Human evolution

Neanderthal Man: The long-lost relative turns up again, this time with documents

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Earlier we saw how much present-day evolutionary biologists needed and wanted to believe that we had found a new human species in Flores man a decade ago. But it quickly became clear that the ancient inhabitants of Flores were not appreciably different from other humans of their era, apart from very small stature.

The story was different back when Neanderthal skeletons, first unearthed in 1856, began to be studied. As Britannica puts it, “Using those skeletons as a basis, scholars reconstructed the Neanderthals as semi-human, lacking a full upright posture and being somewhat less intelligent than modern humans.” The story grew legs and was admirably suited to demonstrating the fashionable, then-new idea of Darwinian evolution. As a result, “Neanderthal!” is now a term of abuse. The man himself does not protest, of course, for his type is extinct.

Thus, until very recently, Neanderthal man has been explicitly treated as an extinct, separate human species — the status sought for Flores man — in so highly politicized an environment that classification likely depends not on the persuasiveness of facts but the power of factions. More.

See also: The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (human evolution)

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2 Replies to “Neanderthal Man: The long-lost relative turns up again, this time with documents

  1. 1
    Acartia_bogart says:

    When I saw the title of this OP, the first thing that popped to my mind is what country’s passport were they using.

  2. 2
    goodusername says:

    Earlier we saw how much present-day evolutionary biologists needed and wanted to believe that we had found a new human species in Flores man a decade ago. But it quickly became clear that the ancient inhabitants of Flores were not appreciably different from other humans of their era, apart from very small stature.

    It “quickly became clear”? To who?
    Probably the only person making such a claim is Teuku Jacob and his arguments don’t make sense. He points out that there were pygmy people in the area, but the Flores remains were much smaller than even the pygmies. He attributes their small brains to microcephaly, even though their brains appear quite normal other than their small size (the skulls of microcephalics are quite distinctive).

    And they’re small stature hardly begins telling the story. Their features are rather primitive even compared to Homo erectus. They would be rather incredible even if they were of normal height.

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