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Neandertal was based on a disfigured human (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Neandertal was based on a disfigured human (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.


Claim CC051:

Neanderthal man was reconstructed from a fossil skeleton badly deformed by disease. Neanderthals really are not much different from modern humans.

Source:

  • Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1985. Life--How Did It Get Here? Brooklyn, NY, p. 95.


CreationWiki response:

First of all the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is a poor source known for bad scholarship. (Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

1. An early stereotype of Neanderthals was that they were stooped, very hairy, and had divergent big toes. Straus and Cave (1957) showed that they were fully human in posture. However, Neanderthals do have distinctive features that distinguish them from modern humans. Some of these features -- powerful bones and muscles, in particular -- cannot plausibly be attributed to pathology or injury.

This is 100% correct and the original Neanderthal skeleton was indeed deformed by disease, leading to that generalized stereotype, and not just a creationist stereotype, so at worst this is out of date.

But it needs to be noted that features like powerful bones and muscles can be a result of life style rather than genetics. In fact, we can see wide variation within mankind today from Pygmies in Africa to a group of Sudanese known for height and Biblical records of nine-foot six-fingered giants like Goliath.

2. Neanderthals are known from many specimens. It is extremely unlikely that all of them would be suffering from exactly the same illness.

No disagreement here but once again it only shows that the claim is out of date.

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