Neanderthals have long captivated the inquisitive minds of the public and academia. What are they? Ape-Men? A missing link in the evolutionary chain of man? Are they even human at all? When did they live? There are a number of differing theories among evolutionary and creationist circles, but what is the truth behind these beings of mystery?

A Little History
  First discovered in Germany in 1830, H*** neanderthalensis consisted of a fossilized skull cap, two femurs, two humeri and other bone fragments” and was initially considered human in origin (1). After Darwin's publication “On the Origin of the Species” in 1859, however, people began to frantically find the ape-like ancestors of humans. Before long, conclusions about the fully-human descriptions of Neanderthal man turned into beliefs like: the “thoughts and desires which once dwelt within [Neanderthal man] never soared beyond those of a brute" (2). Suddenly two primary interpretations of the Neanderthal fossil were present in the human ancestry debate: 1) that Neanderthals were full human or 2) that Neanderthals were an “ape-ish”, evolutionary forefather of modern man. The latter, of course, was popularized and promoted by Darwin enthusiasts.

Since then, Neanderthal remains have been found all over the globe, including China, Africa, Iraq, Greece, and Europe. All of the fossils boasted similar physical characteristics: “prominent eyebrow ridges …, low forehead, long narrow skull, a protruding upper jaw, and a strong lower jaw with a short chin” and were deep-chested, large-boned individuals with a powerful build”, all of which can very easily be descriptions of human characteristics. Interestingly, and hardly ever mentioned, is the large size of the brain in Neanderthal man – much larger than that of modern humans. (3)

Due to the widespread influence of evolutionary theory, imaginative representations and drawings of Neanderthals began to boast a more robust, ape-like appearance instead of the more traditional, human-like illustrations of Neanderthal man. Such a primitive, caveman-esque depiction and interpretation of Neanderthal man was attributed to the beings for over half a century.

Eventually, evolutionists reluctantly admitted that Neanderthals were far more human than the Tarzan illustrations would imply, putting an end to the official interpretation of Neanderthals as ape-men ancestors (4). Anatomists William Straus and A.J. Cave, upon examination of a French Neanderthal fossil, concluded that the particular Neanderthal individual was simply afflicted by a strong case of arthritus, explaining the bent posture of the Neanderthal's vertebrae and jaw. Ironically, it is the same conclusion that anatomist Rudolph Virchow reached 100 years earlier. Bone diseases such as rickets which can come about due to lack of sunlight (perhaps in caves during the post-Flood Ice Age?) could certainly explain many of the physical deficiencies found among the Neanderthal fossils. As one report wrote: “if he [Neandertal man] could be reincarnated and placed in a New York subway provided he were bathed, shaved and dressed in modern clothing it is doubtful whether he would attract any more attention that some of its other denizens" (5). Further studies agreed and the interpretation of the “ape-man” Neanderthal diminished within evolutionary circles. The correlation between “ape-ish caveman” and Neanderthal, superficial as it may be, remains in the minds of students, museum goers, and the general public at large, however.

Humanizing Ancient Man

Recently, there have been a number of archaeological finds that have supported the “fully human” status of Neanderthals and the superior knowledge of many ancient humans. Last year it was reported that scientists discovered old hand axes which suggested that primitive humans sailed the Mediterranean “tens of thousands of millennia earlier than expected” according to evolutionary time-lines. As Boston University archaeologist Curtis Runnels put it, “The idea of finding tools from this very early time period on Crete was about as believable as finding an iPod in King Tut's tomb.” Stone tools found in Spain also provide evidence of ancient sea-farers taking to the sea “a million years” earlier than evolutionists once thought. (6)

It appears that “stone age” men were also capable of performing ancient surgery. A 7,000 year old skeleton was discovered with an amputated arm. Interestingly, scientists are convinced that it is “an intentional and successful amputation”. In fact, the humerus bone just above the elbow was cut off precisely and the wound “treated ... in sterile conditions”. For these early Europeans to have such medical knowledge is a surprise to many evolutionists. (7)

Neanderthals also apparently knew how to accessorize. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reported the discovery of mollusk shells in a variety of colors found in Spain that dated to, according to evolutionary estimates, 50,000 years ago. The shells were then believed used as decorative jewelry such as necklaces. Instead of the earlier belief that Neanderthal were less intelligent than regular humans, archaeologists and professors like Zilhao of the University of Bristol note, “[Neanderthal] intelligence was no different from ours”. (8)

