March 9, 2021 | Jerry Bergman

Neanderthal Man: Paleoanthropology Evolving from Racism to Brotherhood

Racism Everywhere: Neanderthals, Denisovans, and Homo sapiens?
A New 2021 Study Proves They Were All Just Different People Groups

 by Jerry Bergman, PhD

The Europeans developed a theory over a thousand years ago that they felt explained why people who are related, such as sons, uncles, and grandparents, possess many similarities. The theory which explained this was the theory of bloodlines.[1] In short, a child was born with the blood of its parents. Along with the blood, they inherited many traits, and this is why relatives have numerous similarities. A corollary of this view was that some blood was better than other blood. Persons of royal blood obviously, they reasoned, had superior blood; that’s why royalty mostly married other members of their extended family because they also had the superior bloodline. Due to the belief that some blood was superior to others, kings and queens usually did not marry commoners, but only other persons with a “superior bloodline.”

The reality, we know today, is that royalty did not have “blood superiority” as was believed. In fact, some royal bloodlines carried what we now recognize as debilitating genetic mutations. The most well-known case was the bleeding disorder called hemophilia. Even today, some mistakenly use the term bloodline to search for genetic inheritance even though what they are looking for are defective germlines. The best documented case of diseased germlines involved British Queen Victoria’s male descendants. Victoria was queen from June 1837 to her death in January 1901. Many in her “bloodline” were cursed with poor health; in this case, many had hemophilia. Some examples were mentioned in Science Magazine in 2009:

19th century British monarch’s son Leopold, Duke of Albany, died from blood loss after he slipped and fell. Her grandson Friedrich bled out at age 2; her grandsons Leopold and Maurice, at ages 32 and 23, respectively. The affliction, commonly known as the “Royal disease,” spread as Victoria’s heirs married into royal families across Europe, decimating the thrones of Britain, Germany, Russia, and Spain. Based on the symptoms, modern researchers concluded that the royals suffered from hemophilia–a genetic disease that prevents blood from clotting.[2]

DNA analysis of the bones of the Romanovs, the last Russian royal family, concluded that their Royal disease was hemophilia, specifically the rare subtype known as Hemophilia B.[3]

Even animals were once sorted according to bloodlines. This idea was not objectively empirical; it was a very subjective judgment about the animals. For example, Carl Zimmer wrote in 2018 that

falcons were said to have the noblest blood; consequently falconry was the sport of royalty. If a falcon mated with a less-noble bird, the chicks were called bastards. Noblemen also became connoisseurs of pure-bred dogs and horses, paying high prices for them. This pure-breed criterion for pets has continued down to today, even though we know pure-breeds typically have more health problems than mixed breeds. For animals, no less than people, it was believed that “inheriting noble blood meant inheriting noble traits like bravery and strength.”[4]

Today we know that there is no relationship between blood and traits such as bravery or strength. It took the hard facts of genetics to demolish the common belief in bloodline ranking. One tragic result of the blood myth was perpetuated in the West under the moniker ‘eugenics’. This harmful myth was based on bloodline theory, not on actual genetic analysis, which is a completely different subject.

The Birth of the Race Idea

An octoroon (Wikimedia Commons)

In the 1400s, a new word was added to describe groups of animals, including people, that shared the same bloodline, namely race. Thus, it was logical to define Jews as a race because they were a bloodline. One result was that social pressure discouraged Christian men from having children with a person of the “Jewish race.” In America, several court cases defined “Negroes” as persons having one drop of Negro blood. For example, in the notorious case Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896), Homer A. Plessy’s complaint ended up in the U.S. Supreme Court.[5] The case originated in 1892 when an ‘octoroon’ (a person of seven-eighths White and one-eighth Black), named Homer Plessy establish a test case deliberately violating Louisiana’s Separate Car Act of 1890 in an effort to get the court to rule the act unconstitutional.

This law required “equal, but separate” train car accommodations for White and non-White passengers. The court ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment did not, and could not, require the elimination of all social or other “distinctions based upon color.” Plessy did not have the physical appearance of a black person, and for this reason he was thought to be an excellent candidate to challenge the law. One of Plessy’s attorneys, Albion W. Tourgée, argued that the reputation of being a Black was a “property” by which the Separate Car Act of 1890 implied inferiority of African Americans as compared to Whites. Plessy, under Louisiana law, was considered Black under the “one drop of blood” rule. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that an octoroon was not allowed to sit in the train car reserved for Whites.[6] One drop of Negro blood, they reasoned, made him a Negro. These ideas were carried over into the human evolution controversy.

