Was the Neanderthal Man a Human Being?


The following reproduces much of the first part of a research paper which Norbert Link wrote in 1982 while studying at Ambassador College in Pasadena, California. The relevance of the paper has not lost its impact, so we are bringing it to your attention at this point as a part of our ongoing series of articles on the creation of man and the pre-Adamic and post-Adamic world.

In 1856 the remains of a creature, later called “Homo Neanderthalensis”or the “Neanderthal Man,” were discovered in a cave in Western Germany. The remnants were carelessly dug up by two laborers so that many parts were lost. Only the skull and several parts of the skeleton were saved. Atonce a division arose in regard to the skull. Some scientists acknowledged it as modern and human and some thought it would belong to an unknown and primitive type of early man.

Even today, more than hundred years after this first discovery, the question still seems to be unanswered: Was the “Neanderthal” a human being as you and I or was he a primitive type of early man, not fully developed according to the evolution theory?

In order to answer this question, we have to recognize that scientific explanations in general may not be entirely correct. The Neanderthal is a good example which shows how interpretations of science can change.

The former belief of science was in many aspects different from what it is today. In the main two early discoveries of skeletons of the Neanderthal

Man led to the older scientific interpretations. The first find occurred – as mentioned above – in 1856. The surviving fragments were given to J.C.

Fuhlrott, founder of the Natural Science Society, who recognized a low skull with massive brows and bowed limbs, an ulna of the lower arm with an injury on it. He concluded that this skeleton was ‘antediluvian,’ that it was a fossil of a real man who had got washed into the cave by the Flood itself.

Professor Schaafhausen, however, anatomist at Bonn, who was asked to give his judgment next, stated that he was not sure at all that the skull was even ‘diluvial’; on the other hand, he felt that it must be older than such inhabitants of Europe as the Celts and the Germans. It is also interesting to note that Huxley, the great advocate of evolution, regarded the skeleton as one of modern man, as “Homo Sapiens.” Darwin kept silent. Only William King of Galway articulated his belief that the skeleton belonged to a primitive type of human and therefore named it “Homo Neanderthalensis.”

The next important discovery was made in 1908 in southern France. Three French priests had undertaken the excavation of a small cave near the village of La Chapelle-aux-Saints. Below the modern floor of the cave they found remains of a woolly rhinoceros, an extinct bison, a reindeer-and the skeleton of a Neanderthal-type man. The skeleton included the skull and most of the bones of the body. The remains of this skeleton were sent to the anatomist and paleontologist Marcellin Boule, director of the French Institute of Human Paleontology. He maintained that the body was that of an old man of the Neanderthal type and assigned its geological age to the Pleistocene period (120,000 – 10,000 B.C.). His memoir on this skeleton was published in 1908. In the main, he described it and with it the whole species of the Neanderthal Man as having massive brow ridges over the eyes and a puffing-out of the bone below the orbits, so that instead of a “canine fossa” there was a convexity. According to these examinations, the Neanderthal Man was viewed as a squat, stunted fellow about five feet one inch tall, or 155 cm. He was described as having a short, thick-set and coarsely built body and a shaggy covering of hair over most of the body.

However, since nearly thirty years [Note again: This article was written in 1982] we can find a changed scientific belief in the above-described appearance of the Neanderthals. This change started to take place in 1955, when William Strauss and A.J.E. Cave, professors of anatomy, re-examined the skeleton of La Chapelle-aux-Saints. They found that the forty-to fifty-year-old man was rotten with arthritis. The forward thrust of his head, noted by Professor Boule, was due to a wry neck, and the stunted stature and stooping posture were due to arthritic lesions in his vertebral column. Some scientists also realized that the great German pathologist Virchow had even stated in reference to the very first discovery of the Neanderthal Man in 1856 that this creature was a victim of disease and that he – Virchow – had upheld this conclusion for over thirty years.  At that time another important fact was brought back to mind, namely that the cranial capacity of that skull of La Chapelle-aux-Saints was very great, about 1,600 c.c., and that meant that the size of the Neanderthal’s brain was not less than that of modern man. Moreover, it was clearly asymmetric in the same way as that of modern man.

Since 1856, when the bones of the first Neanderthal Man were discovered, a very large number of remains of other creatures have been unearthed in caves of Europe, Asia and Africa. Among them are the Man of Spy, the Man of Krapina, the Man of Jersey, the La Guina Man, the Mousterian Man, the Peking Man, the Rhodesian Man and, of course, the Chapelle-aux-Saints Man. They all are classed together as the Neanderthal Man. Soon scientists realized that there was such variability in points of detail among the many known Neanderthal-type skulls that there was none that could be called “typical.” Therefore, many scientists believe today that the species had already divided up into a number of racial variants before the Neanderthal Man disappeared, comparable with the variants that can be seen in the races of living man today.  Some scientists go even further than that and state that the Neanderthal Man is no ancestor of the modern living man, but that he developed separately and independently of the modern man.

