An Associated Press article titled “African fossils paint messy picture of human evolution” explains that common popular conceptions of human evolution are incorrect: “Surprising fossils dug up in Africa are creating messy kinks in the iconic straight line of human evolution with its knuckle-dragging ape and briefcase-carrying man.” Indeed, this was one of Jonathan Wells' points in chapter 11 in Icons of Evolution, "From Ape to Human: The Ultimate Icon." The Associated Press article goes on to show how Homo habilis can no longer be considered a direct ancestor of humans:
Indeed, this has been a growing trend in paleoanthropology. A 1999 paper published in Science by two leaders in the field explained that “Homo” habilis should not even be considered a member of Homo, but is rather an australopithecine due to its ape-like skeletal structure (see B. Wood & M. Collard, "The Human Genus," Science, Vol. 284:65-71, April 2, 1999). The table showing the australopithecine ape-like skeletal characteristics of habilis from Wood & Collard's paper is reproduced below:
With habilis removed from our direct ancestry, what exactly is the direct ancestor of Homo? As two paleoanthropologists wrote in Nature, researchers don’t know:
(Robin Dennell & Wil Roebroeks, "An Asian perspective on early human dispersal from Africa," Nature, Vol 438:1099-1104 (Dec. 22/29, 2005) (internal citations removed) (emphasis added).)
I’m all for “asking smarter questions and forming better theories,” and it logically follows that I therefore must also favor abandoning theories that aren’t working. Indeed, one Harvard scientist apparently did not get the memo about refraining from making statements that might lead to doubts about evolution: he stated in the New York Times that these latest fossil finds regarding habilis, "show 'just how interesting and complex the human genus was and how poorly we understand the transition from being something much more apelike to something more humanlike.'" (emphasis added) Such an admission was echoed just 2 few weeks later by a different set of researchers commenting on another primate fossil discovery, who stated, "we know nothing about how the human line actually emerged from apes." Indeed, as explained here, the first true members of Homo were “significantly and dramatically different” from our alleged ape-like ancestors, the australopithecines. So far, the data isn’t doing a very good job of explaining precisely from what, if anything, did our genus Homo evolve.