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Study: Neanderthals, Modern Humans Same Species
USA Today ^ | 12-26-2001 | Michael A. Stowe

Posted on 01/10/2002 5:42:43 AM PST by blam

Edited on 04/13/2004 1:38:56 AM PDT by Jim Robinson. [history]

Humanity's first steps out of Africa along a path that led ultimately to dominion over the earth are subject to intense scientific debate. So is the role played by the Neandertals who roamed across Europe for 100,000 years before quietly disappearing. The two issues may well be related, and a University of Tennessee anthropologist reports statistical evidence that Neandertals and emerging modern humans likely interbred and evolved together.


(Excerpt) Read more at usatoday.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: americas; anthropology; archaeology; bering; clovis; crevolist; dillehay; economic; extinction; ggg; glaciation; godsgravesglyphs; helixmakemineadouble; history; neandertal; neandertals; neanderthal; neanderthals; paleontology; pleistocene; preclovis; science; siberia
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I'll say it again, We are Neanderthals.
1 posted on 01/10/2002 5:42:43 AM PST by blam
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To: blam
Were they the Hobbits?
2 posted on 01/10/2002 5:45:34 AM PST by Dialup Llama
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To: blam
Thick skulled early Democrats.
3 posted on 01/10/2002 5:47:13 AM PST by mgc1122
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To: blam
From an evolutionary point of view, ability or inability to breed obviously has effects, so it is a good species differentiator. If you can interbreed, you are considered in the same species.

But what if you can interbreed, but don't want to. What if most neanderthals were unappealing to spaiens sapiens? Techically, even if they could interbreed, they didn't. So the evolutionary results are the same as IF they were different species.

In that case, I think it is actually safe to classify them as seperate species.

4 posted on 01/10/2002 5:48:04 AM PST by jlogajan
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To: jlogajan
But what if you can interbreed, but don't want to.

Unlikely. Humans have attempted to mate with members of the same sex, the opposite sex, cows, sheep, footwear and watermelons.

If there were Neanderthals around, the chance that some enterprising Homo Sapiens didn't give them a try is just about zilch.

5 posted on 01/10/2002 5:53:31 AM PST by Interesting Times
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To: blam
Study traces genetic origin of Chinese to Africa

Most of the population of modern China owes its genetic origins to Africa, an international scientific team reports in research that undercuts any claim that modern humans may have originated independently in China.

In the search for human origins, in which political beliefs and pride of place can figure as much as fossil evidence, the new genetic findings dramatically illustrate the intricate weave of prehistoric migrations and human evolution, the scientists said.

The researchers also demonstrated that the peoples of northern and southern China cluster into distinct regional genetic populations that share inherited characteristics. Those groups, in turn, can be divided into even smaller, separate genetic groups. Yet, overall, they all are descendants of a single population group that may have migrated into China eons before humans learned to write or forge metal tools, the new research suggests.

Published in today's edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study is the product of the Chinese Human Genome Diversity Project, a consortium of seven major research groups in the People's Republic of China, and the Human Genetics Center at the University of Texas at Houston. It was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

The group used the advanced tools of DNA analysis to create detailed genetic profiles of 28 of China's official population groups, which make up more than 90 percent of the country's population, to try to understand the roots of complex chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

By exploring the genetic relationships among China's ethnic groups, the team also shed light on the ancestry of people in East Asia, who, like everyone, carry in every cell of their bodies genetic hints to their evolutionary history and the journeys of their forebears.

In all, the Chinese government today recognizes 56 ethnic groups. Just one of them, the Han, makes up the bulk of the population, comprising about 1.1 billion people. The 55 other ethnic minority groups encompass about 100 million people.

To study the diverse genetic inheritance of such an enormous population, the researchers used a special set of genetic markers called microsatellites. These extremely short chemical segments of DNA mutate very rapidly. That lets scientists use them as signposts to mark how populations diverged or merged over time, reconstructing their evolutionary journey across time and the continents to their present homes.

The scientists looked at 30 such microsatellite markers across 28 of the population groups in China and compared the pattern to 11 other population groups around the world.

"Populations from East Asia always derived from a single lineage, indicating the single origins of those populations," they said. "It is now probably safe to conclude that modern humans originating in Africa constitute the majority of the current gene pool in East Asia," they said.

