Variation of Man Kind in the Fossil Record

One of the most hotly debated topics within the Creation and Evolution Debate is the uniqueness of Man Kind. Is he created above the animals or is he simply another evolved animal himself? In recent decades, evolutionary archaeologists have uncovered many fossilized remains that they consider to be transitional species between ape and man. Creationist researchers look at these same fossils and and sometimes place them among the apes, with humans, as frauds, or as uncertain where they belong. Ultimately, the question has to be asked, just how much variation is possible within Man Kind?

Variation in the Fossil Record

When one looks at plant and animal kinds through history, a surprising pattern emerges. In any given Kind, there is far more diversity present in the fossil record than is found today. For example, within the frog Kind(s), only about 1% of extant species are found in the fossil record, but every Genera and Family of frogs is represented in the fossil record and with an amazing amount of variation.

This pattern should not come as a surprise. A Created Kind of plant or animal would have many species by the time of the Flood. Through the flood, the Kind would survive, but most of the species would disappear and the range of variation would diminish. Through the following centuries, speciation has occurred again, but with smaller variations. Furtherore, because of death and extinction, the amount of possible variation continues to slowly decrease.

If we applied this pattern to Man Kind, we could expect that there was a greater amount of variation among people before the flood, or shortly thereafter, than exists today. We have hints of this in Scripture. Esau was a hairy man, appearantly as hairy as a goat since this was used in Jacob’s deception to their father. There were also giants such as the nine foot Goliath. This level of variation is not seen today.

Variation within Homo Sapiens

As we go through the fossil record, there are many contenders that evolutionary scientists would say belong in the human family. But what does it mean to be human? How different are humans from apes? By what criteria can one distinguish one from the other?

Within Evolution

By Evolutionary standards, the Genus of Homo is about 2.8 million years old. Homo habilis appear from the Genus Australopithecus which came from Pan (the chimpanzees). Homo sapiens sapiens, modern humans, first appeared about 200,000 years ago and was fully recognizable as modern about 50,000 years ago. It is the only extant species of Homo.

Genus Homo

The word ‘Homo’ comes from the Latin ‘hominis’ and means “human being” or “mankind”. The term Homo sapiens was first used by Carl Lennaeus. The main things that separate Humans from chimpanzees are quite marked. First, there is bipedalism, walking upright on two feet. Second is the use of tools. Third, is the process of formally burying the dead.


It is generally agreed that the Neanderthals were fully human, yet they had a distinctly different appearance. They are genetically very similar to modern humans and are sometimes classified as Homo neanderthalensis or even Homo sapiens neanderthalensis. They had a distinctively large cranium with a sloping forehead and large eyebrow ridge. There had a Eurasian geographic range. They used tools and there are some hints that they buried their dead. What other variations could exist?

Homo naledi

This question of possible variation is well examplified by the recent fossils found in France called Homo naledi. This debate is further complicated by the fact the Homo Naledi fossils have many indications of being formally buried. This is a distinctly human activity. Todd Wood, who works with Statistical Baraminology, is building a data set for the human / non-human hominin fossils. He has taken the published data for Homo naledi and found that it tightly groups with the Human Baramin (Man Kind).

Do creationists need to be afraid of fossil finds when they are different than how man appears today? No. Such variation does not automatically suggest an apeman as evoultionary paradigms suggest. Instead, the creationist perspective should expect this type of variation.

Todd Elder

Todd Elder

Todd Elder has a deep desire to understand and experience Creation. As a Baraminologist, his current research includes developing the Katagenos Species Concept, the Natanzera Classification System, and the Floral Formula Method of determining Plant Kinds. As an author and speaker, his books and seminar materials are designed to encourage a growing relationship with the Creator.
Todd Elder

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