Evolution in the News - November 2019
by Do-While Jones

Facial Recognition

Evolutionists claim to know what Denisovans looked like.

In previous newsletters,1 we told you about the Denisovans, a mythical race of people invented by evolutionists based on the DNA analysis of a bone fragment. Now, without the benefit of a skeleton or skull, three prominent scientific journals (and one supermarket science tabloid) have published this picture of what a Denisovan girl looked like:

This image is based on reconstructed skeletal features of a Denisovan girl, who lived in what’s now Siberia around 50,000 years ago. Maayan Harel. 2

The caption would be more accurate if it said, “This image is based on presumed skeletal features of a Denisovan girl inferred from DNA analysis.” No Denisovan skull has been found.

Executive Summary

We encourage you to take the links to our four previous articles listed in the footnotes below to get more details; but here is the executive summary to bring you up to speed.

The story begins with the DNA analysis of two teeth and a piece of a finger bone discovered in Denisova Cave in the Altai Mountains of southern Siberia (Russia). The teeth looked like they came from a cave bear, but when the DNA of the teeth matched the DNA of the bone, which was somewhat similar to modern human DNA, they decided the fossils must have come from an ancient race of humans. Then they analyzed the DNA of another bone found in the same cave, and declared it to have come from a Neanderthal. Primitive stone tools were found in the cave, which they believed to be about 30,000 years old. There are some unexplained geographical difficulties because the Denisovan DNA contains genes similar to those found in populations nowhere near Russia.

Here’s What’s New

Here is the most recent summary from the science tabloid, Science News:

Denisovans have posed an evolutionary enigma since the Siberian discovery of part of the ancient girl’s little finger in 2008 (SN: 8/30/12). Only a few other Denisovan fossils have been found — several teeth, a limb bone and a lower jaw (SN: 5/1/19). Ancient DNA analyses indicate that Denisovans, who inhabited parts of Asia from around 300,000 to 50,000 years ago, were more closely related to Neandertals than to Homo sapiens. Some present-day human populations carry small amounts of Denisovan ancestry. …

Scientists have painted a portrait of a young female who belonged to a mysterious, humanlike population known as Denisovans around 50,000 years ago.

Here’s the kicker: Only a handful of Denisovan fossils have been found, including the youngster’s pinky finger. So a team led by evolutionary geneticists David Gokhman and Liran Carmel of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem reconstructed the Denisovan teen’s skeleton using only a palette of ancient DNA patterns. A description of how the researchers transformed DNA into a physical appearance appears September 19 in Cell.

“This is the first reconstruction of the skeletal anatomy of Denisovans,” Carmel says. 3

The more respectable professional journal, Nature, said,

Now, computational biologists have produced a rough sketch of Denisovan anatomy based on epigenetic changes — chemical modifications to DNA that can alter gene activity. Their approach reveals that Denisovans were similar in appearance to Neanderthals but had some subtle differences, such as a wider jaw and skull.

“It does help to paint a clearer picture of how they might have looked. Just the idea that it’s possible to use the DNA to predict morphology so well is very impressive,” says Bence Viola, a palaeoanthropologist at the University of Toronto in Canada who has analysed Denisovan remains, but was not involved in this research. 4

How do they know it works “so well?”

In the latest study, Carmel and computational biologist David Gokhman, also at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, led a team that identified thousands more regions of the genome in which the methylation patterns of Denisovans and Neanderthals were distinct from those of modern humans. They compared these with databases of epigenetic modifications in human tissue — where the impacts on gene expression are known — and produced a list of hundreds of genes for which expression levels probably differed between archaic groups and modern humans.

To connect this list to anatomical traits that would affect the Denisovans’ appearance, the researchers looked at another database, which catalogues the physical effects of genetic mutations in people with rare conditions. Carmel and Gokhman reasoned that the reduced gene expression caused by DNA methylation was roughly analogous to the effects of the disease-causing mutations. 5

How well did it work?

