HEIDELBERG MAN ‘CEPRANO’ DEMONSTRATES THAT ‘PEOPLES IS PEOPLES’
An older member of the Heidelberg Man family may have related to both Neanderthals and modern Homo sapiens, according to a recent study in the journal for the Public Library of Science. The skull cap of a man known as “Ceprano”, found near Rome in1994, has been determined to be a member of Homo heidelbergensis rather than a separate species. According to popular evolutionary theory, various human fossils represent separate groups that evolved from ape ancestors millions of years ago. According to the Bible, all human beings descended from the first man Adam, but most were wiped out during the time of Noah save for the strains that survived through Noah’s three sons and their wives. The recent research on Ceprano offers evidence that ancient human groups were not as distinct as once thought, and that there are links between the humans who lived in Africa and those who lived in Europe.
Silvana Condemi , Director of Research at the National Center of Scientific Research (CNRS) in the laboratory of anthropology at the University of Marseille, has conducted extensive research on the Ceprano skullcap. Condemi and her colleagues compared Ceprano to 42 African and Eurasian fossils, as well as to 68 modern humans, and found characteristics that convinced them that Ceprano was an older form of H. heidelbergensis, and that H. heidelbergensis was a well-traveled human group. Ceprano’s skull bore similarities to a wide range of other human skulls – skulls from early humans in both Africa and Europe.
“Considering other fossils that can be lumped together with Ceprano in H. heidelbergensis, we can hypothesize that the ‘Ceprano-morphotype’ was tall, with a strong mandible (jaw) and small teeth,” Condemi told Discovery News.
Ceprano’s identity has proved controversial since the skullcap’s discovery in 1994. It has been considered a late Homo erectus, an ancestor of H. heidelbergensis, or even a completely new species called Homo cepranensis. Condemi and company argue that Ceprano, while bearing some archaic characteristics, may actually be an ancestor of both the Neanderthals in Europe and modern humans in Africa.
According to current evolutionary theory, the first members of the Homo genus, H. habilis first showed up between 1.4-2.5 million years ago, followed by H. erectus about 1.8 million years ago. After that came H. heidelbergensis approximately 350,000 years ago and finally modern humans just 150,000 years in the past.
The most popular view of human origins – Out of Africa II “Replacement” theory – is that Homo sapiens came out of Africa between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago and replaced other humans, like the Neanderthals, largely without intermingling.
An alternate hypothesis popularized by Milford H. Wolpoff rejects the idea that different human groups are genetically separate. Wolpoff’s multiregional origin of humans hypothesis posits that there is only one human species, from archaic forms like H. erectus and H. neanderthalensis to modern humans. Wolpoff and other proponents of multiregional origin argue that the evidence from fossils and genetics points to the human race as a single species that developed different characteristics as its individual populations spread throughout the globe, adapting to different environments. Even though the populations were separated by geography, they all maintained some of the same genes.
Wolpoff’s position has some good evidence to back it up. Studies have shown that H. neanderthalensis and H. erectus were not as separate from modern humans as previously thought. In 2006, researchers analyzed the DNA of a Neanderthal from a cave in Croatia, and determined that it was 99.5 percent identical to modern human DNA. In 2008, researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology were able to identify 60 percent of the Neanderthal genome and demonstrated that 1-4 percent of non-African human DNA came from Neanderthals.
Studies on mitochondrial DNA have claimed to show that Neanderthals were not direct descendants of modern humans. However, the Lake Mungo 3 skeleton found in Australia, an anatomically modern human, also has different mtDNA than humans today. While ancient humans like the Neanderthals and their smaller cousin H. erectus [see the May 10, 2011 eNews] may have (mostly) died out, they were just as human as any of us.
Ceprano, while previously thought to have been a separate species, now appears to be a cross between ancient Europeans and Africans, supporting Wolpoff’s position that all human gene pools are linked.
“We can hypothesize that particular environmental conditions during the Middle Pleistocene may have favored the expansion of H. heidelbergensis and contacts between populations,” explained Condemi. “The gene flow was never completely stopped between Old World populations.”
Paleontologist Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum, London, agreed with a number of Condemi’s conclusions. He told Discovery News, “I have long argued that Homo heidelbergensis represented our common ancestor with the Neanderthals about 400,000 years ago, and the Ceprano fossil, with its newly-determined late date, is well-situated chronologically to be part of this common ancestral group.”
While these scientists look at these issues through evolutionary eyes, their views correspond to the Biblical position that all human beings are ultimately related. If all of humanity but Noah and his family were wiped out, we should expect to see a variety of human groups in the fossil record, but only a relatively thin strain surviving to the present day.
• Walk Tall, Ginger Ninjas – Your Neanderthal Blood Is Worth Bottling – The Sydney Morning Herald
• Multiregional, Not Multiple Origins – American Journal Of Physical Anthropology
• Heidelberg Man Links Humans, Neanderthals – Discovery News
• Neanderthal: 99.5 Percent Human – Live Science
• The Continuing Story of Neandert(h)al Man – Centrum voor Recht and ICT
• Human Origins: Apes or Adam? – May 10, 2011 – Koinonia House eNews