The not so fabulous Homo habilis

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Homo habilis has always been one of my favorite fossil species. I have read everything I could get my hands on, and have purchased and studied casts of many habilis remains.

Some of what I have learned is below.

The search for human ancestors led some researchers to Africa. It was there in the Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania that we have found some of the best fossils. Not of ape-men (or hominids) as claimed, but of another species of complex ape: Homo habilis.

Claimed by many to be the link between Australopithecines, and Homo erectus, I believe Homo habilis was a complex ape created on Day 6 by God to live with man. He is not an ancestor of man.

Some believe having a large brain makes one form of ape more human than another. However if you read the section on cranial capacities, you will see this is not so.

Australopithecine or Homo?

Fossils skulls had been divided into 2 genera: Australopithecines, and the genus Homo.

One of the critera for belonging to one of these groups is cranial capacity.

The genus Homo had a lower limit of between 700 cc and 800 cc.

This was lowered by Leakey and his colleagues so that they could include the skulls of what they now call Homo habilis. There is a bit of an ego trip in paleoanthropology. Everyone wants to find the first human. By lowering the cutoff point for Homo, Leakey changed the rules in the middle of the game, and achieved his goal of finding what he belived to be the first "human".

No one who ever saw habilis face to face would ever dare call him this, as it is nothing more than an ape, albeit a more complex one.

Dates of Discovery

OH 7

OH 8

OH 13 - 1963 mandible, parietals, occiptal, maxilla and cranial fragments (Day, pg 177, 1993) OH 16 - 1963 George skull fragments and lower dentition (Day, pg 177, 1993) OH 24 - October 1968 cranium with some teeth (Day, pg 177, 1993) KNM-ER 1471 - prox right tibia 1972 (Day, pg 213, 1993) KNM-ER 1472 - 1972 right femur (Day, pg 213, 1993) KNM-ER 1481, left femur, proximal and distal left tibia, distal left fibula, 1972 (Day, pg 213, 1993) KNM-ER 1590, 1972 partial juvenile cranium with dentition (Day 1993)

KNM-ER 1813, 1973

July 21, 1986, OH 62

KNM-ER 1805


OH 7 has been nicknamed "Jonny's child" after Jonathan Leakey, the oldest son of Louis and Mary Leakey.

OH 7 is a partial skeleton belonging to a juvenile male (2). The specimen was found by Jonathan Leakey (son of Louis and Mary Leakey) on November 4, 1960
(pg 170 "From Lucy to Language" by Donald Johanson and Blake Edgar).

OH 7 is believed to be 1.75 million years old
(pg 170 "From Lucy to Language" by Donald Johanson and Blake Edgar).

OH 7 serves as the type specimen for Homo habilis although they were not the first habilis remains found. In 1959 a molar, and premolar were found in Bed 1 of Olduvai Gorge by Heslon Mukiri.
(pg 170 "From Lucy to Language" by Donald Johanson and Blake Edgar).


Image source: "The Age of Mankind"

OH 7 consists of 2 dozen bones and 14 teeth. Because none of these bones are duplicated (2 mandibles, or 2 left feet) the remains are believed to be from one individual
(pg 170 "From Lucy to Language" by Donald Johanson and Blake Edgar).

The Morphology of OH 7

OH 7 consists of a mandible and some skull fragments.
(pg 170 "From Lucy to Language" by Donald Johanson and Blake Edgar).

There are also 21 hand, finger and wrist bones (see chapter_ )

Here is a picture of the mandible of OH 7. Much of the mandibular body is preserved including the teeth. The right side of the mandible goes back to the first molar, with the left having both the first and 2nd molars preserved.

The skeleton is said to belong to an individual of 10 to 12 years. Is this based on modern apes or modern human range?

If both apes and humans once lived hundreds of years (as described in the book of Genesis) then it could be that they had a slower rate of maturation, and are actually older.

0H _7_parietals There is no sign of a sagittal crest in OH 7.

- A cranial capacity of 363cc has been estimated for OH 7.
(pg 170 "From Lucy to Language" by Donald Johanson and Blake Edgar).

This figure was extrapolated to an adult size of 674cc
(pg 170 "From Lucy to Language" by Donald Johanson and Blake Edgar).

Leakey felt this was too large for an Australopithecine, as this was 50% larger than the average of 6 A. africanus skulls.

The large brain meant one thing to Leakey: Humanity.

The question remains. Are the remains of Homo habilis distinct enough to warrant their own species name? Or are they variations of Australopithecines?