The team found 33 Neanderthal traits that could potentially be predicted from methylation patterns. The results accurately predicted 29 of those traits, for instance that the species had broader faces and flatter heads than modern humans. But it wrongly indicated that the indentations between fused skull bones, known as sutures, were wider in humans. 6

So, it worked 88% of the time. That’s good enough for an evolutionist! Real scientists demand that experiments give correct results 100% of the time.

Although it is impossible to know how accurate their picture is, some of the predictions are supported by evidence from Denisovan remains.

The best-characterized Denisovan feature in the fossil record is gigantic molar teeth. Although the researchers weren’t able to predict this — because molar size was not in the database they used — they did determine that Denisovans had long dental arches, a potential adaptation for big teeth. 7

Their technique did not predict the only Denisovan characteristic known from the fossils—gigantic teeth. Why wasn’t molar size in their data base? It is the only thing they think they know!

The teeth were originally thought to be from a cave bear because they were so big. What if they were right the first time? What if they really are bear teeth?

You might remember the Nebraska Man fiasco. 8 Nebraska Man was based on a tooth that looked like it had a mixture of ape and human characteristics—but when the jaw it came from was discovered—it turned out to be the jaw of an extinct kind of pig!

The 160,000-year-old lower jawbone from the Tibetan Plateau matched Gokhman and Carmel’s predictions for 3 out of 4 traits. And a piece of skull from Denisova Cave that Viola has presented at meetings (but not yet described in a paper) suggests the group had wide heads — which matches the epigenetic reconstruction. However, a reconstruction of the Denisovan fingertip, published this month, suggested theirs was slender like humans’ — unlike the thick Neanderthal-like fingers in the prediction. 9

This is typical of evolutionists’ reasoning. When 75% of the facts fit their expectations, those facts confirm their biased conclusion—but the 25% of facts that don’t fit are ignored.

Evolutionists sometimes accuse creationists of using “carefully selected data.” That is better than using carelessly selected data! Evolutionists select their data, too. In this case,

Liran Carmel and David Gokhman, geneticists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and their colleagues applied this method to DNA in the girl's pinkie from Denisova Cave. They compared the girl's methylation map with similar maps of modern humans, Neanderthals, and chimpanzees, focusing on areas where the degree of methylation differed by more than 50%. 10

Why not focus on areas where they differed by 30%? Did a 30% analysis give different (less desired) results? What went into the careful selection of the data?

How can areas of human and chimpanzee DNA differ by 50% when evolutionists claim chimpanzee and human DNA is 98% the same?

The 98% number is a bogus claim, as we have shown in a previous newsletter. 11 Fujiyama and his associates ignored most of the DNA, focusing on the most similar part of the DNA molecule to get the 98% number. Carmel and Gokhman focused on a part of the DNA molecule that was 50% different.

Last month, George claimed (without proof) that “A badger and a horse have more than 99% DNA in common.” 12 Regardless of the bogus numerical calculations, it is true that the DNA of all living things is similar. That’s because every creature that breathes air needs lungs—or something very much like lungs—and therefore every air-breathing creature has genes which create lungs. Creationists and evolutionists agree that much of the DNA of all living creatures is similar. The disagreement is whether that similarity is evidence of common ancestry or a common designer.

Carmel and Gokhman analyzed the differences in a part of the DNA molecule that they think can be used to predict physical appearance.

A Little Fun

Let’s reconstruct the Denisovan girl’s face using a more logical, more scientific method Neanderthals were found in Germany. Denisova Cave is in Russia. Denisovans are supposed to have German and Russian ancestry. So, if we combine the facial features of a German woman with a Russian woman, what do we get?

Here is the explanation of our joke for any humor-impaired evolutionists who might be reading this: Not all German women look like Elke Sommer, and not all Russian women look like Anna Kournikova, so it is unreasonable to think that Maayan Harel’s portrait of the Denisovan girl looks like a typical Denisovan.

“If you were to find a single Homo sapiens fossil and it's an NBA basketball player, then you might conclude that Homo sapiens were 7 feet tall,” he [Gabriel Renaud, a bioinformatician at the University of Copenhagen] says. “It's an interesting approach, but we can't verify the predictions until several Denisovan skeletons are found.” 13

There simply isn’t enough data to know what a Denisovan looked like. In fact, there isn’t even enough data to know that Denisovans actually existed.

