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Idle Science

Neanderthals "Had Sex" With Modern Man 536

Posted by samzenpus
from the strange-bedfellows dept.
According to Professor Svante Paabo, director of genetics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Neanderthals and modern humans had sex across the species barrier. The professor has been using DNA retrieved from fossils to piece together the entire Neanderthal genome, and plans on publishing his findings soon. He recently told a conference that he was sure the two species had had sex, but still had questions as to how "productive" the relations had been. "What I'm really interested in is, did we have children back then and did those children contribute to our variation today?" he said. "I'm sure that they had sex, but did it give offspring that contributed to us? We will be able to answer quite rigorously with the new [Neanderthal genome] sequence." What remains a mystery is what Paleolithic brewery provided the catalyst for these stone age hook-ups.

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Neanderthals "Had Sex" With Modern Man

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  • by Perp Atuitie (919967) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @08:05PM (#29891549)
    This guy is "sure" they screwed, but presents nothing but his surety. There's apparently not the slightest evidence that this is more than a fantasy, however cool a brain-vid it might paint. So the story is that he's going to look some more for evidence that they not only screwed but bred. Maybe after he figures that out there will actually be a story. A pixel is a terrible thing to waste.
  • by ichthyoboy (1167379) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @08:17PM (#29891657)
    That depends: are the hybrid offspring viable and/or fertile? We see viable hybrid offspring regularly...heard of a mule [wikipedia.org]? One of the rough metrics for determining species status (using the Biological Species Concept) is that separate species will not produce fertile hybrid offspring.
  • Re:Scientific? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Toonol (1057698) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @08:26PM (#29891735)
    Yeah, there seems to be nothing of substance there.

    I'm mean, I'm SURE we had sex with neandertals; it's nearly absurd to suggest we didn't. However, there's absolutely no point to the article until some DNA or other evidence is found.
  • Re:Oeuf Corse ! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Locke2005 (849178) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @08:28PM (#29891757)
    In our defense, the dolphins themselves are pretty promiscuous! Dolphins and dogs both appear willing to hump animals outside their own species; I'm sure there are other examples.
  • Re:WELL (Score:2, Informative)

    by cthulu_mt (1124113) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @08:29PM (#29891763)
    LIAR!!! This is slashdot!
  • Re:Scientific? (Score:3, Informative)

    by jschen (1249578) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @08:49PM (#29891949)
    I realize you're trying to be funny, but mitochondrial DNA is inherited from mothers only. Therefore, it is good for tracing lineage through females, but completely useless for tracing lineage through males.
  • Re:Scientific? (Score:3, Informative)

    by autophile (640621) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @09:12PM (#29892073)

    Its been used to trace most human ancestors... almost to a couple of individual females.

    All humans to one common female ancestor [wikipedia.org].

  • Re:Scientific? (Score:3, Informative)

    by tygt (792974) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @09:20PM (#29892123)
    Neanderthals are often classified as a sub-species - Homo sapiens neanderthalis - as well as occasionally classified as a separate species.

    Given that offspring of cross-species breedings can and often do produce a fertile result (eg, see Wolf x Jackal - definitely separate species, we're not talking breeds here, as well as many other hybridizations), there's much to point to H.sapiens.sapiens x H(.sapiens?).neanderthalis being able to interbreed, especially if they were only a sub-species.

  • by Pax681 (1002592) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @09:38PM (#29892231)

    the Celts were a much more populous and civilized society than their English neighbors, who were still running around the woods and building log stockades whilst the Celts were building beautiful stone castles

    INSIGHTFUL MY ACHING ASS!

    speaking as a Scotsman i find this funny as hell. you see celts were not just Scotland ,Wales and Ireland........... they were pretty much ALL OVER EUROPE. Celts were a culture and not a race... there were Celts all over the place INCLUDING ENGLAND!!!! oh and Germany.. and Switzerland and France or and spain.....remember the OstroGoths?Visigoths?..erm.. celts..... the celts even sacked Rome...... this is where Milan gets it's name from....

