Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Pet cemetery

Here, two noted creationists argue that the naledi fossils are human:

I don't have an a priori objection to that identification. I do, though, have two reservations:

i) One argument for the human identification is that the remains are situated in a very cramped location. You have to crawl there. 

However, is it possible that the floor of the cave is higher than it used to be, due to cumulative debris building up over the intervening time? In other words, was there originally more space between the ceiling and the floor?

From what I've read, the cave is located in a river valley. What about the possibility of flooding? Would that deposit debris in the back of the cave?

I don't know the elevation of the cave. And, of course, the topography may have changed over time.

ii) The tacit assumption is that the agents who buried the remains were the same kind of creature as what was buried. However, humans sometimes bury animals. Not only do you have modern pet cemeteries, but there was the ancient Near Eastern custom of equid burial. Cf. K. Way, Donkeys in the Biblical World: Ceremony and Symbol (Eisenbraus, 2011), chap. 3. Likewise, you have Egyptian animal mummies, viz. cats, jackals, crocodiles, bulls. baboons. 

What if naledi was an ape that held special associations for humans? They buried it for the same reasons that some people bury pets or some ancient people buried or mummified animals? 

Point is: you can't just assume that naledis were buried by naledis. 


  1. Todd Wood has written a more recent article on this question:

  2. I saw that. However, it doesn't address the specifics of my post. Of course, since my post was written after his, I wouldn't expect him to do so.