Were Neanderthals human?

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by garbonzo, Sep 25, 2015.

  1. garbonzo Registered Senior Member

    The evidence that Neanderthals were totally human is overwhelming. Despite disputed claims from DNA research, and outdated drawings showing Neanderthals as hunched-over, big-browed apemen, Neanderthals were clearly as human as we are. Here are 16 reasons why:

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    1. Neanderthals are regarded as an early form of humans. They have been classified as either Homo neanderthalensis or Homo sapiens neanderthalensis. Well now, the Homo genus is us, isn't it! And Homo sapiens is certainly us! So Neanderthals were humans like us. Neanderthals made fire, stone tools, and wooden spears. They buried their dead, and seem to have practiced a form of religion and ritualistic treatment of animals. Well, humans do those things and non-humans don't. So Neanderthals were humans.
    2. In December 1957, evolutionary anatomists Straus and Cave wrote in the Quarterly Review of Biology that they had examined some Neanderthal bones and concluded that they were of an elderly man who suffered severe skeletal malformation resulting from rickets and arthritis. They determined that Neanderthals walked as upright as people today do and that, dressed in modern clothes, a Neanderthal would probably draw no special attention from the crowds in New York's subway.
    3. A careful reconstruction of a Neanderthal child, made by computer scientists at the University of Zurich, ended up with the model shown in the photo above. It clearly shows a human.
    4. Neanderthals had brains at least as large as modern humans, and in some cases, it seems, even larger.

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    5. TIME magazine on May 7, 1971 reported that Neanderthals were skilled hunters and toolmakers. Well, as far as toolmaking goes, no ape or other animal has ever walked into a toolmaking company showing off his toolmaking credentials. So Neanderthals must have been human.
    6. That same TIME article referred to a book titled Shanidar: The First Flower People, which noted that a Neanderthal “surgeon” had operated on a man's withered right arm. The Neanderthal doctor had capably amputated the arm and kept the man alive until he was later killed in a cave-in. No ape today works in a doctor's surgery performing amputations. And would you trust an ape to amputate your arm and provide palliative care? No. Only humans can do that. So Neandertals were humans.
    7. Anthropologist Louis Leakey said Neanderthal grave sites were intentional — some having gravestones over the grave — and this showed that Neanderthals displayed keen self-awareness and concern for the human spirit. Some Neanderthals buried their dead with flowers in their hands, and many of these plants have medicinal properties that range from pain relief to alleviating inflammation. Humans may do things like this, but as far as we know no animal ever has. Again, this shows that Neanderthals were humans.
    8. Orthodontist Dr Jack Cuozzo has done extensive research on the original fossils of Neanderthal children, and states categorically that “Neandertal children did not develop like apes”. That's because, he says, they were humans.
    9. In 1996, archaeologists in Slovenia reported finding a flute made by Neanderthals that was carved from the thigh bone of a bear. The flute's music was based on the same seven-note scale used in Western music today. Well now, most of us cannot play a flute, let alone make one, but some humans can and no non-humans do. So Neanderthals were humans.
    10. On May 2, 1998 New Scientist reported that a careful study of Neanderthal skulls revealed that their hypoglossal nerve canals were the same size as our own today (in chimps they are only half as wide). So Neanderthals could talk like humans although no non-human can. Neanderthals were just like us.
    11. New Scientist of February 6, 1999 reported that Johns Hopkins anthropologist Christopher Ruff used engineering techniques to calculate bone strength. Relative to body mass, there is only a trivial difference in bone robusticity between Neanderthals and modern humans. Thus there is no evidence for Neanderthal behavior being more brutish, or less brainy, than other humans.
    12. The New York Times of April 25, 1999 reported that some scientists now believe that Neanderthals and modern humans not only coexisted, but also that they cohabited. The finding was based on a study of the skeleton of a young part-Neanderthal boy found in Portugal. Dr. Erik Trinkaus, a paleoanthropologist (“human fossils” expert) at Washington University in St Louis, is reported as saying, “They intermixed, interbred and produced offspring.” The report says further, “Neanderthals and modern humans presumably were more alike than different, not a separate species or even subspecies, but two groups who viewed each other as appropriate mates.” A report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in November 2006 confirmed Neanderthals and modern humans interbred. Even though a report in National Geographic in 2008 said DNA tests indicate that Neandertals did not breed with modern humans, the magazine ate its words in an article on May 6, 2010 with an article headed “Neanderthals, Humans Interbred — First Solid DNA Evidence Most of us have some Neanderthal genes, study finds”. Science Daily headlined their articel on the same day as “Neandertals 'Hardly Differed at All' from Modern Humans”.
    13. On August 27, 2008, news services reported results of research from a team of scientists in Britain and the US on tools that were common to Neanderthals and modern humans. They found that the Neanderthal tools were at least as good as, if not better than, those of modern humans. Archaeologist Metin Eren said: “Our research disputes a major pillar holding up the long-held assumption that Homo sapiens were more advanced than Neanderthals … When we think of Neanderthals, we need to stop thinking in terms of stupid or less advanced and more in terms of different.”
    14. National Geographic of September 22, 2008 reported that evidence of Neanderthals in two caves on the west edge of Gibraltar revealed that the Neanderthals cooked and ate seals, dolphins, mussels, deer, and other land mammals. The Neanderthals had used tools to remove the animals' flesh, and they had cooked the food. Hunting, making tools to cut flesh from bones, making a fire, and cooking the food is a sequence only humans can do. So Neanderthals were humans.
    15. On August 11, 2009, BBC News reported that DNA analysis of Neanderthal bone revealed that Neanderthals shared with modern humans the gene that gives most of us the ability to taste bitter flavours. The gene TAS2R38 encodes for a protein in the taste receptors on the tongue which allows us to taste bitterness.
    16. BBC News reported on January 9, 2010 that scientists at two archaeological sites in southern Spain had found shells containing pigments that Neanderthals used as make-up containers. Professor Joao Zilhao, the archaeologist from Bristol University in the UK, who led the study, said “this is the first secure evidence for their use of cosmetics. The use of these complex recipes is new. It's more than body painting.” He said, “The association of these findings with Neanderthals is rock-solid and people have to draw the associations and bury this view of Neanderthals as half-wits.”
    Reasons for differences

