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article imageOp-Ed: Recent science discoveries confirm Neanderthal humanity

By Eliot Elwar     May 12, 2012 in Science
For many years, Neanderthal people were falsely portrayed as brutish and primitive ape-men, but with every new science discovery, anthropologists learn that Neanderthals were completely human.
For example, Neanderthal cave paintings found in southern Spain demonstrated Neanderthal creativity and humanity. The recent sequencing of the Neanderthal genome verified that Neanderthal blood flows in some modern humans living today.
According to Scientific American, recently excavated painted shells prove that Neanderthals were Homo sapiens' mental equals. A painted shells discovery proves that Neanderthals employed symbolism, removing generations of pseudo-scientific beliefs that they were mentally inferior to modern humans. Recently found painted scallops and cockleshells in Spain are the first evidence that Neanderthals decorated themselves with jewelry. These findings confirm that humanity's closest extinct relatives used symbolism, which represents a highly evolved intellectual capability unique to human beings.
The Daily Mail reported that 42,500-year-old seal paintings were found in a Spanish cave. The paintings are artistic images created by Neanderthal people. Neanderthals lived in the caves before becoming extinct about 30,000 years ago; they left behind their tools and skeletons. Later, early Homo sapiens used the same caves, painting on the walls and leaving pottery, tools, and their skeletons. Neanderthals, who were known to hunt seals, died out from competition with Homo sapiens, according to many science researchers. However, a few scientists argue that Neanderthals were wiped out by either global warming or post Ice Age climatic conditions. Before this recent discovery, the oldest art works in the world were dated about 32,000 years in the Chauvet Cave in southern France, according to many researchers.
According to Live Science, Humans and their Neanderthal relatives began diverging from a common human ancestor (Homo erectus) approximately 700,000 years ago, and the two groups split permanently some 350,000 years later, according to recent Neanderthal DNA analysis. By employing different research techniques, scientific teams separately sequenced DNA extracted from a 38,000-year-old Neanderthal femur found in a cave in Croatia. A group of researchers sequenced about one million base pairs, while the other group used 65,000 pairs of the genome. The achievements shed light on human evolution by paving the way for building a complete Neanderthal genome library.
Recent excavations and anatomical analysis have revealed that Neanderthals used tools, wore jewelry, buried their dead, cared for their sick, and spoke their language in much the same manner that people do today. Their brains were slightly larger than modern humans living today. The results from various new researchers confirm that Neanderthals were completely human. Neanderthal and modern human genomes are roughly 99.5 percent identical, differing by only about 3 million bases, according to Live Science.
According to Science Daily, science researchers have developed the first whole genome sequence in the 3 billion letters found in the Neanderthal genome, and the analysis show that up to 2 percent of the DNA in the genome of present-day humans outside of Africa originated in Neanderthals or in Neanderthals' ancestors. The international research team, which includes researchers from the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), reported its findings a few years ago.
If Neanderthals were stupid, they could never have survived the extreme cold weather climatic conditions existing in North Africa, the Mideast, and Europe for many generations during the Ice Age. Neanderthals were some of the most physically impressive humans ever to walk the Earth. Many Neanderthal males were roughly 5 feet 4 inches tall and they weighed about 150 to 200 pounds, mostly muscle. Their bones and skulls were more dense and powerful than modern humans. Furthermore, bone analysis show that Neanderthal children reached sexual maturity by their late teens or early 20s, which is indicative of intellectual sophistication. Although they had extremely powerful physiques along with large brains, they died out mysteriously around 30,000 years ago. Therefore, as scientists research Neanderthal populations and liberate themselves from Darwinian presuppositions, they will discover the Neanderthals appropriate place in human history.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Neanderthals, Homo sapiens, Humans, Homo erectus, Human genome
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