The Neanderthal Should Be Classified As A subspecies of Modern Man

Essay by lxlfengMiddle School, 6th grade June 2005

download word file, 2 pages 4.3


This essay is about the debate of whether the Neanderthal should be classified as a subspecies of modern man or should have a place in human evolution. Since its discovery of the Neanderthal fossil in 1856, people have been arguing whether it is a subspecies of modern man, homo sapien Neanderthals, or a distinct species, homo Neanderthals.

        Firstly, the essay talks about the DNA evidence of the Neanderthals. Recently, according to the essay, the DNA of the Neanderthals shows few similarities with the DNA of modern humans. This also tells the researchers that the Neanderthals diverged about 600,000 years ago to form homo Neanderthals. However, that DNA testing was based solely on one specific Neanderthal fossil, much because genetic material is scarce and difficult to extract. The one Neanderthal subject may be an inadequate indicator of the genetic variability within an entire species.

        The Neanderthals shared key physical characteristics with modern humans.

The skeletal structures are similar, brains are roughly the size in relation to the body, anthropologists, after examining the joint structures and cranial capacities, believe that Neanderthals could do many activities that modern humans do. Neanderthals had thicker bones, shorter limbs in relation to a stocky torso. However, modern people living in colder climate show the same characteristics. Similarly, animals which live in cold climates have shorter tails, ears or beaks than their counterparts in warmer area. This suggests that Neanderthals have stocky builds because of climate they are living in. Neanderthals have larger brain volume because of their larger physique, much like humans nowadays who have different sizes of brains according to their body size.

Fossil evidence has also shed light on the human- like behavior and cultural practices of Neanderthals. Neanderthals had a larynx at the base of the skull, meaning they had the physical...