    Despite some differences in forehead size, brow ridges, posture, etc., there is no reason to doubt that Neanderthals were human. There were clearly medical reasons for some of the anatomical differences — arthritis, rickets, lack of vitamin D, and nutritional deprivation could cause bone problems that would account for some major differences — they are not because Neanderthals were non-humans. Neanderthals living in Ice Age climates certainly would have been susceptible to such problems.
    DNA interpretation “demonstrably wrong”

    There were claims in 1997 that DNA tests showed that Neanderthals and modern humans were different. But points 10, 11, and 12 above show more up-to-date research than those DNA claims, and the Trinkaus research confirms an overwhelming number of previous findings.
    Dr. Trinkaus said the more recent discovery of the part-Neanderthal boy seemed to undermine interpretations of the DNA research. He said the interpretation of the 1997 DNA research was “demonstrably wrong”. He and others clearly equate Neanderthals and modern humans as all interbreeding humans who were not even a separate subspecies.
    Let's face it. We are the only members of the Homo genus on earth. And all humans are interfertile. Even though we may speak 6000 different languages across the planet, and range greatly in height and build, we can breed with other humans anywhere on earth and have living human offspring. If Neanderthals were Homo like us, and everyone admits they were, then they would have been able to breed with us and have human children.
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  3. Daecon Kiwi fruit Valued Senior Member

    There is a creation myth for every religion.

