Re: mtDNA Eve and the determination of humanity

From: Glenn Morton <>
Date: Thu Feb 23 2006 - 08:11:24 EST

***Continuation part 3 of quotation of Adam Apes and Anthropology****
              Even with all these problems, Bachler's character was such that there was no question of fraud as critic Kurten attests.73 Kurten says that the larger pieces of cave bear skull will be pushed to the side of the cave by subsequent cave occupants making it look like the skulls were placed in niches. Thus Kurten says that Drachenloch is nothing more than a chance arrangement of stones that fell from the ceiling intermixed with bears that died during hibernation. Two facts argue against this interpretation. First, Bachler claimed the skulls were found in a square stone chest in the center of the cave, not at the cave wall.74 Second, rocks falling from a cave roof are extremely unlikely to form a rectangular box when they land. There was a collection of bear skulls at the back of the cave which probably collected in the manner suggested by Kurten, but Bachler never claimed that those were in a stone chest. The skulls Bachler claimed were indicative of intentional
 were in a rectangular chest in the middle of the cave.
              I outlined the issues involved with Drachenloch very rapidly so that the reader can understand what they are as we now go back to look at them in more detail. Ivar Lissner, in the 1950s, studied the material at the St. Gallen Museum and came away convinced that there was sacrificial activity carried out at Drachenloch. He gave several lines of evidence supporting this.
              First, as mentioned above, the cave is above the treeline today. The chances are that 70,000 years ago, it was also above the treeline because it was colder during that interglacial than it is today. This means that any humans who went to Drachenloch would have had to carry their firewood with them. This would be a strenuous activity requiring lots of determination. To go and stay at Drachenloch would require a very good reason. Yet we know that Neanderthal visited there because there are hearths in the cave. Some of the hearths had charred pinewood still in the fireplace.75 Between chamber 2 and chamber 3, a flat square stone slab a foot and a half wide was found covering a hearth. The underside of this slab was stained with smoke, and underneath it was charred wood and burnt bones. While Neanderthal probably didn't need as much wood to keep warm as modern humans would, logs would still have burned at the same rate as today and to keep a fire going requ
 ires a
 constant supply of wood. Figure 16
               Lissner would also cite the rectangular chest. Today many authorities will dismiss this chest as being the chance alignment of rocks that have fallen from the ceiling.76 It is a well established fact that regular shapes, like rectangles, are extremely unlikely to occur by chance. Rocks of any length can fall at any angle. It is easy to tell the difference between random arrangement and human construction. Lissner stated, "Only a human intelligence could have been responsible for this. Nature does not build rectangular chests out of flat slabs of stone, nor does she spirit seven bears' skulls into them."77 Now that Regourdou has been found as a second example of this behavior, it is much more likely that what Bachler found was a stone chest filled with bear skulls.
              Then there is the arrangement of thirty fibulas placed on a stone slab, aligned with the jointed ends pointing one direction and the broken end pointing the opposite.78 This too would be difficult to explain based upon chance alignment. An examination of plate 21 and plate 22 of Bachler's 1921 report shows 14 of these bones, many of which seem to have been cut and then rubbed along a rock creating a flat surface on the broken end. The angles which the ground-down surfaces make with the bone are often quite shallow and are polished. Normally when a tibia breaks, the end is jagged. Few of the Drachenloch tibia fit that description. These can be seen in Figure 16 . Are we to believe that the bears broke their own limbs, ground them smooth and placed them in this fashion? Only man polishes bones.
              The critics of Drachenloch, like Kurten, suggest that too many bears would have died in a cave like Drachenloch over the eons. Kurten cites the estimate that 30-50,000 cave-bears died in Dragon Cave near Mixnitz Austria, which was also claimed to be a bear cult site, yet only 76 bears were found. The rest, Kurten says, would have been ground to fragments. Applying this to Drachenloch, Kurten concludes that the skulls were not placed there by human agency. The problem with this line of reasoning is that the 30-50,000 bears which Kurten says are there, are not there. They are only an estimate based on the idea that one bear per year died in the cave. Since the cave was open for approximately 30,000 to 50,000 years, the estimate follows directly. Kurten argues that the skulls survived due to accidents of preservation whereby skulls that happened to be in niches in the cave would not be smashed by falling rocks or by subsequent bears. Kurten's analogy with
