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Why the ‘Primitive Neanderthal’ Thesis is Invalid

Neanderthal man, or Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, takes its name from the region in which it was first discovered (the Neander valley near the German city of Dusseldorf in 1856). It had a receding forehead, an unobtrusive jaw and large nose. It is believed to have disappeared, for unknown reasons, some 30,000 years ago. Even though the fact that Neanderthals were actually true human beings is now accepted by many evolutionists, others still tend to portray them as primitive cave-dwellers devoid of abstract thought. The fact is, however, that the many discoveries in recent years regarding the Neanderthal anatomy and culture have shown that this tendency is unfounded and that Neanderthals were a genuine human race.

Above all, anatomical and artistic comparisons between modern and Neanderthal man have revealed no evolutionary superiority. The fact that Neanderthals had powerful bodies or narrow foreheads does not mean they were a primitive species. The large people from Northwest Europe cannot, for instance, be said to be more primitive than the smaller Chinese and pygmies, because their skeletal structure is not a defining factor in their behaviour and level of intelligence.

Furthermore, if anatomical features are to be taken as a criterion, then according to evolutionist logic Neanderthals should be regarded as more intelligent than modern man. This is because evolutionists base human intelligence on brain size, and the Neanderthal brain volume is on average 13% greater than that of modern man.

Discoveries from the caves in which Neanderthals lived have provided important clues to the way they behaved similarly to human beings. We know, for instance, that Neanderthals treated the sick and injured and buried their dead with flowers. This of course demonstrates that Neanderthals were social beings who possessed the concepts of love and affection. The following are studies which have revealed that Neanderthals were genuine human beings, and comments by experts based on these:

• Erik Trinkhaus, an expert who spent many years studying Neanderthal anatomy, states his conclusions in these terms:

“Detailed comparisons of Neanderthal skeletal remains with those of modern humans have shown that there is nothing in Neanderthal anatomy that conclusively indicates locomotor, manipulative, intellectual, or linguistic abilities inferior to those of modern humans.” (1)

• One of the most interesting Neanderthal discoveries is a flute made from a bear bone. The musicologist Bob Fink, who analysed this bone found in a cave in Northern Yugoslavia in 1995, established that the instrument produced four notes and had half and full tones. This discovery shows that the Neanderthals used the seven-note scale which forms the basis of Western music. (2) Fink states that “the distance between the second and third holes on the old flute is double that between the third and fourth.” This means that the first distance represents a full note, and the distance next to it a half note. Fink says, “These three notes … are inescapably diatonic and will sound like a near-perfect fit within any kind of standard diatonic scale, modern or antique,” thus revealing that Neanderthals were people with an ear for and knowledge of music. A 26,000-year-old sewing needle, proved to have been used by Neanderthal people, was also found during fossil excavations. This needle, which is made of bone, is exceedingly straight and has a hole for the thread to be passed through. (3) People who wear clothing and feel the need for a sewing needle cannot be considered “primitive.”New Mexico University professor of anthropology and archaeology Steven L. Kuhn and Mary C. Stiner spent many years studying Neanderthal caves on the shores of Southwest Italy and concluded that Neanderthals engaged in activities requiring as complex a capacity for thought as that of modern-day human beings. (4)

All this is proof that Neanderthals were true human beings. The continuation of the error of the primitive Neanderthal man which certain evolutionist publications still persist in is an extension of evolutionists’ tendency to interpret fossils from a Darwinist perspective. Erik Trinkhaus, an expert on Neanderthals, points to this tendency in these words:

‘Infuriatingly, the fossils do not speak for themselves. It is the examining scientists who bring them to life, often endowing them with their own best or worst characteristics. Each generation projects onto Neandertals its own fears, culture, and sometimes even personal history. They are a mute repository for our own nature, though we flatter ourselves that we are uncovering theirs rather than displaying ours.

‘This is especially evident in one of the more fascinating aspects of the twisting tale of Neandertals and their interpretation: the creation of full-flesh reconstructions…’ (5)

Another scientist who refers to the preconceptions on the subject of the Neanderthals is the archaeologist Jan Simek from Pennsylvania University. Himself an evolutionist, Simek carried out excavations in a Neanderthal cave in Southwest France together with Jahn Phipriga, and put forward a thesis based on the fires that had been lit in the cave and the large number of fish bones there which gave rise to a wide debate. He stated that large quantities of grasses had been burned, and that this could have had no other purpose other than to keep flies off or else to smoke fish. Many evolutionists at that time opposed that thesis by saying that smoking fish in order to use them later required planning ability, and that it was impossible for Neanderthals to have managed such a feat. Simek set out the Darwinist preconceptions opposing his theory in the documentary ‘Neandertal Enigma,’ broadcast on National Geographic TV on March 26, 2003:

‘Some anthropologists only consider the differences. Cultural and biological differences are sought and found, and it is said that they (the Neanderthals) were a different species from modern man, or even a different race. In my view, it is we who are responsible [for the debates concerning whether the Neanderthals were a species eliminated in the fictitious process of evolution or who else carried their genes down to the present day by mixing with Homo sapiens]. As all the many people engaged in archaeology and anthropology we are guilty for approaching the facts in such a prejudiced manner.’


The attempts to portray the Neanderthals, who have been proven by scientific discoveries to have possessed abstract thought stem from Darwinist prejudices. Evolutionists are deceived into thinking that there is constant conflict in nature and that life is a fight for survival. This leads them to support groundless scenarios regarding the Neanderthals and to regard and to portray Neanderthal man as a primitive creature eliminated during the struggle with Homo sapiens.

(1) Erik Trinkaus, “Hard Times Among the Neanderthals,” Natural History, vol. 87, December 1978, p. 10; R. L. Holloway, “The Neanderthal Brain: What Was Primitive,” American Journal of Physical Anthropology Supplement, vol. 12, 1991, p. 94. (emphasis added)
(2) “Neandertals Lived Harmoniously,” The AAAS Science News Service, April 3, 1997
(3) D. Johanson, B. Edgar, From Lucy to Language, p. 99.
(4) S. L. Kuhn, “Subsistence, Technology, and Adaptive Variation in Middle Paleolithic Italy,” American Anthropologist, vol. 94, no. 2, March 1992, pp. 309-310.
(5) Trinkaus, E. and Shipman, P. The Neandertals, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 399, 1992

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