The baffling discovery of DNA evidence that does not fit with current theories of human evolution is causing scientists to rethink the whole story of human biological development, Juan Luis Arsuaga, a paleoanthropologist at Universidad Complutense de Madrid, told The New York Times this week.
The Times, interviewing only believers in Darwinian evolution, reported the retrieval of ancient human DNA from a fossil dating back about 400,000 years. The fossil came from a cave in Spain where 28 nearly complete skeletons have previously been found. Since researchers believe all 28 of the skeletons are from the Neanderthal species, they expected the new fossil would also be a Neanderthal. Much to their surprise, DNA analysis suggests the fossil is of Denisovan origin.
This finding perplexes evolutionists who believe the Neanderthals lived in Asia and Western Europe, while Denisovans were thought to be limited to East Asia, nearly 4,000 miles from the cave where the fossil was discovered in Spain. Since it is doubtful that a Denisovan could have traveled that far, evolutionists have no explanation for the presence of a Denisovan fossil among the Neanderthals.
Creation scientists, from a diversity of viewpoints, are weighing in on the matter.
Fazale Rana, biochemist, author, and executive vice president of Research & Apologetics for Reasons to Believe, offers an Old-Earth perspective, a creationism viewpoint that stays with the current scientific community's assessment of the Earth's age. Rana does not believe that the Neanderthal and Denisovan creatures were human. “It is important to understand,” he says, “when evolutionary scientists use the term ‘human’ they mean something very different from what you and I are talking about when we use the term.”
Rana explains when evolutionists talk about humans, they mean any primate that walked around on two legs. The fossil these researchers are talking about is a hominid. According to Rana, these creatures were impressive beings made by God, but they were not human. They lacked the image of God. They existed for a time and then went extinct. Their behavior, which was remarkable in many respects, was not consistent with human behaviors seen when modern man showed up.
Georgia Purdom, molecular geneticist and associate of Answers in Genesis, believes the fossils found in Spain represent human descendants of Noah’s family who migrated out from the Tower of Babel approximately 4,250 years ago and likely became isolated from other human populations. She holds the Young Earth view of creation that the earth was created in six days 6,000 years ago.
According to Purdom, the mitochondrial DNA of all these groups is similar to modern humans with only minor differences, likely due to their isolation from humans outside their group. Based on genetic data alone, it is unlikely that scientists will be able to determine exactly how the two groups, though geographically far apart, are closely related. But both groups have to be descendants of Noah's family since they were the only humans who survived the flood, Purdom states.
Casey Luskin, research coordinator for the Center for Science and Culture at Discovery Institute, believes the Neanderthals and Denisovans were human. The Discovery Institute is a proponent of Intelligent Design, the viewpoint that an undirected evolutionary process could not have led to the life we see in the world. Luskin says evolutionists are trying to create an evolutionary tree to link up modern humans with prehuman groups, but the DNA they are finding does not indicate that modern man evolved from non-human forms.
Luskin explains that all of these groups look very similar to modern man and do not show any evidence of being non-human. “Sure, the DNA is a little different, but not enough that it indicates a different species.” According to Luskin, these ancient creatures are so similar to modern man that if a Neanderthal was walking down the street today, he would not be noticed. “The latest find confirms only that they found another human bone,” Luskin says.