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A Neanderthal, Homo sapiens neanderthalensis or Homo neanderthalensis, is a member of a species of extinct hominid of which many fossils have been found. The first fossil hominid to be identified as such, and the best known, it was named after remains found in the Neander valley in western Germany in 1856. Neanderthal is found throughout Europe and the Near East. Neanderthals are associated with the Middle Palaeolithic Mousterian tool tradition.[1]


Neanderthal (left) and modern human (right) skeletons, showing both the similarities and the differences between the two.

A Neanderthal was a fully erect biped of stocky build, with a long low skull, prominent brow ridges and occiputs, and a jutting face. Neanderthals were on average more muscular than modern humans and lacked a chin. Presumably, they were social creatures living in small tribes, like other humans of their time. Neanderthals also possessed the skull features required for speech.[2] The popular impression of them as stooping brutes is incorrect and derives from the original poor reconstruction in the Neander valley. It has also been suggested that the first individual found suffered from vitamin D deficiency (rickets) or syphilis. Whether Neanderthals did interbreed with anatomically modern humans, or if this was even possible, is not agreed. Neantherthals had a gene associated with language and speech, that had the same variation as found in modern humans but is different from the equivalent gene found in chimpanzees.[3]

Neanderthal also had an average brain size of 1,450 cc with a range from 1,125cc to 1,750cc. The average modern human brain size is 1,330cc. Many Neanderthal fossils have been recovered showing massive amounts of wear on the teeth, which to many physical anthropologists suggests that the teeth were regularly used for gripping skins during stretching and working.[4]


The Institute for Creation Research (ICR) wrote the following regarding Neanderthal man:

No other organisms, either living or fossil, made tools to make other complex tools, buried their dead, had controlled use of fire, practiced religious ceremonies, used complex syntax in their spoken grammar, and played musical instruments, yet we know from their fossils that Neanderthal engaged in all.[5]

Neanderthals were probably about as intelligent as an average modern human, they were social creatures living in small tribes, like the other human species of their time. Studies suggest that Neanderthal tribes interacted less with each other than other tribes did.[Citation Needed]

Neanderthals had the ability to make fire. They never invented projectile weapons, but relied on spears with limited range, even when facing large animals. It was likely their robust bodies that enabled them to use this hunting style that was considered far too dangerous by other humans.[Citation Needed] A common hunting technique was to drive prey animals off a cliff, or to corner their prey and finish them off with spears, much like today's Pygmies hunt elephants.[Citation Needed]

Evidence of care for the elderly and the sick has been found in the Shanidar Caves in Iraq,[6] they also used medicinal plants, made clothes out of animal skins and used stone tools. A find at rock shelters in La Ferrassie, France indicates elaborate burials, suggesting some sort of religion.[7] Interestingly archaeologists have never found Neanderthal cave drawings, although hand-crafted art has been found.[8]

History according to Creationists

Young Earth Creationists and scientists believe that Neanderthals were as fully human as we are.[9] This is based on evidence such as:

  • The brain size of Neanderthal meets or exceeds that of modern humans.
  • There is no evidence to suggest that Neanderthals could not speak like modern humans.
  • The skeletons of modern humans and Neanderthal are identical in bone count and types. The size differences between the two can be seen today in humans.
  • DNA evidence shows Neanderthals to be very similar to humans.

-Some DNA from Neanderthals is believed to make up all non-African genomes.[10]

The Institute for Creation Research explains about the DNA evidence:

The recent recovery of mitochondrial DNA from the right humerus of the Neanderthal remains from Neander Valley near Düsseldorf, Germany, has been of great interest to evolutionists and creationists alike (Krings et al., 1997). Based on the comparison of modern human mt DNA and that taken from the Neanderthal, evolutionists have argued that the "Neanderthal line" diverged from the line of "hominids" leading to modern humans about 600,000 years B.P. without contributing mt DNA to modern Homo sapiens populations. This strongly implies that Neanderthals were a different species from modern humans. However, the above noted interpretation is not scientifically justified. Lubenow (1998) has pointed out that the use of a statistical average of a large modern human sample (994 sequences from 1669 modern humans) compared with the mt DNA sequence from one Neanderthal is not appropriate. Furthermore, the mt DNA sequence differences among modern humans range from 1 to 24 substitutions, with an average of eight substitutions, whereas, the mt DNA sequence differences between modern man and the Neanderthal specimen range from 22 to 36 substitutions, placing Neanderthals, at worst, on the fringes of the modern range.[11]

Harsh conditions due to the Ice Age after the Great flood caused human groups to migrate and splinter off to survive. Neanderthal type traits were best suited for the harsh cold. Malnutrition and longer life spans could cause features similar to those seen in Neanderthal skeletons.[12]

History according to Evolutionists

The last refuges of the Neanderthals, with evolutionary dates.

Evolutionists claim that Neanderthal man developed from Homo erectus, though the widespread distribution of intermediate forms hinders an attempt to resolve any single geographical locality as the place of development. The fate of Neanderthals is equally hard to determine, but they are believed to have gone extinct between 28,000 and 24,000 years ago,[13] but how or why is unknown: many theories have been presented, these are the most common ones:

  • Climate changes.[14]
  • Competition with other humans over resources.[15]
  • Their reliance on meat.[16]
  • Assimilation into the larger human population.[17]
  • Being genocidally wiped out by other humans.[18]
  • [4]

Evolutionists consider it likely that a combination of at least some of these factors led to the extinction of the Neanderthals.

Neanderthal Man is not considered to be a direct ancestor of modern humans, but its remains are examples of transitional fossils along a subsidiary branch, an evolutionary dead end.[Citation Needed]


  1. Thieme, Hartmut, "Lower to Middle Paleolithic Hunting Spears, and Lithic Tool Traditions" Archaeology, 13, 2003.
  2. Neanderthal Myths Neanderthal, Channel 4
  3. Swaminathan, N., Cave speak: Did Neandertals talk?, Scientific American News, 19th October 2007
  4. Klein, Richard. The Dawn of Human Culture. New York, John Wiley and Sons, 2002.
  6. Neanderthals on Trial University of Minnesota, Duluth
  7. Early Man Andy Simmons
  8. Neanderthal 'face' found in Loire, BBC News
  12. Neanderthals are still human
  13. Neanderthals' 'last rock refuge' BBC News
  14. Climate Change Pushed Neanderthal Into Extinction In Iberian Peninsula [1]
  15. Did Use of Free Trade Cause Neanderthal Extinction? Newswise
  16. Meaty appetites may have caused Neanderthal extinction Science & Spirit [2]
  17. The assimilation model, modern human origins in Europe and the extinction of Neanderthals Fred H. Smith, Ivor Jankovic, Ivor Karavanic [3]
  18. Odd man out: Neanderthals and modern humans British Archaeology