While few scholars today dispute the idea that the earliest ancestors of the human species evolved in Africa, there still is considerable debate over how modern humanity evolved from its more primitive ancestors.

Many anthropologists believe humans may have migrated out of Africa in waves. More than a million years ago, humanity's primitive ancestors, known as Homo erectus, walked out of Africa to colonize Europe, the Middle East and Asia. On that everyone agrees.

Then several hundred thousand years later, some theorize, a second wave of more sophisticated tool-using humans migrated out of Africa and overwhelmed those earlier ancestors. By that theory, modern humans are descended only from those sophisticated tool-users.

Other researchers dispute that pattern. In their view, there was no second wave of migration from Africa. Instead, they believe, humankind evolved in China and elsewhere as colonies of more primitive Homo erectus intermarried in a global network of genetic relationships.

"The issue," said University of Michigan anthropologist Milford Wilpoff, "is about whether people have multiple ancestors from many places or one ancestor from one place."

6 posted on 01/10/2002 6:15:38 AM PST by blam
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To: Interesting Times
the chance that some enterprising Homo Sapiens didn't give them a try is just about zilch.

I thought the consensus was they were substantially stronger than humans...maybe they were chasing us around, giving us a try!

Until BONGOsamURGcolt came up with the spear-thrower "equalizer"...and they became extinct...

7 posted on 01/10/2002 6:18:37 AM PST by fourdeuce82d
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To: jlogajan
If you ever left a bar at closing time you would realize that there is no such thing as "unappealing female" to a homo sapien male.
8 posted on 01/10/2002 6:49:06 AM PST by steve50
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To: jlogajan
Actually Neanderthal's "disappeared" as a result of the development of good cutting tools. Massive strength was no longer required, and non Neanderthal traits could then be passed down without catastrophic consequences.
9 posted on 01/10/2002 6:55:53 AM PST by sheik yerbouty
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To: *crevo_list
bump
10 posted on 01/10/2002 7:35:02 AM PST by Gladwin
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To: blam; all
Can anyone direct me to a good "Neanderthals for Dummies" or "Ancient Anthropology" site?
11 posted on 01/10/2002 7:47:05 AM PST by HarryDunne
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To: HarryDunne
Can anyone direct me to a good "Neanderthals for Dummies"

Sure, check out the Democratic Underground site, you'll be pleasantly surprised. : )

12 posted on 01/10/2002 8:00:33 AM PST by Psalm 73
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To: Psalm 73
:D
13 posted on 01/10/2002 8:02:38 AM PST by HarryDunne
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To: blam
BUMP
14 posted on 01/10/2002 8:04:15 AM PST by Aurelius
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To: Interesting Times
Unlikely. Humans have attempted to mate with members of the same sex, the opposite sex, cows, sheep, footwear and watermelons.

Exactly. Has anyone done any archaeological research on turkey-basters?

15 posted on 01/10/2002 8:06:13 AM PST by Bernard Marx
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To: Interesting Times
Humans have attempted to mate with ... watermelons.

Indeed. How else to explain Marlon Brando?

16 posted on 01/10/2002 8:07:39 AM PST by Gumlegs
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To: Interesting Times
You forgot interns.
17 posted on 01/10/2002 8:11:06 AM PST by orfisher
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To: Interesting Times
Unlikely. Humans have attempted to mate with members of the same sex, the opposite sex, cows, sheep, footwear and watermelons.

Are you an Ichthyophobe? I noticed you left fish completely off the list. :o)

18 posted on 01/10/2002 8:16:01 AM PST by been_lurking
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To: been_lurking
Hey, when that guy said he was going to mount that fish, he meant that he would have it stuffed to hang on the wall!
19 posted on 01/10/2002 8:25:31 AM PST by RayBob
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To: blam
a University of Tennessee anthropologist reports statistical evidence that Neandertals and emerging modern humans likely interbred and evolved together.

As much as I understand the PC imperative of an Academic and his detestation of all things violent; and I know how wonderful is his theory that the ancients "likely interbred and evolved together" - "made love," as it were, it is more likely that the opposite occurred: They "made war" and the Cro-magnons wiped out the more dim-witted Neanderthals.
Academics never quite give up their agenda, even as it is contradicted by their own research.

20 posted on 01/10/2002 8:32:06 AM PST by bimbo
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To: blam
A 10-day, 16-thread bump.

