In 1922, scientists discovered a fossil tooth. Reported to be one million years old, it was heralded as the “missing link” in human evolution and called “Nebraska Man” since it was found in the state of Nebraska. Henry Fairfield Osborn, an eminent paleontologist, said it combined characteristics of chimpanzees and man. This fossil became famous because it was used as evidence for evolution in the 1925 Scopes trial. Later, it was discovered that the tooth did not belong to any type of human or ape. It was found to be the tooth of a pig!
This famous hoax fooled scientists for nearly 50 years. A portion of a human skull and the jaw of an orangutan were pieced together to form a “missing link.” Scientists studied casts or models of this specimen and numerous reports were published on it.
Later, it was found to be an absolute fraud. On the original specimen, which was rarely seen, one could easily see where the teeth had been filed down to look more human-like!
Ernst Haeckel was a German developmental biologist who studied embryos. He proposed an evolutionary theory called “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.” According to this view, as a fertilized egg develops to form an embryo, it repeats evolutionary history.
As evidence, Haeckel examined and drew pictures of embryos of a fish, frog, chicken, pig and human. In the pictures, there was remarkable similarity among the different animals.
However, these pictures were later shown to be deceptively altered! Further, it was also shown that his recapitulation theory was untrue. Nonetheless, it is still occasionally used as evidence for evolution, and Haekel’s fraudulent drawings are still placed in biology textbooks today.
One book commonly used in graduate schools, Molecular Biology of the Cell by Bruce Alberts (president of the National Academy of Sciences), still includes Haekel’s embryos in the chapter “The Evolution of the Cell.”
The peppered Moth is a classic example used to show evolution in action. In England, scientists observed increasing numbers of a dark variety, and decreasing numbers of a lighter variety, of the moth.
This change was originally attributed to better camouflage-ability since there was a decrease in light-colored lichens on tree trunks, due to pollution. As pollution decreased, the colors reversed. Supposedly, those moths with better camouflage would escape predation by birds and leave more offspring.
Recently, it has become known that pictures of these moths in textbooks have been staged because the moths do not rest on tree trunks as they are often portrayed!
In addition, the change in coloration was observed in other areas without a similar change in lichen. Presently, scientists do not know what caused the difference in coloration but they know that it is not by the Darwinian model which had been previously proposed.
Jerry Coyne, an evolutionary biologist, described his reaction to finding out this information about the moths in a book review in Nature. “My own reaction resembles the dismay attending my discovery, at the age of six, that it was my father and not Santa who brought the presents on Christmas Eve.”
These and other examples were taught to generations of students as “facts” of evolution.
David Dewitt, Ph.D., Associate Director of Creation Studies at Liberty University