    The foundation of Milan is credited to two Celtic peoples, the Bituriges and the Aedui, having as their emblems a ram and a boar

    yeah.. right next door to England isn't it? and as far as a plague.. well oe third of the roman empire was humped by the plague... however you will find that the SCots and Irisg celts by the VERY nature of them being OUTWITH the roman empire..remember the Scots kicked the crap out the Romans on more than one occassion. and the Irish were prtty much unscathed due to no real expiditionary force from the Romans altough thre was some trade(ie slaves) between the Romans and Irish .Decimation whilst having a roman root isn't even the right wird..lol decimation means 1 out of ten killed. it was , for exa,mple when a legion fucked up they got 1 out of every ten men and killed then as a lesson to the rest not to fuck up again. Or if a p[eople rebelled the same would happen to that population locally as a lesson to the rest. 1/3 != 1 out of ten.

    there were walls built to seperate the Scots tribes from Roman britain.. thus the plague very much kinda skipped the Scots and Irish on that occassion.
    i could go on and show you how amazingly wrong you are in yer wee statement but tbh i cannot bothered.

    i mean did you really believe what you said or just enjoy making shit up?

  • Re:humans (Score:3, Informative)

    by Greyfox (87712) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @09:39PM (#29892237) Homepage Journal
    Well I just googled on "Neantheral Porn" and didn't find any... yet. The results are amusing, however. I'm sure that someone is registering neanderthalporn.com as we speak.
  • Re:humans (Score:3, Informative)

    by fractoid (1076465) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @09:53PM (#29892353) Homepage

    We have had flying cars for some time, now. At least two decades.

    But to alow regular people access to those vehicles would cause far more problems than it's worth. They can barely stay on a road, you think they're going to fare better in the air?

    I see your point about most people not being remotely competent to control a couple of tons of hot, rapidly moving metal in ANY circumstance - but operating an aircraft is generally easier than operating a car, and you *definitely* have more of a margin for error. It is, admittedly, more dangerous in terms of mechanical failures but modern engineering is pretty darn reliable.

  • Re:Scientific? (Score:2, Informative)

    by rcamans (252182) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @10:17PM (#29892489)

    Actually the female passes on the mitochondria genetic material without change. The mitochondria do not do the split and mix that regular chromosomes do, so their structure is stable over long periods. Male Y chromosomes never do the split and mix thing either, only one Y chromosome is available in the egg-sperm meeting. So it is relatively stable, and very small.
    So they could get a lot of info from this stuff. If they look for it. sequencing the mitochondria chromosomes is separate from the main sequence.

  • Re:Scientific? (Score:5, Informative)

    by rcamans (252182) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @10:23PM (#29892535)

    Actually science does not have any test that will indicate that two critters will or will not breed successfully, within the same genus. There have been successful matings between South American and other cats, for example. SA cats have 36 chromosomes, other cats all have 38. but mating does produce kittens, although most are sterile (with 37 chromosomes). So fairly large variations in chromosomes does not bar breeding. So if Humans and Neanderthals turn out to be the same genus and just different species, then they could conceivably have breed. In reality, the successful breeding is the only current test which exists which says two critters are of the same genus. It used to be that the definition of species was that two different species could not interbreed, but that is not true.

  • Re:humans (Score:3, Informative)

    by adolf (21054) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @11:58PM (#29893109) Journal

    I had a spindle break in two on the rear axle once. This caused the entire wheel (tire, brake drum, hub) to fall completely off, suddenly and without warning. It was the left-side wheel, and I was making a right-hand turn when it happened. The car and I went sideways across a bridge, and managed to stop neatly at the side of the road just shy of a ravine.

    No, there was no crash -- but all the components were there for one to occur, except lateral impact. It required all new rotating bits from the axle on out.

    The same car also had a back tire separate from the rim, causing a fit of crossed-up driving and a trip backward through a ditch, at pretty decent speed. I'm hesitant to mention it, though, since tires are a "wear item," but the potential for a screaming, cartwheeling death was certainly present.

    Also different had a front control arm fail at the ball joint while out of state. Not surprisingly, it was also during a turn, and it was the outside wheel which was affected. And since all that was holding that side together was, at that point, a strut and a tie rod, the afflicted wheel turned hard in one direction and locked there, pinned against the fender.

    No, there was no crash there, either -- just a bit of humor and a lot of bad vibes as the thing slid to a smoking stop directly in front of a junk yard in South Carolina. But the components of a crash were all present, except (again) impact. This required a new half-shaft, strut, control arm, tire, fender . . .

    My wife had a car accelerate uncontrollably once. It then ran itself, sideways, into her neighbor's porch. Lots of bodywork and paint required, plus a porch, and a lot of fiddling to make the car never do that again.

