June 16, 2021 | Jerry Bergman

DNA of ‘Cave Woman’ Very Similar to Ours

Genome of  35,000-to-40,000 –year-old Woman Sequenced:
A New Study Shows One of These Oldest Known Humans
Is More Like Us Than Expected

 

by Jerry Bergman, PhD

Introduction

Genetics is one of the hottest, most illuminating science fields today. It is revolutionizing cancer treatment, and has allowed the creation of modified organisms. It has also revolutionized the use of gain-of-function genetic modification techniques. From what we now know, gain-of-function technology likely caused the worst pandemic in modern history. One study concluded that more than 900,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the U.S. alone.[1] Worldwide, a study’s authors concluded the COVID-19 death count is nearing seven million.[2] This Covid-19 study was done by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

Genetics and Evolution

Another area that genetics has illuminated is evolution. Actually, the field has uncovered information that has lent doubt to the Darwinian worldview. The entire genome from the Peştera Muierii 1 fossil was sequenced at Uppsala University. Peştera Muierii (roughly translated to ‘women’s cave’) is a cave in southern Romania where the remains of three females were found. The three females who lived there about 35,000 to 40,000 Darwin-years ago are Peştera Muierii 1, Peştera Muierii 2, and Peştera Muierii 3. The results of the genetic sequence of Peştera Muierii 1 found

She is a bit more like modern-day Europeans than the individuals in Europe 5,000 years earlier, but the difference is much less than we had thought. …  she is not a direct ancestor of modern Europeans, but she is a predecessor of the hunter-gatherers that lived in Europe until the end of the last Ice Age.”[3]

Was she in some slight way more apelike, as evolutionists had expected for a 35,000-to-40,000- year-old woman? Judging by the shape of her cranium, the researchers concluded that she had similarities to “both modern humans and Neanderthals. For this reason, they assumed that she had a greater fraction of Neanderthal ancestry than other contemporaries.”[4]

The assumption was rejected by the data. The genetic research determined “that she has the same low level of Neanderthal DNA as most other individuals living in her time.” Thus, she had a high level of modern human DNA. In short, Darwinists found she was far less primitive or ‘Neanderthal-like’ than they expected. The study is also one more piece of evidence that documents the conclusion that modern humans and Neanderthals interbred. This evidence further documents the view that Neanderthals were just another people group. They were not, as was once believed, unequivocal evidence that bridged apes and humans. Darwinians had dismissed them with the pejorative label “cavemen.”

Neanderthal shown in-between Piltdown Man (now confirmed to be a forgery) and a modern man. From Scientific American, May 1923, p. 302.

This find is also evidence that only a few genes produce the cranium traits that distinguish modern humans from Neanderthals.  In addition, this study is evidence that the amount of variation and modernity in human fossils that evolutionists believe are tens of thousands of years old is far less than evolution expected:

The researchers were also able to follow the genetic variation in Europe over the last 35,000 years and see a clear decrease in variations during the last Ice Age. The reduced genetic diversity has previously been linked to pathogenic variants in genomes being more common among populations outside of Africa, but this is in dispute.[5]

The genome also has created problems for evolution because evolution supposedly requires increasing variation allowing natural selection to select for beneficial traits. This is supposed to give a selection advantage to the fittest variant, and work against any variation that produces survival disadvantage. Without variation and selection, evolution cannot occur. Less variation—as this study found—supports the creation worldview that the original perfect creation is losing members, thus less variation, due to genetic entropy. Thus the study showed that Early Upper Paleolithic European “hunter-gatherers display high genetic diversity, demonstrating that the severe loss of diversity occurred during and after the Last Glacial Maximum.”[6]

One other key finding was “There were no significant differences in the burden of coding protein-altering variants between the ancient genomes compared to modern-day genomes…. [also] the three groups of ancient genomes (pre-LGM, post-LGM, and Neolithic)[7] showed no significant difference from modern exomes” [the part of the genome that consists of exons, which remain after introns are removed by RNA splicing].[8]

In addition, “none of the individual ancient exomes showed a significant difference from modern-day exomes [and] the burden of damaging variants in these individuals was largely the same as in modern-day individuals.”[9] These comparisons, according to the data evaluated, indicate virtually no evolution has occurred in 35,000 to 40,000 years. Another view that should be considered is the skeletons of the women found in the cave are not even close to 40,000 years old. In fact, the assigned 40,000-year date is actually damaging to the evolutionary worldview.

