Posts Tagged ‘neanderthal’

Should the Neanderthal people be looked at as a group of humans that lived only before the Deluge or only after the Deluge — or both?

It’s an interesting question. What brings it to mind for me is the discovery of a Neanderthal skull fragment at the bottom of the North Sea, 15 km off the coast of the Netherlands — the first known human specimen ever to be found on a sea bed. For more details, see the BBC News article “Sea gives up Neanderthal fossil.”

As I understand it, mainstream researchers believe that the Neanderthals lived about 400,000-30,000 BP (before present). This would place their period of habitation during the Pleistocene, spanning the Middle, Lower, and Upper. I believe the Pleistocene is also considered concurrent with the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age.

Many consider this dating to be highly conjectural. Basing a dating system on radioactive techniques involves certain assumptions, and it is possible that these attributed time periods are ballooned by orders of magnitude.

So I guess there are multiple questions to consider:

  • Should the Pleistocene and Paleolithic in fact be considered concurrent?
  • Does it make sense to consider the Pleistocene as pre-flood, post-flood, during the flood, or some combination?
  • Or should the Pleistocene be thought of not so much by timeframe but by environmental circumstances? In other words, is what we think of as the Pleistocene merely an ancient environmental condition that could have occurred in various geographies during many time periods both pre- and post-flood?
  • Should Neanderthals be considered an extinct group that perished in the Deluge, or a natural (but now-extinct) human variety whose genetics survived with Noah and his family?

My current tendency is to consider the Pleistocene as a period starting before the Deluge, and continuing through the flood and a little after, as the flood waters and frozen areas retreated. I think of the Neanderthals as an exclusively post-flood race.

But I would be very interested in comments from other researchers on these questions.

Could the skull fragment found on the bed of the North Sea be a remain from someone who died in the Deluge? It’s an intriguing thought.

The BBC News article is fascinating and worth reading. Here is a link to a photo of the Neanderthal skull fragment (the bulge on the right is the man’s brow ridge):

And here is a link to a great artist’s rendering of what a Neanderthal man might have looked like — much more interesting (and probably more realistic) than the ape-like images so often put forward:

ARK — 18 June 2009

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An article from The Daily Galaxy points to some interesting genetic research showing that Neanderthals had the same “language gene” as modern humans. (See “Did Neanderthals Share the “Language Gene” with Homo Sapiens?“)

In an article in Current Biology, geneticist Svante Pääbo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, describes the process by which he and colleagues obtained enough usable Neanderthal DNA to test for FOXP2, the gene in question. (See “The Derived FOXP2 Variant of Modern Humans Was Shared with Neandertals“)

The Daily Galaxy article says that “FOXP2 is thought to be crucial to the development of language as it governs the fine control of muscles that is needed to form words with the larynx, lips and tongue.”

Since no known written accounts have been discovered about the culture of Neanderthals, one couldn’t directly prove that Neanderthals had language, just that they had the physical capability for it.

Pääbo believes that the last common ancestor between Neanderthals and modern humans was 300,000 to 400,000 years ago. The Wikipedia article on Neanderthals says that the group is believed to have become extinct by about 24,000 years ago.

I would inject the comment that these fantastically long time periods are conjectural and rest on various assumptions, especially the assumption that life is the result of evolutionary processes that operate very slowly.

This information lends support to the idea that Neanderthals and humans are really just different varieties of the human kind. The original human pair no doubt contained the genetic capability for great genetic diversity. Many strains of the human family could have appeared and been extincted by genocide, environmental upheavals, or catastrophes.

ARK — 30 March 2009

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