PureInsight | January 3, 2001
The bones of forgotten men
Walk into any natural museum today, or read any textbook on anthropology, and one invariably finds a large chart exhibited, tracing the ancestry of man back through more primitive forebears, until the line is lost somewhere amid the apes. Recently, paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey, excavating in Ethiopia, announced the discovery of what are supposed to be the oldest accepted fossil remains of man - about 4 million years old. What has been disturbing about the new finds is that they are, in part, too human: Their great age, yet partly 'modern' appearance, has forced evolutionists to push back the departure of man from the ape stock farther into the past, so that now it is beginning to infringe upon the time period necessary for the development of the apes themselves.
But while the African finds are revolutionary, there have been other discoveries of human fossils greatly more important, but these have been deliberately neglected or denounced, because they are far older than man is 'supposed' to be.
Over a hundred years ago, in the 1850's, gold miners began digging tunnels into the sides and top of Table Mountain, northwest of Needles, California. Gold was discovered, but along with it were bones of extinct mastodons, mammoths, bison, tapirs, horses, rhinos, hippos and camels - all dating from the Pliocene. In 1863, a physician from nearby Sonora, Dr. R. Snell, began to collect specimens from the excavations. In that year, with his bare hands, he loosened from among the fossils a stone disc that appeared to have been used for grinding. But Dr. Snell was not the first, or last, to unearth mysterious objects from the mountain gravel: In 1853, Oliver W. Stevens made affidavit that he removed a large stone bowl from the lowest level tunnel; in 1857, the Honorable Paul Hubbs, of Vallejo, dug up part of a human crania from inside the Valentine shaft; and in 1862, Mr. Llewellyn Pierce also signed affidavit that he had found a stone mortar 200 feet in from the mouth of the same shaft. The most dramatic find, however, was reserved for a Mr. Mattison, one of the owners of the mines. In February of 1866, Mattison unearthed from beneath a layer of basalt an object which - because of the encrustation's - he first thought was the petrified root of a tree, but on closer examination discovered was a complete human skull. The miner sent the skull to the office of the State Survey in June of the same year. Eventually, the skull came into the possession of Dr. L. Wyman, of Harvard College, who removed the encasing material around the cranium. Dr. Wyman, and an associate named Professor Whitney, identified the skull as very modern in type, but also noted that, 'the fragments of bones and gravel and shells were so wedged into the cavities of the skull that there could be no mistake as to the character of the situation in which it is found.' The stickler was, however, that this meant the skull, along with all the artifacts found, were 12 million years old.
In 1958, Dr. Johannes Huerzeler, of the Museum of Natural History in Basel, Switzerland, unearthed a human jawbone at a depth of 600 feet, in a coal mine in Tuscany, Italy. The bone had belonged to a child, between the ages of five and seven. Though flattened like a sheet of iron, the jaw was declared by several experts to be not only human, but modern-looking at that. But what mystified them was that it had been encased in a Miocene stratum - geologically dated at 20 million years. Dr. Huerzeler declared it to be the world's oldest man' - but his fellow anthropologists did not dare give it the same distinction. Here were human remains more modern in appearance than all the 'ape-men' forms ever found - yet they were five times as old as any of them. In fact, the jaw bone is as old, if not older, than many ancestors of the apes. The bone raised more problems than answers - so the find was quickly 'shelved,' and no further work was ever done to give it due recognition.
Early in November of 1926, archaeologist J.C.F. Siegfriedt made a discovery in another mine, this one the Number Three shaft of the Mutual Coal Mine of Bear Creek, 55 miles southwest of Billings, Montana. What Siegfriedt found was a human tooth, in which the enamel had been replaced by carbon and the roots by iron, by seepage petrification. In an account published in the Carbon County News and dated November 11, 1926, Siegfriedt reported that he had meticulously preserved the mineral matrix that had been deposited around the tooth, and several dentists identified the mold created as being a human second lower molar. The tooth, however, came from the lower level of the mine - from an Eocene deposit dated at 30 million years old. Siegfriedt could generate no interest in his find among other specialists, and as far as is known, no one has done any further study of the mystery.
One of the more controversial of the 'out-of-place' bones from extreme antiquity is today part of the collection of the Freiberg Mining Academy in West Germany. It is a poorly preserved human skull, found in brown coal in 1842, from an undisclosed locality. Early European authorities dismissed the skull as a fake, but more recent research and analysis has questioned this hasty pronouncement, putting it back into the realm of the authentic. The reason for its initial denunciation is understandable: The coal it was embedded in, a portion of which still clings to the skull, is estimated to be as much as 50 million years old.
It seems that even when authentication is overwhelming, the response by the scientific community is, inversely, underwhelming. In 1973, a rock collector named Lin Ottinger was searching over a rock plateau that had just been bulldozed over, in preparation for the beginning of mining operations by the nearby Big Indian Copper Mine. The mine is situated 35 miles southwest of Moab, Utah. During his pickings in the exposed rock, Ottinger suddenly found pieces of bone and teeth, and traced these to a patch of sand with a brown stain - the tell-tale sign of decayed organic matter. Carefully removing the sand, Ottinger discovered the top portion of a large intact bone. The rockhound, realizing the importance of his find, decided to have a credited expert look at it, and let him do the digging, so that everything would be 'scientifically acceptable.'
A week later, Ottinger returned to the plateau with Dr. J.P. Marwitt, professor of anthropology at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, several photographers, a news reporter, and a number of observers. With cameras recording the event, Dr. Marwitt carefully removed the lower halves of two human skeletons. The bones were articulated - that is, laid out naturally - showing the bodies had not fallen or been washed into the stratum in which they were situated. These and other factors revealed the bones to be as old as the layer in which they were found. The one problem was, the layer is Lower Dakota and Upper Morrison formations -over 100 million years of age, according to uniformitarian geologists. Yet, as Marwitt noted, the bones were not simian or even half-ape: They were fully human and modern-looking.