    Why do you think Christianity is special?
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  5. OnlyMe Valued Senior Member

    I stopped right there and it is the point where you should step back and think a bit. There where a long string of Homo xxxxx in the line.., erectus, habilis..., and many others. when your first point is so far from accurate, I tend to expect the OP is a ruse for a hidden agenda....
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  7. Daecon Kiwi fruit Valued Senior Member

    Ah, I see garbonzo edited out the line about Noah and the flood.

    That's a good sign, at least.
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  8. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

    Neanderthals were humans. But they were morphologically different in ways that disease cannot explain. The existence of many other species of homo clearly point to a branching evolutionary process at work.
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    An older flute was discovered earlier. It was carved from a mammoth tusk and had only the notes for a pentatonic scale.
    This is hardly news. DNA analysis shows that the first wave of Homo sapiens (the Cro-Magnon), which migrated from Asia into Europe about 30KYA, interbred with Neanderthals. European descendants of those people have as much as 5% Neanderthal DNA. The Neanderthals were dying out in the new climate (not fast enough to chase the new prey animals, too dense to swim, with arms unable to operate a bow and arrow) but slowly. As already noted, they were similar enough to modern humans to be accepted as colleagues and even mates. It would have certainly be an advantage for a community of sapiens to have a few Neanderthals in the clan for heavy lifting, not to mention fighting off predators.

    Of course, most modern Europeans are descended from the much later migration of Indo-European people: the Celtic, Germanic, Hellenic and Italic tribes. Nonetheless, they happily interbred with the Cro-Magnon, so even Germans and Scots often have a few Neanderthal markers.
    "Human" is more of a cultural word than a scientific one. Nonetheless, scientists generally draw an arbitrary line at the emergence of genus Homo. Homo habilis and all of the other intermediate species that were our most recent ancestors are commonly referred to as "humans," with our species, Homo sapiens, called "modern humans" to avoid confusion.

    So scientists are happy to call the Neanderthals "humans," but not "modern humans."
    Neanderthals were, indeed, members of genus Homo, specifically Homo Neanderthalensis.

    It's quite common in the animal kingdom for members of two species within the same genus to be able to mate and produce viable offspring. For example, the USA is currently undergoing a merging of the rose-breasted grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus) and the black-headed grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus) into a single continent-wide hybrid community. For millennia they were separated by the dense forest on both sides of the Mississippi River, but when the settlers began cutting down the trees and replacing them with fruits and vegetables (which both species love to eat), they began sharing the new territory and before long, hybrid grosbeaks were spreading in both directions. We saw one at our feeder ten miles from California's Pacific Coast, proving that the hybrids were strong enough to fly over the Rocky Mountains.

    For humans of two closely related species to mate and produce viable offspring is hardly remarkable.
  10. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    Which does not preclude homo sapiens sapiens, homo sapiens neanderthalensis, homo sapiens denisovans, and, potentially, homo sapiens heidelbergensis
    being subspecies within the species homo sapiens.
    Seen as evolution within a species rather than by species replacement?
  11. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    Well, "sub species" would infer that interbreeding is biologically possible. Speciation ("species replacement"?) implies that the groups have diverged beyond the point of interbreeding. The other issue, the one that supports genetic drift, is that interbreeding no longer takes place, either because of genetic isolation, or because the mating behaviors are no longer compatible. Of course it's hard to say how the latter might have affected genetic drift in humans, since we do not follow any strict mating rituals, and we can speculate that early humans across genus Homo may have been equal in this regard. The interbreeding between modern humans and Neanderthals suggests that this may be the case.
  12. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    As I noted in my previous post, interbreeding between different species within the same genus is not uncommon--especially in captivity, because it's common for two closely related animals to have much different courtship rituals.

    It's even more likely between subspecies of a single species, because (IIRC) subspecies have the same number of chromosomes. Dogs, canis lupus familiaris, and wolves, canis lupus lupus, interbreed with considerable regularity in the wild, and even more prolifically in domestication.

