Neanderthal Children's Fossils-Uncovering Evolutionary Reconstructions
Trust is an important concept in science. Most people believe that scientists strive for truth. But if scientists make sensitive and not-explicitly-mentioned initial assumptions, how much can you trust their conclusions?
Since 1979 I have been collecting human fossil data in museums and universities, and I have noticed a definite pattern. It appears as if the paleoanthropologists have made a concerted effort to adhere to a rigid uniformitarian viewpoint concerning the growth, maturation, and aging process in ancient populations no matter what the evidence showed. Two major evolutionary assumptions undergird this position.
The first is the facial reduction theory: that the descendants of ape-like ancestors all had faces that gradually became less projecting as they evolved toward modern humans. Neanderthals were somewhere in the midst of this facial evolution and still had projecting noses, cheekbones and jaws. Weidenreich said,
almost all alterations of the dentition in the course of the phylogenetic evolution of man can be regarded as a consequence of the reduction of the face and its adaptation to the upright position.1
Weis and Mann echo the same sentiments.
Two of the major changes in human evolution are the reduction of the face and teeth and the enlargement of the braincase. Both have contributed to the differences in the jaws of modern humans and apes.2
Evolutionists have generally believed that this facial projection started at an early age.3
Humans have a tendency towards orthognathism (straight face), while the ape is prognathic (protruding face). Many humans have protruding faces. None, however, protrude as much as the chimpanzee, orangutan, gorilla or gibbon.
The second key assumption is that the present is the key to the past. This assumes that the rates of growth and development for children of ancient history were equal to or faster than modern children. Equal to, because of the present to past assumption, and faster, because of the supposed primitive ape-like heritage.
As we shall see, it is never allowed that children in ancient times may have developed more slowly. This might be too close to the account in Genesis which would suggest longer lifespans in the early centuries after the Flood. (Such delayed maturation and longer lifespans might also readily lead to a non-ape explanation for many of the bony features of adult Neanderthals.)
These two basic false assumptions, plus creative imagination, I believe, have been the source of all the problems in the reconstruction of fossil men and fossil apes.
In my research, I've been privileged to study four fossils of Neanderthal children. Neanderthal fossils often have been used as transitional fossils by paleoanthropologists in the past,4 and presented to the public as drawings of reconstructions, photographs of isolated parts, and reconstructions made of either plaster or combinations of bone and plastic-like material. Were their faces reconstructed accurately? Or were they reconstructed with the above-mentioned evolutionary beliefs in mind?
The Pech Child
The first Neanderthal child we shall examine is the supposedly 2.5-year-old Pech de l'Aze from southern France. In his original description of this child, E. Patte said that when the teeth are placed in a normal bite, the end of the lower jaw (condyle) doesn't contact the concave socket (fossa) in the head.5 In 1970 Ivanhoe examined the Pech child and defined the teeth as "grossly maloccluded [the teeth did not fit together in a good bite] with numerous enamel irregularities and crown anomalies."6
I examined the original Pech de l'Aze fossil at the Musé¥ de l'Homme in Paris, France and found to my surprise that there was no protrusion of the lower jaw, and that it fitted perfectly into the temporomandibular (TM or glenoid) socket with the teeth fitting exactly together.7 I tried several times to produce what was seen in Figure 1, but I couldn't do it (see figures 2 and 3). The left side of the lower jaw had been reconstructed to match the right side and it also fitted perfectly into the TM socket on the left side of the cranium. Could this be the grossly maloccluded jaw that Ivanhoe described?8
The measurable (cephalometric) X-rays I took of Pech showed that the lower face of this supposedly 2.5- year-old child is less forward than even the modern one-year-old.9 Figure 4 shows the comparison of my reconstruction and Patte's original diagram. This facial retrusion for a Neanderthal child certainly does not fit the facial reduction theory. The only accurate measurement of the length of this child's head (because the back of the head was broken) is a line drawn from Nasion (point between nose and forehead) to Basion (point on base of skull) in the X-ray. It measured 85.42mm. The modern three-year-old is 82.47 mm, slightly smaller than Pech's skull.
