Review by Greg Neyman
© Old Earth Ministries
NOTE: Research claims made in July 2011 indicate that Neanderthal may have interbred with modern humans. This article will remain in place pending peer-review.
On 18 September 2006, Answers in Genesis author Paul Taylor reported that
the London Daily Telegraph reported that Europeon peoples may be as much as
five percent Neanderthal.1
The paper was reporting on the research of a team of scientists headed by
Dr. Vincent Plagnol of the University of Southern California.2
As AiG reports, the study examined a total of 34 people from Utah who were of European and African descent. The scientists propose that the population of peoples from Africa, which are thought to have spread out and filled the earth, interbred with the European Neanderthals over the last 400,000 years. While this is interesting, it makes little difference to the viewpoint of old earth creationism. From an old earth creationist perspective, Adam, the first human, would have existed no earlier than 50,000 years ago. The interaction of hominid species prior to Adam is a matter that has little relevance for us today.
The author gives the young earth viewpoint that Neanderthals were fully human and descended from Adam. I had previously reported on this topic when discussing the studies that have analyzed Neanderthal DNA, which clearly shows that Neanderthals did not contribute to the gene pool of modern man.3 This clearly shows that the young earth creationists are 'blowing smoke.'
In this recent study, the scientists actually allude to the DNA problem, and suggests that "an individual could have a fraction of a certain chromosome that is inherited from a Neanderthal, but still have mitochondrial DNA which is "very typical Homo sapiens"." This leads me to question the scientists who did this study. Did they actually look at the mtDNA evidence from Neanderthal specimens?
The mtDNA studies looked at mutations that were present in the Neanderthal mtDNA. If these same mutations were present in mtDNA of modern man, then that would mean that these traits were passed down from an ancestor that was Neanderthal. None of the mutations present in any of the Neanderthal specimens is present in modern mtDNA, meaning that Neanderthal is not an ancestor of modern man, European or otherwise.
By its very nature, mtDNA of Neanderthal and mtDNA of modern man are very alike. But at present, there is still no evidence that shows that modern man has Neanderthal ancestry. Apparently the scientists involved did not look at mtDNA mutation comparisons.
The only thing from keeping this from becoming irrefutable fact is the sample size. Only a handful of Neanderthal DNA has been studied. There is always the possibility that one could be discovered that does show a mutation in common with us. But even if we did have Neanderthal ancestry, it would not help the young earth cause any. Neanderthals died out 29,000 years ago, long before the beginning of the young earth world.
Also of interest in this story is the typical rhetoric from Answers in
Genesis that racism is a result of evolutionary thinking. This is a
frequent claim of Answers in Genesis. Even though
the author, Paul Taylor, makes the disclaimer that the majority of
evolutionists are not racist, that does not stop him nor Answers in Genesis
from using this label to stereotype evolutionists. If Answers in
Genesis truly believes that most evolutionists are not racists, then
stop using this lame attempt to throw mud upon evolution. You are only
demonstrating the weakness of your position by using weak emotional
Sources / For More Reading
1 "Are Europeans Neandertal?", published at http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs2006/0918neandertal.asp
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