September 18, 2006 | David F. Coppedge

The Trouble with Neanderthals

If nothing else, the scientific investigation of Neanderthal Man is valuable for illustrating how fluid scientific opinion can be.  Since we found out Sept. 1 that Neanderthal genes may be lurking among us, two more unexpected claims have been made about these wrestler-build members of genus Homo.

  1. Hideouts and Holdouts:  Some Neanderthals may have lived thousands of years longer than earlier believed, said Live Science, Science Now and National Geographic.  This controversial claim emerged from radiocarbon-dates of charcoal from a Gibraltar cave as recent as 24,000 years–some 6,000 years earlier than the standard 30,000-year mark when modern humans were said to become dominant.  BBC News has a picture of the cave and the locale.  A possible multi-thousand-year overlap resurrects the question of whether Neanderthals and modern humans interbred.  Skeptics dispute the dates, claiming the samples must have been contaminated.
  2. I’m OK, You’re Strange:  Erik Trinkaus of Washington State got publicity with this assertion: Neanderthals were normal; it’s we modern humans that are strange (see Live Science).  He compared other members of genus Homo and “discovered” that modern humans have twice as many “uniquely distinct traits” as Neanderthals.  Whether that qualifies as making us weird might be debated, but Trinkaus argued, “In the broader sweep of human evolution, the more unusual group is not Neanderthals, whom we tend to look at as strange, weird and unusual, but it’s us, modern humans.”

Some may think the only scientific law being confirmed here is Dykstra’s Law: Everybody is somebody else’s weirdo.  Another pointed out that finding cave men does not prove evolution.  We still have cave men today– Osama bin Ladin.

Did we hear a scientist doubting the accuracy of radiocarbon dates?  Is it possible somebody is picking and choosing the dates they want?  Evolutionists want us to believe that Neanderthals did little more than hunt game and paint on cave walls for 70,000 years, even though their average skull capacities were larger than ours.  Does that make any sense?
    Though Neanderthals (whatever we call them) are classified according to a set of distinctive anatomical traits, there is more variability among living people than between average Neanderthals and average modern humans.  Could Neanderthalism be nothing more than an artifact of human classification bias?  Is this a form of racism projected onto dead humans unable to hire a lawyer to defend themselves?a  You decide; in the meantime, you’ll want to make a good impression among the Neanderthal glitterati at the next cave cookout, so order your prosthetic brow ridges today.b

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Categories: Early Man

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