A Neanderthal child. Artist: Tom Björklund.

Are Neanderthals and Homo sapiens Separate Races?

Fortunately, the “inferior or primitive race” idea has now been widely debunked.[7] In 2014, Paolo Villa and Wil Roebroeks performed an extensive review of Neanderthal research. The available evidence did not support the opinion that Neanderthals were less advanced anatomically, or in any other way, than modern humans.[8] There is no justification for the “modern human superiority complex,” they said.

Since that study was published, abundant new research has confirmed this conclusion. The most recent example was a study finding that Neanderthals used identical Nubian technology as did modern humans. [9] Nubian Levallois technology is a distinctive type of stone knapping used to make sharp stone tools; it was developed during the Paleolithic period. The report observed that Neanderthals made use of a “technology previously argued to be a trademark of modern humans.”[10] The evidence included stone tools found in Shukbah cave in the West Bank area of Israel, where Neanderthals lived.

Shukbah cave was first excavated in the spring of 1928 by Dorothy Garrod. Among her discoveries, she identified a large, unique human molar. Because the tooth was stored in a private collection for most of the 20th century, comparative studies using modern methods were not completed. Recent re-identification of the tooth at the Natural History Museum in London resulted in a new study of the entire Shukbah collection. The newly analyzed tooth of an approximately nine-year-old Neanderthal child provided evidence that our now-extinct Neanderthal relatives mated with modern humans.[11] This same study also greatly extended the southernmost known range of Neanderthals, documenting that they lived over a wider area than previously thought – a range overlapping with that of Homo sapiens.

Evidence from Shukbah cave stored at the London museum was re-analyzed by Blinkhorn et al. and published in Scientific Reports on February 15, 2021. The scientists identified many more stone tools that were produced using the Nubian Levallois methods. The artifacts were found in direct association with Neanderthal fossils, further documenting a link between them.[12] In addition, this analysis proved that “Neanderthals and Homo sapiens used identical Nubian technology.”[13] The discoveries support archaeological excavations in the Levant area which have produced human fossils and stone tool assemblages that reveal the area was inhabited by both Neanderthals and modern humans, with possible genetic mixing between the two populations.

The researchers also examined the tooth found by Garrod. The size, shape, and both the external and internal 3-D structure of the Neanderthal tooth, compared to teeth of Holocene and Pleistocene Homo sapiens and Neanderthal specimens, supported their strong similarity with modern humans.

The fact that solid genetic evidence for interbreeding between Homo sapiens and Neanderthal populations exists raises the next question: namely  when and where did they encounter each other?[14] One place was likely in the Shukbah cave area, and no doubt in many other places as well.

Why the Physical Differences?

The particular body type of Neanderthals and Denisovans can be explained Bergmann’s rule, formulated by German anthropologist Carl Bergmann in 1847. Bergmann’s rule states that organisms that live at northern colder latitudes, (true of Neanderthals and the Inuit people) will be shorter, stockier, and broader than those that live closer to the Equator in order to conserve heat. The complement of Bergmann’s rule, Allen’s rule, states that body form or shape will be linear and taller in warm climates and more rounded and compact in cold climates, as is found among the Neanderthals. Round body forms have smaller surface area-to-volume ratios to conserve heat, whereas tall, thin builds with longer and thinner limbs dissipate heat better.[15] For this reason those living in warmer and more tropical areas tend to be tall and thin. Neanderthals and modern humans, though both interfertile members of the same species Homo sapiens, spent many generations adapting to different climates before they migrated and met. Similar things can happen today, for instance if a stocky Arctic Inuit met a slender Japanese and they fell in love. It’s not as rare in these days of rapid air travel as it was when migration had to take place on foot.

Summary

Attempts to deny the fact that all humans are children of Adam and Eve have led to blood laws, racism, eugenics, and failed attempts to prove human evolution by exploiting Neanderthals. To evolutionists since Darwin, Neanderthal Man was one of the most important “missing links.” This racist idea was openly taught in the textbooks for over a century. Neanderthals were pictured as primitive cave men who eventually evolved into modern humans, or were an evolutionary dead end. Neanderthals (and the Denisovans, too) are now described to be people groups within Homo sapiens. Unfortunately, a great deal of damage had already been done by the false myths of bloodlines and human evolution.

