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Science

Neanderthal Genes Found In All Non-African Populations 406

Posted by Soulskill
from the bumping-really-uglies dept.
Med-trump writes "Neanderthals, whose ancestors left Africa about 400,000 to 800,000 years ago, evolved in what is now mainly France, Spain, Germany and Russia, and are thought to have lived until about 30,000 years ago. Now scientists have identified a piece of Neanderthal DNA (called a haplotype) in the human X chromosome and conclude that this haplotype is present because of mating between our ancestors and Neanderthals. The study was published in the latest issue of the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution."
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Neanderthal Genes Found In All Non-African Populations

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  • by lazn (202878) on Monday July 18, 2011 @06:27PM (#36804890)

    So.. Just how "different" are/were they? It sounds to me like we are calling neanderthals non homosapiens when in reality they are no more different from us than say a tall blond Scandinavian is from a short Asian.. Or a chihuahua from a great dane.

  • by hxnwix (652290) on Monday July 18, 2011 @06:27PM (#36804894) Journal

    The human genome contains all kinds of junk that isn't expressed, including code for various viruses. However, that does not make one a virus any more than it makes one a neanderthal.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18, 2011 @06:37PM (#36805010)

    Of course phisical anthropology makes a distinction. Just watch Bones or read a paper: you can divide caucasian, asian, african. It's like red, green and blue: you have those 3, and infinite colors in the middle. And red is not "better" than violet or pink.
      There is no problem with races, the problem arises when one race is arbitrarily defined as being "better" than others. Also, there are no strict bounds, just like you can't draw a line between red and pink.

  • by Paracelcus (151056) on Monday July 18, 2011 @06:59PM (#36805276) Journal

    "Inferior" Homo Neanderthalensis lived as a distinct group for half a million years, surviving the toughest conditions imaginable with very limited technology, I's say that the modern hiker, who dies of exposure/starvation in 40F weather within 200 yards of a road is inferior! Could you live a night wrapped in several animal hides, probably without a fire, in ice age weather -70F?

  • by realxmp (518717) on Monday July 18, 2011 @07:14PM (#36805436)
    One of the problems here in saying whether Neanderthal's are a different species to Homo Sapiens is that the word species is poorly defined. It's actually been a problem since Darwin's day, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Species_problem [wikipedia.org] gives an idea of how long we've been arguing this. Personally if I feel if they were routinely successfully breeding with homo sapiens then calling them a separate species may be a bit of a stretch.
  • by FoolishOwl (1698506) on Monday July 18, 2011 @07:17PM (#36805486) Journal

    You missed the part where they've found evidence that most humans have Neanderthal genes.

    I always wondered why the assumption was genocide, when human communities tend to favor marriage to members of adjacent groups, and by most accounts I've read, Neanderthals would have been almost indistinguishable from anatomically modern humans, anyway. It just always seemed to make the most sense that the Neanderthals would have simply been absorbed by the larger group.

  • Neanderthal=Nordic (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18, 2011 @07:24PM (#36805550)

    The idea that Neanderthal Man was a sub-species is a product of 19th century "scientific" assumption. It might also be called a case of finding what you are looking for, or making what you find to be what you are looking for (seen most baldly in "Piltdown Man").

    The "scientific" assumption error has been enshrined by the popular application of "Neanderthal" to characterize someone as "subhuman". Archaeological evidences indicate Neanderthals were human and had human intelligence, engaged in human differentiating activities (toolmaking, ceremonies, religious activities) and interacted with (other) humans.

    If you look at "classic Nordic" facial features in profile Neanderthal elements, contradictory to assigned "Homo Sapiens" features, although modified by mixture with other human feature varieties, are visually evident: Back-sloping brow, for example (instead of vertically rising), heavy and prominent eyebrow ridges, prominent cheekbones, etc. For example, Google for a profile picture of Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain). Also see Albrecht Durer's study drawings of variant Germanic human facial features. Many he selected to draw evidence distinctively "Neanderthal" features.

    Most who have scientifically, and independently, reviewed the science of the 19th century and "Neanderthal Man" evidences (Creationists and religious scientists are alike in locking to their learnt beliefs) have anticipated that DNA evidences would/will proof Homo Neanderthalis not a hominid sub-species, but a component of Modern Human (Homo Presumptuous) ancestry.

  • by modmans2ndcoming (929661) on Monday July 18, 2011 @07:38PM (#36805704)

    how would they be almost indistinguishable? They were more muscular, stockier, and had very prominent orbital ridges.

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