Humans and Neanderthals are the Same Species After All

This is something that has been argued about by many people since the first Neanderthal skull was discovered in the 1850s, in no small part between evolutionists and creationists. However, today I’m going to try and prove my point, not by looking at Christian/creationist sites and scholars, but by looking to secular/evolutionist information.

The original – and still disturbingly persistent – view of Neanderthals is that they are stupid, hairy, and generally very primitive – a link between us and monkeys. This view was perpetuated in no small part by evolutionists who wanted people to believe that Neanderthals were an early ancestor of modern humans, inferior to us in every way. A lot of early artwork of Neanderthals depicts them as being very monkey-like.

This picture was published in a newspaper in London in 1909, shortly after the first mostly-complete Neanderthal skeleton was discovered. (http://www.strangescience.net/sthom1.htm).

This picture was published in a newspaper in London in 1909, shortly after the first mostly-complete Neanderthal skeleton was discovered. (http://www.strangescience.net/sthom1.htm).

Thankfully, evolutionists have progressed somewhat since then. They now recognise that Neanderthals didn’t exist simply before Homo sapiens, as originally thought, but in fact co-existed with Neanderthals for, at their estimates, between 5000 and 10000 years.

Scientist have also found proof that Neanderthals had many “human” traits, such as burying their dead, making and playing musical instruments, caring for the elderly and infirm, and the ability to speak.

This article claims that although Neanderthals could talk, their inability to vocalise the difference between long and short vowels, for example the words “beat” and “bit” mentioned in the article, must thus have limited Neanderthal speech dramatically. This, I must say, is utterly ridiculous. There are many, many languages spoken today which make little or no distinction between long and short vowels – a quick example which comes to mind is Spanish. No-one can say that Spanish is in any way a primitive or limited language (it’s the fourth most spoken language in the world and is spoken in more than twenty countries), and yet my Spanish teacher often joked about how he had to be careful not to hand out a “shit of paper”, and how it took him a long time to be able to hear the difference between “shit” and “sheet”, let alone pronounce it.

However, if all these discoveries about Neanderthals aren’t enough to convince you that they’re human, here’s something that really will: not only have Neanderthal-Sapiens hybrids been found, but through sequencing both the Neanderthal and modern human genomes, it has been discovered that almost everyone has a certain amount of Neanderthal genes in them – the only ethnic groups which have not been found to have Neanderthal DNA are in sub-Saharan Africa (fitting in nicely with the evolutionist Sapiens-out-of-Africa theory, I have to admit, but more on that later), while all other ethnic groups have a minimum of between 1% and 4% Neanderthal genes. And that’s just a minimum – since Neanderthal and modern human DNA is 99.7% the same, some scientists suggest that modern humans might carry more that 20% Neanderthal DNA. Another human “species”, the Denisovans, have had their DNA sequenced, too, and  results from that seem to show that, while there’s a very little bit of Denisovan in all of us, some ethnic groups, such as Melanesians, Papua New Guineans, and Aboriginal Australians, have around 6% Denisovan DNA – which came as a bit of a surprise to the geneticists, because the Denisovan fossils in question were found in Siberia.

(The irony of those findings is that, back when Neanderthals were considered to be a more primitive version of hominid, scientists claimed that sub-Saharan Africans were “less-evolved” than Europeans. According to these statistics, it’s sub-Saharan Africans who are the least primitive of us all, since they carry no Neanderthal DNA.)

The Out of Africa Replacement hypothesis which has been the accepted model since scientists realised Sapiens and Neanderthals existed at the same time, compared with the Multiregional hypothesis which is gaining popularity with these DNA findings.

The Out of Africa Replacement hypothesis which has been the accepted model since scientists realised Sapiens and Neanderthals existed at the same time, compared with the Multiregional hypothesis which is gaining popularity with these DNA findings.

Well, this is all very well, Rachel, you might say, but what does it have to do with anything? Well, the important thing here is the distinction between a “breed” (or “race”, as it’s called in humans), and a “species”. The general gist of the difference is that interbreeding between different species is pretty much impossible. Closely-related species may be able to interbreed, but any offspring are never viable – that is, they can’t have children of their own. It’s well-known that the child of a horse and a donkey – either a mule or a hinny, depending on which parent is which – is sterile. Chicken-Guinea Fowl hybrids have been successfully hatched, but those offspring are very unlikely, and despite living average-length lives, are never fertile. Chicken-Quail hybrids have yet to be created, despite looking a whole lot more like each other than chickens and guinea fowl.

Three Guinhens (Chicken-Guinea Fowl hybrids). You can see more pictures here: http://www.feathersite.com/Poultry/Guineas/BRKGuinHybrid.html.

Three Guinhens (Chicken-Guinea Fowl hybrids). You can see more pictures here: http://www.feathersite.com/Poultry/Guineas/BRKGuinHybrid.html.

