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Evolutionary Cracks

Buried in the sandy hillside of the slope was an arm bone—the single bone that eventually led to the unearthing of a skeleton that was nearly 40% complete. While the description of this now-famous find might lead one to think that it was similar to some serendipitous treasure unearthed in a movie script, the truth is far from that. The fossils Dr. Johanson unearthed were destined to become one of the most famous (and most controversial) finds of all time, and would shake every single limb on the alleged hominid family tree, completely upsetting then-current theories about how man came to be bipedal. Richard Leakey and Roger Lewin wrote of the find: “Johanson had stumbled on a skeleton that was about 40% complete, something that is unheard of in human prehistory farther back than about a hundred thousand years. Johanson’s hominid had died at least 3 million years ago” (1978, p. 67, emp. added). But, as additional studies were carried out, it became obvious that this “missing link” was “too good to be true.”

 

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