The debate on whether or not Homo habilis is a valid taxon is not a new one. This battle has raged since the 1960's.

Here is a picture of the skull labeled Homo habilis "O.H. 24". OH 24 was found by Peter Nzube in October 1968. It is said to be ca. 1.8 million years old.

What does OH 24 consist of?

This skull is better known by its nickname "Twiggy". The reason it is nicknamed Twiggy is a rather crude one. Skull "OH 24" was found smashed "flat" into tiny little pieces. The name a reference to Twiggy, a skinny English model of the 1960's.

I do not know if Twiggy is aware that a fossil was named after her. Just out of curiosity I am writing her to ask (1/14/02). I will let you know if she responds.

Here is a picture of my chimpanzee skull next to my cast replica Twiggy skull. You can see there are many similarities. Please note that I am not saying that Twiggy was a chimp (though I am saying habilis was a non-human primate). I am just giving you a size comparison.
The cranial capacity of OH 24 is estimated at 600 cc. (pg 172, "From Lucy to Language")

OH 24 is heavily reconstructed. As such we must be cautious about it.

The face of OH 24 protrudes greatly.

OH 24 is believed to be an adult specimen of Homo habilis. This is based on the eruption of her(?) third molars.

The teeth show little sign of wear.

KNM-ER 1813

A year after the much debated 1470 skull was found, Kamoya Kimeu discovered another skull at Koobi Fora, Kenya. The skull KNM-ER 1813, is attributed to Homo habilis.

Found in 1973, the skull is said to be 1.9 million years old.

Front views of KNM-ER 1813 and KNM-ER 1470.

KNM-ER 1470 contrasted greatly with KNM-ER 1813.

Were these members of the same species but of the opposite sex? Demonstrating a great deal of sexual dimorphism in the species Homo habilis?

Or were these members of two distinct species?

The Maxilla of KNM-ER 1813

KNM-ER 1813 was an adult at the time of death, as is evident by the eruption of the 3rd molars. These molars also showed wear.

So being a younger version of 1470 was not a possiblity.

Side views of KNM-ER 1813 and KNM-ER 1470.

"In ER 1813 was an individual from the same time period in the same region, yet having a small brain and diminutive teeth and face." - Smithsonian.

There is some distortion in the cranium of 1813. This occured during the process of fossilization.

"ER 1813 had a cranial capacity of only 510cc, well below the 600cc cutoff that had been in place since the creation of the Homo habilis species name. It is also not much larger than the average for Australopithecus." - Smithsonian.

"Although it differs markedly from ER 1470, ER 1813 can be compared and allied with many of the accepted Homo habilis specimens from Olduvai Gorge, for example OH 24. The similarities include overall size, smaller orbits, and projection of the face below the nose (sub-nasal prognathism). ER 1813 also exhibits a protruberance on the back of the skull (see bottom photograph: it is near the base of the skull and appears as a small ridge of bone crossing the skull from side to side) that some researchers claim may be the beginnings of the "transverse torus" of later Homo erectus." - Smithsonian.

OH 62

OH 62 is a greatly fragmented adult skeleton assigned to Homo habilis.

This skeleton was discovered by Tim White on July 21, 1986. (pg 176, "From Lucy to Language").

Another fossil some say is improperly ascribed to Homo habilis is "O.H.62".

By looking at the picture you can see the fragmentary nature of the skeleton.

While many fossils are excavated in caves, or deep in the ground, the OH 62 speciemen was found laying on the surface of the ground. (pg 176, "From Lucy to Language")

The area was screened (particles seperated from dust or dirt by sifting them) and more than 18,000 bone fragments were recovered. Of these 302 are believed to belong to OH 62.

OH 62 is known as the dik-dik hominid, because its remains were found in the droppings of a dik-dik.

The teeth and age of OH 62

The jaw was reconstructed from 32 fragments (pg 176, Johanson "From Lucy to Language"). Because the third molars are present and well worn, OH 62 is believed to be the skeleton of an old adult.

OH 62 is assigned to Homo habilis based on similarities in the dentition with other Olduvai remains ("From Lucy to Language" pg 176)

The skull of OH 62

The skull of OH 62 is so badly broken that it can not be reconstructed.

Johanson remarks: It was impossible "to reassemble the cranial vault fragments into anything even remotely resembling a skull" (pg 176, "From Lucy to Language").

Most of the right arm were recovered. This included the humerous and much of the radius and ulna.

Part of the left femural neck and shaft were also recovered.

