Neanderthals and Music

On September 9, 2000, the Institute for Creation Research released an episode on Science, Scripture, & Salvation titled, “Neanderthals”.

During the broadcast, two of our guests cited evidence that Neanderthals had the ability to produce musical instruments. During this short segment of the program one of our guests is quoted as saying:

“…many of these items [musical instruments] were discovered in the Neander Valley of Germany where the very first Neanderthal fossil was discovered in 1856. A tuba made from a mastodon tusk, what looks like a bagpipe made from an animal bladder, a triangle and a xylophone made from hollowed out bone.”

Since the program first aired, it has come to our attention this information was taken from an article in Discover magazine. As it turns out, the article was an “April Fools” practical joke. For several years the magazine published one bogus article each April, and did not identify it as a hoax. They have since discontinued this practice. The information regarding the discovery of a tuba-like instrument, bagpipe, triangle, and xylophone were all part of this prank by the magazine.

It is unfortunate that this information found its way onto our broadcast. I deeply apologize that our program conveyed incorrect information. This short segment has been removed to avoid further perpetuation of these inaccurate statements.

I should point out that on that same broadcast, one of our other guests referred to another artifact that resembles a flute carved from the thighbone of a bear. It appears that Neanderthals produced this flute. This evidence remains as strong evidence of Neanderthal use of musical instruments. This information has appeared in such scientific journals as Science (April 11, 1997, pg. 205) and Scientific American (September 1997, pg. 28), as well as others. So while the information from Discover magazine was incorrect, the notion that Neanderthals produced musical instruments is not invalidated by the Discover hoax.

Finally, I would like to point out that the ICR Radio Department has produced thousands of broadcasts over the years. It has always been our commitment to accurately report the scientific and Biblical evidence for creation. Although we are committed to truth, we are only human. I am thankful that in my eight years with ICR this has been my first retraction. The ICR Radio Department will continue, as much as is humanly possible, to honor our commitment to accurate reporting.

Pat Roy,
Director of Broadcast Media
Institute for Creation Research