Early Man: Neanderthal Man (Homo neanderthalensis)

In 1856 workers quarrying for limestone in the Neander Valley near Duesseldorf, Germany came across a skull and bones. In the succeeding years many other specimens were found, not only in the Neander Valley, but in countries such as France, England, Italy, Iraq and as far south as Israel.

Controversy surrounded the interpretation of these fossils. German Anatomist Rudolf Virchow examined the first discovery and concluded that it was a Homo sapien with rickets, caused by a Vitamin D deficiency. He also theorized that his flattened head was due to powerful blows. As more finds were made, also with the appearance of rickets, this was considered too coincidental and they were now considered sub-human.

In the early 1900s, after many skeletons were found, the French paleontologist Marcellin Boule, determined that Neanderthals could not fully extend their legs, walked stooped over, and had his head thrust forward. This notion would be the popular image for about fifty years.

In 1957 researchers re-examined the skeleton Boule had examined and concluded that Neanderthals walked upright and that the stooped posture suggested by Boule's specimen was due to a case of arthritis.

More evidence from various digs have shown that Neanderthals "wielded simple tools, wore body ornaments, had religious rites and ceremoniously buried their dead" (Time, 3/14/94, p. 87). Today he is classified as totally human - Homo sapien.

References:
Time, 3/14/94, 86-87
Gish 1985, 204-209
Continue with: Early Man: Homo Erectus

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