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Were Neanderthals “Human”?
Even today, there are still debates on whether the Neanderthals were humans. The first fragments of the Neanderthals were discovered in the second half of the last century. Years later, some of the scientists argued that the Neanderthals were the ancestors of the modern humans providing certain features and evidence to support their argument. In terms of language, evolutionists claimed that the Neanderthals were unable of modern speech. They lacked the ability to produce vowels with their flat nonflexing jaw at the bottom of the skull and the larynx placed in a higher position than that of the modern humans. In 1983, a Neanderthal skeleton was found at Kebara which had a hyoid bone of the species ever seen (Phillips, 2000). The bone was located within the throat going directly to the structure of human vocal tract thus making it nondifferentiable from the bone of the modern humans. Neanderthals were humans as they had similar cultural and human activities to those of the modern humans and their anatomy differences could be attributed to the exposure to different environmental conditions.
The Neanderthals were similar to the modern humans based on their cultures. Numerous cultural habits of the Neanderthals are different from those of humans. Neanderthals engaged in common human activities such as the use of fire, making complex tools, and playing music instruments. There have been discovered burial sites of Neanderthals remains, which proved their ability to bury their loved ones. It implies that Neanderthals believed in life after death and had formal rituals. Therefore, this evidence shows that the Neanderthals were humans. The examination of their DNA revealed that the Neanderthals were different species from the modern moderns. The comparison of their DNA and that of the modern humans by evolutionists revealed that the Neanderthals were different from the species of Hominids, which gave rise to the modern humans.
According to Vernot and Akey (2014), the volume of the Neanderthals’ brains is equal or bigger than that of the modern humans. It ranges from 1200 to 1750 making it close to 100 ml more compared to the modern humans. Henry, Brooks, and Piperno (2014) emphasized that the Neanderthals’ brain was fully functional like that of the modern humans without any differences in terms of structural organization. However, there is not direct correlation between the size of the brain and the level of intelligence. Thus, the volume of Neanderthals’ brains does not provide any valid arguments for the evolutionary growth of the Hominid brains. A research study by Phillips (2000) obtained new evidence that supported the belief that the Neanderthals are different species from the modern humans and do not belong to the subspecies of modern people. The researchers examined the nasal complex of the Neanderthals, which is important in developing a hypothesis. They found out that the Neanderthals’ nasal complex was not adaptively inferior compared to that of the modern humans. It implies that the Neanderthals become extinct due to the competition with the humans abutnd not their capability to withstand cold and dry climate.
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The current studies on the Neanderthals contradict the past studies, which compared the Neanderthals’ nasal structures to that of the modern humans including the modern Europeans. Previous studies such as the one carried by Pääbo (2015) had argued that the Neanderthals’ nasal complexes were able to adapt to the cold and temperate environments. The anatomy of the Neanderthals was similar to that of the modern humans with the equal amount of bones and functions. Nevertheless, there were small differences in terms of strength and thickness. The differences could be found on individual perspectives. Until today, there are no formal agreements whether the physical characteristics determine Neanderthals’ morphology. There are concerns on how the Neanderthals could have the similar traits as the modern humans living in adverse cold climate regions. The extreme climatic conditions would have affected the physiology and anatomy of the Neanderthals.
Numerous scientists suggest that the limbs of the creatures living in the cold climates are shorter. It helps to reduce the surface area, which leads to the reduced heat loss. It could be revealed from the short tails, beaks or ears of the animals in the cold climate. It is clear that most animals living in the cold environments are large with reduced size of legs and arms. As for the Neanderthals living in the cold climates, it is expected that they had shorter limbs. They were observed to be more adapted to the cold areas in their limb structures than the current Eskimos (Vernot, & Akey, 2014). Neanderthals were involved in the lifestyle, which places rigorous demands on their bodies as obtained from many skeletal lesions.
A profound dental study showed that the Neanderthals lived more than the modern people. The explanation could have influenced their anatomy significantly. The upper respiratory tracts of the Neanderthals functioned through a different set of processes due to different evolutionary history and overall cranial bauplan. Their evaluation processes lead to mosaic of characteristics, which were not found among any other Homo sapiens population. Such evidences supported the arguments that the Neanderthals are a different specifies from the humans (Phillips, 2000). For example, the cranial morphology of the Neanderthals evolved in a certain way to adapt to the cold environment. Evidence shows that the Neanderthals were 99.5 percent identical to the modern humans. New advancements in the NDA sequencing projects have discovered that DNA fragments of the Neanderthals matched the human chromosomes. The new automated techniques reveal that the Neanderthals were similar to the modern humans. For instance, the integration of short parts of the extracted Neanderthals makes the process of human matching effective. Thus, it is clear that the Neanderthals belonged to the subspecies of the humans.
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