2002

  1. (2002-01-01) Conservatives, Darwin & Design: An Exchange

  2. (2002-01-01) Design Yes, Intelligent No

  3. (2002-01-01) Intelligent Design As a Theory of Technological Evolution

  4. (2002-01-07) Genetic Marker Tells Squash Domestication Story

  5. (2002-01-07) SNPs as Windows on Evolution

  6. (2002-01-07) Supreme Court Won't Hear Case on Teaching Evolution

  7. (2002-01-07) Universe Of Life: Maybe Not, A

  8. (2002-01-07) What Every Theologian Should Know about Creation, Evolution, and Design

  9. (2002-01-08) Democratization of Science, The

  10. (2002-01-08) Progressive Creationism

  11. (2002-01-08) Universe Might Last Forever, Astronomers Say, but Life Might Not, The

  12. (2002-01-09) Life On Other Planets? Vatican Aide Ponders The Possibility

  13. (2002-01-09) Primordial Air May Have Been "Breathable"

  14. (2002-01-09) What Would Newton Do?

  15. (2002-01-10) New Theory on Big Bang

  16. (2002-01-10) Study: Neanderthals, Modern Humans Same Species


21 posted on 01/10/2002 8:32:12 AM PST by Junior
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To: jlogajan
If you can interbreed, you are considered in the same species.

Just this morning I read a claim in Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez (highly recommended!) that polar bears and brown bears can in some cases produce viable offspring.

As for Neanderthals, the genetics suggest that they were separate species. Until the mitochondrial DNA data came in, they always were considered two varieties of homo sapiens. I don't see how comparative anatomy can trump that.

22 posted on 01/10/2002 8:33:16 AM PST by Physicist
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To: steve50
If you ever left a bar at closing time you would realize that there is no such thing as "unappealing female" to a homo sapien male.

I guess that explains why I can say that I've never gone to bed with an ugly woman.....but I sure woke up with a few!

23 posted on 01/10/2002 8:35:47 AM PST by oldsalt
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To: jlogajan
Although totally un-PC, todays "race" is but biology's "sub-species". Differentiating race/location definitional parameters and infrequent cross-breeding between/among races/sub-species is often all biologists need to name a "new" sub-species.

I suspect that during the ebbs and flows of 7(?) ice sheets since Raquel Welch's One Million Years B.C., early tribes were forced out and likely back into Europe, perfecting the human warrior genes and social organizations during these many migrations. Breeding then as now was probably for alliance, wealth, and dominance, as it is now. Maybe Neanderthals were the original blonds.

What has love got to do with it?

24 posted on 01/10/2002 8:36:47 AM PST by SevenDaysInMay
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To: jlogajan
If you can interbreed, you are considered in the same species.

Bison and domestic cattle can interbreed yet are not in the same species. Timberwolves and domestic dogs can interbreed - different species. Drake mallard ducks will attempt to breed with any female duck of any species - often successfully.

25 posted on 01/10/2002 8:39:58 AM PST by CholeraJoe
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To: bimbo
They are trying to advance the theory that humans interbred with Neanderthals--and the word "DNA" does not even appear in the article!

Their entire research apparently consists of measuring skulls, which people laughed at the Nazis about.

26 posted on 01/10/2002 8:49:05 AM PST by denydenydeny
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To: blam;nopardons;WhyisaTexasgirlinPA;LadyX;razorback-bert;Norb2569
When Oiler coach Bum Phillips was asked by Bob Costas why he took his wife on all road trips, Phillips responded:

"Because she was too damn ugly to kiss goodbye."

This is essentially what happened to the Neanderthals.
The men couldn't bear to kiss their wives good-by when they went on hunting forays, so they took them along.
Some sexually deprived Cro-Magnon males spotted them and used the grocery sacks they always carried to allow them to interbreed without regurgitating.

27 posted on 01/10/2002 9:02:41 AM PST by COB1
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To: jlogajan
The real determining factor is can they bring the resultant fetus to term? Sheep and goats, although distinct species, can successfully breed, with there being fertilization and development of an embryo, but the embryo will not survive.
28 posted on 01/10/2002 9:10:24 AM PST by Fury
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To: Bernard Marx, gumlegs, orfisher
Exactly. Has anyone done any archaeological research on turkey-basters?

