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» Denisovan Fossilized Finger Looks Very Humanlike

Denisovans have been more closely linked to Neanderthals than to humans.


Most scientists believe Denisovans were a group of ancient Stone Age hominids who lived in Asia “300,000 to 50,000” years ago. Supposedly, Denisovans are genetically more closely linked to Neanderthals than they are to humans.

However, paleogeneticist E. Andrew Bennett of Paris Diderot U. and colleagues say they have made a discovery which raises questions about who the Denisovans were. A tiny piece of pinkie bone had been discovered a decade ago in Siberia’s Denisova Cave by Russian scientists. That fossil provided the first known Denisovan DNA.

Now Bennett’s team says they have identified the rest of the finger bone, which they say is from the right hand of a female Denisovan teen or pre-teen. What surprised these scientists was that the bone looks more like those of humans, both ancient and recent, than it does those of Neanderthals. The possibility thus exists that when future body parts of Denisovans are found, they too will look more humanlike than Neanderthal-like. So far, in addition to the finger, teeth, part of a jawbone and part of a braincase have been uncovered.

Bennett’s group of scientists studied the DNA found in both the original bone and the newly identified fossil and concluded both fragments were from the same individual. The dimensions and shape of the entire finger fall within the range of measurements expected for Homo sapiens, not Neanderthals.

Yet, Bennett recommends caution in trying to identify Denisovan fossils based solely on shape. His report can be found in the September 4 edition of Science Advances.

Comment: All this speculation about whether the Denisovans were more like humans than they were like Neanderthals would be meaningless if all three groups were indeed Homo sapiens. This little bit of evidence making Denisovans seem humanlike shouldn’t be surprising.

There is a large body of evidence suggesting that Neanderthals were much more intelligent and civilized than they are often given credit for being. We now know they made tools and ornaments out of stone and bones; they invented glue; they made necklaces; they started fires; they cooked food; they had spiritual and ritual practices; they buried their dead; and they created abstract images on cave walls. Most important of all, they mated with humans. Shouldn’t that make them the same species as us?

So, if Neanderthals were really humans and Denisovans seem more humanlike than even Neanderthals, what is to stop us from considering each of these varieties to be fully human?

What could the Denisovans and Neanderthals have been if they weren’t humans? They clearly weren’t apes. The Bible doesn’t allow for any semi-human ancestors which the scientific establishment has created for us to believe in. All ancient humans were descended from Adam and Eve, had souls, and needed a Savior just as we do.

We would do better to focus more on the humans which are alive and around us today than on the humans who lived in the distant past. The Gospel is for everybody, but we can spread the Gospel only to people of the present. “Therefore go and gather disciples from all nations by baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 18:19, EHV).

Reference: Bruce Bower, "This ancient Denisovan finger bone is surprisingly humanlike," Science News [September 4, 2019].

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QUESTION OF THE DAY

What Caused São Paulo, Brazil to Recently Experience Daytime Darkness?

Wildfires burning thousands of miles away, in the Amazon of Rondonia and Bolivia, caused heavy smoke to blow all the way to São Paulo. By 3 p.m. the sky was almost pitch black and cars drove with headlights on. The event was considered a freak weather phenomenon.

Source: “The world at a glance,” The Week [August 30, 2019], page 6.

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The opinions expressed here are those of the blog writter and do not necessarily represent the views of LSI. Please note that links in older posts may be broken.

About Me--Warren Krug
Decades ago I attended a so-called Lutheran university where I could have lost my faith. The science professors promoted the theory of evolution and made fun of anybody who believed in the account of creation as presented in the book of Genesis. Thanks be to God, some creationist literature and the Bible soon helped get me back on the right track. Ever since then I have taken an active interest in the creation/evolution controversy.

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