Different breeds or races of the same species, on the other hand, can interbreed freely and easily, creating viable and fertile offspring every time. In keeping with the poultry theme, almost all of my chooks are cross- and mixed-breed (as are my sister’s ducks).

This rather awesome-looking pullet had a cross-bred mother (Light Sussex cross Rhode Island Red) and a (mostly) barred Plymouth Rock father. I can’t post a picture of her children, since I’m not sure which ones are hers, but I’m 99% sure I’ve hatched chicks from her with a rooster of yet another breed.

This rather awesome-looking pullet had a cross-bred mother (Light Sussex cross Rhode Island Red) and a (mostly) barred Plymouth Rock father. I can’t post a picture of her children, since I’m not sure which ones are hers, but I’m 99% sure I’ve hatched chicks from her with a rooster of yet another breed.

Basically, the point I’m getting at is, if modern humans have Neanderthal (and Denisovan) DNA in them, we can’t be different species. If we were different species, had any Neanderthal-Sapiens hybrids been produced, they would have been unable to have children and thus their mixed genes would not have been passed on to us. However, if Sapiens and Neanderthals were, in fact, the same species, this would have been entirely possible.

And if that weren’t enough, archaeologists have recently found a skull which exhibits traits found in all four human “species” (Sapiens, Neanderthal, Denisovan, and Erectus) – in the same cave and from the same time as skulls from “pure-bred” members of each of those species! Some scientists suggested that that evidence should cause them to re-evaluate and re-define the disparate human “species” as being one species that happened to show disparate characteristics, but the more conventional-thinkers scoffed at that. (Surprise, surprise).

The fact that this particular collection of skulls was found in the near east, where the Tower of Babel was, and where humans would have lived before God muddled up our languages and sent us off on our way to the various corners of the earth to become distinct peoples (races, tribes, nations, whatever), surely can’t be a coincidence. I’ll say it again: there’s less than a 0.3% genetic difference between the average Neanderthal and the average modern human – while, according to some sources, there is up to an 11% genetic difference between any given two modern humans today!

Scientists often say, “Wouldn’t it be great if Neanderthals were still around today? We could find out what it really means to be human!”. To this I say, if there were still full-blooded Neanderthals around today (which there might be, but I’m not going into that right now), we wouldn’t even realise they’re a different species. (Because they’re not).

Well, I hope all that has, if not convinced you that Neanderthals are the same species as us, at the very least taught you something new about them. Either way, I’m going to leave you with some rather more recent reconstructions of what Neanderthals might have looked like. The first one comes from the National Geographic, and you probably saw it a couple of years ago when they published it. (Don’t you just want to tell her, “Would it kill you to smile? Or wash, for that matter?!”)

Oh, and just out of interest, here’s an article about Neanderthal skin tones:

images

images1

images2

images3

images4

images5

images6

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “Humans and Neanderthals are the Same Species After All

  1. agnophilo says:

    A few things – one, the picture of a neanderthal came from a non-scientific, non-peer reviewed newspaper illustration and is not an evil plot by scientists to misrepresent fossils. Furthermore the specimen it is based on suffered from severe and advanced defects including advanced scoliosis and would have been severely crippled and hobbled over and unable to fend for itself, something which was not apparent when the find was made and which was responsible for the popular depiction of the “knuckle dragging caveman”. The name neanderthal is also not pronounced correctly, it’s pronounced neandertal – is this too a conspiracy of evil scientists trying to trick us?

    As to it being the same species that is still debatable simply because there is no absolute way to define any species in genetics, all species are defined relatively – if animal A can breed with animal B it’s the same species. So unless you can find a “full blooded” neanderthal and inseminate a person with it’s/his semen, there is no way to know for sure. The fact that we share a common ancestry is largely irrelevant, humans and chimps also share a common ancestry and are not the same species. And for that matter humans and bananas share a common ancestry, that doesn’t make us the same species either. Nor does it mean one of your ancestors had sex with a banana.

    As for different species being unable to produce viable offspring that is according to the genetic definition of species, there are many animals which can produce viable offspring but are considered different species, like coyotes and wolves. And then there are ring species, which occur when a species migrates around a geographical barrier like a mountain or ocean coastline and different populations are related to one another to different degrees and they can all breed with the population next to them but once the species meet up with their most distant cousins after going full circle around the mountain/ocean/whatever they can’t interbreed. In those cases there is no way to even tell where one species ends and another species begins.

    Oh, and your link for the neanderthal picture is deceptive, it repeats common parables like the claim that the “nebraska man” depiction was a deceptive forgery of the scientific community – in reality a) it was the same non-scientific, non-peer reviewed newspaper the neanderthal picture came from, and b) the caption below the picture and the article contained the following text:

    “Mr. Forestier has made a remarkable sketch to convey some idea of the possibilities suggested by this discovery. As we know nothing of the creature’s form, his reconstruction is merely the expression of an artist’s brilliant imaginative genius. But if, as the peculiarities of the tooth suggest, Hesperopithecus was a primitive forerunner of Pithecanthropus, he may have been a creature such as Mr. Forestier has depicted.”