Another significant finding was the steep (14 degrees) angulation of the hard palate (roof of mouth) of the upper jaw to a straight line drawn from below the eye to the external opening of the ear canal. By the time a modern child has reached two years of age his or her hard palate is parallel with the eye-ear plane. The impression one gets from looking at Pech is that the face is extremely wound up in a clockwise direction ready to unwind in a long growth period. A comparison of Pech to the modern 9- to 12-week-old human embryo shows a very similar angulation of the hard palate structures.10 Since there is a conflict between the size of the head and face, the question now becomes: Are the face and teeth delayed in growth in relation to the head? Before this is answered, let us examine some other Neanderthal children.
The second Neanderthal child is the supposedly 5-year-old from Gibraltar. This child was described by British anthropologist Dorothy Garrod in 1928:
When the fragments were originally found we had only portions of the skull-cap on which to base our estimate of age. Since that time the discovery of the jaws, whose evidence is somewhat conflicting when compared with the skull-cap, has made a fairly exact estimate possible11 (Emphasis added).
She goes on to specify:
the most important evidence is necessarily provided by the teeth. It may be accepted as a good rule that the first permanent molars erupt in the sixth year.12
Garrod was applying the second key assumption mentioned in the introduction in assuming that the modern day eruption time of the first permanent molars has always been the same throughout history-in the sixth year. This "fact" made the Gibraltar child five years old.
I examined the Gibraltar child's upper and lower jaws in the British Museum in London. In the lower jaw I discovered an error in reconstruction that would have made a difference in the determination of its age if tooth levels were not allowed to dictate the conclusion. The lower jaw shows two primary molars and one unerupted first permanent molar on the left side. These teeth are absent on the right side, where an artificial tooth has been put in place of the first molar. There has been a break through the jaw, on the right side, in the socket of the second primary molar (see Figure 5). This socket has been compressed; if the left second primary molar on the other side (middle tooth) was moved over to the right, it could never fit into this position. The back piece of the right side has been rotated outward so that the artificial tooth has its top surface facing straight up.
Figure 6 is a diagram showing the extent of the movement of the right broken piece. The midline Ml to M2 divides the lower jaw in half. In most cases both sides should be approximately equal distances from this line. Certainly not all lower jaws are bilaterally symmetrical, but the broken and compressed socket casts a shadow over this alignment. Moreover, if an attempt was made for symmetry, the distances between CL and M2, and CR and M2, would be the same. But as seen in Figure 6, they actually aren't, and the broken piece has been pushed out about 10 mm and probably rotated forward 7- 8 degrees. Most physical anthropologists know that a very young lower jaw shows a tipping in (toward the midline) and a tipping back of the condyle and upper part of the jaw. This imaginative adjustment in reconstructing the fossil jaw made it appear older, even though it was still small in comparison to a modern five-year-old.
Garrod finally admits that "the jaws are both absolutely and relatively small and the brain case large."13 This suggests that either the child was an older one in which the teeth/jaws were delayed (in relation to the way humans develop today) or it was a 5-year-old with an accelerated head. Since the face, teeth and head of the ape develop in an accelerated way compared to a modern human, one can see the reluctance of evolutionists to admit that tooth development might have been delayed in these prehistoric children.
Garrod enumerated 10 features, including remarkable jaw-muscle development, well-worn teeth, infant-like forehead, and infant-like bones around the ear. The first two she should have recognized would indicate an older child based on studies of teeth throughout scientific history; the latter two a less mature child. So how old was he? I don't think she really knew. Nevertheless, based on her unwillingness to depart from the standard evolutionary belief that the ages of tooth eruption in the past were the same as in her own day, the teeth of the Gibraltar child meant that it had to be assigned an age of five years.