Illustrations

The following illustrations from my collection show the widespread misrepresentations of some humans as primitive “missing links” but white Europeans shown as the pinnacle of human evolution. Such artistic license (now debunked) contributed much to the scientific racism around the time of the Scopes Trial.

A Neanderthal shown in-between Piltdown Man (now confirmed to be a forgery) and Cro-Magnon man (a modern human). From a leading biology textbook published in 1935.

 

Neanderthal shown in-between Piltdown Man (now confirmed to be a forgery) and a modern man. From Scientific American, May 1923, p. 302, repeating the same artist reconstructions from the American Museum of Natural History.

 

An early textbook placed Neanderthals between so-called Java Man and modern man. From Benjamin Gruenberg, Elementary Biology, Ginn & Company, Boston, MA, 1924, p. 493.

 

From a textbook in 1925, the year of the Scopes Monkey Trial. Note that Neanderthal, the third picture up from the bottom on the left, is on a different branch than modern “White” man. The White man is at the apex. Also note how primitive the Australian and Mongol are portrayed, and yet all 5 at the top are interfertile. The 4 lower ones are either forgeries or bones without DNA.

 

A cartoon mocking William Jennings Bryan who rejected human evolution because, among other reasons, he correctly recognized it is racist. Neanderthal was a key link to modern man. The original was printed in The New Yorker in 1925. Reprinted by Jennifer Tucker, “What our most famous evolutionary cartoon gets wrong. It’s hardly accurate — so 150 years later, why does the ‘monkey to man’ illustration still hold us spellbound?” The Boston Globe, 28 October 2012.

References

[1] Zimmer, Carl, She Has Her Mother’s Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity, E.P. Dutton, New York, NY, 2018, p. 16.

[2] Case Closed: Famous Royals Suffered From Hemophilia, Science 371(6532), 8 October 2009. https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2009/10/case-closed-famous-royals-suffered-hemophilia. From Rogaev, E., et al., Genotype Analysis Identifies the Cause of the “Royal Disease,” Science 326(5954):817, 6 November 2009..

[3] Rogaev, Evgeny, et al., Genomic identification in the historical case of the Nicholas II royal family, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106(13):5258-5263, 31 March 2009; pp. 1-6.

[4] Zimmer, 2018, p. 17.

[5]Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896).

[6] Bergman, Jerry, The Methodist Darwin Syndrome: Consequences of Adapting Darwinian Theology, Looking Glass Publishing, Lansing, MI, 2021.

[7] Neanderthals were not inferior to modern humans, study finds. Science Daily, 30 April 2014.

[8] Villa and Roebroeks, Neandertal Demise: An Archaeological Analysis of the Modern Human Superiority Complex, PLoS ONE 9(4):e96424, DOI: 1371/journal.pone.0096424.

[9] Max Planck Society. Neanderthals and Homo sapiens used identical Nubian technology, Phys.org 15 February 2021.

[10] Blinkhorn, James.,  et al., Nubian Levallois technology associated with southernmost Neanderthals, Scientific Reports 11, no. 2869, 15 February 2021.

[11] Blinkhorn, 2021.

[12] Blinkhorn, 2021.

[13] Max Planck Society, 2012.

[14] Than, Ker. Neanderthals, Humans Interbred—First Solid DNA Evidence, National Geographic Magazine, 8 May 2010, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/article/100506-science-neanderthals-humans-mated-interbred-dna-gene.

[15] Shelomi, Matan and Dirk Zeuss. Bergmann’s and Allen’s Rules in Native European and Mediterranean Phasmatodea, Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 5 April 2017 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fevo.2017.00025.


Dr. Jerry Bergman has taught biology, genetics, chemistry, biochemistry, anthropology, geology, and microbiology for over 40 years at several colleges and universities including Bowling Green State University, Medical College of Ohio where he was a research associate in experimental pathology, and The University of Toledo. He is a graduate of the Medical College of Ohio, Wayne State University in Detroit, the University of Toledo, and Bowling Green State University. He has over 1,300 publications in 12 languages and 40 books and monographs. His books and textbooks that include chapters that he authored are in over 1,500 college libraries in 27 countries. So far over 80,000 copies of the 40 books and monographs that he has authored or co-authored are in print. For more articles by Dr Bergman, see his Author Profile.

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