December 23, 2003 | David F. Coppedge

Line Between Neanderthals and Modern Humans Blurs

There seems to have been an intergradation between big-boned Neanderthals and modern humans, according to the BBC News.  “Newly identified remains from Vindija in Croatia, which date to between 42,000 and 28,000 years ago, are more delicate than ‘classic’ Neanderthals,” writes Paul Rincon.  Not only that, stone tools found nearby look like those of modern humans.  Some scientists are wondering whether the two varieties of humans were interbreeding in the area.  See also September 23, May 29 and March 27 headlines about Neanderthals.

There’s a lot of variability in the human gene pool, and isolated groups are likely to have accentuated features.  Nothing about Neanderthals looks boorish or primitive any more, so it’s time to get off this false concept that has twisted anthropology since the 19th century.  We have modern humans more primitive than Neanderthals today, slamming each other in the WWF (don’t dare call these guys ‘delicate’) and ante-Neanderthal music is all the rage in health clubs.  Would that we all had Neanderthal bones and skulls, so we could get more work done.
    The BBC, of course, had to include a shameless plug for their misleading TV series Walking with Cavemen with a photo of a hairy, wild-eyed brute.  It’s the same Victorian wishful thinking (see Dec. 18 headline) that wants to see us superior to our ancestors, king of the hill, when in fact early people probably had better physiques and mental capacities on average than we do now, and fewer genetic diseases, too.  The joke goes back decades that if you put a Neanderthal in a business suit, gave him a haircut and had him walk down the streets of New York, no one would even notice.  They were human, OK?  They were not evolving.  Get over it.

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Categories: Dumb Ideas, Early Man

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