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Jan-31-2011 02:50printcomments

The Riddle of the Neanderthal Within

Even with modern genetic analysis, the enigma of the Neanderthal is yielding different interpretations.

skull and skeleton
Neanderthal: 99.5 Percent Human by Ker Than Live Science Staff Writer Courtesy:

(SALEM, Ore.) - The Neanderthals are the nearest species preceding modern man. Recent research from different teams has converged on the finding that most of us have at least 1% to 4% Neanderthal DNA, and probably more, according to anthropologist Eric Trinkhaus.

Neanderthal skeleton on left.

The results of genetic testing reveal that Neanderthal DNA is 99.7 % similar to modern humans.

By comparison, the DNA of chimps is 98.8% similar. The Neanderthal DNA is present in all ethnic groups, except for those of African descent, suggesting that these trysts occurred after human ancestors migrated from Africa.

Despite the fact that Neanderthals and Homo sapiens coexisted in Europe, the genetic evidence points to the Middle East as the origin of the interbreeding about 60,000 years ago. Like the parents of star-crossed teenagers, some scientists have long suspected this was the case, but lacked solid evidence to back it up.

The first Neanderthal bones were found in 1856, three years before Darwin's "On the Origin of Species" was published. Since then, the scientific community has gone back and forth on the issue of whether the Neanderthal is a separate species, or a sub-species of modern man, Homo sapiens.

Also, since the Neanderthals mysteriously disappeared some 30,000 years ago, and Homo sapiens obviously proliferated, the question as to the fate of the Neanderthals had been fiercely debated. In older texts, modern man is referred to as Cro-Magnon, but this term has fallen out of favor with scientists.

Left: Neanderthal skull, Cro-Magnon skull shown on right

Two schools of thought exist, that the Neanderthals were replaced by our Homo sapien ancestors, essentially conquered or out-competed, or that they were absorbed into the population of Homo sapiens. The two theories are not mutually exclusive, and some anthropologists suggest that a combination of influences caused a decline in the already small populations of Neanderthals that varied according to location, as they were spread out thinly from Gibraltor to eastern parts of Asia.

The early years of paleo-anthropology were marked by errors in judgment with researchers who wrongly concluded that the Neanderthals were primitive, slouching beings that represented the missing link between humans and lower primates.

Subsequent findings revealed that although the Neanderthals had a stocky, muscular build suited to colder climates, and a pronounced brow ridge, they walked upright and exhibited many traits associated with modern man. In fact, the brain case of the Neanderthal is 20% larger than modern man, and they possessed the genes for advanced speech.

Even with modern genetic analysis, the enigma of the Neanderthal is yielding different interpretations.

Neanderthals: driven to extinction around
30,000 years ago. (Source: MSNBC)

Scientist are not divided on the archeological evidence that points to an extended overlap of the Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon populations in time and geographic locations in Europe, and this is why the possibility of interbreeding has been suspected. Now, with the near completion of the Neanderthal Genome Project, we have evidence that Neanderthals did interbreed with the Cro-Magnon, but the actual way this played out is still being debated. The links at the end of this article contain fascinating information on the subject.

The techniques of DNA mapping and the associated statistical analysis have been a disruptive technology in the sense that it has both confirmed and disproved theories that had achieved a consensus among scientists. In the same manner that DNA testing has freed numerous men wrongly convicted in prisons, the technology will reveal the bias, racism, and corruption of the scientific method in many studies.

Of particular interest is the large brain of the Neanderthal. What capacities might they have had? Allow me to conjecture upon the possibilities, but this is where it gets interesting. There are many types of intelligence, but it is notoriously difficult to relate to anything but the realm of one's own experience.

In addition, we can only act on our sensory input, but different species possess vastly different sensitivities. We each live in our own worlds and are isolated by our limitations, even if possessed of advanced knowledge, if it has bred arrogance and inflexible thinking to the extent that problem-solving is actually compromised.

The known archeological evidence indicates that the Neanderthal lived in smaller groups than the Cro-Magnon, and hence social skills and vocalization might have been different, but no less crucial to survival. Some anthropologists theorize that the Neanderthals possessed marginal extra-sensory abilities.

From: Why We Should Worry about Neanderthal
Clones - Heather Pringle

Nobel-prize winning author William Golding, best known for his novel 'The Lord of the Flies' created a semi-fictional work based on the interaction of the Neanderthals and the Cro-Magnons titled 'The Inheritors'. At the beginning, the story is told from the perspective of the Neanderthals, who possess a different form of consciousness, where time is experienced only in the present, and communication is partly telepathic. As the story unfolds, the conflict intensifies, and the perspective shifts to that of the inheritors of the new world. Why might the author have chosen this scenario?

