The Missing Link That Wasn’t

  • Published: 22 August 2019
  • The myth of the Missing Link--the idea that there must be a specimen that partly resembles an ape but also partly resembles a modern human--is persistent. But the reality is that there is no missing link in our lineage, because that’s not how evolution works.

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    Lovejoy, A.O. 1936. The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press
    Ackermann, R.R., Rogers, J., Cheverud, J.M. 2006. Identifying the morphological signatures of hybridization in primate and human evolution. Journal of Human Evolution 51 (6): 632-645.
    Theunissen, L.T. 2012. Eugène Dubois and the Ape-Man from Java: The History of the First ‘Missing Link’ and Its Discoverer. Springer Science & Business Media, Berlin, Germany.
    Berger, L.R, De Ruiter, J., Churchill, S.E., Schmid, P., Carlson, K.J., Dirks, P.H.G.M., Kibii, J. 2010. Australopithecus sediba: A New Species of Homo-Like Australopith from South Africa. Science, 328: 195-204.
    Warren, K.A., Ritzman, T.B., Humphreys, R.A., Percival, C.J., Hallgrímsson, B. and Rogers Ackermann, R. 2018. Craniomandibular form and body size variation of first-generation mouse hybrids: A model for hominin hybridization. Journal of Human Evolution, 116: 57-74
    Hawks, J., & Cochran, G. 2006. Dynamics of adaptive introgression from archaic to modern humans. PaleoAnthropology, 101-115.
    Gould, S.J. 1980. The Piltdown conspiracy. Natural History 89:8-28.
    Balter, M. , 2010 . Candidate human ancestor from South Africa sparks praise and debate. Science 327, 154-155.
    Dirks, P.G. H .M, Kibii, J.M., Kuhn, B. F. et al. 2010. Geological setting and age of Australopithecus sediba from Southern Africa. Science 328, 205-208
    McHenry, H. 1998. Body proportions in Australopithecus afarensis and A. africanus and the origin of the genus Homo, Journal of Human Evolution, 32 1-22.
    Lewin, R. 1987. Bones of Contention: Controversies in the Search for Human Origins, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, ISBN 978-0-226-47651-3.
    D’Costa, K. 2014. The Missing Link that Wasn’t. Scientific American, available at:

    #MissingLink #HumanEvolution #PBSEons
  • Science and Technology Science and Technology

Comments • 1 517

  • Jacob Segura
    Jacob Segura  10 hours back

    I hate it when they say neanderTALLs

    • Ramon Espinoza
      Ramon Espinoza  2 days back

      You make hybridization sound so sweet but I think a lot of it might’ve not been consensual 🤔

      • Knuckles la enchilada Lean mi descripción por favor

        I'm a little confused about this.

        • mohd ifham
          mohd ifham  3 days back

          Moral of the story: Don't be a Racist and a Scientist at the same time!!

          • William Davis
            William Davis  6 days back

            PBS Eons: all of us are products of interbreeding
            People from Alabama: Time for evolution

            • Yekulten Family
              Yekulten Family  1 weeks back

              It's like in fantasy where there are a bunch of different races.

              • mharz mhason
                mharz mhason  2 weeks back

                A man just using the hyenas as an alibi to escape child support.

                • David Gjerseth
                  David Gjerseth  2 weeks back

                  06:52 But isn't the definition of "different species" that they can reproduce fertile offspring?

                  • Paragon Of virtue
                    Paragon Of virtue  3 weeks back

                    Evolution needs to be revisited and rethought .

                    • RBLnightmare316
                      RBLnightmare316  3 weeks back

                      I think it really sucks that, by the time we were able to start figuring all of this stuff out, Homo Sapiens were already the only intelligent primates left.

                      • Roshni Rampadarath
                        Roshni Rampadarath  3 weeks back

                        So all schoolbooks need to be rewritten...

                        • Harry L
                          Harry L  3 weeks back

                          I would love it if they made a "walking with humans" series

                          • pradeep kumar
                            pradeep kumar  4 weeks back

                            What's her name

                            • Arch Stanton
                              Arch Stanton  4 weeks back

                              "linear" or not, evolution is clearly at work when you look at the river otter. Then look at the sealion/fur seal. Then look at the seal. Finally look at a dolphin/whale.

                              • Carolyn HOSTAGE2EVIL
                                Carolyn HOSTAGE2EVIL  1 months back

                                DARWIN??? INTENTIONAL??

                                • Konceited Kai
                                  Konceited Kai  1 months back

                                  so the moral of the story is "if you cant find it - deny it ever existed"...

                                  • Randall Wilks
                                    Randall Wilks  4 weeks back

                                    @Konceited Kai The only way you can know the existence of something is by evidence thereof. The human imagination can conjure up all manner of entities without the need for corroborating evidence. There have been something like 3000 "supernatural entities" proposed by various cultures with not a shred of evidence for any of them.

                                  • Zzzzaydieeee737
                                    Zzzzaydieeee737  1 months back


                                • Robert Harkess
                                  Robert Harkess  1 months back

                                  So how many human species are alive today?

