Did Neanderthals mate with humans?

Modern humans and Neanderthals: Did they or didn't they? The sordid truth is out, and its not what scientists expected. The closest-ever look at the Neanderthal genome reveals that yes, we did interbreed. But scientists are still fuzzy on the where, the when, and the why.

If you watched Becoming Human when it premiered this fall, you might be feeling some scientific whiplash. At the time, genetic analysis suggested that modern humans and Neanderthals kept to themselves and didn't share their, ahem, genetic material. So why the sudden turnaround? The first time around, scientists based their conclusions on mitochondrial DNA. This time, researchers looked at nuclear DNA, which provides a more sensitive comparison to the DNA of modern humans.

So, our ancestors made babies with Neanderthals. But that's not the whole story: Only some modern populations have Neanderthal parentage. Africans don't seem to have any distinctively Neanderthal DNA. So what does that tell us about where and when modern humans and Neanderthals decided to commingle?

It must have been after some populations left Africa. Archeologists think that humans and Neanderthals lived side by side in Europe for about 15,000 years, until the Neanderthals died out about 30,000 years ago, so it seems reasonable to think that over the course of fifteen millennia these two populations would have done some canoodling.

But here's the weird part: The genetic clues point much farther back, between 60,000 and 100,000 years ago, when modern humans were settled in the Middle East and European and East Asian populations hadn't split yet. There is still no scientific consensus on whether Neanderthals and modern humans shared territory during this time. But dating DNA divergence is a complicated statistical game, so some archeologists and paleontologists, who are used to working with the kind of evidence you can hold in your hand--not the kind that comes chugging out of a computer algorithm--are skeptical.

But this research isn't just a high-tech paternity test. By comparing modern DNA with Neanderthal DNA, scientists can also uncover genes that are distinctively human. So far, the team has found about 100 genes that appear in modern humans but not in Neanderthals. They are involved in everything from skin to cognition to metabolism.

As Ian Tattersall, a paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History, told the New York Times, "This is probably not the authors' last word" on the ties that bind us to Neanderthals. 

User Comments:

I am curious to see what a comparison of Neanderthal DNA to Downs' syndrome DNA would reveal. Is Downs' truly a genetic "accident" or a combination of massive amounts of recessive genes?

I have another "what if" question. What if neanderthals were neither normal nor a separate species. What if neanderthals were the down syndrome babies of their age? Possibly banished and shunned, they banded together and occasionally bred, but their population may have been maintained mainly by new arrivals shunned and banished from their home tribes.

Evolutionists have never had any trouble building an entire "cave man" from a tiny bone chip (or pig tooth, or dolphin rib), and dreaming up fairy tales to describe every aspect of their lives... but their narrow perspective doesn't allow them to see things which are often as plain as day. For instance, the "Neanderthal" people. Their skulls show large jaws and protruding foreheads, their skeletons are often bent over, hunching forward. Perfect "ape man" features, right? Of course... if you have been programmed to believe so, by someone who is supposedly "qualified" to tell you what you need to think.
If you are capable of using your own mind, however, you might stop to consider a few important facts:

1) The features of Neanderthal skulls are typical of Negroid people who are fully human and alive in the world today.

2) People with Negroid characteristics normally have more of the skin pigment know as melanin than light-skinned people. Melanin not only causes a darker skin tone and protects better against ultraviolet light, but it also makes it more difficult to get adequate amounts of Vitamin D.

3) Neanderthal bones frequently show a Vitamin D deficiency, which no doubt caused that "cave man" posture (see Rickets).

So they may have simply been dark-skinned people who lived in Europe- where they just couldn't get enough sunshine.

"Ape men" indeed!

To Joe T

Your theory is not new and is incorrect. First, modern science (who's limitations I'm well aware of) now says that African People are the only true homo sapiens on the planet. All other races are the result of interbreeding between homo sapiens (Africans)and Neanderthals (ancestors of the european, asian, and all non-African races). (see 7min:22sec)

Thus making your skull size "claim" moot.

And, a better explanation for the hunch backed "cave man" is Osteoporosis, which is common among europeans and asians (descendants of neanderthals) and extremely rare among Africans (homo sapien). It is rare among Africans because their eumelaninated skin is the equivalent to SPF 30 sunblock, which allows them to stay in the sunlight long enough to absorb sufficient amounts of sunlight and all its nutrients, including vitamin d. Non-African "people" however, have pheomelanin, which cannot tolerate sunlight and reflects its it rather than absorbing it. The slightest over exposure creates a risk for melanoma. That is another reason why the europeans and asians ancestors started off in caves; they were dodging the sun, which for all other life forms is a source of life.

Cave men indeed ! ! !

Well, this certainly explains the violent nature of Europeans and Asians

Now I see why the people with Neanderthals in them have always been violent. Flying planes into buildings (read Mohamed Atta) and committed genocides (read Hitler) and committed atrocities in Africa too (Caucasian Africans - read Somali & Tutsi of Rwanda!)

blog comments powered by Disqus