More Evidence that Neanderthals Were Fully Human
by Dr Jerry Bergman
For over a century, Neanderthals were considered the evolutionary ancestors of modern humans. The leading biology textbooks pictured Neanderthals as the missing link between apes and modern man.1 These misleading illustrations no doubt convinced many thousands to accept human evolution.
The latest evidence that Neanderthals are fully modern humans, and simply another ethnic group, is a study of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). The mtDNA is the DNA in organelles found in most every cell that converts food calories into energy in the form of ATP for cellular use. The researchers sequenced the mtDNA from a Neanderthal femur, found in a cave, that scientists claim lived about 100,000 years ago in southwest Germany.2 They found that this type of DNA, which is inherited only from the mother, closely resembled that of early modern humans. Unfortunately, the researchers, in an attempt to cling to their Darwinian story, wildly speculate the
startling conclusion: A female member of the lineage that gave rise to Homo sapiens in Africa mated with a Neandertal male more than 220,000 years ago—much earlier than other known encounters between the two groups. Her children spread her genetic legacy through the Neandertal lineage, and in time her African mtDNA completely replaced the ancestral Neandertal mtDNA.3
These findings were so radical that critics wrote “it will take more than one genome to prove. It’s a nice story that solves a cool mystery—how did Neandertals end up with mtDNA more like that of modern humans.” The researchers suggested nuclear DNA from Neandertals and another race called the Denisovans, an extinct subspecies of human in the genus Homo, were close kin. The researchers also speculate that their lineage split from ours more than 600,000 years ago.
The problem with these DNA studies is that DNA is not a stable molecule, and in the cell body it has to be constantly maintained and repaired or it rapidly deteriorates. When the animal is no longer alive, DNA is no longer being repaired, thus breaks apart. Furthermore, it requires what is called a clean lab (an enormously expensive system, thus rarely used, to insure very little contamination occurs) to reduce contamination. A problem is that often modern DNA gets into the DNA sequenced in the lab. People have both DNA and DNAase (the enzyme that chops up DNA) on their skin and even in their breath, thus contamination is a major problem.
Having worked in a research lab sequencing DNA, I can relate to these problems and the difficulty of reducing them. This could be one reason why “the Neandertal mtDNA from these samples posed a mystery: It was not like Denisovans’ and was closely related to that of modern humans—a pattern at odds with the ancient, 600,000-year divergence date.”4
Nonetheless, we have much other evidence proving that the Neanderthals were just another family of humans, and the mtDNA study gives credibility to the conclusion that Neanderthal mtDNA, which is inherited only from the mother, closely resembled that of early modern humans.
1. Gibbons. Ann. 2017. Neandertals and modern humans started mating early Science. Jul. 4.
2. Posth, Cosimo. 2017. Deeply divergent archaic mitochondrial genome provides lower time boundary for African gene flow into Neanderthals. Nature Communications. | 8:16046 | DOI: 10.1038/ncomms16046 | www.nature.com/naturecommunications.
3. Gibbons, 2017.
4. Gibbons, 2017.
Dr Jerry Bergman, professor, author and speaker, is a frequent contributor to Creation-Evolution Headlines. See his Author Profile for his previous articles.
Dr Bergman’s latest book has just been released today: Fossil Forensics: Separating Fact from Fantasy in Paleontology. Order now… available in print and Kindle editions. Here are some endorsements:
[Fossil Forensics] by Professor Jerry Bergman is an absolutely extraordinary book of 20 chapters. I have had the great privilege and honor of proofreading books for him for many years now. This book, in particular, I believe will be important evidence in helping to deal the death blow to evolution’s use of the fossil record to advance their theory of the evolution of simple molecules-to-man fairy tale. I predict it will be a best-seller, and profoundly impact this and future generations. —Bryce Gaudian, Development Manager for Agilis Corporation
As a biology researcher who has published in the peer reviewed scientific literature, and also a lifetime college biology professor for 40 years, I am pleased to state that, as I read the draft of the manuscript of this book, I was so intrigued that, when finishing each chapter, I eagerly looked forward to the next fascinating chapter! I co-wrote chapter on turtles with Dr. Bergman, an area I have publisher numerous peer reviewed articles on, and completed a PhD on this topic as well. —Professor Wayne Frair, PhD