The simple truth is that there are some fossils whose DNA (which has been degrading for many years) doesn’t exactly match modern human DNA, or Neanderthal DNA, or chimpanzee DNA.

The evolutionists’ assumptions are that all creatures have a common ancestor, and the differences in DNA are the result of descent with modification, which leads evolutionists to a speculative, tangled family tree and a fictitious narrative which is presented as fact.

Illustration from Matthew Warren, Nature, 23 August 2018, “Mum’s a Neanderthal, Dad’s a Denisovan: First discovery of an ancient-human hybrid”, https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-06004-0 .

The most significant aspect of the evolutionists’ tangled family tree is a “Mystery hominin species.” Just like dark matter, it is something for which there is no data, but MUST exist because, if it doesn’t exist, the theory falls apart. It is all speculation—but the text on the diagram is stated with absolute certainty.

The most troubling aspect of the tangled tree is that it was published in the reputable journal, Nature. We expect fake data from propaganda presses like National Geographic; we don’t expect it from Nature.

Questionable Motivation

This brings up two questions. The first is, “If there’s no proof that the artist’s portrait of the girl is accurate, what good is it?” Evolutionists must believe that there is some value in publishing the picture. The second question is, “Why doesn’t the portrait look like a blend of Elke Sommer and Anna Kournikova. Why does she look so ape-like?”

The answer to both of these questions is, “They need a fictional picture to convince the unquestioning public that there is evidence that humans evolved from apes.

Their picture isn’t based on any new fossil evidence. They haven’t found a Denisovan skull. The portrait is based on a computer model of what physical features might have been manifested by the genes in Denisovan DNA. The computer model is a product of their racist, evolutionary beliefs. She has dark complexion and ape-like features because she hasn’t evolved as much as modern German or Russian women.

They assume the bear-sized teeth and bone fragments came from a human species other than Neanderthals or Homo sapiens because the DNA differs from both of those species. If the DNA analysis of the degraded DNA is correct, it means the fossils aren’t Neanderthals or Homo sapiens, so they must be some other species—perhaps a cave bear. If it turns out that the fossils really did come from a cave bear, then it will be the Nebraska Man fiasco all over again!

Quick links to
Science Against Evolution
Home Page
Back issues of
Disclosure
(our newsletter)
Web Site
of the Month
Topical Index

Footnotes:

1 Disclosure, July 2011, “Ancestor Arguments”, http://scienceagainstevolution.info/v15i10f.htm ,
Disclosure, July 2013, “Denisovans”, http://www.scienceagainstevolution.info/v17i10n.htm ,
Disclosure, January 2014, “DNA Stunner”, http://www.scienceagainstevolution.info/v18i4n.htm ,
Disclosure, January 2019, “Prehistoric Mating”, http://scienceagainstevolution.info/v23i4n.htm
2 Bruce Bower, Science News, 19 September 2019, “Ancient DNA reveals the first glimpse of what a Denisovan may have looked like”, https://www.sciencenews.org/article/ancient-dna-reveals-first-glimpse-what-denisovan-girl-looked-like
3 ibid.
4 Nature, 19 September 2019, “First portrait of mysterious Denisovans drawn from DNA”, https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-02820-0
5 ibid.
6 ibid.
7 ibid.
8 Disclosure, March 2000, “Homo ‘the Tool Man’ Habilis”, http://scienceagainstevolution.info/v4i6f.htm
9 Nature, 19 September 2019, “First portrait of mysterious Denisovans drawn from DNA”, https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-02820-0
10 Michael Price, et al., Science, 20 September 2019, “Face of the mysterious Denisovans emerges”, https://science.sciencemag.org/content/365/6459/1232
11 Disclosure, January 2003, “98% Chimp”, http://scienceagainstevolution.info/v7i4f.htm
12 Disclosure, October 2019, “Extinction and Speciation”, http://scienceagainstevolution.info/v24i1e.htm
13 Michael Price, et al., Science, 20 September 2019, “Face of the mysterious Denisovans emerges”, https://science.sciencemag.org/content/365/6459/1232