    And don't forget that interbreeding does indeed occasionally occur between genera. The hyacinthine macaw, Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus, has been successfully hybridized with the blue-and-gold macaw, Ara ararauna, in captivity.
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2015
  13. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    Generally speaking, speciation marks the end of gene flow between an ancestral population and a newer one that diverged from it. It usually marks the end of courtship behaviors, and, should mating occur, any resulting zygotes are usually inviable. Any resulting offspring are generally sterile.

    Obviously there are exceptions, especially when some encouragement is available from people who breed plants or animals. (I was going to say plants and animals but that sounds a little weird.) Also, some hybridization does occur naturally. I would say it's quite rare, but I probably should add the caveat in most cases!

    And if anyone doubts this we have proof of Fraggles being crossed with Rocks . . . er. . . Rockers. (Not to mention musically inclined folks of the high octane variety whether or not they are usually confined to those chairs of the same name.)

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  14. Globalreview Registered Member

    Just for interest sake ..... If we where the "offspring" of Neanderthals, where does the RH Neg come in? This does not belong to the "rhesus monkey"
    It is fertile only once, immune to a variety of diseases and comes with no explanation. Anyone got an answer for this?
  15. Globalreview Registered Member

    Oh, I forgot to top this off.... If this theory where true, how come we have multiple Skeletons of almost every single living or extinct creature that wonders this earth, but only one single (half) skull to show the connection between Neanderthals and us?
  16. Randwolf Ignorance killed the cat Valued Senior Member

    Please cite your source for this assertion. Or retract it...
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  17. Kristoffer Giant Hyrax Valued Senior Member

    Second that.
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  18. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    When studying anthropology/archaeology we commonly said "any fossil evidence/remnants older than 2 million years would fit into a small shoe box with plenty of room left over for the shoes".
    and, anything older than 400 kyrs would fit in the back of my pickup truck.
    Do we have a fair sampling? Do we have enough for some accurate guesswork?
    We're most likely talking about a sampling size that represents less than 1/1,000,000 of a percentage of the studied populations.
    (Could you predict a US presidential election based on a sampling of 35 people?)
    When we relied on morphology, we made a lot of mistakes, not evident until dna comparisons were available.

    Svante Pääbo and Klaus Schmidt have turned old anthropological maxims on their heads.
    It's anyone's guess what tomorrow's tomorrows will bring.

    and, I believe the word globalreview was looking for was wander, not wonder. Though wonder ain't no bad thing.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2015
  19. FOLZONI Registered Senior Member

    Denisovans have a more divergent mtDNA (~380 differences) than classic Neanderthals (~220) but older caves in Europe - e.g. Sima de los Huesos - contain bones with individuals of both Neanderthal & Denisovan mtDNA.

    Hence the arguments about "whether Neanderthals are fully human" are a bit obsolete now. More interesting is the so-called 'Hobbit' of Flores in Indonesia, whose brain is smaller than a chimp but whose culture included complex stone tools!

  20. Spellbound Banned Valued Senior Member

    Wow, now that is interesting! Do you think Neanderthal's DNA may have contained flawed enterocytes that resulted in their cannibalism?
  21. FOLZONI Registered Senior Member

    I doubt you could find anything like that...
    ...since early man, and hungry people today often, committed cannibalism - the classic being the Caribs or Canibs (after whom the Caribbean is named) who lived in Cuba. Chimps are also recorded as cannibals. So you'll have to compare them to Neanderthals and to Amerindian DNA!

  22. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I'm not sure what you're saying. There are millions of people in Europe who have a small percentage of well-classified Neanderthal DNA. These are the descendants of the Cro-Magnon, the first wave of sapiens who colonized Europe while the Neanderthals were still living there and interbred with them. The second wave, the Indo-Europeans, interbred with the Cro-Magnon. The subsequent waves of Indo-Europeans (the Baltic and Slavic people) settled in the eastern part of the continent and did not intermarry as much with the descendants of the Germanic and Celtic people. This is even more true for the later-arriving non-Indo-Europeans such as the Finns, Magyars, Turks and Semites.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2015

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