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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Neanderthal man was one of us?

Neanderthal DNA is apparently identical to that of a typical crowd of Toronto subway patrons.
Neanderthals might have spoken just like humans do now, new genetic findings suggest.

Neanderthals are humanity's closest extinct relatives. Since their discovery more than 150 years ago, researchers have found out they could make tools just like our ancestors could.

Whether Neanderthals also had advanced language, rather than mere grunts and groans, has remained hotly debated, however.

Well, in THAT case, the Neanderthals are identical to subway patrons trapped in the tunnel on a stifling August day. They grunt, groan, twist bits of paper into weird shapes (like our ancestors could), and stare at the roof of the car ...

Why anyone should be surprised by such findings, I do not know. It suggests that Neanderthals were not very different from modern humans, but there are other reasons for believing that anyway. See also Neanderthals in The Encyclopedia of Evolution in the Light of Intelligent Design.

Some claim chimpanzees have 99% the same DNA as humans, which - if true - primarily shows what DNA will NOT tell you.

More recent figures put the similarity at 94% or 96%. That’s good news for the people who produced them.

A friend draws my attention to these expert comments.

If you told me that chimps and humans had 100% similar DNA , I would conclude that DNA is not a useful source of information. If you tell me that chimps and humans have 95% similar DNA I will believe that DNA might provide useful information. After all, on a dark night at a distance, one might mistake the chimp for a human - until he opens his mouth. So the newer figures are more believable. And I would certainly like to believe that DNA IS a useful source of information.
Check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?.

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