Neandertal Promoted to Fully Human
The myth of the brutish, subhuman Neandertal is apparently almost dead. Science1 Oct. 1 showed a picture of him in a business suit in an article entitled, “Dressed for Success: Neandertal Culture Wins Respect.” Michael Balter writes, “respect is growing for Neandertals” as evidence mounts that they made jewelry, wore clothing, and survived a variety of harsh climates by their wits.
Balter reports that most of a hundred archaeologists and anthropologists gathered at Gibraltar last month agreed that Neandertals were “complex hominids doing complex things.” They may not have had the better needles of their “modern human” neighbors, but their sharp, pointed bone awls could have easily pierced animal hides to make clothing. And clothes they needed: new studies show that their stout, muscular bodies would not have provided much protection from their low-temperature habitats, as previously assumed.
Several at the meeting argued that Neandertals were also culturally the equals of the other humans. Radiocarbon dates that had been used to separate the two groups have lately been called into question (for example, see 07/08/2004 headline). Some are now arguing that Neandertals independently developed culture, art and tools without borrowing the technology from their presumably more advanced newcomers. Leslie Aiello (University College, London) summed up the revisions: “The Neandertals had big brains, and they must have been using them for something.” The gap is closing, but we haven’t fully closed it yet.”
1Michael Balter, “Paleoanthropology: Dressed for Success: Neandertal Culture Wins Respect,” Science, Vol 306, Issue 5693, 40-41, 1 October 2004, [DOI: 10.1126/science.306.5693.40].
If it were not for evolution-inebriated Charlie worshipers wanting to force scattered fossils and artifacts into a timeline of progress, this whole mess would not have lasted so long. It’s time to conclude the old brutish-Neandertal story they told us for over 100 years was just another mistake in the long tradition of Darwin Party mistakes. For that matter, the entire suite of early-man tales we were taught in the textbooks is now in the trash (see 02/15/2002 and 09/23/2004 headlines). The evolutionary hall of shame would make for an interesting museum: show all the supposed human ancestors that were either hoaxes or misinterpretations (better buy plenty of floor space) and let viewers learn lessons from real, observable history. Joachim Neander himself would feel vindicated (see 10/26/2001 headline).