Nebraska Man

Hesperopithecus haroldcookii, also called Nebraska Man.

Some so called hominid species are better represented by fossils than others. I do not want to give the impression that most are based solely on a tooth as in the case of Nebraska man (as nearly complete skeletons exist for some species (H. erectus, A. afarensis etc) but I do want to point out the problems inherent in reading too much into such meager evidence.

Shocking though it may be, but many hominid species truly are based on nothing more than a small scrap of bone or in the case of "Nebraska man", a single tooth.

This can lead to wild interpretations based more on fantasy than on fact.

The discovery

Paleontologist Harold Cook discovered a single fossil tooth in Nebraska in 1922.
("Bones of Contention: Controversies in the Search for Human Origins" by Roger Lewin, Simon & Schuster Inc. New York, 1987, pg 54 )

The entire body of "Nebraska man" was constructed from a single tooth found in 1922.

(picture courtesy of J. Foley)

This would have been an important find in the US, as most hominids are found in places like Africa.

Naming the fossil

Henry Fairfield Osborn (who was the director of the American Museum)named the fossil Hesperopithecus haroldcookii
("Bones of Contention: Controversies in the Search for Human Origins" by Roger Lewin, Simon & Schuster Inc. New York, 1987, pg 54 )

This name combines the name of its discoverer Harold Cook, and also _____

The tooth was found in Western Nebraska (hence the name: "Nebraska Man").


The tooth was discovered in Pliocene deposits, which were allegedly 6 million years old.

The Impact of Nebraska man

In the 1920's it was against the law to teach Evolution in school. But during the "Scopes Monkey trial" things changed. Christianity itself was on trial, and unfortunately some Christians could not defend their faith. Many Christians compromised (example _)what the Bible said, and Evolution was quickly ushered into classrooms.

This single tooth was upheld as one of the best pieces of evidence for evolution. It is not clear whether the tooth itself was presented in the trial. I would like to take a look at the transcripts before saying one way or the other.

In 1922 The Illustrated London Times ran pictures of an artists interpretation of Nebraska man and his wife. Somehow Amedee Forestier reconstructed 2 people from one tooth. Even if Forestier's drawing was "merely the expression of an artist's brilliant imaginative genius" as conveyed by Smith (Illustrated London News 1922), it is often these imaginative reconstructions that "sell" the public on the validity of evolution.

Now you have to admit that reconstructing 2 people from one tooth seems like extending artistic interpretation.

Many who believed in Evolution were sure that this tooth belonged to one of mans ape-like ancestors. And, true some other disagreed.

The only bone of Nebraska man they had, a tooth turned out to be a pigs tooth.

The Pig

The tooth however was shown to be the tooth of a peccary (a kind of pig) and not to a human ancestor" after all.
("Bones of Contention: Controversies in the Search for Human Origins" by Roger Lewin, Simon & Schuster Inc. New York, 1987, pg 55 )

Belonging to a species of pig called "prosthennops serus", this pig was found still alive in Paraguay in 1972

Did everyone accept Nebraska man?

Now it is true that everyone did not accept Nebraska man, nor was it heavily publicized. This is because no one ever really knew what to make of the fossil.

While other mistakes like the Piltdown man fraud lasted decades, the troublesome Nebraska man mistake lasted only a few years.

Compared to the Piltdown hoax, very little publicity was given to this embarrassing mistake.

Though the "debunking" did make the front page of the New York Times, and editorials in both the NYT and The Times of London (reference: J. Foley)

Nebraska man has dropped out of sight.

Those who believe in Evolution no longer believe Nebraska man is the missing link, and they wish that the people would forget all about how easily some of the worlds experts saw what they wanted to see, and were fooled by a pigs tooth.


Below is a quote from a famous Evolutionist admitting that there is no fossil Evidence for Evolution.

Luther D. Sunderland, author of "Darwinís Enigma" wrote to Dr Colin Patterson, Senior Paleontologist at the British Museum of Natural History. Patterson had written a book on Evolution. Sunderland asked Patterson why he didnít include any examples or pictures of the fossil evidence for evolution...

Patterson replied:

"....I fully agree with your comments on the lack of direct illustration of evolutionary transitions in my book. If I knew of any, fossil or living, I would certainly have included them."

He goes on to say:

"Yet Gould and the American Museum people are hard to contradict when they say there are no transitional fossils. As a paleontologist myself, I am much occupied with the philosophical problems of identifying ancestral forms in the fossil record. You say that I should as least 'show a photo of the fossil from which each type of organism was derived.' I will lay it on the line - there is not one such fossil for which one could make a watertight argument."

- Dr. Colin Patterson .
Taken from a letter written April 10, 1979 from Dr Colin Patterson to Luther D Sunderland as quoted in Darwin's Enigma by Luther D Sunderland, Master Books, San Diego, USA 1984, pg. 89 RQB quote #35

Before I am accused of misrepresenting Dr. Pattersonís beliefs, I will say this man still believes in evolution, but he also admits there is no evidence for it..


If you have any questions on Creation, Evolution, or just want to say "Hi" please feel free to email me.

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