**Humans have attempted to mate with ... watermelons.**

Indeed. How else to explain Marlon Brando?

You forgot interns.

I think they call this a 'target-rich environment'...

29 posted on 01/10/2002 9:13:00 AM PST by Interesting Times
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To: been_lurking
Are you an Ichthyophobe? I noticed you left fish completely off the list. :o)

Phobe? No, I'm not afraid of fish -- I just find them somewhat Ichthy.

30 posted on 01/10/2002 9:14:39 AM PST by Interesting Times
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To: Interesting Times
I just find them somewhat Ichthy.

Not all of them! Sounds like you need to bone up on fish.

31 posted on 01/10/2002 9:22:37 AM PST by Wm Bach
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To: Physicist
The study you refer to compared DNA from Neaderthals to DNA from Modern Homo sapiens. Until they perform a similar study on DNA from Neaderthals and DNA from Archaic Homo sapiens, the jury is still out. Even the DNA of Homo sapiens can be expected to change over a time frame of thousands of millenia.

I think this entire issue has been clouded by politically correct scientists not wanting to imply that "modern" Homo sapiens from Eurasia did not directly originate from Africa. In actuality, BOTH Neanderthal man and Homo sapiens originated in Africa, so this is really a non-issue.

If mammologists were viewing the skeletal remains of populations of hogs, deer, or any other taxa of mammals other than hominids, the apparent differences between Homo sapiens sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis/H. s. neanderthalensis would hardly be considered adequate to separate the populations into two distinct species.

Take a Neanderthal, give him a bath and a shave, and put him in a business suit, and he wouldn't stand out in any major city on earth today.

32 posted on 01/10/2002 9:27:43 AM PST by ZULU
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To: COB1
Some sexually deprived Cro-Magnon males spotted them and used the grocery sacks they always carried to allow them to interbreed without regurgitating.

ROFLMAO!

33 posted on 01/10/2002 9:33:18 AM PST by Norb2569
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To: ZULU
Yes,it's "Twins," all over again. This time with Danny DeVito's build, and and Arnold Schwarznegger's strength.

By Der Vay, looking at Arnolt's prominent brow ridge, I vant to know eggsactly how far is dat Neanderthal (what did happen to the "H") Walley from Austria, Dude?

34 posted on 01/10/2002 9:39:41 AM PST by Francohio
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To: Fury; jlogajan
See also post #25

Mallard-Pintail hybrid

Mallard-Spotbill hybrid

Mallard-Gadwall hybrid


35 posted on 01/10/2002 9:43:53 AM PST by CholeraJoe
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To: HarryDunne
"Can anyone direct me to a good "Neanderthals for Dummies" or "Ancient Anthropology" site?"

A show, Neanderthals On Trial, will be on PBS the evening of 01-22-2002, don't know what time.

36 posted on 01/10/2002 11:03:15 AM PST by blam
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To: Junior
You actually read the article about squash domestication?
37 posted on 01/10/2002 11:21:27 AM PST by blam
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To: blam
I glanced at it and then added it to The Ultimate Creation vs. Evolution Resource. There have been a slew of crevo threads in the last week or so and I'm rushing to keep up with them all.
38 posted on 01/10/2002 11:27:19 AM PST by Junior
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To: blam
thanks
39 posted on 01/10/2002 11:54:25 AM PST by HarryDunne
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To: Gumlegs
Whenever it is said that modern humans and Neanderthals didn't interbreed, I think "these are guys, they'll sleep with anything".

Witness the "most intelligent president we've ever had"

40 posted on 01/10/2002 12:22:01 PM PST by glorgau
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To: COB1
Some sexually deprived Cro-Magnon males spotted them and used the grocery sacks they always carried to allow them to interbreed without regurgitating.......

But did they "double-bag"?

41 posted on 01/10/2002 2:11:04 PM PST by WhyisaTexasgirlinPA
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To: jlogajan
But what if you can interbreed, but don't want to. What if most neanderthals were unappealing to spaiens sapiens? Techically, even if they could interbreed, they didn't. So the evolutionary results are the same as IF they were different species

Hmm. Interesting hypothesis. Would this have been before the invention of brewing?

42 posted on 01/10/2002 2:22:51 PM PST by Oberon
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To: WhyisaTexasgirlinPA
"But did they "double-bag"?"