In addition to these 10 features, Figure 7 shows that the two primary molars are taurodont teeth (bull-like). They are capable of much greater and longer wear than modern children's teeth. Garrod saw these teeth and remarked, "The crowns of the teeth are very much worn, to an unusual degree for temporary teeth."
She almost concluded that more than five years were necessary for the brain case to grow this large, even though the teeth only appear five years old. She said,
Although the breadth of the parietal is unusually large, it is possible that it may be within the normal limits of variation, although here also, unless we presume a slower rate of growth in this region than modern man, we are certainly dealing with an unusual specimen.14
However, I think she knew that the evidence was leading to a child who had lived longer, had more tooth wear than five years and was maturing and growing very slowly.
The Engis Child
The third fossil, the Engis child from Belgium, was determined to be six or seven years of age by Charles Fraipont in 1936.15 I studied the Engis child, a fossil discovered in Belgium in 1830, at the University of Liè§¥ in Belgium.
Fraipont's age determination was stretching things a bit, as he saw loose first permanent molar teeth that hadn't erupted yet, with almost no root formation. Some contradictory evidence against Fraipont's estimate of age comes from a 1963 study by Morrees et al.16 According to Morrees et al. modern children achieve this stage of lower first molar development at about 3 years. Today the root is half completed by 5.4 to 5.5 years. Therefore according to recent standards, this child could be as young as three.17
Fraipont also ran into the same problems that Garrod did with the Gibraltar child. He found some infant-like features in the head. He made special mention of the extremely infantile character of the temporal bone, especially the tympanic ring, stating, "we notice some traces of the human fetus of the modern day child."18 He also found taurodont baby molars, many other baby teeth, and a small upper jaw that didn't seem to match a forehead that looked older than five years of age.
The bony forehead showed the beginning of a brow ridge over each eye and a slight elevation above the bridge of the nose. When faced with this mature and older look in the forehead, and the youthfulness of the teeth and ear, he had a dilemma! He couldn't figure out how old the child was.
The forehead looked as old as 11-12 years, which would have made the teeth really late, because children of his day formed teeth like that in five years.19 This would mean the teeth were delayed. He believed that a delay in tooth eruption would be unthinkable. He said,
…a delay in secondary or permanent teeth (development) for this species or kind would be a flagrant contradiction with all that we know about his development and his anthropoid characters.20
So, he called the teeth normal, meaning very close to the 1936 schedule of appearance in the mouth.
He therefore had to call the head accelerated (relative to modern children of six or seven years of age). This would be in line with his theories of ape affinity. However, it was too small in length to call it really accelerated. It actually was only 164 millimeters (Figure 8). So in his article, he took the actual 164 mm length as seen in Figure 8 and inflated it to 188 mm.21 It is not 188 mm regardless of how you measure the length, even if the broken piece is repaired in the furthest back area (occipital bun). My measurement may be off by 1-2 mm, but not by 24 mm. His figure could not have been obtained by measurement. He then states, "The neanderthal infant presents an acceleration in the development of the cranial skeleton."22
Once again, this changing of facts because of assumptions is not science. It mandates acceleration of the head even if it means adding 24 mm, and flies in the face of a thoughtful assessment of all the evidence.
Le Moustier Youth
The fourth Neanderthal child is Le Moustier, a French male Neanderthal of supposedly 15 to 18 years of age. I examined and X-rayed this fossil in the Museum f?und Fr?hichte in Berlin. The skull and facial bones were broken and separated by a bomb explosion during World War 11. I have recently made my X-rays available to the present museum anthropologists at their request in an attempt to put the skull and face together property.
Figure 9 shows the original construction by Klaatsch and Hauser from their article in 1909.23 Figure 10 is a reconstruction based on my X-rays. Figure 11 is a very ape-like reconstruction from a photograph of the official exhibit in the museum display case. Figure 12 was drawn from the slide of Le Moustier purchased from the museum souvenir counter. There are obviously great differences in these four versions of Le Moustier.
