Evolution in the News - January 2014
by Do-While Jones

DNA Stunner

New DNA analysis raises more questions about human evolution.

As we told you in our feature article, Science News thought the fourth most important science story of 2013 was “a stunner.”

Scientists have recovered the oldest known DNA from a member of the human evolutionary family. This find raises surprising questions about relationships among far-flung populations of ancient hominids.

A nearly complete sample of mitochondrial DNA was extracted from a 400,000-year-old leg bone previously found in a cave in northern Spain. The DNA shows an unexpected hereditary link to the Denisovans, Neandertals’ genetic cousins that lived in East Asia at least 44,000 years ago, say paleogeneticist Matthias Meyer of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and his colleagues. 1

We told you last July about the Denisovans. 2 They are the mythical race of people known only by two teeth (one of which was formerly thought to have come from a cave bear), a fingertip fragment, and marvelous DNA analysis.

The mitochondrial DNA of a leg bone found in Sima de los Huesos (“Pit of Bones”) in Spain was analyzed and found to be more like the mythical Denisovans than like Neanderthals.

Without going into detail, there are three problems for evolutionists: time, geography, and shape. The bones aren’t the right age, aren’t in the right place, and aren’t the right shape.

The fact that the Sima de los Huesos mtDNA shares a common ancestor with Denisovan rather than Neanderthal mtDNAs is unexpected in light of the fact that the Sima de los Huesos fossils carry Neanderthal-derived features (for example, in their dental, mandibular, midfacial, supraorbital and occipital morphology). Denisovans were identified in 2010 based on DNA sequences retrieved from a manual phalanx [finger] and a molar [tooth] found in southern Siberia. 3

Furthermore, although almost no morphological [shape] information is available for Denisovans, a molar that carries Denisovan DNA is of exceptionally large size and does not exhibit the cusp reduction seen in the Sima de los Huesos hominins. 4

The DNA analysis links the Sima de los Huesos bone to the Denisovans; but the only tooth “known” (really, suspected) to have come from a Denisovan doesn’t look like any of the teeth found in the Pit of Bones.

The biggest conundrum comes courtesy of the oldest known DNA sample from a member of the human evolutionary family — a 400,000-year-old leg bone previously found in a cave in northern Spain. A nearly complete sample of maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA linked the bone to the Denisovans, mysterious genetic cousins of Neandertals who lived in Siberia at least 44,000 years ago. 5

It would have been no shock to find mitochondrial DNA links between the Sima fossil and Neandertals, a species that has yielded partial samples of mitochondrial DNA from as early as 100,000 years ago. Now, however, scientists must try to figure out how a genetic connection formed between H. heidelbergensis in western Europe and presumably later-evolving Denisovans in Asia. 6

Let the Speculation Begin!

How do evolutionists explain these “stunning” findings? With wild speculation!

If the Sima hominids’ ancestors mated with members of another hominid species — possibly Homo erectus or an as-yet-undiscovered population —mitochondrial DNA variants could have entered the Sima DNA and later reached the Denisovans via interbreeding with the same species, Meyer speculates.

Another possibility is that Denisovan ancestors occupied a vast expanse of Asia and Europe before the Sima population evolved, says paleogeneticist Carles Lalueza-Fox of the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Barcelona. Hominid fossils found in two caves near Sima de los Huesos, dating to between 1.3 million and 800,000 years ago, may represent descendants of that intercontinental population, Lalueza-Fox suggests. Sima hominids thus could have received genetic contributions from those groups that partly matched DNA separately inherited by the Denisovans far to the east.

If so, Neandertals probably originated as a small, isolated European population around 250,000 years ago, Lalueza-Fox proposes. 7

They are grasping at more straws than a janitor in a scarecrow factory!

Why Believe?

2013 didn’t produce any real evidence for evolution—just more questions and foolish speculation. Why then did belief in the theory of evolution among Christians go up in 2013? It makes as little sense as the theory of evolution itself!

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1 Bruce Bower, Science News, December 4, 2013, “Ancient hominid bone serves up DNA stunner” , https://www.sciencenews.org/article/ancient-hominid-bone-serves-dna-stunner
2 Disclosure, July 2013, “Denisovans”
3 Meyer, et al., Nature, 4 December 2013, “A mitochondrial genome sequence of a hominin from Sima de los Huesos”, http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v505/n7483/full/nature12788.html
4 ibid.
6 Science News, December 28, 2013, “Year in Review: New Discoveries reshape debate over human ancestry”, page 22, https://www.sciencenews.org/article/year-review-new-discoveries-reshape-debate-over-human-ancestry
6 ibid.
7 Bruce Bower, Science News, December 4, 2013, “Ancient hominid bone serves up DNA stunner” , https://www.sciencenews.org/article/ancient-hominid-bone-serves-dna-stunner