                                  • Robert Harkess
                                    Robert Harkess  3 weeks back

                                    Randall Wilks, I beg to disagree, it more likely that another species, more advanced than our species died out in a mass extinction just 10k years ago.

                                  • Randall Wilks
                                    Randall Wilks  4 weeks back

                                    We are the sole survivors of six million years of hominin evolution. Every person on earth is 99.9% genetically identical to everyone else. Our last competitor died out only 40,000 years ago.

                                • Linear Wolf
                                  Linear Wolf  1 months back

                                  *No the braided stream is a kind of hair tying*

                                  • Theo Suharto
                                    Theo Suharto  1 months back

                                    9:03 is that John Tron holding a spear ?

                                    • shane hester
                                      shane hester  1 months back

                                      they sure seem to make a lot of mistakes in thinking

                                      • shane hester
                                        shane hester  4 weeks back

                                        @Randall Wilks right.ok

                                      • Randall Wilks
                                        Randall Wilks  4 weeks back

                                        There is no reason to regard your assertion as anything more than a mind fart.

                                    • Overload Benji 2nd
                                      Overload Benji 2nd  1 months back

                                      His name is Charles Darwin

                                      • Randall Wilks
                                        Randall Wilks  1 months back

                                        It seems that Benji takes stupid lessons and practices it on a daily basis.

                                    • Shaff Brownson
                                      Shaff Brownson  1 months back

                                      This narrator is really thick

                                      • TheUltimateNatural
                                        TheUltimateNatural  2 weeks back

                                        I was about to ask how because I thought you meant thick-headed at first. Haha.

                                    • Donovan
                                      Donovan  1 months back

                                      There’d still have to be a discovery of a human-ape ancestor for this model to work. Otherwise, these are just humans with slightly different physical genes than the modern humans today. Many people have many skull shapes, and certain cultures do things to accentuate their skulls and other things. I can’t see how this does anything for the theory of evolution

                                      • Arham Shahid
                                        Arham Shahid  4 weeks back

                                        This video only tackles homonin evolution.that is the point.not every video needs to explain and give evidence for evolution all over again.They have made videos specifically on evolution go watch them if you want ton

                                      • Randall Wilks
                                        Randall Wilks  1 months back

                                        Donovan poses an argument from ignorance; he cannot understand the evidence, therefore it cannot be true.

                                    • Joe O Sullivan
                                      Joe O Sullivan  1 months back

                                      It's pretty nuts that all these subspecies always seemed to be able to interbreed, and like, every dog, ever; and lions and tigers, etc; Yet those finches on the Galapagos weren't able to, after only a few decades on different islands. Assuming I'm remembering right..

                                      • Derek Lowery
                                        Derek Lowery  1 months back

                                        The difference between neanderthals and homo sapiens is comparable to the same amount of difference between an asian man and a european man. Or the amount of difference between a Nordic man and an Egyptian man... They are often unnecessarily made to be so contrasting when it's not the case.

                                        • Derek Lowery
                                          Derek Lowery  1 months back

                                          @The Goddamn Batman You're missing the point.

                                          I should have specified and said, "Where as other people may have _just_ Cro-Magnon DNA. And some people have Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal DNA".. Both are fully formed humans with slight distinctions from one another.

                                        • The Goddamn Batman
                                          The Goddamn Batman  1 months back

                                          @Derek Lowery A "Cro Magnon" is just an early modern human. We all have that in our DNA. JS

                                        • Derek Lowery
                                          Derek Lowery  1 months back

                                          @Abraham David González González The reason that some people have Neanderthal DNA is merely due to a different lineage based on region. Where as other people may have Cro-Magnon DNA instead.

                                          Similar to how a persian cat and a siamese cat look relatively different but are both species of pet cat.

                                        • Derek Lowery
                                          Derek Lowery  1 months back

                                          @Abraham David González González I'm not saying that they are the same. I'm saying that the amount of contrast between them is overexaggerated. And that the difference between them is no more disparate than the examples I listed above.

                                        • Abraham David González González
                                          Abraham David González González  1 months back

                                          Well not really ,their DNA its a little bit different that ours.

                                      • Rohit Seth
                                        Rohit Seth  1 months back

                                        It will be of great help to our understanding of the different races of humans if we learnt how they evolved to looking like they do now, tracing their roots from Africa to Europe, India China and Arabia. That would be one really informative episode that people would love to watch. Please consider.

                                        • Vinod M
                                          Vinod M  1 months back

                                          One of my favest in yt

                                          • William Paxton Robinson
                                            William Paxton Robinson  1 months back

                                            MAGA Voters are proof that evolution can go forward and backwards.

                                            • Shane DuBray
                                              Shane DuBray  2 months back

                                              As Lakota Native American, we burned the body high above the ground, sometimes leaving bodies on scaffolds which may be crucial to evidence of the past given that after Water, our next obsession was Fire.

