A few weeks ago South African scientists reported finding a supposedly 360 million year old fossil lamphrey. The problem for evolutionary theory is; the fossil lamprey is virtually identical to "present day" lampreys. Just in case some of those pesky creationists were around to ask embarrasing questions, the scientists noted that though the fossil had surprisingly not evolved much, it appeared that the lampreys had "gotten slightly longer"!
What kind of scientist would make such an assumption based on one specimen? An evolutionary scientist who needs to show something for 360 million years of work, that's who.
That brings us to the subject of this article, "Neanderthal Man". The more we learn about Neanderthal, the less primitive he becomes. Recent scientific articles have admitted that modern man and Neanderthal met, interacted and even interbred. Another recent article suggests that Europeans could be 5% Neanderthal
On the other hand, many ruling paradigm scientists are still insisting that Neaderthals couldn't speak and that there certainly was no interbreeding. So, what would happen when scientists were able to isolate Neanderthal DNA, as they have recently actually done with material found in a Croation cave?
Neanderthal DNA is 99.9% identical to "human" DNA! Blockbuster! All over the news, right? 99.9% identical is certainly startling, all right but it's not 100% identical, seemingly preserving something for evolutionary scientists to hang their hats on. Like saying it looks like lamphreys got slightly longer over 360 million years.
What they don't give you is the following fact as quoted from a lecture by Eric Lanser, Ph D; (easily verified elsewhere) "Any two humans on earth are 99.9 percent identical in their DNA sequences".
This kind of puts the data on Neanderthal DNA in a whole new light; their DNA differs from ours exactly as our differs from each other! Neanderthal is/was exactly as different from you as your next door neighbor is, only he/she is not typically depicted hunched over wearing animal skins and carrying a spear.
Given the fact that DNA sequencing shows that "modern humans" and Neanderthal are "identical", the article below really makes no sense, continuing the fiction that the populations remained separate and that we (modern humans) won (in evolutionary terms) and that they lost. Turns out that we're a little shorter, maybe.
By FIONA MACRAE Last updated at 22:00pm on 15th November 2006
We may like to think we're far superior to the Neanderthals species that us humans beat in the evolutionary battle.
But analysis of DNA from a 38,000-year-old bone has revealed Neanderthal and human DNA is actually up to 99.9 per cent identical.
In contrast, humans and chimps only share 95 per cent of their genetic material.
The discovery came as scientists work on decoding the entire Neanderthal genome from a perfectly-preserved artefact. Found in a cave in Croatia, the bone could hold the key to many of the secrets of evolution.
Dr Edward Rubin, one of the US and German researchers who have started to sequence the ancient DNA, said: 'We are at the dawn of Neanderthal genomics. 'This data will function as a DNA time machine and tell us aspects of biology we could never get from bones or associated artefacts.
Fossil remains have already shown that Neanderthals looked different from us, with heavy brows, low foreheads, and receding chins. They were also much more robustly built than modern humans.
A full blueprint of Neanderthal DNA - due to be produced in two years' time - could provide information on eye colour and hair colour, intelligence and language. The partial sequencing completed so far has confirmed the theory that humans and Neanderthals split from their common ancestor between 400,000 and 500,000 years ago, studies published in the journals Nature and Science report.
The two then co-existed for many thousands of years before Neanderthals became extinct around 30,000 years ago, perhaps beaten by their more innovative cousins in the race for food, clothing and shelter.
It is thought they were unable to compete with the more innovative and adaptable Homo sapiens for food, clothing and shelter. While the studies did not find any evidence that the two populations interbred, the researchers were unable to completely rule out the idea.
Dr Svante Paabo (CORR), of the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany, said: 'While unable to definitively conclude that interbreeding between the two species of humans did not occur, analysis of the nuclear DNA from the Neanderthal suggests the low likelihood of it having occurred at any appreciable level.'
Co-researcher Professor Jonathan Pritchard, of the University of Chicago, said further analysis could provide more evidence of what makes us human.
'Humans went through several key stages of evolution during the last 400,000 years,' he said. 'If we can compare humans and Neanderthal genomes, then we can possibly identify what the key genetic changes were during that final stage of human evolution.'
Professor Chris Stringer, head of human origins at the Natural History Museum in London, said: 'Research can now extend to complete the whole genome of a Neanderthal and to examine Neanderthal variation through time and space to compare with ours.
'Having such rich data holds the promise of looking for the equivalent genes in Neanderthals that code for specific features in modern humans, for example eye colour, skin and hair type, cognitive and language skills.'
He added: 'Having a Neanderthal genome will also throw light on our own evolution, by allowing a three-way comparison of the genetic blueprints that produced Neanderthals, and that today produce us and our closest living relatives, the chimpanzees.
'We should then be able to pin down unique changes in each genome to show how we came to be different from each other.' * In just 50 years' time, we'll live healthily to 100, thanks to full body transplants and a vegetarian diet, leading scientists predict.
Asked to forecast the biggest scientific breakthroughs of the next 50 years, they said the development of anti-aging drugs will allow us to live to a sprightly 100.
Professor Richard Miller, of the University of Michigan, said: 'It is now routine in laboratory mammals to extend lifespan by about 40 per cent. 'Turning on the same protective system in humans should, by 2056, create the first class of centenarians who are as vigorous and productive as today's run-of-the-mill sexagenarians.'
Advances in storing both eggs and ovarian tissue will allow women to give birth into old age, while technology that allows us to read the minds of animals will lead to mass vegetarianism.
New Scientist magazine's 50th birthday issue also predicts whole body transplants will be routine within just 50 years.