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Humans not linked to Neanderthals in DNA study, journal Nature reports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Two key samples of Neanderthal DNA “are different from that of modern humanity,” according to a study in the journal Nature.

This finding “adds weight” to the view that Neanderthals “perished without contributing to” the human gene pool, Nature noted in its March 30 edition.

The finding runs counter to those in modern science who argue that humans evolved, at least partly, from Neanderthals. Others in secular science acknowledge, meanwhile, that Neanderthals are more like “cousins” rather than ancestors of modern humans.

In a March 29 report on ABC News’ Internet site, researcher William Goodwin of the University of Glasgow in Scotland said of his study in Nature: “… there are no examples of humans having Neanderthal-type DNA.”

Goodwin, in collaboration with scientists from Russia and Sweden, compared a DNA sequence from the bones of a Neanderthal baby found in Russia’s Caucasus Mountains with a 1997 study of a DNA sequence from a Neanderthal skeleton found in Germany.

In scientific terms, according to ABCNEWS.com, the baby’s DNA sequence in material within its cells known as “mitochondria” differed from the other Neanderthal sequence in 3.5 percent of the locations tested, while the difference with humans was 7 percent, which, according to scientists, is substantial.

The Neanderthal baby, according to Nature’s use of evolution-oriented dating, died around 29,000 years ago.

Reuters and USA Today noted that Goodwin’s study supports the theory of humans evolving from a common ancestor in Africa about 100,000 years ago according to evolution-oriented dating. And according to ABCNEWS.com, Goodwin said of his study, “I wouldn’t claim this to be conclusive.” It is possible, for example, that humans and Neanderthals may have mated and produced sterile offspring, he acknowledged.

The ABCNEWS.com report noted that the Goodwin’s findings also did not sway University of Michigan anthropologist Loring Bruce, a proponent of the idea that people descended from Neanderthals based on a progression of skull features. “The whole picture is still very spotty,” Bruce was quoted as saying.

None of the reports sought reaction from a proponent of biblical creation.

Hal N. Ostrander, a Southern Baptist creation proponent and associate dean and associate professor of Christian theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s James P. Boyce College of the Bible in Louisville, Ky., told Baptist Press:

“It’s impossible for both evolutionary positions [pro-Neanderthal-human link and anti-] to be correct simultaneously. Hence, one or the other must be the case if you’re going to walk the evolutionary path.”

Ostrander continued, “If you’re a biblical creationist of some variety, Neanderthals could possibly be a distinct creation of God separate as a species from human beings (a very advanced ‘hominid’ of sorts), creatures that were never intended to be human and that have since gone extinct.”

Or it is possible that Neanderthals were, in fact, human beings, Ostrander said. “Hence, they would necessarily be descendants of Adam generally and perhaps a post-Babel population group specifically. If they were post-Babel, it’s within the realm of possibility for them to have died out as a people group.”