Creationists Say Science and Bible Disprove 'Ardi' Fossil Is Evidence of Evolution

The response to Ardi opens the door on a decades-long shift in the way creationists fight evolution in schools, universities and occasionally the courts.

Nearly a dozen states allow for the teaching for "intelligent design" in public elementary and high schools, or otherwise require teachers to explain evolution as a still unproven theory.

Creationists have written books about complex organisms and natural processes like photosynthesis to argue that only a designer's work, and not the chance inherent in evolution, could result in the Earth's natural diversity.

In 2007, Answers in Genesis, better known as the Creation Museum, opened in Kentucky giving creationists a place to promote their understanding of the world through exhibits that depict the Biblical flood and men living with dinosaurs.

Menton, an anatomy professor for 20 years at Washington University School of Medicine, is a researcher in residence at Answers in Genesis and has made a new career out of picking apart evolutionary discoveries.

Direct Ancestor, But Not a 'Missing Link'

The scientists who have spent the past decade pouring over Ardi's fragmented skeleton believe she walked upright and that her teeth resemble modern human teeth more closely than they do those of a chimpanzee.

Though they do not believe Ardi is a direct ancestor of humans or the long-sought "missing link," paleontologists say she helps show that both human beings and apes evolved from a common ancestor about 6 million years ago, that did not look much like either.

Ardi, paleontologists say, was capable of grasping, something chimps need in order to climb in trees, but likely did not swing from branches the way modern chimps do.

For Menton, all the fragments indicate is that Ardi is an ape, plain and simple -- and not anywhere nearly as old as scientists would have you believe.

"This is just a pea and shell game. Is it a human ancestor, or isn't it?" asked Menton.

Menton believes scientists sat on the Ardi discovery for over a decade just to roll it out during the Darwin anniversary. He questions the ability to accurately date any fossils more than a few thousand years old, let alone millions, and he said the condition of the skeleton was so incomplete and fragile that serious research was almost impossible.

Menton said Ardi's skull and feet are exactly the kind of skull and feet you would expect an ape to have and have none of the features of modern humans.

"Evolutionists want to call Ardi 'ape-like.' This creature is ape-like, because she is an ape. Just call it an ape," he said.

The biggest problem Menton has with Ardi is her estimated age. The Earth, he says, is no more around 5,000 years old, a number creationists have estimated by counting the generations of man named in the Bible from Adam to Jesus.

"Evolution is supposedly based on science, but the science does not prove what they want it to. Creationism is not based on scientific observation but on God's word. God created everything in six days, and that's it."

Additional reporting by ABC News' Ned Potter.

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