A landmark study published last month pushes back on evolutionists’ assumptions about human ancestry.
DNA analysis of an ancient bone fragment, published last month in the journal Nature, concluded the fragment belonged to a 13-year-old girl with a Neanderthal mother and Denisovan father. Evolutionists generally consider Neanderthals and Denisovans to be two groups of ancient human relatives that share a common ancestor with modern humans, but who do not come from the same species, and who rarely, if ever, mated.
This fossil represents the first concrete proof that Neanderthals and Denisovans mated.
The researchers also found the mother’s DNA more closely matched the DNA of Neanderthals who lived in Western Europe than to those who lived near the Russian Denisova Cave, where archaeologists found the fossil, suggesting Neanderthals migrated between Western and Eastern Eurasia long before they became extinct. DNA analysis also revealed the girl’s Denisovan father had at least one Neanderthal ancestor in his family tree, further evidence that Denisovans and Neanderthals mated more than researchers previously believed.
And, apparently modern humans also mated with both Neanderthals and Denisovans: Today, Neanderthal DNA accounts for about 2 percent of the DNA from most Europeans and Asians, and 4 to 6 percent of the genomes of modern Melanesian groups in the Pacific Islands come from Denisovans.
The discovery that these two groups mated with each other astonished scientists who commonly believe that separate species cannot mate and produce offspring. “That sort of qualitatively transforms and changes our understanding of the world,” David Reich, a Harvard geneticist, told National Geographic.
But the analysis came as no surprise to creationists who have always considered Neanderthals and Denisovans part of the same species as modern humans. In a chapter of the 2016 book Searching for Adam: Genesis and the Truth About Man’s Origin, young earth creationist and anthropologist Marvin Lubenow concluded DNA, fossil, and anthropology records all support the “full humanity of the Neanderthals, our worthy ancestors.”
Ann Gauger, an intelligent design expert with Discovery Institute, agreed: “Evolutionary biologists like to split the human lineage into as many parts as they can. Hence they call these different species, when it is more fitting to call them different sub-groups.”
Based on the Genesis testimony, we know God created one human species, one humankind. Scientific discoveries like this one continue to affirm that truth. “From a Biblical perspective, [Neanderthals] were a post-Flood, Ice Age people, specializing in hunting the large, grazing animals that were abundant toward the end of the Ice Age and afterward," wrote Lubenow.
The fossil evidence does not point to an evolution of one human species into another human species, but instead a variety of characteristics among various human populations.