10 Nov 2013

The name is derived from tal or thal = a valley, and Neander = a river, where the first specimen was unearthed, a chap that appears to have been arthritic or had a physical disability. At ... a geologist blogger provides his take on the debate - were they oafish, beastial, low brow, or were they not so different from us nowadays. The anthropology literature likes to present their innocence in the matter, saying it was because the first specimen was deformed that the Neanderthals became associated with the dumb headed cave man image. However, the blog author describes the politics of it all and it seems the anthropologists, or one group of them (and subsequently the consensus view) deliberately downgraded the Neanderthals for political reasons (and this appears to be why the Neanderthals continue to be cast in a bad light). It doesn't matter how much information is gleaned about their abilities (not a lot different from modern humans) this downgrading of them is still rammed down the throat of anyone interested in the subject. What are these people frightened of ? - well it seems to be a reaction against Hitler and the excesses of racism that demand the Neanderthal continues to be cast as subhuman and solid bone from the neck upwards. Neanderthals actually had bigger brains than modern humans.

The discovery that Neanderthal genes have survived their so called extinction and that they interbred with modern humans, was a victory for genetic research but it seems it might have been an unwanted discovery by the politically driven anthropological community (and their allies elsewhere in academia). More interesting is the fact that Neanderthal genes do not occur in populations in Sub Sahara Africa (or those that have been tested). This does not preclude an African origin for humans however as all it does is move the goalposts. Instead of a pristine modern human race emerging out of Africa in the not too distant past and going on to replace all the other groups of humans that were living in different parts of the world, we have a more logical situation where humans moved out of Africa much more distantly in the past and diverged into Neandethals, Denisovans and Homo erectus etc, with periodic mixing due to later movements out of Africa. Seems to make sense to me - and this guy wrote this post 3 years ago and since then there has been even more genetic discoveries and published papers. See also his update at

Remaining on the theme of Neanderthals there is a tongue in cheek piece of parody going the rounds, taking the mickey out of CAGW - see