The femur of OH 62 is even smaller than that of Lucy. Johanson states that with a height of 1 meter, OH 62 may be the smallest adult hominid ever found ("From Lucy to Language" pg 176).

There is of course the possibility that Lucy was large for her species, and OH 62 was small for hers. Or it is also possible that this large size discrepencey is one more blow to the theory of evolution. There is a large size difference between the Australopithecines, and the 5 ft Homo erectus. Homo habilis is desperatly needed to fill this gap.

If Homo habilis was smaller than the species it is supposed to have evolved from (Australopithecus), then not only does it fail as a transition between the two (Australopithecus and H. erectus), but it fails miserably.

"If body height in the human line did indeed increase gradually from afarensis to erectus, then by rights Homo habilis should have averaged somewhere between four and a half and five feet tall. Instead, we had found a habilis skeleton that appeared to have stood no taller in life than Lucy herself" ( pg 208 "Lucy's child" )

The OH 62 skeleton has thrown researchers a curveball because of its surprisingly ape-like limb proportions. This creates an even bigger gulf between austraolipithecines and erectus.(who had more human like limb proportions)

Some believe that "OH 24" and "O.H.62" do not belong in the Homo habilis category, but to the australopithecines.

OH 62 is probably a late gracile australopithecine ("Louis S. B. Leakey Beyond the Evidence" pg xvi, Martin Pickford PhD, Janus Publishing Company London, England 1997)


The Olduvai clavicle


Picture from pg 129 of "Guide to Fossil man" 1968

A clavicle OH _ has been assigned to Homo habilis.

Though it belongs to an ape, it is similar to that of a modern human.

"The clavicle, as yet only provisionally described, is said to have clear overall similarities to that of Homo sapiens sapiens"

"...from examination of the original it appears to have few, if any, features which distinguish it from he corresponding one in modern man"
pg 128 M. Day "Guide to Fossil man" 1968

It would be easy to take this out of context, and say that this is a clavicle of a modern human, but I believe the author is merely stressing their similarities.

"Following the discovery and preliminary description of this material it has been consider that this form is not an australopithecine and that sufficient evidence is available on which to create a new species of the genus Homo provide that the diagnosis of this genus is revised."
pg 133 M. Day "Guide to Fossil man" 1968

If you are interested in the Hand bones of Homo habilis please go to my page on the hand bones of Homo erectus

Question: "I have a question for you. Why is it that some people believe that there are more than one species represented by KNM-ER 1470 and KNM-ER 1813. In your opinion what is the variability that is observed amoung the paleospecies HOMO habilis?
- Joseph G. 5/1/01
Answer: I think that 1470 and 1813 are two different species. I think 1470 falls outside of the range of variation for habilis. I know that 1470 has been heavily reconstructed, so it is hard to know exactly what it looked like. The National musuem of Kenya will not allow me (or almost anyone) to view the fossils there to determine if they have been reconstructed correctly.

Is Homo habilis a valid taxon?

Some authors (Lubenow pg 165) claim that Homo habilis is not a valid taxon. They argue that because fossils of more than one species have mistakenly been ascribed to habilis, then the category itself does not exist.

"....we have strong evidence that the category known as Homo habilis is not a legitimate taxon but is composed of a mixture of material from at least two separate taxa..."
Marvin Lubenow, "Bones of Contention" pg 165

This is faulty reasoning.

It is true that KNM-ER 1470, was once included in the habilis category (opens new browser window)(and is now reclassified as Homo rudolfensis, but that does not invalidate habilis as a species.

Answering the critics

The "invalid taxon" argument would be somewhat moot even if it was correct. The reason is that no matter how one chooses to classify them, the fossils still exist and have to be dealt with."
Jim Foley - review of "Image of God" 11/20/99
I recognize that the fossils do exist, and will gladly deal with them. Fossils such as OH 7, still exist as good represenatives of the habilis species, but they do not qualify habilis as a human ancestor.


Background on Homo habilis

Sometimes called by the nickname "Handy man", Homo Habilis is said to be from 1.5 to 2 million years old.

Homo Habilis is represented by many fragmentary bones from several individuals: "OH24", "OH13", "OH62", "KNM-ER 1813", and a few others ("KNM-ER 1470" is now classified as "Homo rudolfensis" so I have created a separate page for this species).

Here is a picture of what Evolutionists claim Homo habilis looked like. This picture would lead you to believe that Homo habilis was on its way to becoming human. The truth is, habilis is an extinct ape, similar to the australopithecines.

