Creationist Arguments: Monkeys and Peking Man

Some creationists, such as O'Connell (1969) and Bowden (1981), have claimed that the Peking Man fossils were actually those of monkeys. So that you can judge for yourself, here is the first ever, I believe, comparative photo of a monkey and Peking Man:

Comparison of a monkey skull and Peking Man

The skull on the left is a monkey skull. To be more precise, it comes from a baboon, which makes it quite large for a monkey's skull. The skull on the right is a reconstruction by Weidenreich based on the original Peking Man fossils. (Concerns about the accuracy of the facial part of the reconstruction can be ignored here, since we are only concerned about the braincase, which was essentially complete.)

Ask yourself: could any scientist possibly confuse the above two skulls? Heck, could any 4-year old with a modicum of intelligence?

No scientist has ever claimed the Peking Man skulls came from monkeys. Creationist claims to the contrary rely upon misrepresentations of work by scientists such as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Marcellin Boule. Boule was always of the opinion that Peking Man was intermediate between apes and humans. Bowden and O'Connell both claim that Boule's 1937 article in L'Anthropologie dismissed Peking Man as merely a monkey or an ape. That is not true, as can be seen from the following quotes from that article:

"Morphologically, there is not the slightest doubt. Sinanthropus confirms and completes the demonstration that there are creatures intermediate between the groups of anthropoid apes and the group of humans." (Boule 1937, p. 18, my translation)

"In this regard [the development of the brain], the small new group that we are studying [Peking Man and Java Man] is exactly intermediate, since its average cerebral volume is 1000 cc, superior by 400 cc to the maximum volume of the apes, which is 600 cc, inferior by the same quantity to the current human average which is 1400 cc." (Boule 1937, p.21, my translation)

I would like to express my thanks to the staff at the American Museum of Natural History for granting me access to this material and taking this photograph.


Boule M. (1937): Le Sinanthrope. L'Anthropologie, 47:1-22

Bowden M. (1981): Ape-men: fact or fallacy? Ed. 2. Bromley,Kent: Sovereign.

O'Connell, P. (1969): Science of Today and the Problems of Genesis. Hawthorne, CA: Christian Book Club of America

Creationist arguments about Peking Man

The 'Monkey Quote' of Marcellin Boule

This page is part of the Fossil Hominids FAQ at the Archive.

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