Incorrect Neanderthal Stereotype

on January 16, 2010
Featured in News to Know

The stereotype of Neanderthals is that they were hulking, hairy troglodytes quite different from “refined” modern humans. Now there’s even more evidence of how incorrect that stereotype is.

Archaeologists led by Bristol University’s Joao Zilhao uncovered shells containing yellow and red pigment residues at Neanderthal dig sites in southern Spain. Coupled with similar evidence found in Africa, the pigments paint a picture of Neanderthals far more sophisticated than their stereotype—which scientists have known to be wrong for years.

The pigments paint a picture of Neanderthals far more sophisticated than their stereotype.

“This is the first secure evidence for their use of cosmetics,” Zilhao said. “The association of these findings with Neanderthals is rock-solid and people have to draw the associations and bury this view of Neanderthals as half-wits.” The team suggests some of the pigmented shells may have also been worn as jewelry.

London Natural History Museum paleontologist Chris Stringer, commenting on the find, noted, “I agree that these findings help to disprove the view that Neanderthals were dim-witted. [But] it’s very difficult to dislodge the brutish image from popular thinking.”

Bible-believing creationists, recognizing that all humans (Neanderthal or otherwise) are descendants of the same first couple, have frequently pointed out the errors of the popular Neanderthal stereotype. Aside from minor skeletal differences—which may have even been caused or worsened by such diseases as rickets—Neanderthals were probably no different from other humans. Furthermore, studies have suggested that modern Europeans carry some Neanderthal DNA. As such, we love to learn about archaeological findings that validate what the Bible teaches: Neanderthals, like all humans, were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).

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