May 20, 2015 | By George Gantz
On the Curious Life and Fate of the Neanderthal
Lydia Pyne, in her article “Our Neanderthal Complex – What if our ancient relatives did “human” better?”, published in Nautilus online in May, offers an intriguing fresh look at the mythology of the brutish “cave-man” that roamed Europe tens of thousands of years ago. While Neanderthals were first identified some 150 years ago, they were promptly relegated to inferior status, a failed and dead species when compared to modern humans. As Pyne notes, “The unique cranial morphology of Neanderthals was immediately interpreted as issuing from deficiencies in Neanderthal cognitive ability.”
This bias continued through most of the 20th century, but research in the last few decades has called into question the accuracy of this mythology. Researchers have now concluded that “Neanderthals created complex tools, buried their dead, had an organized use of space…” Moreover, there is DNA evidence of interbreeding – Neanderthals are a part of our own genetic heritage.
As I noted in a comment on the Nautilus article, there is a remarkable and little known “source” of information about our pre-sapiens cousins. According to material he wrote in the 18th century (100 years before the discovery of Neanderthal remains), Emanuel Swedenborg had the opportunity to meet with humans that pre-dated Adam and that formed the first and most ancient Church. These interviews were conducted during Swedenborg’s spiritual experiences – his visits to Heaven and Hell. As a well trained scientist, Swedenborg took detailed notes from these interviews on facial physiology, respiration and the structure of the brain. His descriptions are presciently accurate, and offer potential avenues for research that has yet to be conducted.
Swedenborg’s observations described a communication capability that derived from direct connections of the cerebellum to the facial muscles. As a result, the species would be unable to dissemble – their faces would reveal exactly what they were thinking in exquisite detail. In contrast, for Adam and his progeny, the modern humans among which we count ourselves, communication has been restructured. Our communication is directed by the cerebrum through the means of abstract language. We are, therefore, quite capable of separating words from thoughts – and hiding our thoughts from our companions.
Swedenborg characterized the ancient, pre-Adamite humans as being of the Most Ancient Church – each of them capable of a direct and immediate relationship with God and with the spiritual meaning of the world in which they lived. But in modern humans, the ability to deceive also gave life to the modern ego. From openness to deception: Such was the fall of mankind.
These differences may also explain a key asymmetry between Neanderthals and modern humans, one that ultimately led to their extinction.
For anyone curious about Swedenborg’s observations I would recommend Chapter Nine of Edward Sylvia’s 2009 book Proving God: Swedenborg’s Remarkable Quest for the Quantum Fingerprints of Love.