 is flawed for another reason. Mixnitz shows more evidence of human activity in the form of a bird bone flute.79 Surely the bears didn't drill the holes and manufacture this flute.
              Is there a way to tell whether the bears in the cave were the product of man or of nature? I believe there may be. Much of the evolution of mammals has been due to the preservation of mammalian teeth and jaws.80 The teeth and jaws are hard, and are usually the very last part of the animal to decay. This being the case, there is an extremely powerful argument that supports Bachler's contention that Neanderthal man carried the bear skulls to the cave. If the deposit were due to the natural collection of cave bear skeletal parts year after year, one would expect there to be a normal representation of bear mandibles and teeth. Under normal circumstances, one would expect there to be more mandibles than skulls, yet this is not the case. Lissner relates that almost all the unbroken cave-bear skulls did not have a lower jaw! This lack of mandibles is amazing because of the durability of lower jaws. I went through the photos of cave bear parts in both the 1921 an
 d 1940
 reports by Bachler. Pictured are 15 complete bear craniums but only three complete lower jaws.
              This data is consistent with what Neanderthal man did with bear mandibles in other locations. At Taubach, near Weimar, Germany, the remains of at least forty-three brown bears were found. Not a single complete skull was found. Natural processes seem to have damaged them all. But what is interesting is that on 80 percent of the mandibles, Neanderthal man had broken the canines off. All other teeth on the mandibles showed normal wear, but the canines were intentionally broken off.81 Why? One can only speculate that maybe they were used for pressure flaking of their stone tools. At Dragon Cave near Mixnitz, Austria bear canines were used as tools but the cave was also lacking in mandibles.82 In any event, Neanderthal did have an interest in bear teeth. If a similar interest prevailed at Drachenloch, it would, or could, explain what happened to the mandibles of the 76 skulls. The theory of natural accumulation, which says that the 76 skulls are the lucky s
 of all the rock falls and footfalls of subsequent cave-bears, cannot explain why the mandibles were so unlucky. Surely a mandible would have an excellent chance of surviving if it were in a niche. One cannot expect only cave bears lacking lower jaws to have visited the cave. If Neanderthal had removed the mandible prior to the time the bones were placed, this effect would be expected.
              Other examples of ritual treatment of bears have been found elsewhere and have been equally denounced by archaeologists. Of Petershohle in Germany, Kurten states,
  "'In the Petershohle in Germany a rock niche, situated like a cupboard in the rock, contained five Cave Bear skulls, two thigh bones, and one brachial bone,' state Professor Abel in 1935. He went on to say, 'All these pieces must have been put into this niche by Ice Age Man, as a deposit formed by water is quite out of the question.'
              "Of course it does not have to be a niche in the wall. Any kind of protecting rock will do."83
  With that Kurten dismisses Petershohle. What he does not address is the fact that the bear skulls were in a niche "four feet above the floor of the cave," along with two femurs and one humerus!84 Are we to believe that the cave bears placed their own skulls into such a high recess after their death? The critics need a more thorough discussion of the facts.
              While I don't often like to disagree with the consensus of a given scientific discipline, I feel that with the discovery of Regourdou, Drachenloch should receive another look.
    ******end of quotation from Glenn Morton,Adam, Apes and Anthropology (Spring Tx:DMD publishing,1999)***
>Incidentally, as an ASA member, I'm intensely interested in the questions raised by archaic hominids as well as the
>history of H. Erectus, and I agree with you that they raise difficult questions concerning the Biblical narratives. Like many
>other difficult questions, it seems like an "I don't-know-here-are-some-possibilities-I'll-have-to-wait-and-see" kind of
>thing just now.
  Well, I would comment that I debate YECs a lot. I almost always get the I don't-know-here-are-some-possibilities-I'll-have-to-wait-and-see response to geology from them. Or, I get the wait-until-the 2nd-coming-when-we-have-all-knowledge-and-we-will-know-you-are-wrong response. The problem with always waiting is that if you know there is a problem we should deal with it, rather than ignore it. Secondly we shouldn't be teaching others things we know there are major difficulties with so long as we don't at the same time tell them the difficulties.

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Received on Thu Feb 23 08:12:01 2006

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