Considering that Neanderthals produced offspring with humans, why are they considered a different s… by John Patrick
I believe the answer is more to do with ‘perception’ than reality.
Human remains were first found in a cave in the Neander valley near Dusseldorf, Germany in 1856. At that time, naturalism was very fashionable and indeed was the “reasonable” way to interpret scientific discoveries. Therefore, these limited remains from several individuals (not even close to a full skeleton) were interpreted by naturalism to be an in-between step from apes and humans.
Indeed, with NO evidence to support it, sketches of complete Neanderthals filled the newspapers. They were seen as hulking, stooped humanoids – what one would expect if you were between apes and humans. This illustration became “fact” and was taught to me in textbooks from the 1970s and 80s.
Modern genetic research has shown Neanderthals to be 100% genetically human, so the idea that they (as a separate species) had offspring with humans is fallacious. They were humans, who chose (or were forced) to live in the harsh northern latitudes during the Ice Age period.
The British Museum of Natural History started a new exhibit in December 2015 based on human origins. They explicitly place Neanderthals with Modern Humans in the same grouping – HUMANS. This is, by the museum’s own language, based on “the most up-to-date science”.