LOL!
Having looked at some pictures of those Neanderthal women, I definitely think they would "double bag"!
Heck, if I were them I'd double bag my dog, too!

43 posted on 01/10/2002 2:28:04 PM PST by COB1
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To: COB1
ROTFLOL

Many thanks for the ping !

Don't forget about that man, in England, whose DNA was the same as the newly found Neanderthal .

44 posted on 01/10/2002 7:44:54 PM PST by nopardons
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To: blam
Several recent studies of neanderthal DNA have indicated that their DNA was "about halfway between ours and that of a chimpanzee", thus simultaneously eliminating the neanderthal as a plausible ancestor for modern man and explaining why there is no evidence of interbreeding. The September 95 issue of Discover Magazine features an article by James Shreeve titled LIVING WITH NEANDERTHALS: How could we live side by side for 50,000 years and never have sex". The article won't link but you can get to it on www.discover.com by clicking on archives and then selecting the September 95 issue and searching for 'neanderthal' in the article body.

The article specifically mentions the levant as the place where interbreeding would be expected, but never happened. With the DNA studies of the last few years, we now know why.

Shreeve's articl notes:

Project this universal human behavior back into the Middle Paleolithic. When Neanderthals and modern humans came into contact in the Levant, they would have interbred, no matter how "strange" they might initially have seemed to each other. If their cohabitation stretched over tens of thousands of years, the fossils should show a convergence through time toward a single morphological pattern, or at least some swapping of traits back and forth.

But the evidence just isn't there, not if the TL and ESR dates are correct. Instead the Neanderthals stay staunchly themselves. In fact, according to some recent ESR dates, the least "Neanderthalish" among them is also the oldest. The full Neanderthal pattern is carved deep at the Kebara cave, around 60,000 years ago. The moderns, meanwhile, arrive very early at Qafzeh and Skhul and never lose their modern aspect. Certainly, it is possible that at any moment new fossils will be revealed that conclusively demonstrate the emergence of a "Neandermod" lineage. From the evidence in hand, however, the most likely conclusion is that Neanderthals and modern humans were not interbreeding in the Levant.

The fact that we are not descended from neanderthals totally kills the theory of evolution as far as any notion of modern man evolving goes. To believe that modern man evolved, you would now need to come up with a plausible ancestor, some closer hominid THAN the neanderthal and, since neanderthal remains and works are plentiful and this closer hominid would have to stand closer to us in both time and morphology, his works and remains would be all over the place IF he had ever existed. In actual fact, no such thing has been found. All other hominids are much further removed from us THAN the neanderthal.

45 posted on 01/10/2002 8:15:05 PM PST by medved
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To: medved
Fossil may expose humanity's hybrid roots.

(discovery of 24,500-year-old skeleton in Portugal's Lapedo Valley may be hybrid of Neanderthal and Homo sapiens)(Brief Article)
Author/s: B. Bower
Issue: May 8, 1999

Last Nov. 28, archaeologists working in Portugal's Lapedo Valley, 90 miles north of Lisbon, chanced upon a child's burial. At first the researchers, led by Joao Zilhao of the Portuguese Institute of Archaeology in Lisbon, viewed the 24,500-year-old skeleton as an example of modern Homo sapiens.

The shallow grave resembled other Late Stone Age human burials in Europe. A seashell lay among the child's bones, which bore the stains of an intentionally applied red pigment.

By the time excavation of the skeleton concluded on Jan. 7, however, the scientists suspected that their find represented something far more interesting--an anatomical hybrid that could only have appeared so late as a result of extensive prior interbreeding between humans and Neandertals. H. sapiens and Neandertals both inhabited southwestern Europe for at least several thousand years, until around 30,000 years ago.

The Portuguese team called in an authority on Neandertals, Erik Trinkaus of Washington University in St. Louis, to examine the find. He agreed that they had uncovered a hybrid kid.

Zilhao announced the discovery at a press conference in Lisbon 2 weeks ago. Trinkaus described the skeleton last week in Columbus, Ohio, at the annual meeting of the Paleoanthropology Society. A full description of the new fossil will appear in PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES.

"This kid surprised us," Trinkaus says. "The mosaic of anatomical features tells us that when Neandertals and modern humans met, they regularly interbred." Some researchers at the Columbus meeting who saw slides of the new specimen echoed Trinkaus' view. Others argued either that any interbreeding was minimal or that the fossil merely represents a stocky modern human.

