A Brief History
On July 10, 1997, British scientists in London conducted DNA tests on a Neanderthal skeleton which showed the likelihood of a common ancestor for all men having originated in Africa, perhaps 200,000 years ago.
Neanderthal man is the stereotypical cave man of cultural reference, powerfully built and immensely strong, with males average height about 5’6” and females about 5’1”. Their brains were actually larger than modern human brains, 1600 cc versus 1400 cc. The theory of human evolution has modern man and Neanderthal both evolving from a common ancestor 200,000 or so years ago in Africa, with Neanderthal leaving Africa to evolve in Europe and Asia while the modern human branch stayed in Africa, evolving toward modern humans.
Once the modern branch of humans (Cro Magnon) left Africa (perhaps 60,000 years ago) and migrated to Europe and Asia, there was interaction between Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal that resulted in cross breeding. This cross breeding leaves modern European and Asian races with a higher percentage of Neanderthal DNA than modern Africans. Modern non-African humans demonstrate about 20% Neanderthal gene pool, with about 2% of the individual average genome being Neanderthal.
All this information indicates that from the study of mitochondrial DNA (that passed on through each mother) scientists now (most of them) believe that all humans can be traced back to a common ancestor (Homo heidelbergensis) in Africa perhaps 200,000 years ago, a virtual real life “Eve.”
Of course, some people object to this theory on religious grounds and believe God created Man without going through all this evolutionary business. Question for students (and subscribers): What do you believe? Did dinosaurs live tens of millions of years ago, or did early man coexist with dinosaurs only a few thousand years ago? Tell us what you think about all this information in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Morse, Michael A. and Dimitra Papagianni. Neanderthals Rediscovered: How Modern Science Is Rewriting Their Story (Revised and Updated Edition). Thames & Hudson, 2015.