring more funding)
  • Fossils with a mix of human-and-ape traits reflect forward evolution (no hybrid throwbacks)
  • Fossils indicate the main habitats of species and locations of speciation (fossil-free regions are uninteresting)
  • 'Surface finds' are the same age as the underlying strata (no proof by digging is necessary)
  • Fossil-finders are honest (planting of surface fossils and other deceptions are impossible in modern times)
  • Never aid creationists by publicly questioning the authenticity of old or new fossil finds 
A major problem with paleoanthropology's hard-core central idea is this: There are no fossils of chimpanzees and gorillas. (They live in environments where bone fossils cannot be formed.) Since fossils do not record chimpanzee or gorilla evolution, it is unlikely that fossils accurately record human evolution.

I think that humans evolved on Bioko without leaving a single fossil. Paleohumans were bipedal and good swimmers, and many came over to mainland Africa. With no fire or weapons, most paleohumans were quickly taken by predators. Some mated with chimpanzees, and their progeny were better suited for mainland conditions. They left the fossils we now call hominids (Sahelanthropus, Ardipithecus, Paranthropus, Australopithecus, Homo naledi, and a host of others) in drier parts of Africa. I think hominids were hybrids, because they were bipedal with baffling mixes of human traits, ape traits, without logical time frames.

Paleoanthropology will uphold its cluttered hominid paradigm, but in anthropogeny we should look to other research programs—genetics, anatomy, and physiology of living primates—as we try to understand the origin of humans. 


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