These “cavemen” also seem to have bred with humans, providing quite a shock to evolutionary geneticists familiar with Neanderthal history. According to a May 7 issue of Science, around 1 to 4 percent of people living today that came from Europe or Asia could have Neanderthal blood running through their family trees. Of course, evolutionists still try to distinguish the peoples as “human” and “sub-human”, making arguments like, “Neandertals are not totally extinct; they live on in some of us”, as Svante Pääbo, leader of the Neandertal genome project in Germany suggests. In fact, these “sub-humans” merely interbred (and married) their way into the modern human “gene-pool”. It would seem, then, that Neanderthals “went away” once their physical characteristics faded out down the progressive time line of human history. (9)

But isn't it easier just to admit the obvious? Neanderthals are not “sub-humans” or caveman ancestors from hundreds of thousands or millions of years ago. Instead they were fully human right from the beginning, descendents of Adam who was created about 6,000 years ago. Finds like ancient jewelry, sea-fairing history, and human interbreeding may come as a surprise to evolutionists, but it fits the biblical framework of history perfectly. Unlike evolutionists, creationists don't need to frantically find a “missing link” or transitory human-like form to complete the chain of supposed “human evolution”. Creationists expect to find empirical evidence of human intelligence all through history, and that is exactly (and consistently) what is found. Evolutionist Michael Shermer actually got it right: “our anatomically hirsute cousins are actually our genetic brothers” (10).

Hobbit” Syndrome (11)

Now that there is a general (yet broad) consensus among scientists that the Neanderthal were, in fact, human, a serious and prominent question remains: Why are the Neanderthals so different in appearance? The “hobbits'” physical characteristics which distinguish it from modern humans have puzzled both evolutionists and creationists since they were first discovered and classified in the 1800's.

Part of the physical differences could be attributed to disease, some scientists suggest. This belief is the most common among Neanderthal enthusiasts, citing a couple of different illnesses which could have plagued these humans. Rudolph Virchow “believed that Neanderthal man was a modern H*** sapiens, whose deformations were caused by rickets in childhood and arthritis later in life, with the flattened skull due to powerful blows to the head" (12). Alternatively, other scientists maintained that it was vitamin D deficiency (or a combination of diseases/malnutrition such as syphilis) that was to blame for the skeletal and cosmetic damages to Neanderthals.

However, many scientists, creationists and evolutionists alike disagree that disease completely explains that physical condition of the Neanderthal fossils. Creationist orthodontist and author Jack Cuozo believed that Neanderthal browridges could be explained by normal aging and jaw-chewing habits. Such an explanation is not as farfetched as some believe (and not near as groundbreaking in terms of novelty). In fact, confirmed research shows that bone structure seems to change with age. It would follow, then, that Neanderthal children would have different facial features than Neanderthal adults. Unsurprisingly, such is the case with young Neanderthal remains.


I Love Lucy

Of course, Neanderthals are not the only ones evolutionists have tried to make a “missing link” in the long, empirical evidence-lacking chain of “human evolution”. The most infamous of these is Lucy. Discovered in 1974 by anthropologist Professor Donald Johanson in Ethiopia, Lucy single-handedly tipped the public's perception of human origins towards evolutionary splendor. The hominid's remains consisted of ribs, vertebrae, thighbones, and jawbone. Dated at roughly 3.2 million years old, forty seven bones were unearthed in all. Problem is, the remains were in such poor shape that speculation took more prominence in interpretation than did actual evidence. (13)

According to Richard Leakey, who along with Johanson is probably the best-known fossil-anthropologist in the world, Lucy’s skull is so incomplete that most of it is ‘imagination made of plaster of paris’. Leakey even said in 1983 that no firm conclusion could be drawn about what species Lucy belonged to.” (14)

What evolutionists were so enthusiastic about regarding the discovery of Lucy was the fact that it appeared she walked upright – like humans! Johanson elaborated on the excitement by stating: “Bipedalism is the most distinctive, apparently earliest, defining characteristic of humans” (15). Because of the possibility of this erect transportation, proponents hailed it as proof that Lucy was an early ancestor of humans.

However, the “ape-like” qualities of Lucy far outweigh the “human-like” characteristics of the hominid. First of all, Lucy's brain size was roughly one quarter that of a human's. Much like a gorilla, her jaw was shaped in a distinctive “U”. Her teeth were considerably larger than human teeth as well. Even her fingers and toes boasted ape-like curvature and length to aid her in her swinging on tree limbs. (16)

But what of the “walking-tall” qualities of Lucy? Though Johanson was convinced that the hip and knee joints of the hominid showed erect posture, a number of studies disagree. Evolutionist Charles E. Oxnard in his book “Fossils, Teeth and Sex” admitted that “australopithecines [of which Lucy is classified] are unique" (17). Oxnard even claims within his work that the knee has more qualities akin to tree-climbing than upright walking. Like many chimps, Lucy could have walked upright to an extent, but to make the anticipative leap to 'guaranteed human ancestor' seems premature and more of a philosophical assumption than sound science.

