Neandertal remains are mostly found in European caves. So when Neandertal-like characteristics were discovered among a fossilized jawbone and teeth in South China, it was cause for further investigation. Not only was the location a curiosity, but the jawbone shared both Neandertal and modern human features. Finds such as this create new kinks in the evolutionary chain of human and Neandertal history.
European burial sites clearly show that Neandertals and modern-looking humans intermarried. They both had elaborate burials―in a few cases, they were buried together―and modern human remains with Neandertal characteristics have been found.1 Recently, researchers found DNA sequence similarity between Europeans and Neandertals.2 But the discovery of the Neandertal-like jawbone (or mandible) was unexpected in China, especially at such an early evolutionary date of 100,000 B.C.
The Chinese remains were described in an article published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.3 Anthropologist Fred Smith, who was not involved in the research, told Discovery News, "The Zhirendong mandible tells us that modern people appear far earlier in East Asia than many, including me, would have thought."4
The evolutionary dates assigned to the discovery would mean that Neandertals and anatomically modern humans lived together for an inexplicably long time. The study's authors wrote that "it therefore indicates a prolonged (greater than 50,000 year) coexistence of late archaic [Neandertal] and early modern [anatomically modern] humans across portions of Eurasia, and not just between Africa and Eurasia."3
Because the jawbone appears to contain a mixture of features (called a "morphological mosaic" by the authors), it looks as though Neandertals intermarried with anatomically modern people. This rebuts the scenario—as similar evidence did in Europe—that modern humans swept across China, wiping out all Neandertals in their path.
Also, this evidence forces the evolutionary story line to take unrealistic turns. In the new narrative, Neandertals must have lived in Africa for thousands of years, migrated to China, intermarried with modern humans, stayed in one area for tens of thousands of years, and then migrated again. Why they would stay there for so long when they had already demonstrated their willingness and ability to travel long distances?
Study co-author Erik Trinkaus told Discovery News that these remains show that "modern humans had spread across southern Eurasia by 100,000 years ago, and yet archaic humans [who supposedly lived before modern humans] remained across the more northern areas, and even displaced the modern humans in Southwest Asia for an additional 50,000-70,000 years."4
Thus, "we don't know why those modern humans expanded then, after remaining in Africa and southern Asia for 50,000 plus years."4
This tale's most torturous turns would be averted by removing the evolutionary date assignments. If there simply were no long time spans to account for, there would be no need to explain why a migratory group of people failed to migrate for tens of thousands of years.
Remaining conflicts also vanish when one considers that these "archaic" humans (Neandertals) and anatomically modern humans were all people―descendants of the first man, Adam. Being diverse populations of people who were spreading out across the post-Flood earth, it makes sense that they would migrate, interact with one another, and live in varying places around the world, all within the last 4,500 or so years—just as the Bible indicates.
- Thomas, B. Neandertal Men Were Modern Men. ICR News. Posted on icr.org December 18, 2008, accessed October 29, 2010.
- See Thomas, B. Neandertal Genome Confirms Creation Science Predictions. ICR News. Posted on icr.org May 28, 2010, accessed October 26, 2010.
- Liu, W. et al. Human remains from Zhirendong, South China, and modern human emergence in East Asia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Published online before print October 25, 2010.
- Viegas, J. Asian Neanderthals, Humans Mated. Discovery News. Posted on news.discovery.com October 25, 2010, accessed October 26, 2010.
Image Credit: Copyright © 2010 by the National Academy of Sciences. Liu et al, Human remains from Zhirendong, pnas.org, 10-25-2010. Adapted for use in accordance with federal copyright (fair use doctrine) law. Usage by ICR does not imply endorsement of copyright holders.
* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.
Article posted on November 3, 2010.