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Neandertals were humans with rickets (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Neandertals were humans with rickets (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.

Claim CC051.1:

Neanderthals were modern humans with rickets.


  • Lubenow, Marvin L., 1992. Bones of Contention: A creationist assessment of the human fossils. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, pp. 149-156.

CreationWiki response:

First of all, the wording of the claim misrepresents what Lubenow actually said. Yes, he suggests rickets as a possible cause of Neanderthal and Homo erectus morphology, but at least for Neanderthals it was limited to childhood where most bone development occurs. However he also points to the extensive evidence of common severe childhood rickets as evidence of the ice age being a post-Flood event.

(Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

1. The signs of rickets differ from Neanderthal fossils in several respects, including the following:

  • People with rickets are undernourished and calcium-poor; their bones are weak. Neanderthal bones are fifty percent thicker than the average human's.
  • Evidence of rickets is easily detectable, especially on the ends of the long bones of the body.
  • This evidence is not found in Neanderthals. Rickets causes a sideways curvature of the femur. Neanderthal femurs bend backward.

Once again (according to Lubenow) the rickets occurred in childhood, thus adult fossils have to some degree recovered from them.

Virchow, who first reported the possibility of rickets in a Neanderthal, did not cite it alone. He said the fossil had rickets in early childhood, head injuries in middle age, and arthritis in old age. It is doubtful that an entire population suffered these same afflictions.

True, and Lubenow refers to Virchow's work including the fact that rickets occurred in childhood. Lubenow also cites evidence that rickets was common and possibly universal in Neanderthal kids. The most likely explanation was that some nutritional sources were reserved for adults.

2. Lubenow attributes rickets to a post-Flood ice age, with heavy cloud cover, shelter, and clothing, and a lack of vitamin D. But the greatest differences from modern humans, seen in Homo erectus, are found mostly in tropical areas.

During the post-Flood ice age, Lubenow would have the heavy cloud cover extended to tropical areas so the fact that Homo erectus was mainly in the tropics would not have protected them.