The forehead of the museum exhibit is very ape-like. But my X- ray of the forehead shows that it would look almost like a modern one if aligned in an upright position. Check Figure 10 to see how it appears upright and how well it fits into the side of the skull (temporal and parietal bones). Both upper and lower jaws in the drawing of the souvenir museum slide (see Figure 12) are very forward of the modern human range of normal. However, careful examination of the lower jaw shows that the condyle, which fits into the fossa of the skull (arrow), is not sitting in the fossa, but is about 30 mm forward in the temple or infra-temporal area. The lower jaw would be dislocated if this were its normal position. Figure 13 is an X- ray of the side of the head, and an arrow points to the fossa of the temporal bones where this condyle is supposed to fit. The lower jaw in Figure 12 is so far out of the joint area that the ligaments attaching it to the back of the fossa would be stretched beyond their elasticity.
Such a positioning of the jaws gives this version a decidedly ape-like appearance, and also makes the jaws somewhat similar to the adults.
Le Moustier's crushed chin has been reconstructed as being flat with no curvature or elevation of the modern chin. This certainly fits the chinless assumption taken from the ape heritage assumption, but is it correct? In the study of the other three children, their chinlessness could very well be due to infantile characteristics and small jaws. By the time a Neanderthal youth like Le Moustier should have acquired a chin, all that can be found is a broken one. Once again, assumptions and imagination dictate reconstruction.
What are we to make of all this? These examples of fossil manipulation demonstrate the truth of Proverbs 23:7: "For as he thinks within himself, so is he." As people think, so they act. If your faith is based on the evolutionary scheme of life, all your actions will flow from that base and you will naturally support it with your whole being. These paleoanthropologists were carrying out their assumptions in their reconstruction and interpretation of the Neanderthal children's fossils. Using such erroneous methods, it's possible to come up with alleged transitional fossils every time.
The obvious conclusion from this bony evidence is that Neanderthal children did not develop like apes and were most likely slower than children of today. In addition, I must add that there have been reports on children of recent history which indicate a slower pattern of growth and development in the past.24,25 This whole topic is fascinating; as my forthcoming book discusses, many of the "archaic" features of some strains of "early man" are very likely due to delayed maturation in early post-Flood people who still had (as the Bible record indicates) significantly longer lifespans than today.
It seems to be the prevailing practice among palcoanthropologists that the ape heritage assumptions of neo-Darwinian evolution dictate the construction and interpretation of fossils. Then the construction or new interpretation is turned around and used as a fact to prove the validity of neo-Darwinian evolution. This is circular reasoning.
And this may be only the tip of the iceberg. When very few people get to closely examine the real fossils, anything is possible. It would be refreshing to see the museums, especially the one in Nairobi, Kenya, where I've had an application rejected year after year, open their doors to independent investigators so that science may do what science is supposed to do and be objective.
EDITOR'S NOTE: For a fuller treatment of the technical aspects of Dr. Cuozzo's study, readers may wish to refer to the paper, "Neanderthal Children's Fossils: Reconstruction and Interpretation Distorted by Assumptions," in the Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal, Vol.8, No. 2, 1994.
John Cuozzo has been an orthodontist in Glen Ridge, New Jersey for 28 years. He received his D.D.S. from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dentistry and an M.S. in oral biology from Loyola University of Chicago. He is assistant director of the dental department at Mountainside Hospital (Montclair NJ) and teaches creation/evolution at the New York School of the Bible.
Copyright ? 1995 Bible Science Newsletter. Creation Moments, Inc. PO Box 260 Zimmerman, MN 55398
1. F. Weidenreich, Trends of Human Evolution, Viking Fund Memorial Volume (New York: Washburn and Wolffson, 1949), p. 9.
2. M.L. Weiss. and A.E. Mann, Human Biology and Behavior, An Anthropological Perspective, 4th Edition, (New York: Little Brown and