Homo naledi fossils are said to be inconsistent with current evolutionary theory

A Police officer looks at the picture during an exhibit of the largest collection of fossils of close human relatives ever to go on public in South Africa, at an area named 'The Cradle of Humankind,' northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa, May 25, 2017. | Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

The fossils that were recently discovered in South Africa have reportedly surprised academics because its dates are said to be at odds with the current evolutionary theory.

Earlier this month, a team of paleoanthropologists released three linked papers describing new fossils belonging to Homo naledi, a species said to stand about five feet tall. The species was said to have lived between 236,000 and 335,000 years ago, which is believed to be the period when early humans were just starting to evolve modern traits.

Professor Lee Berger of the University of the Witwatersrand recently announced that he and his team have discovered another chamber that contains abundant remains of Homo naledi. He believes that the remains were deliberately buried, and he asserted that Homo naledi were able to control fire and use it for illumination because the fossils were located in deep underground chambers.

A Southern Baptist paleontologist is claiming that the fossils are consistent with biblical chronology, representing a human species that were alive after the dispersion of people from the Tower of Babel as narrated in Genesis 11:1-9

Kurt Wise, professor of natural history at Truett-McConnell University and a Harvard-trained paleontologist, believes that Homo naledi were humans who descended from Adam and Eve.

He claimed that "radiometric dates" calculated by scientists to be 100,000–800,000 "radiometric years are found on fossils actually dating" more recently.

Wise, who believes that the universe was created by God approximately 6,000 years ago, argued that Homo naledi were humans "because humans are the only organisms known to cache or bury the bodies of their dead." He contended that it is highly unlikely for humans to make the e4foort to bury non humans in a cave, which he says are "almost certainly burial chambers."

He surmised that the fossils must date from after the dispersion of the people from Babel because the remains were found in South Africa, which he says is a very long way from wherever Babel was located.

Wise suggested that the human population during the time of Babel and afterward was more diverse than the human population today because the skeletal structure of Homo naledi is "markedly different from modern humans."

Jonathan Wells, a biologist at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, which advocates the theory of Intelligent Design, contended that the evolutionary scientists' surprise at the fossils is a significant aspect of the discovery.

"Human origins are as mysterious now as they have ever been. Science educators tell materialistic stories about how we are accidental byproducts of unguided evolution, and the stories are illustrated with iconic drawings of apes morphing into humans," Wells told the Baptist Press.

"But the stories came first; fossils were plugged in later. As Yale paleoanthropologist Misia Landau once wrote, stories of human evolution 'far exceed what can be inferred from the study of fossils alone,' so fossils are placed 'into preexisting narrative structures,'" he added.

The fossils of Homo naledi were featured in the exhibit titled "Almost Human," which opened on Thursday at the Maropeng Cradle of Humankind in Johannesburg, South Africa.