Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Genius of...Neanderthals?

By Analea Styles
A reconstruction of a Neanderthal man
Cavemen? Human sub-species? Ancient ancestors? Who were these enigmatic characters that walked our world in ancient times?

Are Neanderthals Human?

Upon the first discovery of Neanderthals the secular scientific community concluded that they were an intermediate form between apes and modern humans. They were at one time considered too different from us to be our ancestors. However over the years, secular scientists have changed their view and Neanderthals are now considered to be quite close (evolutionarily speaking) to modern humans, and are considered to be either a subspecies or closely related[1].

Creationists have always viewed Neanderthals as humans, descendants of Adam. Though they “do have small-scale differences with modern humans…in light of the genetic evidence, Neanderthals are fully human and should be classified as Homo Sapiens”[2].  

Dr. David Menton and John Upchuch point out “when God created humans, He didn’t define our humanness in terms of physical characteristics. We aren’t human because we have two arms or legs or skulls of a certain shape or size. Our Creator, who is spirit, made us in His spiritual image…These [Neanderthals, Homo erectus, Denisovans] certainly aren’t unique species, in the sense of being something ‘less than modern humans’ – they’re just more evidence of beautiful variations in the appearance of individuals in our one unique race.”[3]

Some evidence suggests Neanderthals may have used herbal remedies

In fact, as scientists continue to study Neanderthals and new evidence comes in, these so-called “primitive” humans are defending the genius of ancient man and defying the evolutionary theories of unintelligent human ancestors!

Neanderthals in the News

This article from Science Daily  (New Evidence Suggests Neanderthals Organized their Living Spaces) is full of surprising statements about the Neanderthals’ intelligence and advanced nature, based on studies by Julien Riel-Salvatore (Ph. D in Anthropology, Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado): 
“…we found that Neanderthals did not just throw their stuff everywhere but in fact were organized and purposeful when it came to domestic space."
 “The discoveries are the latest in continuing research by Riel-Salvatore showing that Neanderthals were far more advanced than originally thought.” “In an earlier study, [Riel Salvatore] found that Neanderthals were highly innovative, creating bone tools, ornaments and projectile points.”
 "This [logical and organized living spaces] is still more evidence that they were more sophisticated than many have given them credit for. If we are going to identify modern human behavior on the basis of organized spatial patterns, then you have to extend it to Neanderthals as well."[4]

In other news, studies on the fossilized Neanderthal hyoid bone (a horseshoe-shaped bone crucial for speaking) shows that it is remarkably similar to the modern human hyoid. Stephen Wroe of the University of New England said, “Many would argue that our capacity for speech and language is among the most fundamental of characteristics that make us human. If Neanderthals also had language then they were truly human, too."[5]

Comparison of modern human and neanderthal skulls from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Wikimedia Commons

The New Neanderthals

The doubt lingering around the Neanderthals’ humanity seems to be fading. Even the Smithsonian magazine admits that new findings continue to “overturn the familiar conception of Neanderthals as dumb brutes”[6]. In fact they could organize hunts, divvy up game, invent efficient tools, carve artful objects and communicate. Fred Smith, a physical anthropologist at Loyola University says that Neanderthals “were highly intelligent, able to adapt to a wide variety of ecological zones, and capable of developing highly functional tools to help them do so. They were quite accomplished.”[7]

Other Neanderthal characteristics and skills:

  • They created efficient tools for specific purposes (wood working, hunting, scraping hides, etc.)
  • Able to share information and pass along techniques
  • May have used markings and symbols
  • Used fire
  • Buried their dead
  • Were skilled hunters
  • Innovated and adapted to changes in the environment
  • Cared for their sick and injured[8]

And yet Neanderthals were considered primitive and unintelligent. In contrast, these characteristics shout proof of their created intelligence.

One of the first depictions of Neanderthals


There is no doubt that Neanderthals were humans, men and women who lived in various places around the world, during the Ice Age[9]. Why mankind with these specific characteristics died off is unknown but it does not make them less intelligent or more primitive than any other human.

We know that God created man in His image and, starting with the very first man Adam (read our Biography of Adam), they were remarkably intelligent and skilled. The evidence surrounding the Neanderthals depicts them as capable and efficient human beings who survived during a very difficult time of earth’s history. It confirms that God created man with an astounding amount of variable characteristics and appearances and gave him the ability to adapt and learn through life’s experiences.

Most importantly, we know that it is not our intelligence, physical appearance or the historical period in which we existed that make us human, but our creation, in the image of the One who created us. We are all purposefully formed by God and descended from Adam, sinners and rebels, in need of God’s grace.

Read more about Neanderthals and Cavemen:

[1] Trinkaus, Eric. “Neanderthal”. Accessed January 3, 2014.
[2] Purdom, Georgia. “How are Cavemen Different”. Answers. April 2012. 58. Print
[3] Menton, David, Upchuch, John. “Who were Cavemen”. Answers. April 2012. 48-49. Print.
[4] University of Colorado Denver. "New evidence suggests Neanderthals organized their living spaces." ScienceDaily, Dec. 3, 2013. Web. Jan. 3, 2014.
[5] Hogenboom, Melissa. “Neanderthals could speak like modern humans, study suggests.” BBC News. December 20, 2013.  Accessed January 3, 2014.
[6] Alper, Joe. “Rethinking Neanderthals”. June 2003. Accessed January 4, 2014.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ibid. 
[9] Matthew, Mike. Snelling, Andrew. “When Did Cavemen Live”. Answers. April 2012. 55. Print. 


  1. Neanderthals are doubly certain to be awesome evidence. Not only are they, like everyone else, made in God's image, they were named for a great man of God! Learning more about them is a delight. :-)
    PS, have you heard the news about the Stone Age tunnel system being uncovered across Europe? It would be nice to have a Christian website cover it so we don't have to deal with the terrible ads and other philosophies constantly.

    1. Hi there! We looked into the tunnel system you mentioned and it appears that the wording and terminology that is being used is quite deceiving. The tunnels that are being discovered are not actually connected to each other and do not actually form a "system" as they are alleged to. Though the individual tunnels are definitely intriguing, there is no evidence that we can see of a Europe-wide tunnel system. Thanks for your question!