Neanderthal Man was the name given to bones found in 1856 in Germany’s Neander valley (‘tal’, or ‘thal’ in old German spelling). The name Neander was a pseudonym of the 17th-century minister Joachim Neumann, the Greek translation of his name (‘new man’).
A recent major PBS-TV series on evolution depicted Neanderthal Man as only half human and not very intelligent, one who lived a very inferior life compared to the alleged first humans, the Cro-Magnon people. Some scientists today believe he was ‘lacking the language skills, foresight, creativity, and other cognitive abilities of modern humans’.
Neanderthal Man is considered to be either a link leading to modern man or a dead end in human evolution from the supposed ape-like ancestor.
Evolutionary bias exposed
The evolutionary assumptions concerning Neanderthal Man began early this century. The first Neanderthal was reconstructed as a ‘missing link’ by famous paleontologist Marcellin Boule (1861-1942). He was calledHomo neanderthalensis, implying a primitive evolutionary link to modern man, Homo sapiens. Forty-four years later, a reanalysis of Boule’s work showed his extreme evolutionary bias in the reconstruction of Neanderthal Man. After the reanalysis, some scientists stated that if you dressed him up, gave him a shave and bath, and sent him into society, he would attract no more attention than some of the subway’s other denizens. Neanderthal Man was then reclassified as Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, just a particular type of modern man.
It is interesting that, just as with Piltdown Man, Neanderthal’s uplifted status was hailed as a ‘great monument in science’ in which errors are eventually corrected. But the clues to Neanderthal Man’s human affinity were obvious at the time of Boule’s reconstruction, just as it should have been obvious that Piltdown Man was a fraud.
The great pathologist Rudolf Virchow (1821-1902) claimed that the Neanderthal specimen he examined had rickets and arthritis, which may have caused some of the skeletal features leading to the wrongreconstruction, but his opinion was overlooked. It took 44 years for the highly misleading nature of the reconstructions to be revealed, indicative of the shared bias of the evolutionary community.
Even after the Neanderthal reconstruction at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago was shown to be false and highly misleading, it took another 20 years for this renowned institute to correct it’s display!
Despite the PBS series on evolution, the status of Neanderthal Man has been improving among evolutionist’s during the past 10 years. The series’ failure to mention any of the recent discoveries appears to be typical of its whole propagandistic thrust. The discovery of a human hyoid bone (related to the larynx or voice box) prompted many evolutionists to state that Neanderthal Man has speech and language ability equivalent to modern man.
Trinkaus and Shipman5 say: ‘Although no one had explicitly predicted what a Neanderthal hyoid would look like, few were really surprised when it turned out to be a slightly enlarged version of a human hyoid and nothing like an ape hyoid … . Many anthropologists came to believe that Neanderthals could have spoken any modern human language, whatever their accent may have been.’
The PBS series pointed out that Neanderthal burials left little evidence of ritual as compared to those by later humans. Besides leaving me suspicious that their case was concocted, any difference may not mean much, since there are other ways to explain the scarcity of implements or other signs of ritual with Neanderthal skeletons. Lately, more evidence of ritual has been showing up. A Neanderthal baby was foundburied in Israel with a red deer jawbone next to its hip, indicating that Neanderthal Man at least had the capability for symbolic behaviour.6 A Neanderthal toddler was unearthed in Syria at the bottom of a pit 1.5m (5ft) deep, with a flint tool resting at about the spot where the infant’s heart had once beaten. This discovery is considered ‘the best evidence yet of Neanderthal burial practices’. Furthermore, pierced animal teeth, probably worn as pendants, and ivory rings were discovered with a Neanderthal fossil in a French cave in 1996.
At one time archaeologists did not believe Neanderthals used spears, but this idea has been given the shaft by the finding of aerodynamic wooden spears used by the supposed ancestors of Neanderthals.1 Furthermore,it has been discovered that Neanderthals crafted a variety of stone tools and deadly, stone-tipped spears, showing an aptitude often attributed only to modern humans.
Cohabitation with other Humans
It has recently been concluded that Neanderthals lived side-by-side with modern humans in the Middle East for 100,000 years of evolutionary time and made virtually identical stone tools.11 Hybrids of Neanderthals and humans are known from a number of areas,5 including a recent find of a child in Portugal.
It is not difficult to conclude that Neanderthal Man was totally human, and that modern humans and Neanderthals likely amalgamated in Europe.
One report claimed that Neanderthal Man’s DNA was quite different from modern humans, supposedly justifying the classification of them into a different species than modern man. But its author, the famed Svante Pääbo, claims that his paper has been misinterpreted.12 And mitochondrial DNA retrieved from an Australian Homo sapiens, claimed to be 62,000 years old, also differs greatly from that of modern humans.
The team that made the DNA discovery believes this new result will usher Neanderthal Man back into the human fold. This result also suggests that DNA studies are not very good for determining supposed evolutionary closeness.
Many of these reports of Neanderthal’s total humanity are disputed by some scientists, seemingly motivated by blind evolutionary bias. Despite all the prejudice against including the Neanderthals into Homo sapiens, even many evolutionists have become impressed with the evidence for Neanderthal’s humanity, as research casts a ‘more complimentary light on the older cousins. This emerging view depicts Neanderthals as having a capacity for creative, flexible behaviour somewhat like that of modern people’.