“New Man”

In the late 1600’s, he would go to the Dussel river, which runs through western Germany, to get inspiration for his poems. One of his 60 poems became famous, and to this day is commonly sung as a hymn in churches. People loved him during his short life, and in the 1800’s, a valley was named after Joachim Neander. In German, a valley is a tal or thal, so his valley is called the Neanderthal. In 1856, an oddly-shaped human skull and bones were found in the valley, and they were initially thought to be those of a deformed Cossack soldier. Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859, and in 1864 the odd bones were deemed to be from a different human species, which was named Homo neanderthalensis (many scientists pushed for the name Homo stupidus)!

In Neander’s day, talk of a human species other than ours would have been considered heresy, the Church’s position being that God created only one set of humans. All that is interesting.

But here’s the really cool part: the ancient Greek translation of Neander means “new man.” These bones–for the first time ever–were attributed to a new human species, and people were stunned to realize that some time ago we were not alone on Earth. And unknowingly, we named them “valley of the new man!” How ironic is that? As Paul Harvey used to say, “And now you know the REST of the story!”

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