Stars, Cells, and God | Neanderthal Brains and First Exoplanet

Join Fazale “Fuz” Rana and Jeff Zweerink as they discuss new discoveries taking place at the frontiers of science that have theological and philosophical implications, as well as new discoveries that point to the reality of God’s existence.

Neanderthal Brains

Are human beings unique and exceptional? A large collaborative team from Germany recently explored this question by examining the behavior of three proteins that play a role in cell division and are expressed at high levels in the developing cells of the brain’s neocortex. As it turns out, the modern human versions of these proteins have small but significant differences in their amino acid sequences compared to the mouse, Neanderthal, and Denisovan versions. The research team determined that, because of these differences, the cell division process in human brain cells occurs much more reliably than in the corresponding cells in mice, Neanderthals, and Denisovans. This discovery points to differences in brain development in modern humans and Neanderthals, suggesting cognitive differences between the two.

First Exoplanet

The James Webb Space Telescope recently imaged its first exoplanet, and researchers found that the telescope was ten times more sensitive than expected. What have we learned about this exoplanet, and how will those learnings inform the search for extraterrestrial life?

Fuz and Jeff discuss these important topics in this episode of Stars, Cells, and God.


“Longer Metaphase and Fewer Chromosome Segregation Errors in Modern Human than Neanderthal Brain Development,” Felipe Mora-Bermúdez et al.,

Additional Resources:

“Brain Organoids Cultivate the Case for Human Exceptionalism,” Fazale Rana,

“The JWST Early Release Science Program for Direct Observations of Exoplanetary Systems I: High Contrast Imaging of the Exoplanet HIP 65426 b from 2-16 μm,” Aarynn L. Carter,