Prepared by Kate Wong, a Scientific American science writer, this comprised a wide-ranging file on the Neanderthals. Published in Scientific American”s special edition, it provided information about the anatomy, culture and behavior of these people who lived in Europe and Western Asia for more than 200,000 years; and comparisons between them and Homo sapiens were made. Space was also devoted to various views held by scientists on whether or not Neanderthal genes are to be found in modern human beings, and an answer was sought to the question of whether these humans were capable of symbolic thought.
It was most interesting that this article should have appeared in Scientific American”s special edition. The fact is that this article contained not one pro-evolution argument which might support the special edition”s objective, that of spreading scenarios about human evolution. Even the word “evolution” itself was used in very few sentences, and those sentences consisted of generalizations devoid of any support. (such as “The Neanderthals evolved into Europeans” or “the evolution of modern man…”)
Moreover, this article was full of information which undermined the validity of evolutionist preconceptions.
Facts about Neanderthal Anatomy
The common and mistaken view of the Neanderthals rests on an old error: Neanderthals” thick bones, protruding faces and thick protruding eyebrows led these humans to being classified at one time as so-called primitive creatures. The French anatomist Marcelline Boule brought together the bones from a Neanderthal skeleton and as a result produced a creature that looked like a half-man half-ape, hunchbacked and walking with a stoop. In the countless pictures based on this, Neanderthals were inevitably portrayed as semi-animal creatures. These depictions were so widely employed that the English word “Neanderthal” came to take on the slang meaning of “crude and devoid of understanding.”
However, the findings were gradually re-examined, and it emerged that it was a great mistake to ascribe that posture to the Neanderthal skeleton. Despite there being no evidence that the skeleton was stooped, Boule constructed the skeleton based on Darwinist preconceptions and in the way he wished to see it. Although it took years for this erroneous image to be erased from peoples” minds, there is no doubt today that Neanderthals were human beings who walked erect, just as we do. Wong summarizes the situation in these terms, “In fact, Neanderthal posture and movement would have been the same as ours.”
David W. Frayer, a paleoanthropologist from Kansas University, has said: “They clearly have a suite of features that are, overall, different, but it”s a frequency difference, not an absolute difference… Virtually everything you can find in Neandertals you can find elsewhere.”When a Neanderthal skull is examined it can be seen that it possesses a number of features seldom found in present-day human beings; such as a thick protruding eye-brow, protruding face and large brain volume. Some researchers have tended to interpret these features in terms of evolution, and have portrayed these as evidence that the Neanderthals evolved from a different branch to Homo sapiens during the so-called evolution of man. However, there is no scientific basis to this claim, because these are also found in remains which are later then the Neanderthals.
One situation which shows that the fact that there is no absolute difference between Neanderthal man and modern human is now also accepted by evolutionists is the changing of the Neanderthals” scientific name to Homo sapiens neanderthalensis. Modern human is now called Homo sapiens sapiens.
This means that the taxonomical difference between the two humans has been reduced from “the species” to the “subspecies level”. The significance of this is the acceptance of the fact that members of the two groups could enter into relationships and have children. In other words, these are not two different species, but rather two different races within the same species. In short, Neanderthals were true human beings.
The Facts about Neanderthal Culture
The Neanderthals” lifestyles and behavior show that they were successful hunters, capable of adapting to environmental conditions.
This fact has only recently been accepted by evolutionists. The old error regarding the Neanderthals is described in these terms in Wong”s article: “Neanderthal behavior, which remained largely misunderstood until relatively recently. Neandertals were often portrayed as incapable of hunting or planning ahead.”
Scientific American devoted some space to findings which have demolished these former preconceptions, and reported the views of John J. Shea, an archaeologist from New York State University at Stony Brooks, and Preston T. Miracle, an archaeologist from Cambridge University, that the Neanderthals were capable hunters. The Arizona University archaeologists Mary C. Stiner and Steven L. Kuhn maintain that Neanderthal survival strategies changed considerably according to changing environmental and climatic conditions.
Wong”s file contained another paper by Zilhao and Francesco D”Errico. This article once again showed that Neanderthal culture lacked nothing in comparison to that of man. At the beginning of the article the prejudiced attitude which once prevailed, according to which the Neanderthals were allegedly evolutionarily primitive, sub-humans, is described. The article says: “Ever since the discovery nearly 150 years ago of the specimen that defined the Neandertals, researchers have tended to deny Neandertals the behavioural capabilities of modern humans, such as the use of symbols or of complex techniques for tool manufacture. Instead Neandertals were characterized as subhuman, stuck in primitive technical traditions impervious to innovation. And when sophisticated cultural remains were linked to late Neandertals at several sites in Western Europe, the evidence was explained away.” (Emphasis ours)
Based on various tool and ornament discoveries, the authors maintain that the Neanderthals independently developed their abilities to create these. In the final sentence of their article, the authors arrive at the following conclusion in the light of these discoveries: “The behavioral barrier that seemed to separate moderns from Neanderthals and gave us the impression of being a unique and particularly gifted human type-the ability to produce symbolic cultures-has collapsed.”
In the words of the archaeologist Randall White, the Neanderthals” tools required a high level of “know-how.” To think that the Neanderthals, who used such advanced tools, lacked the ability to speak is meaningless. White, a New York University researcher, has this to say on this subject: “I cannot imagine that Neandertals were producing these kinds of technologically complex tools and passing that on from generation to generation without talking about it… I”ve seen a lot of people do this stuff, and I can”t stand somebody”s shoulder and learn how to do it without a lot verbal hints.”
The Caption Discrepancy in the Neanderthal File
This article in Scientific American is very important from the point of view of describing the process of how the old thesis that Neanderthals were “subhuman” was buried in the face of scientific discoveries. From that point of view, Scientific American has succeeded in the “new view” it employed in the heading to its special edition. We congratulate them in that regard. However, it is clear that there is not a trace of the proposed target of this “new view,” in other words evolution. Trying to explain the lack of evolution by means of evolution is an important discrepancy which a scientific magazine really ought to avoid. We believe that this Neanderthal file could only be meaningful if it were named “A View of the Non-Evolution of Humans” and call upon the Scientific American management to cease defending evolution as a dogma.