Much of the child's skull was crushed, although the scientists recovered brain-case pieces and the lower jaw and teeth. The rest of the skeleton was largely intact. Tooth development places the child's age at between 3 1/2 and 5 years, Trinkaus notes. Radiocarbon analyses yielded the burial's estimated age.

Modern human traits observed on the skeleton include a well-formed chin and relatively small lower arms. But the huge "snowplow" jaw, large front teeth, short legs, and broad chest betray a Neandertal heritage, Trinkaus says.

The prehistoric child did not belong to a group of modern humans who may have evolved squat bodies suited to Ice Age conditions, he asserts. Southwestern Europe did not get cold enough to instigate such changes, in his opinion.

Trinkaus suggests that Neandertals and modern humans interbred as closely related members of the same species, as some subspecies of baboons and other animals interbreed today. Scientists who argue that modern humanity arose simultaneously in two or more parts of the world over at least the past 1 million years support Trinkaus' interpretation. "The Portuguese find indicates that one anatomically variable human species inhabited western Europe," contends Milford H. Wolpoff of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. "Human populations have always interbred."

46 posted on 01/10/2002 8:25:00 PM PST by blam
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To: blam
You simply cannot base such a thing on one skeleton; Shreeve's study is much more convincing, particularly with the DNA evidence in hand. As Shreeve notes, there should be massive evidence of interbreeding in the levant and, in fact, there isn't any at all. The one skeleton could be anything, a birth defect, an experiment gone bad... It's the same kind of thing you see with evolutionists in general who try to convince people that the one or two little freaks they find somehow compensate for the total lack of intermediates when their theory demands that the vast bulk of ALL fossils be intermediates.
47 posted on 01/10/2002 8:30:53 PM PST by medved
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To: blam

Milford H. Wolpoff (My guy)

48 posted on 01/10/2002 8:30:56 PM PST by blam
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To: medved
N.Y. Times April 25, 1999

Discovery Suggests Humans Are a Bit Neanderthal

By JOHN NOBLE WILFORD

Neanderthals and modern humans not only coexisted for thousands of years long ago, as anthropologists have established, but now their little secret is out: they also cohabited.

At least that is the interpretation being made by paleontologists who have examined the 24,500-year-old skeleton of a young boy discovered recently in a shallow grave in Portugal. Bred in the boy's bones seemed to be a genetic heritage part Neanderthal, part early modern Homo sapiens. He was a hybrid, they concluded, and the first strong physical evidence of interbreeding between the groups in Europe.

"This skeleton demonstrates that early modern humans and Neanderthals are not all that different," said Dr. Erik Trinkaus, a paleoanthropologist at Washington University in St. Louis. "They intermixed, interbred and produced offspring." Although some scientists disputed the interpretation, other scientists who study human origins said in interviews last week that the findings were intriguing, probably correct and certain to provoke debate and challenges to conventional thinking about the place of Neanderthals in human evolution.

Neanderthals and modern humans presumably were more alike than different, not a separate species or even subspecies, but two groups who viewed each other as appropriate mates. Recent DNA research had appeared to show that the two people were unrelated and had not interbred. Neanderthals lived in Europe and western Asia from 300,000 years ago until the last of them disappeared on the Iberian peninsula about 28,000 years ago. In the prevailing theory today, modern humans arose in Africa less than 200,000 years ago and appeared in great numbers in Europe, starting about 40,000 years ago.

The new discovery could, at long last, resolve the question of what happened to the Neanderthals, the stereotypical stocky, heavy-browed "cave men." They may have merged with modern humans, called Cro-Magnons, who appear to have arrived in Europe with a superior tool culture. In that case, some Neanderthal genes survive in most Europeans and people of European descent.

The skeleton of the boy, buried with strings of marine shells and painted with red ocher, was uncovered in December by Portuguese archeologists led by Dr. Joo Zilhao, director of the Institute of Archeology in Lisbon. The discovery was made in the Lapedo Valley near Leiria, 90 miles north of Lisbon.

Realizing the potential significance, Dr. Zilhao called in Dr. Trinkaus, an authority on Neanderthal paleontology, who went to Lisbon and examined the bones in January.