                                              • Flygon Fiasco
                                                Flygon Fiasco  2 months back

                                                The Catholic Church has left the chat.

                                                • The Kris
                                                  The Kris  1 months back

                                                  The church accepts evolution as fact.

                                              • Klaus Toth
                                                Klaus Toth  2 months back

                                                highly intriguing channel

                                                • Piotr Słaby
                                                  Piotr Słaby  2 months back

                                                  So if I will go back to my Father, and his Father, and so on.. should I find at the end of my search the first cell on Earth ? If yes, then I can speak about my LINE, isn't it ?

                                                  • Rivers_of_Blood Marshal
                                                    Rivers_of_Blood Marshal  2 months back

                                                    The Missing Links were the proto- hominids.

                                                    • Scott Campbell
                                                      Scott Campbell  2 months back

                                                      Well now we know why we want to screw women from outside cultures. We have come from the need for "strange wool"

                                                      • Skyler Ahn
                                                        Skyler Ahn  2 months back

                                                        My bio teacher is not teaching us enough info about evolution thus making my classmates think so many Misconceptions about the topic such as: we directly evolve from apes, evolution results into progression, etc. Thanks to these kind of videos that showers me with knowledge about evolution and I'll share all of my knowledge about it on my upcoming report about the mechanics of Evolutionary change to my classmates.

                                                        • Darren C
                                                          Darren C  2 months back

                                                          We couldnt find the missing link so we change our way of thinking, love it. Cant explain why the universe is expanding not contracting like we first thought it should be, make up dark mater.

                                                          • Banditking
                                                            Banditking  2 months back

                                                            There is nothing more dangerous than a moron with a diploma.

                                                            • Melvin Shelton
                                                              Melvin Shelton  2 months back

                                                              Yet another undumbed-down presentation of complex material!

                                                              • crazycatlady39
                                                                crazycatlady39  2 months back

                                                                So despite humans having had different ancient species we're still not as different as we think we'd be. We only exist because everyone else lost the game of evolution.

                                                                • Nathan Jarboe
                                                                  Nathan Jarboe  2 months back

                                                                  The model itself is fine. It is linear if you only look at one line of lineage in a species then it WILL be linear. However, in order to do that you have to ignore all other related lineages.

                                                                  • DivineHeresy
                                                                    DivineHeresy  2 months back

                                                                    Just as with individuals. Anthropologists are trying to see the big picture

                                                                • Tala Habern
                                                                  Tala Habern  2 months back

                                                                  It's amazing how pervasive the missing link idea was. I know there was documentary's on it in the late 90's maybe even early 2000's.

                                                                  • Rudolph Antler
                                                                    Rudolph Antler  2 months back

                                                                    Oh no Link is missing? We need to find him! Maybe he went after bigfoot again!

                                                                    • Interdumensional Pie
                                                                      Interdumensional Pie  2 months back

                                                                      "Piltdown man, always living in a piltdown world, always wanting to meet piltdown people, always wanting to invent the world" -Billy Joel... I think?

                                                                      • DivineHeresy
                                                                        DivineHeresy  2 months back

                                                                        I think that was from a Brittney Spears song on her Balls Deep album.

                                                                    • Oel Dave
                                                                      Oel Dave  2 months back

                                                                      Amazing how these scientist can trace back families/species of animals since beginning of time..

                                                                      But still can't figure out where humans came from.

                                                                      • The Goddamn Batman
                                                                        The Goddamn Batman  1 months back

                                                                        The common theory is still East Africa as far as evolving there.

                                                                      • AzeriBeasT ///
                                                                        AzeriBeasT ///  1 months back

                                                                        Oel Dave lol we did not come from nowhere we evolved.

                                                                      • vano
                                                                        vano  2 months back

                                                                        they cant?

                                                                    • JudahBenLevi
                                                                      JudahBenLevi  2 months back

                                                                      Okay, Caucasians, we know you are not fully hueman, even YAHUSHA CALLED YOU THE SEED OF THE DEVIL. YOU DO HAVE APE DNA, DOG DNA AND OTHER DNA THAT IS NOT HUEMAN NEITHER FROM THIS EARTH.

                                                                      • james pong
                                                                        james pong  2 months back

                                                                        So now when we say evolution, we mean cross hybridization?

                                                                        • vano
                                                                          vano  2 months back

                                                                          if there is a change from one generation to the other its evolution

                                                                      • james pong
                                                                        james pong  2 months back

                                                                        Tattoos = low IQ

                                                                        • The Goddamn Batman
                                                                          The Goddamn Batman  1 months back

                                                                          Posting stupid comments like james pong does = Low IQ

                                                                        • Freedom Anderson
                                                                          Freedom Anderson  2 months back

                                                                          Tattoos have nothing to do with intelligence. How does art lower an IQ?

                                                                      • ROB BARKER
                                                                        ROB BARKER  2 months back

                                                                        We been here since the creation of the Universe Point Blank Period 👊🏽💯

                                                                        • Sev
                                                                          Sev  2 months back

                                                                          How do you know that 🤔