The Australopithecines are said to have evolved into H. habilis, and then into H. erectus. However further study of habilis shows that it was less human like than the species it is said to have evolved from. This is the exact opposite of what we would expect if habilis evolved from the Australopithecines into erectus.

Did Homo habilis walk upright?

Placement of the foramen magnum

Linea aspera of femurs

toe in line with other toes

Organal balance.

Quotes from Fred Spoor (of ___) are often used to show that Homo habiiis did not walk upright.

This is based on his study of STW 53, which may or may not belong to habilis

"What the organal balance tells us is that this creature was perhaps even less bipedal than the australopithecines."
Dr. Fred Spoor of University College, London (3)

Studies of the skull confirm this:

"What we found in the size of the semicircular canal and the whole structure of the inner ear, it wasn't intermediate at all between what we saw in Homo erectus and the australopithecines."
Dr. Fred Spoor of University College, London (3)

"Interestingly enough, I got support from other findings in East Africa. They found that limb bones are less adapted for bipedalism, for walking on two legs and are more ape-like than australopithecines."
Dr. Fred Spoor of University College, London (3)

There are 2 possibilities here. Either H. habilis was created as a bipedal ape and then degenerated like the Australopithecines did. Or they never walked upright.

My letter to Dr. Spoor dated 1/21/02:
"You have said that the organal balance of H. habilis showed it walked less upright than the Australopithecines. You then said you got confirmation from other remains in East Africa.

Was it STW 53 that this study was done on?

If so - is it possible that STW 53 does not belong to habilis?

I have a cast of OH 8 (foot) and 1481 (femur) and they both seem to belong to a creature that walked upright.

Have you done scans of any other habilis skulls? 1813, OH 24, 0H 13 or 16 for example?

if so did you determine whether or not any or all of these creatures walked upright?

-----------

By many experts, the category known as Homo habilis was considered a mixture of many fossils that do not belong together.

To fix this problem the remains of "KNM-ER 1470" are now classified as Homo Rudolfensis. The other bones remain in the habilis species.

"The small Homo habilis material, including KNM-ER 1805, 1813, O.H.24, and O.H.62, does not belong in the genus Homo and should never have been so classified. This material is best described as being australopithecine."
- Marvin Lubenow "Bones of Contention" pg. 165

Let’s take a look at these bones.

I believe Homo habilis was a complex ape Created by God on Day 6 (the same day as Adam). Homo habilis has degenerated since the curse (sin and death) on the world, and has degenerated to one of the present day apes. This is a loss of complexity - (De-volution) this is the opposite of evolution.

Evolutionists want very much for Homo habilis to be an ape-man. They need it to fill the huge gap between the Australopithecines and Homo erectus.

This is OH 13, also known by the nickname "Cindy" or "Cinderella" (sp). OH 13 was found by ____ in _____ (under construction)

The mandible and maxilla of OH 13.

OH 16 has been nicknamed George. OH 16 was found by ______ in ____ (under construction)
Here is another picture of OH16 from the book "Extinct Humans".

Info on the hands and feet of H. habilis can be found on my page of hands and feet of H. erectus.

Here are some pictures I will be incorporating into future updates of this page.

STW 53

A Farside cartoon

A Farside cartoon

Maxilla of KNM-ER 1470.

Top views of KNM-ER 1813 and KNM-ER 1470.

Here is Richard Leakey on the cover of Time magazine (November 1977).

How does Homo habilis fit in with the bible?

How does Homo habilis fit in with the flood? (distribution after the ark landed).

Species: Homo habilis Age: 1.74 million years Date of Discovery: *** Location: Koobi Fora, Kenya Discovered by: ***

"The ER 1805 specimen to the left is divided into three main parts, the cranium (pictured from the side and the rear in the bottom two photographs), and a maxilla and mandible (pictured together--front and side views-- in the two photographs to the right). The individual was an adult at the time of death, as evidenced by the third molars. Debate as to the correct classification of ER 1805 has existed ever since it was discovered. It was originally placed in the species Homo erectus. However, based on the degree of prognathism (the degree to which the face projects forward of the braincase) and the shape of the cranium (especially the prominent nuchal crest, visible in the bottom right photo), ER 1805 is now considered to belong in H. habilis." - Smithsonian

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References:

(1) "Bones of Contention" by Marvin Lubenow

(2) Page 170: "From Lucy to Language” by Donald Johanson

(3) "Image of God" (1997) Keziah Productions. Produced, directed, and written by Gillian Brown, and narrated by David Aikman.

(4)

(more references will be added...)

Do you have any questions or comments? If so please email me.


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