Hold onto your hats, don't be too shocked, but a creationist has lied about science. I'm constantly getting email from fundagelical groups insisting that I must obey and join their One True Faith, and I got one from the Worldwide Church of God aka Radio Church of God aka Grace Communion International aka whatever the heck they're calling themselves this week. They're kind of a quirky, long-separated splinter group of the Seventh Day Adventists with their own idiosyncratic theology, but one thing they definitely are: stark raving mad young earth creationists. I was sent this bizarre article, "Cavemen are people, too!", that grossly misrepresents the science of the recent neandertal genome sequencing. Here's their summary of the work:
What did the scientists find? Simply put: Neanderthals are human. There was virtually no difference between the two codes. The few differences they did find were so slight that researchers say that they are functionally irrelevant--and that if more Neanderthal genomes could be compared there might be no differences at all!
But that is not all the scientists found. The data suggests Neanderthals are as closely related to humans as Chinese are to Germans, or French to Javanese. Furthermore, the genetic material analyzed indicated that Neanderthals and humans interbred and produced offspring that interbred--and regularly.
Uh, no. Did they even read the paper?
The work by Pääbo's team found that Neandertal's were distinct and different from modern humans in a small but significant number of ways; they were our close cousins, but they were also a separate and unique population. The differences were small — 78 genes were identified that were fixed to a different form in modern human populations — but they definitely weren't irrelevant: everyone is rather excited about the genes associated with the development and function of the brain that differ between the two. The stuff about being related to Chinese, Germans, etc. is totally garbled. What the researchers found is that there was some transmission of Neandertal genes into human populations that were ancestral to Europeans and Asians, but not to Africans. They did not find evidence of regular interbreeding — they found that Neandertals made a small contribution to European and Asian DNA, on the order of 1-4%. And most of this was a result of a few early interbreeding events in the small but rapidly expanding population of modern humans expanding out of Africa.
They didn't understand the paper at all, and got most of the conclusions completely wrong. You can guess what they conclude, though.
Did you get that? All those supposed pre-man, caveman bones are actually just plain old human skeletons.
It is a startling admission for evolutionists because it throws a monkey wrench into conventional evolutionary theory.
And then they're off and running. All those prehuman fossils? Either man or monkey, nothing in between. Transitional fossils? If there aren't any differences between man and ape-man, than there can't be any. It's all just "DNA passed down from generation to generation" (Yeah? So?).
The heart of their argument is that one class of ancient hominids had so few genetic differences from us that their differences are negligible, and therefore evolutionary theory is all wrong. It's bizarre; don't they realize that we expect that the genetic differences between sibling species recently separated will be much smaller than those between species separated by long periods of time? The discoveries in the Neandertal genome are what we expected, and fit just fine into evolutionary theory.
The author of this little piece instead decides that "science proves the Bible correct", and that the Neandertals were actually the pre-Flood Nephilim, part of the mob of evil, warring bad guys who motivated God to kill everyone except Noah and his family. Same ol', same ol'.