The final icon in the parade of ape-to-human progression displayed in natural history museums is typically Neanderthals, holding the “40,000 to 400,000 years ago” time slot.[i] Just decades ago, Neanderthals were regarded in museums and textbooks as gorilla-like cavemen. This is because their fossils were viewed through an evolutionary lens, being framed as some type of “last step” between ape-like creatures and humans.
William King, the scientist who gave “Neanderthal Man” its name believed their “thoughts and desires never soared beyond those of a brute” and emphasized how their heavy brow ridges resembled those of chimps and gorillas.[ii] Another leading evolutionist, Ernst Haeckel, even proposed naming the species “Homo stupidus.” Textbook and newspaper articles displayed them for decades as half-ape, half-human beasts, complete with clubs and primitive expressions.
Now, just decades later, evolutionists have re-positioned this icon into the human family. In the span of just 100 years, Neanderthals have gone from brutish, club-wielding beasts to being portrayed as suit-wearing humans who would fit well into society today. From a biblical perspective, there is no such perspective change: they were just humans with distinct body-type characteristics just like people groups vary today.[iii] The evidence fits this perspective perfectly. They are found buried with people we would classify as “modern humans,” and jewelry, purses, artwork, and weaponry have been found in their graves.
Figure 34. Changing perspectives of Neanderthals in just the last couple generations.[iv]
A recent discovery even found that Neanderthals combed beaches and went diving to find certain shells to be used as tools.[v]
Figure 35. Neanderthals Diving for Specific Shells.[vi]
Scientists are still trying to replicate how they made an advanced type of glue for their weapons.[vii] This synthesized pitch was made using a process known by chemists today as “dry distillation,” and requires careful heat regulation and air-tight pottery containers. Neanderthals were also great at making cordage and tying knots, controlling fire, preserving meat, tailoring clothes, and making shelters. They were not brutish, gorilla-like cavemen holding clubs as represented for decades. They were humans just like we are.
Though the evolutionary timeline has Neanderthals going extinct 30 to 40 thousand years ago, the latest DNA evidence shows that they never actually went extinct, but just assimilated into other human populations.[viii] We agree with the Director of the leading Neanderthal museum: “The irony is that the scientific community is going to have to come round to the acceptance that the Denisovans and the Neandertals also belonged to the species which we all call Homo sapiens.”[ix]
[i] Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. http://humanorigins.si.edu/evidence/human-fossils/species. Accessed September 22, 2020.
[ii] Quarterly Journal of Science (1864).
[iii] Lubenow, M. “Recovery of Neandertal mtDNA: An Evaluation.” Journal of Creation 12, no 1 (April 1998): 89–90.
[iv] Left: This reconstruction of the La Chapelle-aux-Saints Neanderthal skeleton—discovered in France in 1908—was published in L’Illustration and in the Illustrated London News in 1909. Right: Wikimedia Commons (Creator: Clemens Vasters).
[v] Strickland, Ashley, “Neanderthals combed beaches and went diving for shells to use as tools, study says.” Posted January 15, 2020. CNN.com.
[vi] St. Fleur, Nicholas. “Neanderthals Could Swim. They Even Dived.” Posted January 5, 2020. NY Times. www.nytimes.com/2020/01/15/science/neanderthals-swimming-diving.html. Accessed September 22, 2020. Note: “Shell tools found in a Neanderthal cave may have been retrieved from water as deep as 13 feet.”
[vii] Rincon, Paul. “Neanderthal ‘glue’ points to complex thinking.” Posted October 1, 2019. BBC News. www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-50131120. Accessed September 23, 2020.
[viii] There is significant evidence that Neanderthals (and Denisovans) interbred with so-called “modern humans” and all human groups today have remnants of Neanderthal DNA in their genomes. See: Hunt, Katie. “All modern humans have Neanderthal DNA, new research finds.” Posted January 30, 2020. CNN.com. www.cnn.com/2020/01/30/africa/africa-neanderthal-dna-scn/index.html. Accessed September 22, 2020.
[ix] Finlayson, Clive. “All change: Theories of human ancestry get an overhaul.” Posted December 31, 2010. BBC News. www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-12093345. Accessed September 22, 2020.