    And in reality the expert who thought the tooth was possibly a hominid described the depiction at the time as “a figment of the imagination of no scientific value, and undoubtedly inaccurate”.

    Creationist websites like to reinvent history and spin the facts.

  2. Rachel says:

    While I appreciate your comment and the time you must have put into it, and have put it up as I think people should be exposed to all points of view, there are some things I need to say in reply.

    Firstly, I’m not an archaeologist or a geneticist, or anything of that sort. That much should have been obvious from the article. I’m just a teenager going on what I can manage to understand, and relaying it in a way that others can understand.

    It should have been clear from the beginning that I was looking at one side of the argument. I am aware that many creationist sources cannot be trusted due to their propensity for only showing their own evidence and ignoring many obvious, real, and important pieces of evidence which contradict their own opinion, and that is why I was careful to only cite secular (non-creationist) sources.

    I am completely aware of the history behind the first picture, and that it wasn’t accepted as accurate by scientists even at that time, and that is why I included the link to more information on it – indeed, I included links throughout the post so that anyone who read it could go and look at the information themselves. Also, I did mention that the picture came from “a newspaper in London”, which should have made it pretty clear that it was a non-scientific paper. Since when have newspapers been scholarly articles?

    How do you know how I pronounce “Neanderthal”? If you have looked around my blog at all, you will know that I speak German – and well enough to know that up to and during the 19th century, many words were still written with a “th” that are today written with simply a “t”, such as the word, “thal”, meaning “valley”. It’s a slight typographical difference which has recently been changed as the Germans like to update their written language along with the spoken, and the spelling doens’t actually make any pronunciation change for many languages other than English. It’s spelt with the “th” in the scientific name – homo neanderthalensis – and that is how I will spell it. The pronunciation of the word does not seem of enough importance to include in a blog post talking about whether homo sapiens and homo neanderthalensis should be considered the same species or not. If I were blogging about German words which are commonly mispronounced by English speakers, I might mention it.

    (The fact that I *do* pronounce it the wrong way is of no consequence. I live right near a town called Lobethal, and I pronounce that the “incorrect” way, too, because that is simply how it is pronounced around here. If I were speaking/writing/thinking in German, I would pronounce both the correct way).

    I do wonder whether you read my post properly, as I made no mention of humans and Neanderthals having a common ancestry – I thought that was too obvious to say from an evolutionist perspective… and from a creationist perspective, too, come to think of it, although we (because yes, I am a creationist, too, obviously) don’t believe that humans and chimpanzees do, except in the sense that we have the same Creator.

    Your explanation about ring species makes sense – it’s rather like the concept of a “dialect continuum” in linguistics, wherein neighbouring dialects can understand each other (for example, Austro-Bavarian, Hochdeutsch, Plattdeutsch, Dutch and Afrikaans, in that order) while dialects at opposite ends of the continuum are not mutually intelligible in the least (Austro-Bavarian and Afrikaans – or even Hochdeutsch and Afrikaans). I remain, however, unconvinced that wolves and coyotees are really different species – however, living in Australia (where we have neither) might have something to do with that.

    Whatever your point of view on the creationist/evolutionist debate, or even on the Neanderthal/human same/different species debate, I’m sure you must agree that there have been many mistakes and misconceptions about Neanderthals in the past that we’d all like to see rectified and overcome. For me, the number of mistakes scientists have made and disproven leads me to distrust many current scientific theories as as strange and far-fetched as many old ones, particularly where they contradict the Bible. In many cases, the old theories contradicted the Bible, while the newer theories based on clear and greater evidence so often agree with it, and I am thus inclined to be sceptical of current scientific theories which disagree with the Bible as they may very well be disproven at a later date. Of course, I don’t expect you to understand that, as you no doubt view scientific theory and evolutinism’s constant contradicting of themselves as nothing more than “progress”. (And not something inherently wrong with the system)

  3. Clifford says:

    “Viable” means “able to live”. I think you meant “fertile”, as in “able to reproduce”.

  4. Rachel says:

    I used both words, didn’t I? To quote myself, I said, “Different breeds or races of the same species, on the other hand, can interbreed freely and easily, creating VIABLE AND FERTILE offspring every time.”

    Okay, I’ll admit that I made one oversight. Viable and fertile offspring are not created every time – but a large enough percentage of it that it seems like it is. Even chicken eggs, fertilised by a chicken father and laid by a chicken mother, can be rendered inviable if stored at high/low temperatures, if frozen, boiled, cracked, the membrane broken, or even simply left too long before incubation. Any and all of those things can make a fertilised egg no longer viable. And not all fertilised eggs *are* viable anyway – that’s why some eggs don’t hatch, or some pip and then die, and that’s why humans miscarry.

    However, as far as I’m concerned, the test of whether something is the same species is if they can have children which are VIABLE – they live to adulthood – and FERTILE – they can produce viable children of their own – a significant portion of the time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s