One has only to look at the Australian Aborigines to find evidence of these abilities that survive to this day. Their entire world is based on a religion of the dream-state, and they have no word to express time as we know it. Their concept of time is only in the present, with the past lying thinly underneath it. Moreover, studies have proven the Aborigines to possess ESP, which they use to communicate over long distances.

How fortunate we are that this ancient race of people has survived to give us insight into the lost abilities of humankind. The migration path of early man is believed to be out of Africa and then splitting west to Europe, and east to Asia and possibly beyond. DNA analysis reveals it's not unlikely that there is some distant connection between the Neanderthals and Aborigines, as some geneticists believe.

More food for thought about our inner Neanderthal - the fact that the two species interacted in the Middle East is intriguing. Is our connection to this land, known as the 'cradle of mankind', much deeper than we realize? Considering the ongoing conflict, our species could be genetically hardwired to battle over this area owing to the legacy of the Neanderthal - Cro-Magnon overlap.

If you have seen pictures of a developing human fetus, you know that lurking in our DNA are creatures from the primordial past. Everything that we have been in our evolutionary history has left a fleeting imprint upon us. The study of evolution is a world of turbulent consensus, fraught with secrets yet untold, and within us are silent entities who speak without words. I leave you with an excerpt from the sightings of Larry Kelm, possibly the most bizarre true story you'll ever read.

"I was walking along the trail enjoying the strong breeze and bright sunshine when, in the middle of a step, everything around me started to turn gray and blurry. The only way I can describe it was as if suddenly I was looking through someone else's prescription sunglasses. I finished the step and started another. Every inch I moved forward the darkness increased and the gray blurring turned into a jumble of shapes that made no sense. I then seemed to pass a barrier and everything started to return back into focus when my foot reached the ground on the second step everything around me had changed. Day had turned into night and there was no wind. All the Douglas Fir and pine trees had been replaced with thick jungle like growth. The cool thin mountain air was replaced with humid thick air. There were no stars in the sky, but there was a diffused light that let me see everything clearly, however I couldn't tell what the light source was.

As often happens when the human body receives a massive dose of adrenaline the entire incident appeared like it was in slow motion and even though I was only there for a second or two I had time to observe my surroundings. The silence was broken by a continuous high pitched keening sound, and I was nearly overwhelmed with a sense of fear and danger. My momentum caused me to take one more step before stopping in my tracks.

It was at this point, I heard a whispered "Gotcha" over my right shoulder. I couldn't tell if I heard it with my ears or inside my head. The word wasn't directed at me but something said the word quietly to itself. I was so terrified I actually felt my heart stop for a moment. That whispered word is what saved me. I opened my mouth and gasped in a huge gush of thick air and recoiled backward in the same footsteps I had entered wherever I was. As I threw myself backward, I looked over my right shoulder. A dark colored hairy right hand and arm was reaching for my throat over my shoulder. The hand had pale ivory spade shaped fingernails. The nails looked clean and almost had a manicured look to them. The thumb was placed lower (towards the wrist) on the hand than a human's is. Both hand and arm were thin and powerful looking and both were covered with thick coarse black hair.

I got a good look at it because the thumbnail grazed my neck (it did not break the skin) as I moved backwards. As I continued backwards, the hand clutched where my neck had been a split second before and it seemed to fade off into the distance as I returned through the Portal."


J. D. Adams was born in Salem, Oregon, a descendant of Oregon Trail pioneer William Lysander Adams. As a wilderness explorer, photographer, and writer, he sustains a kinship with the spirit of the Oregon country. JD inhabits Oregon's Silicon Forest as an electronics professional with degrees in Electronics Engineering Technology and Microelectronics.

He maintains a Web presence with a signature presentation in genres including travel, history, and technology.

You can write to Jim Adams at this email address:

Also, visit Jim's Website:

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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JDA January 31, 2011 6:39 pm (Pacific time)

I'm glad you two understand each other, nobody else does. LOL

Anonymous January 31, 2011 2:04 pm (Pacific time)

lol Peter...but its not really israelis, per se' about we just go back to the rothchild born zionist movement in the 1880's.. who financed hitler, (actually, they fnanced both sides of WW2)who then helped them take over palestine. good one tho :-) oh by the way..i wouldnt be able to make your day unless I called you anti-sematic and a holocaust denier.. so there..take that!

Anonymous January 31, 2011 11:29 am (Pacific time)

the book of Genesis explains the two blood lines quite clearly...the "fruit" spoken of, what not an apple. Nor any other edible substance. I will leave it at that.

Peter January 31, 2011 3:47 am (Pacific time)

By the same token Chimpanzees are 97% human. In other words, chimpanzees are slightly more human than Israelis.

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