Lucy’s Knee Joint Revisited

Author: David Buckna
Subject: Lucy
Date: 2/22/98

Lucy’s Knee Joint Revisited

David Buckna

On November 20, 1986 Donald Johanson, Lucy’s discoverer, lectured at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. After showing slides of Lucy,  Johanson showed another slide of a knee-joint, and gave reasons why this fossil helped confirm Lucy as a pre-human ancestor. Johanson was then asked by Roy Holt: “How far away from Lucy did you find the knee?”. Johanson replied that the knee-joint was found “60-70 metres lower in the strata, and 2-3 kilometres away.” When asked, “Then why are you so sure it [the knee-joint] belonged to Lucy?” Johanson answered, “Anatomical similarity.” (Tom Willis, ” ‘Lucy’ Goes to College”, CSA News, Cleveland MO, February 1987).

[To avoid any misunderstanding, it should be noted that the question was not how far away from Lucy her own knee joint was found, but rather how far away from Lucy was the knee joint found by Johanson the previous year. The discoveries and locations of both the original knee joint (1973) and Lucy (1974) are described in Donald C. Johanson and Maitland E. Edey, Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind (1981) and in the April 1982 issue of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. Johanson argues that the original knee-joint is of the same species as Lucy [australopithecus afarensis] because of anatomical similarity, and points to it as one of several evidences to claim that these creatures walked upright.]

However, one of the key questions that needs to be asked is: Is there any evidence that Lucy (or any australopithecine) walked upright in the manner of Homo sapiens, rather than in the manner of such creatures as living orangutans and spider monkeys, who also show a high degree of valgus? Stern and Susman write in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology (60:279-313):

“In summary, the knee of the small Hadar hominid shares with other australopithecines a marked obliquity of the femoral shaft relative to the bicondylar plane, but in all other respects it falls either outside the range of modern human variation (Tardieu, 1979) or barely within it (our analysis). Since, aside from the degree of valgus, the knee of the small Hadar hominid possesses no modern trait to a pronounced degree, and since many of these traits may not serve to specify the precise nature of the bipedality that was practiced, we must agree with Tardieu that the overall structure of the knee is compatible with a significant degree of arboreal locomotion.” (p.298)

The paper by Stern and Susman also mentions that the hands and feet of Australopithecus afarensis are not at all like human hands and feet; rather, they have the long curved fingers and toes typical of arboreal primates. Notwithstanding, the St. Louis Zoo features a life-size statue of Lucy with perfectly formed human hands and feet! Most evolutionists, and certainly Johanson, insist that the footprints that Mary Leakey uncovered in “3 million year old” strata in Laetoli were made by Australopithecus afarensis, though these prints are indistinguishable from those of modern man.

[Note: The March 1996 issue of Discover magazine reports that two German scientists doing research on the Lucy pelvis believe “she” may have been a “he” after all.]

And even if the original knee-joint found by Johanson was from the same species as Lucy, (or should we now refer to the creature as “Lucifer”?) there are still more serious questions being raised about the australopithecines by evolutionists themselves. Dr. Charles Oxnard (University of Western Australia) completed the most sophisticated computer analysis of australopithecine fossils ever undertaken, and concluded that the australopithecines have nothing to do with the ancestry of man whatsoever, and are simply an extinct form of ape (Fossils, Teeth and Sex: New Perspectives on Human Evolution, University of Washington Press, 1987).

Oxnard still believes in evolution, but his belief is not because of the evidence, since there is no hard empirical evidence.

David Buckna

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