Neanderthals Not Our Cousins, Expert Claims
The news media are reporting claims that Neanderthals and modern humans never interbred, based on work from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. Both EurekAlert and Nature Science Update repeat the claim that the institute’s study of DNA and bones from four Neanderthals and five modern humans from scattered locations rules out any interbreeding.
That’s until you read the fine print. Can such things be known? Listen to the disclaimers in the NSU article:
Although the two groups seem to have been genetically separate, the fossil record is too patchy, and dating methods too unreliable, to say whether this was because they never met, or because they simply didn’t consider each other an enticing proposition.
Given the small number of fossils studied, it’s also possible that interbreeding did occur, he [David Serre] adds, but that we have not found the evidence yet.
Such a match-up would have been genetically feasible, says Stringer. The two groups were closer in genetic terms than other primates that happily breed today, he says.
If these were potentially interbreeding humans, then forget the racism going on in all this Neanderthal/modern dichotomizing. All scientists can observe is that there were a few distinct physical characteristics among the Neanderthals, such as prominent brows and thicker bones. What can we know but that early wrestlers and bikers just got together and formed their own societies?
There are groups of modern humans even today who prefer to associate with others like themselves. They can and do form distinctive populations, like pygmies or Watusi. The Bible speaks of the sons of Anak and the Nephelim who were giants in their time. Did the Israelites interbreed with them? Probably not. Was either group non-human? Of course not.
Dead men tell no tales. Living ones, however, often tell whoppers, especially those in the Darwin population.