Skip to comments.I Married a Neanderthal
Posted on 05/01/2007 6:30:29 PM PDT by Diana in Wisconsin
(Scientist says modern humans, earlier species found camaraderie, and sometimes a mate, in each other)
Researchers have long debated what happened when the indigenous Neanderthals of Europe met "modern humans" arriving from Africa starting some 40,000 years ago. The result was the disappearance of the Neanderthals, but what happened during the roughly 10,000 years that the two human species shared a land?
A new review of the fossil record from that period has come up with a provocative conclusion: The two groups saw each other as kindred spirits and, when conditions were right, they mated.
How often this happened will never be known, but paleoanthropologist Erik Trinkaus says it probably occurred more often than is generally imagined.
In his latest work, published last week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Trinkaus, of Washington University in St. Louis, analyzed prehistoric fossil remains from parts of Europe. He concluded that a significant number have attributes associated with both Neanderthals and the modern humans who replaced them.
"Given the data we now have, it would be highly improbable to argue there is no Neanderthal contribution to the early European population that came out of Africa," Trinkaus said. "I believe there was continuous breeding between the two for some period of time. Both groups would seem to us dirty and smelly but, cleaned up, we would understand both to be human. There's good reason to think that they did as well."
The conclusion, one of the strongest to date in this debate, remains controversial, and it has potentially broad implications. It suggests, for instance, that humans today still should have some Neanderthal genes. It also means that the unanswered question of why the Neanderthals died out is even more puzzling, because under this scenario they were quite capable of living successfully alongside the more modern newcomers.
But Trinkaus says the fossil record is the best information available, and it increasingly points to an "admixture" theory - that Neanderthals who had lived in Europe for about 400,000 years shared the land and, to some extent, their genes with the migrants from the south who began arriving 40,000 years ago.
As with all theories regarding the Neanderthals, there are problems with the one that Trinkaus and others are advancing. So far, analysis of modern humans' DNA has turned up no identifiable Neanderthal genetic material. Instead, it points to a common East African male ancestor from about 100,000 years ago and a common East African female from 170,000 years ago. Because the sampling remains limited, evolutionary geneticists generally do not say their findings settle the matter, though an ongoing mapping of the Neanderthal genome by European researchers may change the equation.
Chris Stringer, a paleontology researcher at the Natural History Museum in London, said the genetic evidence has kept him "on the fence" regarding Trinkaus' theory of more widespread interbreeding. He said Neanderthals and modern humans from Africa would be considered distinct "homo" species, making interbreeding less likely but not impossible. Under stressed conditions, he said, zebras and horses will mate, as will lions and tigers, so related humans might have done the same.
But one genetic trait of modern Europeans makes him doubt there was any major Neanderthal input - the fact that most humans today are genetically ill-adapted to cold weather. Only some native Indian populations, as well as people in the north of Eurasia and aborigines in Australia, who experience deep cold at night, have good genetic defenses to cold.
Because Neanderthals lived in Europe for hundreds of thousands of years, through ice ages and frigid conditions, they would have become genetically suited to such conditions, Stringer said. The fact that Europeans are not, he said, suggests that any Neanderthal contribution to their makeup is limited.
“I believe ... there’s good reason to think ..” yeah right.
Maybe I’m a neanderthal after all. I’ve been told as much!
Prior to my retirement it was my pleasure to ride the Washington Metro (subway) every weekday and observe the occupants thereon, and I can tell you that that the Neanderthal genes are alive and well in our midst.
I love that site. Too clever by half. Wish I had that Caveman’s kitchen. D@mn! :)
I have been referred to as a “knuckle-dragger” by the ‘educated elite’ upon occasion.
Perhaps they were unknowingly correct!
The Neandertal EnigmaFrayer's own reading of the record reveals a number of overlooked traits that clearly and specifically link the Neandertals to the Cro-Magnons. One such trait is the shape of the opening of the nerve canal in the lower jaw, a spot where dentists often give a pain-blocking injection. In many Neandertal, the upper portion of the opening is covered by a broad bony ridge, a curious feature also carried by a significant number of Cro-Magnons. But none of the alleged 'ancestors of us all' fossils from Africa have it, and it is extremely rare in modern people outside Europe." [pp 126-127]
by James Shreeve
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Clan of the Cave Bear ;D
“Both groups would seem to us dirty and smelly but, cleaned up, we would understand both to be human.”
And now every other TV commercial tells men they have to drench themselves with perfume to get women to come anywhere near them.
“Because the sampling remains limited, evolutionary geneticists generally do not say their findings settle the matter, though an ongoing mapping of the Neanderthal genome by European researchers may change the equation.”
I don’t think that most people would notice any difference between a shaved, washed, dressed Neanderthal and a modern man other than that the Neaderthal would appear much stronger than average with some “primitive” facial features.
If there was a reason modern man and Neanderthals did not interbreed successully, that fact must be related to some gological and climatological factor, not a purely biological one.
I use Nestle’s Quik. Something about the scent of chocolate makes me irresistable.
Who kept a Neanderthal in a cave....
Nahh, it doesn't quite work.
But that they mated is not. Men have been known to mate with ducks, goats, and walruses. How bad can a Neadertal cutie actually be?
The question I have about the theory is that it seemingly ignores the question of why the Neanderthals apparently didn’t mate with homo sapiens females.
If you saw Raquel Welch in 1,000,000 B.C. or read about Ayla in the Clan of the Cave Bear then you’d really wonder about that. Maybe homo sapiens women smelled funny.
(i’m not going there)
My husband says, “Us cavemen don’t find that very humorous.” I always laugh at the ones where he’s in the psychiatrist’s office.
My Neanderthal is also very intelligent and very cute in an ape-like kind of way.
Hey - I am a PROUD “process neanderthal”. Just ask the program managers in my aerospace company!!! (I work in product certification) ;-P
“Both groups would seem to us dirty and smelly...”
“Humans today still should have some Neanderthal genes.”
—But we don’t.
“...the unanswered question of why Neanderthals died out is even more puzzling...”
—Possibly mating with Cro-Magnons did not produce viable offspring.
LOL! That’s adorable.
You know...we have FOUR lawn mowers; three push-types and one rider. Why don’t ANY of them work? I’ll have to ask the Neanderthal I married, LOL!
“I always laugh at the ones where hes in the psychiatrists office.”
Yeah...I crack up when he’s text-messaging his Mother during his therapy sessions, LOL!
Ever seen Chris complain of the cold?
I was born with that bone, and a protruding brow ridge, and too many teeth, and my brain is bigger than yours...;)
Red hair is a Neanderthal gene.
Know any redheads?
Not cro-magnum, homo sapiens sapiens.
you mean our kiddo who would stay outside in
3+ft of michigan snow all day? nope, never!
bump to the tune!
Not one word.
> It also means that the unanswered question of why the Neanderthals died out is even more puzzling,
That’s easy. The Neanderthal gene is recessive. We all got it, but don’t “express” it usually.
I have been telling Mr. Fairview for 25 years that he is a proto-hominid.
I think they are talking about you - ping.
Actually, I was married to a Gear Head in a previous life. That was 10X worse...all of our money was always tied up “in parts” and junk cars in various states of dis-repair. ;)
I call my dogs, “Quad-Pedal Canines.”
They call me “She Who Stands Upright, Giver of All Foodstuffs.” When I leave in the morning for work, I tell them, “Mommy’s off to the Dog Food Mine!” :)
But I can change....
If I have to....
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