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Did Modern Humans Evolve at Least Partialy from Neanderthals?

05/31/2008 08:11PM

Did Modern Humans Evolve at Least Partialy from Neanderthals?

The expansion of pre-modern humans into western and eastern Europe 40,000 years ago led to the eventual replacement of the Neanderthals by modern humans 28,000 years ago. Did modern humans evolve at least partly from Neanderthals? Or are modern humans on a completely separate evolutionary path? Did Neanderthals and early modern humans interbreed? Perhaps Neanderthals and humans mated and produced sterile offspring, similar to mules, the crossbreed of horses and donkeys. Researchers working with recovered DNA samples are just now reaching some interestig conclusions.


Neanderthals were just a specialization of old Homo erectus, and there may well have been major shifts in chromosomal number and structure (such as big inversions), that might have had a bigger impact on speciation than simple cumulation of base-pair differences- many of which are rather neutral in their effects. And then there are the regulatory sequences, commonly referred to as junk DNA, which we know nearly nothing about for ourselves, let alone for our ancestors and sister groups.<br><br>One interesting hypothesis has the origins of one of the human lice species (forget which one) coming from erectus to us- there is now a cottage industry developing around genetic studies of human parasites that allows population differentiations to be approximately dated. If we ended up with one of the erectus bugs, it could be because their preferred hosts were dying out, and we became the only game in town.<br><br>The other part of this hypothesis is that the erectus (erecti?) retained ape-like body hair patterns, which is interesting for speculations about Neanderthal- often depicted as making and wearing clothing when there is little or no evidence for this. If they had a lot of hair covering, they might have been able to get through the winter like a Yeti.<br><br>Jess Tauber
  • sverba [stephen verba]
  • 06/01/2008 12:09PM
Undergrad physical anthropology was about 35 years ago for me. Looks like not much has changed since then, as we were taught that the distribution curves for neathderthal features and homo sapiens overlapped sufficiently to make the case for a single species.<br><br>We were also taught that in general there are "lumpers" and "splitters" in the field - differing in how easily one believes remains to constitute a new species. <br><br>Occam's razor fits (for me)fits with the view of the lumpers - one species until proven otherwise. <br><br>So much for the Geico commercials.<br><br>Steve

Fool! I'm 50 plus a few months. A little math will prove therefore that the Universe can be no older than this figure plus nine months more. Anything older is mere speculation (and I'm still a bit fuzzy on my early universe years, before enlightenment). Why I chose to populate my universe with all you cretins I still have no answer for. Why I chose to let myself age after 18 or so is totally beyond me. Why I created Bush and company marks me as absolutely insane for a deity.<br><br>Jess Tauber (and that's HERR Gott to the rest of you)

Paleolithic matchmaking via Photoshop - The picture looks like a female Neanderthal skeleton next to a modern male human skeleton to me. Is the scale even correct? Can anyone in the know comment on the picture?<br>-Guy

  • rdavenport [Robert Davenport]
  • 06/03/2008 12:17PM
The evidence cited in the story seems to support no significant interbreeding. It is mindblowing to me to think of two or more distinct species of homo coexisting!<br><br>Another thought, turning the interbreeding thing around just a bit - if we can get enough DNA from various samples - perhaps we could bring Neandrathal back to life using the closely related homo sapien female's womb. Jurassic Park was quite a stretch - but I would bet $1 this will be doable someday.<br><br>Considering we probably snuffed them out 28,000 years ago - seems like the fair thing to do <img class='' src='' alt='smile' title='smile'/>

  • astrotrf [Terry Friedrichsen]
  • 06/04/2008 05:06AM
<blockquote class="blockquote"><div class="italic"><br>Not all modern Humans evolved from Neanderthals. Just the current white house and republican congress.<br></div></blockquote><br>You know, not *everything* has to become an occasion to demonstrate that you don't agree with the current administration. You miss the fact that it's just barely possible that opinions that differ from your own might just have some validity, and you demean your own position by resorting to name-calling and denigration rather than rational discussion.<br><br>I could counter your statement by saying that Democrats bear more resemblance to a group of chimpanzees than actual sentient beings, but it wouldn't be any more meaningful or logical than your statement, nor would it advance the discussion any further.<br>
  • Jef [Jef Spalding]
  • 06/08/2008 02:58PM
To set the record straight, all homo sapiens share 99.9% similar genes, yet can combine in near infinite ways to form all the races and human genetic variation see across the globe. Some may be genetically predisposed to ignorance, but I believe the majority is capable of good things. The current administration, supported by greedy corporates, can only see dollars signs and often use their Christian religious beliefs to justify their foolish decisions. Instead of listening to reason and common sense, they interpret the biblical text in a way to suit their politics and influence. <br>Lets hope that someone capable of some actual intelligence can run the country and attempt to get the US back on track unencumbered by politics, religion, and money to the benefit of all.