The boy, who was about 4 years old at death, had the prominent chin and other facial characteristics of a fully modern human. But his stocky body and short legs were those of a Neanderthal. Dr. Trinkaus compared the limb proportions with Neanderthal skeletons, including some children. He said he was then sure of the skeleton's implications.

"It's a complex mosaic, which is what you get when you have a hybrid," Dr. Trinkaus said. "This is the first definite evidence of admixture between Neanderthals and European early modern humans."

The age of the skeleton, determined by radiocarbon dating, showed that full Neanderthals had apparently been extinct for at least 4,000 years before the boy was born. "This is no love child," Dr. Trinkaus said, meaning that this was not evidence of a rare mating but a descendant of generations of Neanderthal-Cro-Magnon hybrids.

Dr. Trinkaus and Dr. Zilhao have completed a more detailed scientific report to be published soon in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DNA tests on the skeleton have not yet been done.

Other Neanderthal specialists reacted favorably to the discovery. Dr. Fred H. Smith of Northern Illinois University in De Kalb called it "very convincing and absolutely right."

Dr. Smith noted that he had come upon other skeletal material in central Europe that raised the possibility of interbreeding between the groups. Though most scholars in the field will probably accept the possibility of interbreeding, he said, a significant number will probably not.

The more ardent exponents of the out-of-Africa hypothesis of modern human origins may be holdouts. They have argued that early modern humans all emerged from Africa and wiped out the Neanderthal population in Europe. Whether the relationship was fraternal or genocidal has been much debated. But many have argued that the two groups were distinct, with humans displacing and probably slaughtering their rivals.

Dr. Chris Stringer, an expert on Neanderthals at the Museum of Natural History in London, who is a leader of the out-of-Africa forces, said that he was willing to consider the Portuguese findings with an open mind. He told The Associated Press that the current evidence was not sufficient to convince him of Dr. Trinkhaus's hybrid interpretation.

An alternative theory, known as regional continuity, holds that the earliest human ancestors arose in Africa and spread around the world more than a million years ago. Modern humans then emerged in different regions through separate evolution and interbreeding. A leading advocate of this theory is Dr. Milford Wolpoff, a paleontologist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

"This find should be devastating to the out-of-Africa people," Dr. Wolpoff said. "It shows their theory doesn't work, at least in Europe. And it shows that fundamentally, Neanderthals are the same species we are and they contributed their genes to European ancestry."

By now, scientists said, only a small fraction of Neanderthal genes have survived, the European gene pool having been further mixed through migrations during the spread of agriculture and invasions from the east.

But Dr. Wolpoff cautioned that it would take more than one skeleton to tell the effects of interbreeding apart from ordinary evolutionary changes, the result of genes modifying in response to environmental stresses.

Dr. Alan Mann, a specialist in human evolution at the University of Pennsylvania, called the Portuguese hybrid skeleton "some of the most important data we ever got about Neanderthals in human evolution," but said he was not sure that interbreeding had been established.

Dr. Trinkaus said the discovery "refutes strict replacement models of modern human origins" and also seemed to undermine interpretations of recent DNA research. Two years ago, Dr. Svante Paabo of the University of Munich in Germany, reported that a study of the genetic material DNA from Neanderthal remains and living humans indicated that Neanderthals did not interbreed with the modern humans.

At the time, scientists said the DNA results reinforced the idea that Neanderthals were a separate species from modern humans. If the new findings are correct, though, the two groups were probably more like different races of the same species.

"The problem with the DNA research was the interpretation," Dr. Trinkaus said. "It's demonstrably wrong. All that they showed is that Neanderthal biology is outside the range of living humans, not modern Homo sapiens back then." Dr. Alan Templeton, an evolutionary geneticist at Washington University, said that some hybridization occurs without the effects showing up, for example, in mitochondrial DNA, which is passed only through the mother. "But if you look deep enough in evolutionary time, you find a lot of interbreeding," Dr. Templeton said. "That is what humanity is all about: we interbreed a lot."

49 posted on 01/10/2002 8:44:35 PM PST by blam
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To: blam
THIS COMPUTERIZED RECONSTRUCTION of a Neanderthal child's skull and face was generated by computer scientists at the University of Zurich by using computer graphics newly developed for this purpose. AFP-JIJI PHOTO (Japan Times, Aug. 5, 2001)
50 posted on 01/11/2002 12:48:01 AM PST by Ultima Thule
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