New research results comparing the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) have shown substantial divergence between Neandertals and modern humans, including the Cro-Magnons of ice age Europe.1,2,3 (Mitochondrial DNA, which is not the same as that carried on the chromosomes (nuclear DNA), is generally inherited unchanged from the mother. Evolutionists believe that the more differences between the mtDNA of two organisms, the longer ago their ancestors branched off from a common ancestor.) The large differences have been taken as evidence that Neandertals were a different ‘species’ from humans.
However, even some evolutionary scientists are more cautious in their conclusions of the new mtDNA genetic results. Mark Stoneking, a supporter of the mitochondrial Eve hypothesis (which actually favours the idea of Neandertal non-humanity4), is a bit nervous about the possible DNA contamination that can occur easily.3 Furthermore, the sample size of Neandertals and Cro-Magnons was quite small, and certain modern people groups are over-represented. Therefore, the results may not apply to larger populations.
Alan Cooper, an evolutionary molecular biologist at Oxford University, believes there is a slim possibility that Neandertals are ancestors of modern humans and may have contributed mtDNA to modern human populations which was lost during human population bottlenecks at the end of the ice age.5
This is quite possible according to creationist biologist, David DeWitt, who has discovered that many of the mitochondrial DNA differences are at mutational ‘hotspots,’ unlike the differences between modern humans and chimps.6,7These are sectors where substantial mutational change can occur in short periods of time. Last year, Gutierrez et al. showed that the ‘Neanderthal–Human and Human–Human pairwise distance distributions overlap more than previous studies suggest.’8 They also say, ‘The separate phylogenetic position of Neanderthals is not supported when these (other) factors are considered [i.e. the high substitution rate variation at these hot spots].’ This is similar to recently discovered rapid mtDNA changes in mice from the Chicago area.9,10 Thus, these mtDNA findings are not inconsistent with the conclusion from the evidence of fossil hybrids11 and artifacts that Neandertals were fully human.
Help keep these daily articles coming. Support AiG.
“Now that I have updated, revised, and expanded The Lie, I believe it’s an even more powerful, eyeopening book for the church—an essential resource to help all of us to understand the great delusion that permeates our world! The message of The Lie IS the message of AiG and why we even exist! It IS the message God has laid on our hearts to bring before the church! It IS a vital message for our time.”
– Ken Ham, president and founder of AiG–U.S.
Answers magazine is the Bible-affirming, creation-based magazine from Answers in Genesis. In it you will find fascinating content and stunning photographs that present creation and worldview articles along with relevant cultural topics. Each quarterly issue includes a detachable chart, a pullout children’s magazine, a unique animal highlight, excellent layman and semi-technical articles, plus bonus content. Why wait? Subscribe today and get a FREE DVD download!