There's a chance that the knee joint wasn't even Lucy's at all. It was found “in a location some two to three kilometers away, and in a layer of rock some 200 feet lower” (18), though the claim has faced criticism from evolutionists. If it doesn't belong to Lucy, it isn't the first time that scientists have mistakenly incorporated wrong body parts to poor Lucy's body. Prominent archaeologist Richard Leakey even admitted that up to three species could have been wrongly associated with Lucy (19). Just recently, evolutionists have claimed a very human-looking foot bone belongs to Lucy, even though they earlier claimed that no human like bones were found near the deposit (20). Clearly, if Lucy is the best evidence for human evolution, the theory is in worse shape than many previously thought.

'Ida' and 'Ardi' Coming to Town

There have been many other supposed “missing links” since Lucy. In May 2009, the scientific community introduced the general public to Ida. Darwinius masillae made splashes in headlines due to its bold claims as the true “missing link” that evolutionists have been searching for. However, the “missing link” type qualities associated with Ida fizzled upon further examination of the fossil. The skeleton itself boasted little resemblance to humans despite claims that its “opposable thumbs” were clearly evolutionary in origin (though all primates possess the same characteristic). “Ida” looked more like that of a modern lemur (21). Months later, evolutionists began to retract the hype, deflating the “missing-link” balloon that was so heavily promoted upon first introduction. Richard F. Kay of Duke University noted fossils like Ida, which was eventually classified as an adapiform, “are decidedly not in the direct line leading to living monkeys, apes and humans" (22).


Ardi (Ardipithecus ramidus) made similar headlines later that same year. This time, evolutionists ditched the traditional understanding of “missing link” altogether. “Ardi’s anatomy—as reconstructed by the scientists—shows it to have been distinct from other apes as well as from humans”. Penn State University paleontologist Alan Walker elaborated on the new definition: “It shows that the last common ancestor with chimps didn’t look like a chimp, or a human, or some funny thing in between”. (23)

First discovered in the 1990's in Ethiopia, Ardi had to be painstakingly reconstructed over the next decade due to the fragile nature of the remains. Claims that Ardi, or a creature like it, were distant human ancestors present bigger problems for the evolutionary community, however. Brian Thomas of the Institute for Creation Research sums it up nicely:

If Ardi is presumed to be a human ancestor, then the century-long concept that has been taught as virtual fact--that humans evolved from a chimpanzee-like creature (based most recently on the strength of a supposed 99 percent agreement between their genome sequences)--must be discarded! This is because of Ardi's unique features, which she does not share with African apes (or humans). In other words, arbitrarily placing Ardi at the foot of humanity's evolutionary tree means that she negates the long-held concept of an African ape-like heritage. The chimpanzee, then, would have to have evolved on its own separate path.” (24)

What were some of these human features lacking in Ardi that cast doubt of their “human-evolutionary” ancestry, as even many evolutionists have noted? The distinctively human sexually reproductive system, feet and hip structure, teeth makeup, “cognitive abilities”, erect walking (as earlier claims of bipedalism were later dismissed as “overblown” statements “said … for effect” (25) , vocal system, “unusually energy-thirsty brain”, to name a few. “Fuzzy” words like “probably”, “suggestive”, and the like appeared hundreds of times within the articles of Science in which Ardi was introduced, casting doubt on the empirical evidence the reporters actually had in their claims that Ardi was a great-great-grand-daddy of mankind. (26)

A Case for Scripture

Evolutionists have made a number of attempts to discover the “missing links” in human evolution in order to garner support for their theories. Claims such as “Neanderthal are sub-human”, “Lucy is man's ancestor”, “Ida and Ardi are the missing links”, and humans' supposed “caveman history” have all been quietly retracted by evolutionary authority in stubbornness. Yet despite the evidence to the contrary, macro-evolution of human origins is still touted as scientific fact. Why? Because of the philosophic nature of evolution. It is more than a scientific theory – it's an entire belief-system based on naturalistic worldviews.

The Bible has no need to apologize for its bold claims. Genesis describes the Creation of the world in literal, historical fashion. One such claim is the creation of man and the land animals on Day Six of Creation Week. Scripture makes it clear that man is formed separate from the rest of the land animals and was fully human and intelligent right from the beginning. The Bible and its claims are consistently confirmed by the physical evidence of the natural, empirical world. Christians can trust God's Word at every point, be it man's origin, man's duty to glorify his Creator, or Christ's redemptive work on the Cross. Instead of fitting man's anti-biblical theories into the Bible, Christians can and should boldly proclaim the accuracy and authenticity of Scripture and “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3).


