I have never really had an interest in religion and the beliefs it is made of. This all leaves me confused at times. Religion explains the creation of humankind, since I have no religious beliefs then where does this leave me in thought about where I came from? Actually it left me no where. I have just recently taken an anthropology class the second semester of my freshman year at Montgomery College. I am just know gaining a belief in where and when man was created. Just think, most people are instilled with religion early in life, mostly by their parents or the schools that there parents make the attend at an early age. I have always been to stubborn to listen to anything my parents had to say, leading me to find out things for myself. I have only been able to listen and understand things that I like and listening to my anthropology teacher was something that I could understand and enjoyed listening to. He was the one who first introduced me to Neanderthals.
Many Anthropologists believe that Neanderthals were in fact a direct ancestor to modern man. Thus giving Anthropologists an idea of where we started out. On the other hand some Anthropologists think that the Neanderthals had no relation to modern man. Through the research that I have done, there is little info that supports that Neanderthals were in fact ancestors, but there is a definite larger amount of info that supports that they are not ancestors of man. Most of the information that supported that Neanderthals were direct ancestors has been found to be incorrect through research and technology. In 1856 at the Feldhofer Cave, Germany, Neanderthal Man introduced himself to the world indicated by Turnbaugh, Jurmain, Nelson, Kilgore in the seventh edition of Understanding Physical Anthropology and Archeology. Named after the valley in which he was discovered (Neander Tal), this hominid would send anthropologists mad for over 100 years. They were initially though of as dim-witted brutes with clubs and beast like characteristics. French Paleontologist, Marcelin Boule was the creator of this misconception about the Neanderthals. Boule declare that these hominids were unintelligent due to their low-browed brains and that the only thing that they could make is their tools and not much else. Boule believed that the beast walked bent need and head projecting forward with his big toe similar to a chimpanzee. Later it is learned that in fact his misconception about the beast steered him wrong in his examination of the elderly hominid. Actually the bones that he examined was crippled and had suffered from arthritis, over looked by Boule. Some Anthropologists believe that it is almost impossible to miss the evidence of arthritis on the old mans bones because it is so obvious to see. Either way, Boule’s analysis left a permanent scar on the Neanderthals image that would not be changed until many years later (307).
In recent years researchers have successfully extract and sequence DNA from a Neanderthal fossil. A small piece of bone from the humorous was removed from the original Neandertal Vally fossil and compared to numerous other DNA samples. Definite proof can not be determined from one sequence of an individual, in fact new data leading in favor of Neanderthals: showing that they were a branch of the human family, not a direct ancestor. The results from the tests indicate that the Neanderthal DNA is considerably different from the other DNA that was tested. The other DNA that was tested was from Humans as well as chimpanzees. From the result of these DNA tests, researchers stand by the view that “Neanderthals exist as a species independent from early modern man”. Thus living up to the name of Neanderthals as an evolutionary dead end (Science 176-178).
“Mitochondria is an important cell that finally determined the relation between man and Neanderthals” (Newman 1999).
There is also a “cultural contrast between the Neanderthals and Homo sapiens (early modern man)” indicated by Turnbaugh, Jurmain, Nelson, Kilgore in the seventh edition of Understanding Physical Anthropology and Archeology. These differences set them apart in a way that tells us how they lived and defines the difference in the two.
Tool technology on the behalf of the Neanderthals was less advanced. Flake tools were used for specific and few operations. Bone, antler, and ivory were used infrequently. Most tools had only one or two parts. While the Homo sapiens were using a wide verity of stone tools. Using bone, antler and ivory as often as possible. As well as having many more tools with two or more parts.
Hunting is another aspect that Neanderthals fell behind in and may have lead to there evolutionary dead end. Neanderthals had not form of projectile weapons, thus preventing them from long distance hunting. They mostly used weapons that could kill at a close range. While the Neanderthals were suffering from there lack of skills in hunting at a distance the Homo sapiens were throwing spears and using bow and arrows for long distance kills. They would also hunt in groups to possibly enhance their chances of trapping the animals in which they are hunting.
Art work was uncommon among the Neanderthals. With the Homo sapiens art work was much more common. They advanced in to not only cave murals but also into art that was able to be moved around , having a wide range of techniques materials used.
Burial was the one thing that Anthropologists thought of to be the reason why modern man was a direct ancestor. Neanderthals were known for there deliberate burials although gave frequently lacked artifacts and possessions. Homo sapiens frequently used burial as a ritual for laying the dead to rest. These burials were more complex and more frequent than the Neanderthals. There burials also included tools and animal remains. These tools and Animal remains were for use in the after life.
There is a definite difference in the actions and the overall general things that were done by the Neanderthals and the Homo sapiens that set them apart. Leaving us to believe none other than they were different species that may have been a branch of one another (317).
With the research of today we can discover things that may have not been intended to be discovered. It is amazing to me that we can find out who was related to whom with simple artifacts, few bone parts and the will to do so. Through these few things we have found out where we originated. These findings may not coincide with religious beliefs but it gives some one like myself something to believe in. Those of you who are puzzled in what to believe, explore you options in an effort to believe in something, even if it is not the same thing your parents believe in.