This problem is one reason why Darwinists must postulate ages beyond multi-millions, even billions of years in order to sustain their theory.  If a DNA sample 10,000 years old is found to be close to identical to modern humans the explanation is not enough time has passed to locate evidence of evolution. If another find dated at 20,000 years the same answer is given to explain the lack of evidence for evolution. If yet another find, this time dated at 45,000 years, the same claim will usually be proposed. In other words, its evolutionary changes are just pushed further and further back in time. Lack of evidence is not evidence, as implied by Darwinists.

One way Peştera Muierii 1 was superior to Modern Humans

One very significant finding was Peştera Muierii 1 had a stronger, more robust immune system compared to modern humans:

Overall, these data suggest that [the] Peștera Muierii 1 individual was a high responder in terms of cytokine production capacity, although less than 4% of modern-day Europeans display this combination of high-cytokine polymorphisms. Considering the protective effects of high immune responses in the context of high infection burden, it is likely that this genetic makeup represents an adaptive state conferring protection against pathogenic microbes.[10]

Concerns About the Analysis

A major concern is DNA is a very fragile molecule and contains some sites that are far more fragile than other sites called appropriately ‘fragile sites.’[11] The cave environment may have actually helped to shield the bones from cosmic radiation, which is a major cause of DNA degeneration. The stability of temperature and humidity typical of caves also helped to reduce deterioration by stabilizing the samples.

Nonetheless, the authors admitted that “The preservation of DNA is generally poor in specimens from the EUP [Early Upper Paleolithic], typically limiting the possible inferences from these data.”[12] New DNA extraction techniques can recover as much as 33 times more DNA from ancient remains compared to older techniques. The analysis was even able to conclude minor details from the DNA such as that the women likely had relatively dark skin pigmentation and brown eyes.[13]

Summary

The findings of this study display little evidence of evolution in the claimed 35,000-40,000-year age of the woman researched. In that long period, evolutionists would expect some significant evolutionary changes, even if minor in effect. The changes that occurred are in the deterioration direction of the genome as predicted by creationists. Immune response, for instance, was much more robust in Peştera Muierii 1 than in modern Humans.

Although very “few complete genomes older than 30,000 years have been sequenced” to date, more sequencing will no doubt shed light on the veracity of the creation worldview while also illuminating the problems with the evolutionary picture of the past.

References

[1][1] Sullivan, Becky, New study estimates more than 900,000 people have died of COVID-19 in U.S., NPR 50, 6 May 2021. Emphases added.

[2] Sullivan, 2021.

[3] The entire genome from Peştera Muierii 1 sequenced  Uppsala University, 2021..

[4] The entire genome from Peştera Muierii 1 sequenced. 2021.

[5] The entire genome from Peştera Muierii 1 sequenced. 2021.

[6] Svensson, Emma, et al., Genome of Peştera Muierii skull shows high diversity and low mutational load in pre-glacial Europe, Current Biology, 18 May 2021. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2021.04.045, . Italics added.

[7] LGM is the Last Glacial Maximum era.

[8] Svensson, Emma, et al. 2021.

[9] Svensson, et al., 2021.

[10] Svensson, et al., 2021.

[11] Mitchell, Alison, The fragility of DNA, Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology 4:88, 1 February 2003.

[12] Svensson, et al., 2021.

[13] Svensson,. et al., 2021.


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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