Our own origin and existence on the planet earth happens to be one of the most puzzling facts of nature. There is hardly any straight record of human history prior to the invention of writing around 3,500 B.C., and while a large number of animals tell the story of their origin and evolution through a series of fossils, human species can be singled out as the one having the most haphazard and incomplete fossil record.
Human evolution has been not only erratic but also extremely slow till about 40,000 years ago when the modern man (Homo sapiens) made sudden appearance in Europe, bringing about a meteoric rise in the evolutionary rate. On the other hand religions, myths and folklore everywhere carried through generations from the time immemorial unanimously tell that man was created by Gods who descended from heaven.
THE DARWINIAN THEORY
The special creation concept was widely accepted till Charles Darwin published his book, The Origin of Species, which took the world by storm. Man then began to be accepted to have descended from the ape-like creatures that migrated from forests to grasslands during Pliocene, about 20 million years ago.
Creatures like Dryopithecus and Propliopithecus were more apes than human. Life in grasslands was full of dangers. There were few trees to take shelter on, and anatomically the creatures did not possess any specialized organs of defence like horns, fangs, fast running or physical strength.
To survive in such unprotected conditions the animal had to use hands to pick up and throw stones or sticks at the offender, much like the chimpanzees do today. Constant uses of hands exerted a lot of pressure on the brain to develop intelligence and skill, and as the hands were engaged in handling objects only legs were used for walking, leading to bipedal locomotion.
Fifteen million year old fossils of Ramapithecus found in Shivalik Hills indicate the first man-like bipedal primate. But the cradle of human evolution appears to be the East and South Africa where majority of the human fossils have been unearthed. Australopithecus which roamed in eastern Africa sometime 5-6 million years ago had already started developing stone tools and hunting in groups. It walked erect but was ape-like in appearance. Homo erectus evolved 1.5 million years ago, was distributed everywhere in Asia and Africa and apparently had several distinct races. Stone tools and animal bones have been recovered along with the fossils in caves where this species sought shelter. Chinese caves also indicated the use of fire by these hominids.
European fossils date back to 100,000-75,000 years and belong to a more advanced species, the Neanderthal man. These people were well-built, stocky but still made stone tools and stone-tipped spears for hunting and lived in caves. In appearance, they possessed protruded chinless face, slanting forehead, bulging eyebrow ridges, hairy body and drooping posture.
Then about 50,000 years ago, suddenly and awkwardly, the Cro-Magnon man (Homo sapiens fossilis) appeared in Europe or Middle East. Fossils and cave drawings indicate that this man looked like any modern European and had flat face with well-developed chin, high forehead, completely upright stature and hairless body. These people hunted with advanced spears, lived in more organized colonies and sketched coloured pictures of animals on cave walls. Later they gave up hunting to develop agriculture and community living.
Homo sapiens, according Darwinian Theory, evolved from Ramapithecus which lived 15 million years ago, through gradual evolution and natural selection. But human phylogeny based on fossils does not indicate a gradual and straight sequence of events. Fossil records are scanty and localised in few places of the world. Striking is the fact that human evolution was extremely slow from Australopithecus, which made stone tools and hunted in bands about 6 million years ago, to Neanderthal man which existed about 70,000 years ago, but still had the same primitive ape-like features, hairy body, and still hunted with primitive stone tools. During 5 million years between Australopithecus and Neanderthals, man could not advance beyond stone-tool making capability.
Then suddenly around 50,000 years ago Cro-Magnon man made sudden appearance out of nowhere, a species which looked very different from its contemporary Neanderthal and had no apparent ancestral links. Its intelligence took such a sudden leap that in only the next 40,000 years it developed agriculture, cities, advanced industry, nuclear technology and began to travel in space.
Emergence of Homo sapiens (Cro-Magnon man) happened virtually overnight in terms of millions of years of slow evolution of earlier stages. What caused this sudden change? Was a mega-mutation responsible for this sudden evolutionary jump? Strangely, Cro-Magnon man evolved during ice age, when one-third of the earth was freezing under ice. How and why then the modern man suddenly appeared defying natural evolution, and at the most inopportune time—the ice age? And why do the fossil records not indicate a gradual transition from primitive to modern man.
SPECIAL CREATION THEORY
When science fails, myths and religious beliefs predominate. There has been a determined revival of the theory of special creation in recent times, which says that the earth was once host to the visitors from distant planets, who possibly interfered with the slow-paced human evolution going on here, leading to the emergence of modern man.
Some of the books advocating this theory that appeared in recent times are: Zecharia Sitchin’s The Earth Chronicles, Andrew Tomas’, We are not the first; Jacques Bergier’s, First Extraterrestrial Visitations from prehistoric times to the present; Robert Charroux’s Masters of the world; W. Raymond Drake’s Gods and Spacemen in the Ancient Past; L.M. Lewis’ Footprints on the Sands of Time; Eric & Craig Umland’s Mystery of the Ancients and Eric von Daniken’s Chariots of the Gods, Return to the stars and The Gold of the Gods.