    These were all semi-modern vehicles (1995, 1993, 1996, respectively), and all events happened when the cars were only 5 or 6 years old.

    Cars are doing pretty good, I must say - I think automakers have done fairly well in general for the past 15 or 20 years. But they're by no means immune to sudden catastrophic failure.

  • Re:This is important (Score:3, Informative)

    by Michael Woodhams (112247) on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @12:33AM (#29893261) Journal

    All the published studies looking for this introgression have been based on neanderthal mDNA.

    There is this one (citation follows.) It is based purely on the pattern of variation within modern humans - it does not rely on ancient DNA. The Neandertal DNA project should conclusively confirm or refute the hypothesis that the gene came from Neandertals (although it may have come from H. erectus instead.) (There is one earlier similar paper from about 2002 I think, but I found it unconvincing and I can't be bothered finding it.)

    doi: 10.1073/pnas.0606966103 Evans et al. "Evidence that the adaptive allele of the brain size gene microcephalin introgressed into Homo sapiens from an archaic Homo lineage" Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 103 18178 (2006)

    Abstract

    At the center of the debate on the emergence of modern humans and their spread throughout the globe is the question of whether archaic Homo lineages contributed to the modern human gene pool, and more importantly, whether such contributions impacted the evolutionary adaptation of our species. A major obstacle to answering this question is that low levels of admixture with archaic lineages are not expected to leave extensive traces in the modern human gene pool because of genetic drift. Loci that have undergone strong positive selection, however, offer a unique opportunity to identify low-level admixture with archaic lineages, provided that the introgressed archaic allele has risen to high frequency under positive selection. The gene microcephalin (MCPH1) regulates brain size during development and has experienced positive selection in the lineage leading to Homo sapiens. Within modern humans, a group of closely related haplotypes at this locus, known as haplogroup D, rose from a single copy 37,000 years ago and swept to exceptionally high frequency (70% worldwide today) because of positive selection. Here, we examine the origin of haplogroup D. By using the interhaplogroup divergence test, we show that haplogroup D likely originated from a lineage separated from modern humans 1.1 million years ago and introgressed into humans by 37,000 years ago. This finding supports the possibility of admixture between modern humans and archaic Homo populations (Neanderthals being one possibility). Furthermore, it buttresses the important notion that, through such adminture, our species has benefited evolutionarily by gaining new advantageous alleles. The interhaplogroup divergence test developed here may be broadly applicable to the detection of introgression at other loci in the human genome or in genomes of other species.

  • Re:humans (Score:3, Informative)

    by jbatista (1205630) on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @02:56AM (#29893875)

    Well I just googled on "Neantheral Porn" and didn't find any... yet.

    That's easy. "Neanderthal" is too much of a mouthful for some people. Try googling "Caveman porn" when you're not busy (in 3, 2, 1...).

  • Re:Isn't (Score:3, Informative)

    by damburger (981828) on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @03:44AM (#29894087)

    No. Neanderthals did have red hair, and did inhabit the same regions where modern ginger people come from - but it is already established that the gene which gives them red hair is completely different from the one that causes red hair in humans.

    The above post is not at all offtopic, its a valid question.

  • Re:humans (Score:4, Informative)

    by Valdrax (32670) on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @03:48AM (#29894105)

    Does your rib cage and pelvis flare out to make you egg-shaped, does your lower jaw jut forwards, and is your skull elongated? Seriously, look at a Neaderthal skeleton side-by-side with a human one. [donsmaps.com] A heavy brow is the least of a Neanderthal's odd traits.

    Also, there's no evidence that Neanderthals were hairier than humans.

  • Re:humans (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @04:28AM (#29894283)

    Rule 34: If it exists, there is porn of it. No exceptions.
    Rule 34a: If no porn exists of it, /b/ will create it.
    Rule 35: If it exists, it's someone's fetish. No exceptions.

  • Re:humans (Score:3, Informative)

    by renegadesx (977007) on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @05:59AM (#29894579)
    Yes, technically you are correct. Usually when most people say Caucasian they mean "white boy" like your typical Anglo-Saxon looking person.
    However I think people get my point. That being said that's only hypothetical as we do not know if human and Neanderthals were compatible enough to produce offspring, last time I checked that was still an unknown.

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