1) Menton, David N. “Making monkeys out of man”. Answers in Genesis. 28 Aug. 2000. Online. Accessed 17 Apr. 2011. a href="">>;.

2) King, William (Irish geologist) quoted in Dr. Menton's “Making monkeys out of man”. (see source 1)

3) See Source 1

4) Tattersall, Ian & Schwartz, Jeffery H. “Hominids and hybrids: The place of Neanderthals in human evolution”. The National Academy of Sciences. 1999. Online. Accessed 17 Apr. 2011. a href="">>;.

5) Quarterly Review of Biology, vol. 32, pp. 348-63, December quoted in Dr. Menton's “Making monkeys out of man”. (see soruce 1)

6) Pringle, Heather. “Primitive Humans Conquered Sea, Surprising Finds Suggest”. National Geographic. 17 Feb. 2010. Online. Accessed 18 Apr. 2011. a href="">;.

7) Blake, Heidi. “Stone Age amputee proves Neolithic medics more advanced than previously thought”. Telegraph. 25 Jan. 2010. Online. Accessed 18 Apr. 2011. a href="">;.

8) Viegas, Jennifer. “Prehistoric Jewelery Reveals Neanderthal Fashion Sense”. Discovery. 8 Jan. 2010. Online. Accessed 18 Apr. 2011. a href="">;.

9) Saey, Tina Hesman. “Neandertal genome yields evidence of interbreeding with humans”. ScienceNews. 5 Jun. 2010. Online. Accessed 18 Apr. 2011. /font> genome yields evidence_of_interbreeding_with_humans>.

10) Shermer, Michael. “Our Neandertal Brethren: Why They Were Not a Separate Species”. Scientific American. 11 Aug. 2010. Online. Accessed 18 Apr. 2011. a href="">;.

11) Habermehl, Anne. “Those Enigmatic Neanderthals: What Are They Saying? Are We Listening?” Answers Research Journal. 13 Jan. 2010. Online. Accessed 18 Apr. 2011. a href="">;.

12) Virchow, Rudolph quoted in Anne Habermehl's “Those Enigmatic Neanderthals”. (see source 11)

13) "Mother of man - 3.2 million years ago”. BBC. Online. Accessed 18 Apr. 2011. a href="">;.

14) "'Lucy' isn't the 'Missing Link'!” Answers in Genesis. Jun. 1990. Online. Accessed 18 Apr. 2011. a href="">>;.

15) Johanson, Donald quoted in BBC's “Mother of man”. (see source 13)

16) Morris, John D. “Was Lucy An Ape-man?” Institute for Creation Research. Online. Accessed 18 Apr. 2011. a href="">>;.

17) Oxnard, Charles E. quoted in John D. Morris' “Was Lucy An Ape-man?” (see source 16)

18) Ibid source 16.

19) Ibid source 16.

20) Thomas, Brian. “'Lucy's' New Foot Bone Is Actually Human”. Institute for Creation Research. 2011. Online. Accessed 18 Apr. 2011. a href="">>;.

21) "Ida (Darwinius masillae): the Missing Link at Last?”. Answers in Genesis. 19 May 2009. Online. Accessed 18 Apr. 2011. a href="">;.

22) Kay, Richard F. quoted in: Wong, Kate. “
Weak Link: Fossil Darwinius Has Its 15 Minutes”. Scientific American. 21 Jul .2009. Online. Accessed 18 Apr. 2011. a href="">;.

23) "Meet Ardi”. Answers in Genesis. 3 Dec. 2009. Online. Accessed 18 Apr. 2011. a href="">>;.

24) Thomas, Brian. “Did Humans Evolve from 'Ardi'?” Institute for Creation Research. 2009. Online. Accessed 18 Apr. 2011. a href="">>;.

25) Thomas, Brian. “Scientists Back Off of Ardi Claims”. Institute for Creation Research. 4 Dec. 2009. Online. Accessed 18 Apr. 2011. a href="">>;.

26) Ibid source 24.


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Comment by David Thomas Posey on April 26, 2011 at 8:51am
I'm still wondering...Could some of the apparent dformity of the Neandertals be due to some sort of ritual akin to foot-binding or head-shaping?  I think I've heard a case for this before, but can't recall where.
Comment by Steven Posey on April 26, 2011 at 8:37am
Thank you for this post. This is one of my favorite subjects.

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