On a recent thread, a bit of a side debate broke out about whether or not Neanderthals are a sub-species or a seperate species. Then a second debate broke out about which person in the original debate would start a new thread about the subject.
I decided to step in -
Neanderthals have been described a number of different ways since their discovery - ranging from brutish cavemen to someone you wouldn't look twice at on the street.
Neanderthals were amazingly successful during the Ice Age, and were very well adapted to their enviornment. It's currently believed that they decended from Homo Erectus populations which dispersed after the first out-of-Africa migration. (Making them something akin to brothers to Java-man and Peking-man, which also decended out of that migration.)
Meanwhile, the populations remaining in Africa produced us.
During the second out-of-Africa migration, we came into direct competetion with Neanderthals. In some places, both groups lived side by side for extended periods. But, more often than not, humans moved in and Neanderthals disappeared.
So, what happened to them? Did we wipe them out? Did we simply out compete them? Did we intermarry and breed them out?
Let's hear what people think and why they think it.
Neanderthals have been described, not just as "all over the map", but in fact were described as some sort of missing link, very ape-like, from the beginning
This is largely due to the fact that the first Neanderthal find (1850s) was of an arthritic adult, hunched over, etc. It's sort of the bell that's hard to unring.
Due to inbreeding, certain traits will be more dominant among ethnic groups and tribes, and during periods of longer isolation probably partly due to weather, it is not surprising that some groups developed more pronounced features.
While it's true that inbreeding can develope more pronounced traits, these traits are still present in the population as a whole. In other words, some tribes in Africa are very tall, but they have the same number of muscles, the same number of bones, etc.
Features like bone thickness might be able to be written off as population differences, but other features are not so easy.
Neanderthals has specific features which are not represented in modern populations. In the skull, increased prognatism, sagital crest, low forehead, protruding brow, occipital bun, no chin, etc.
But more telling is the shoulder muscle lay out. Neanderthals had an additional muscle in the shoulder, not present in modern man. An adult Neanderthal was significantly stronger than modern man.
And, my personal favorite (did a paper on this in college). Neanderthal's had 3 roots in their teeth as opposed to the 2 root teeth of modern man.
Could Neanderthals have mated with Cro-Mag populations and produced viable offspring? Maybe. But, any genetic material that the Neanderthals were contributing, is not longer surfacing in modern populations.
Worse, people who have argued for the presence of Neanderthal features in the past have used it to falsly justify racist policies.
and that there is no reason to think Neaderthal people if alive today could not mate with and live among us as just people.
This is interesting. Obviously we all know that no one has any hard evidence that Neanderthals could mate with cro-mag and produce viable offspring. It would require some sort of time machine to verify, or a very very isolated modern group which still had a distinctly Neanderthal feature. So, it's just speculation.
What I find interesting though, is that you are basically say, "Despite the fact that there is no evidence, we should assume the affirmative argument." Yet, when dealing with others, it seems no amount of evidence is enough to assume the affirmative.
I think you should meditate on that a bit.
Personally, I'd love it if it turned out that Neanderthals bred with people in the past. I see the end of Neanderthals (a HUGELY successful group living in harsh conditions) as a red flag for modern man. Our hold upon the Earth is tenuous at best - we should not forget it.
There is not enough differences in Neanderthals to claim them as a different species
The problem for this arguement is that there are literally hundreds of examples of animals which are physically very similiar, more similiar than Neanderthal and Cro-Mag which can not reproduce.
I'm sure there are examples of animals who can reproduce who look significantly different as well. (Wholphins, etc)
So how do we differentiate appropriately?
If we say that Neanderthal and Cro-Mag (and Flores for that matter) are all the same species, then clearly the range of morphology we consider viable would include Homo Erectus.
Extending that, the range around Homo Erectus would easily include include Homo Habilis. The range around Homo Habilis would include Africanus. Etc. Etc.
It sounds like, by arguing that Neanderthals are just a form of people, you are infact endorsing gradual speciation.
Look at the representations of Neanderthals. The older are the more brutish
Yeah, same with representations of Africans. Despite the advances we've made in the last hundred years, the world as a whole as a major legacy of racism/elitism. Is this the cause of all the white Jesus's or the effect of them? Hard to say.
Let's get back to the thread that I find most interesting :)
There is not enough differences in Neanderthals to claim them as a different species, imo
Okay. I accept that. After all, the line which differentiates one species from another is arbitrary. We have tests to help us draw the line right, but not all of those tests are useful in all situations.
So, Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens, same species. And previously you were suggesting that Flores (Hobbits) were also the same species, just at a different extreme.
Also, some suggestions of giant hybrids from the David & Goliath thread, but I won't hold you to that if you don't want to include them.
This brings me to a question I asked before, but which you might have missed -
If Neanderthals, Cro-Mag and Flores all fit within the acceptable differentiation within a species, couldn't we also include Homo Erectus in that same group?
Homo Erectus is less different from Cro-Mag or Neanderthal, than Neanderthal is from Flores, etc. Why not just make that one big group?
Darwinists would also like us to forget the fact that the Neander valley was named after Yachim Neander - a Creationist who wrote some of the greatest hymns in the history of the Church.
Um, actually, I'm pretty sure none of us could give a damn if you remember that or not.
Why do evos do this ?
Actually, they don't. Book publishers do. Your side of the debate frequently mistakes the actions of book publishers as some sort of scientific baseline.
Textbook publishers are only tangientially interested in passing on information (accuracy really isn't much of a factor). If they can sell a textbook that contains no fact, they will do so. If they can sell one that contains nothing but facts, they will do so. It's the selling that matters, not the content.
Pictures are Neanderthal left, Cro-Mag center, Modern man right.
I don't think that this is a particularly damning image of Neanderthal. I would have drawn him more with more robust muscles and a broader chest. Also, I think his head is a little too far forward on his neck. But hardly a brutish thug.
My real problem with the picture is Cro-Mag. Where'd he get that spear? Why's he carrying it? No one else brought a spear. And no one else is looking at the side. I think Cro-Mag may have actually killed the artist after this was drawn.
Re: It's not the Neanderthals I'm worried about...
we were taught Cro-magnon averaged 6' tall
I agree with that statement, but I don't think the picture shows anything different. There's no scale put up, so assuming Cro-Mag there is 6 ft, then the modern man is what? 6'2". I have at least 4 friends who meet or beat that criteria and none of them play basketball.
A better question to ask is why everyone in the picture seems to be white?
Neaderthal seems misrepresented as well.
How so? I pointed out two features that I "think" aren't accurate - 1) Should be more muscled 2) I think the neck is located an inch or two too far back in the skull.
Are you seeing other things or just those two? Because, even though I pointed them out, it's a much better picture than I could ever hope to draw.
Re: It's not the Neanderthals I'm worried about...
re: Average heights
I agree that the overall average height of people is under 6', mostly due to low protein content in Asian food and their disproportionately high numbers.
Still, this image of a man is clearly not Asian. I'd suggest N. European - so the height is right on mark.
However, if you want to talk about whether or not this picture should show a N European as opposed to a sub-saharan African, I'm right there with ya.
re: The Beard and the Spear I agree, not much reason to put it in there. I can only assume it's there because, frankly, there isn't any physical difference to depict, so how does the artist convey that these two are different groups other than mangy hair and primative tools. Seems out of place to me.