Ancient Man Neanderthal Man Homo Sapiens Neanderthalensis Part 1

About the ancient Neanderthal man a relative of modern homo sapiens, history of his discovery, our understanding of this species.


NEANDERTHAL MAN (Homo sapiens neanderthalensis)

Probably no creature has ever been so cruelly misrepresented as the poor Neanderthal, whose image among his close relatives, modern humans (who are of the same species), was once so poor that he was called "uncouth and repellent" by a prominent anthropologist.

The first Neanderthal remains to gain worldwide attention came in 1856 from a cave in a gorge above Germany's Neander Valley, where workmen quarrying for limestone were getting ready for blasting. They thought the bones belonged to a bear and gave them to a local high school teacher, Johann Fuhlrott, who was interested in paleontology. Fuhlrott, who assumed the bones had been washed into the cave by Noah's Flood, put them together and decided they were from an upright creature more like a human than a bear. German anthropologist Hermann Schaaffhausen, to whom Fuhlrott showed the bones, agreed. Together they exhibited the fossils at various scientific meeting; their audiences were not responsive. It was three years before Charles Darwin's Origin of Species would be published, and almost everyone thought the Creator had originally made the earth and its creatures just as they were in the 1800s, in a hierarchy with man at the top. Fuhlrott's most vociferous opponent was the anthropologist-physician Rudolf Virchow, who said the heavy bones came from a modern pathological idiot with rickets. A French author, guilty of the most extreme chauvinism, said that instead they were from a modern Irishman "with a low mental organization." Other said the bony forehead came from a brow knitted in anguish, the heavy brows from blows to the head. One person even claimed that the bones belonged to a cossack who died during Napoleon's retreat from Moscow.

After that, discoveries of similar fossils came thick and fast all over Europe. Virchow was less sure of his stand, and scientists, thinking that there might be something interesting in those fossils after all, began to pick up the shovel and dig. William King, professor of anatomy at Queen's College in Galway, first named the creature Homo neanderthalensis.

Meanwhile, in the face of Darwin's theories and mounting evidence, twisted scenarios about the earth and its creatures were devised to make the facts fit what humans then wanted to believe. One was catastrophism, suggested by Bishop Ussher of Lightfoot, which said that during the history of the earth 27 separate catastrophes had wiped out everything, and each time God had started over. It was not until the last Creation, which began at 9:00 A.M., Oct. 23, 4004 B.C., that human beings appeared.

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