So, the scientific world today has no specific description of THE Neanderthal Man and it is not even sure that he was a forefather of modern man. However, most scientists profess that the Neanderthal was not a human being, although even this question is not kept without arguments. For example, Sir Arthur Keith, author of the book, “Antiquity of Man,” felt that the Neanderthal Man was certainly “not a dawn form of humanity.” And William Strauss and A.J.E. Cave wrote in their report about the fossil from La Chapelle-aux-Saints: “If he could be reincarnated and placed in a New York Subway – provided that he were bathed, shaved and dressed in modern clothing – it is doubtful whether he would attract any more attention than some of its other citizens.”

In recognition of this kind of confusion whether or not the Neanderthal man was a human being, we want to look very carefully at the archeological records discovered by scientists. Many scientists – and sometimes religious people as well – believe that the Neanderthals were no human beings. They feel that they are supported by some of the following discoveries.

The main argument for this belief refers to the primitive way in which Neanderthals lived. There is little doubt that they dwelled in caves which protected them from the cold during the cold seasons and that they hunted wild animals, either individually or collectively. When they had killed an animal, they used stones or stone tools to remove the skin and ate the meat raw or roasted over the fire, while they used the skin to cover their bodies and to sleep on. It is believed, too, that they ate carrion. But these facts do not prove by themselves that the Neanderthals were no human beings. Even today primitive tribes are known living in the same way the Neanderthals did-for example, the tribe of the Tasaday on the Philippine islands-and no scientist states that these people are not human.

Another argument why the Neanderthals are not considered as human beings is the assumption that their language capabilities were limited. Philip Lieberman and Edmund Crelin of Yale made a series of measurements of the skull of the fossil found at La Chapelle-aux-Saints. The measurements suggested that the Neanderthals lacked a modern pharynx and that they were unable to utter some vowel sounds or form some consonants. On the other hand, both scientists stated that Rhodesia Man, another creature of the Neanderthal race, had a slightly more modern pharynx. These controversial results do not prove that the Neanderthals were not human. First of all, do we know that the fossil from La Chapelle was representative for the whole race of the Neanderthals? As a matter of fact, this was not the case because the results were different in regard to the Rhodesia Man. Furthermore, these results prove that the Neanderthal Man could speak-and this is also true for the Chapelle-aux-Saints Man-although the vocabulary might have consisted of fewer consonants and vowel sounds. Therefore, limited language capabilities are also no proof for the assumption that Neanderthal Man was not human.

But there is still a third argument for this belief which is brought forth mainly by religiously-oriented people who state that the Bible mentions the Neanderthals as “nephilim” and distinguishes them herewith from the modern living man. In Genesis 6:4, the King James Version translates the Hebrew word “nephilim” with “giants” and reads: “There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came into the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.” It is considered that these “giants” were descendants from the ancient Neanderthal types, from “pre-Adamic races.”

According to this theory, the Neanderthals were creatures without the spirit in man, and that means without understanding; they were not fully conscious of their own self-existence as we are self-aware and conscious. In other words, without the spirit in man, the Neanderthals should have lived on the level with animals (1 Corinthians 2:11).

However, the following discoveries will prove that the Neanderthal lived beyond that level and, therefore, that he was a human being. 

This ends the first part of the research paper. We will reproduce the second part in the next Update, which will present proof as to why Neanderthal Man was indeed a modern human being or “homo sapiens,” and how this can be reconciled with science postulating that the Neanderthal Man was about 40,000 or at least 30,000 years old.

The interested reader is referred to two Q&A’s related to the subject. One Q&A addresses the question of the existence of “giants” in the past and perhaps today, and discusses the “nephilim” in Genesis 6:4. The second Q&A discusses the origin of the “nephilim” and answers the question whether angelic beings had intercourse with women and thereby produced giants.

At this point, we would also like to quote the following article from the Washington Post, dated June 19, 2014, which we cited in the Current

Events portion of our weekly Update #645, June 26, 2014:

“In a cave in northern Spain, a team of scientists has retrieved the remains of 28 prehistoric humans, members of an enigmatic species that could be described as a little bit Neanderthal. They had Neanderthal faces, with heavy brows and protruding noses. They had powerful mandibles and mouths that could open extremely wide, indicating that they used their teeth as gripping tools. But they didn’t have the large skulls or other robust skeletal features seen in the prototypical Neanderthals who, hundreds of millennia later, roamed Ice Age Europe. “The discovery does not dramatically change the general picture of human evolution, but it complicates it a bit, providing new evidence that there were many distinct, and largely isolated, human species existing simultaneously.

“[Scientists] think these proto-Neanderthals possessed the power of speech and lived in social groups. There are few human ancestors more intriguing than the Neanderthals, who could be described as the best example in the history of the planet of an intelligent species that has gone extinct. They had large craniums and larger brains than modern humans (although that doesn’t mean they were smarter). They existed as recently as about 30,000 years ago, when their kind disappears from the fossil record.

“How they died out, and why, and to what extent they may have interbred with anatomically modern humans is an ongoing source of debate and contentiousness among highly credentialed scientists. But as a species, the Neanderthal vanished. In their place came anatomically modern humans, who evolved in Africa and are the ancestors of everyone alive today.

“The Neanderthals, [one expert] said, ‘obviously were very intuitively smart. They were great toolmakers. They were ingenious. They were resourceful. They were living through difficult times.'”

How smart they were, and why they were indeed human beings, will be shown in the next installment.

(To Be Continued)

Lead Writer: Norbert Link 

©2024 Church of the Eternal God