Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Neanderthal Genes Found In All Non-African Populations

Comments Filter:
  • by blair1q (305137) on Monday July 18, 2011 @06:10PM (#36804762) Journal

    Someone needs to do a little digging to make sure this isn't just an elaborate piece of GEICO astroturfing.

    • Errr, more to the point, January called and it wants its (mildly but not excessively) controversial news back.

      • by blair1q (305137) on Monday July 18, 2011 @06:22PM (#36804850) Journal

        I thought it was "homo sapiens and homo neanderthalensis miscegenated and the latter genes still exist in humans" in January.

        Now it's "if you aren't 100% African, you're part Neanderthal."

        • by boristhespider (1678416) on Monday July 18, 2011 @06:33PM (#36804968)

          As far as I understood it, it was that the evidence suggested - to some degree of certainty - that the genes of all extra-African races were different from sub-Saharan African races to a level that agreed with Neanderthal sequences. Obviously the errors were large - and acknowledged in the studies - but so far as I understood the reasoning for the implications, Homo Sapiens was reputed to have interbred with Homo Neanderthalis at least in the Middle East at about the point that we left Africa, simply because all of us who aren't predominantly sub-Saharan African have the same gene sequence as some recently-sequence Neanderthal fossils.

          So far as that goes, fair enough. I remember reading a lot of that kind of thing a good few months back. And a natural implication is that anyone who isn't sub-Sahran African probably has Neanderthal in them. (Entertainingly, of course, many sub-Saharans also will. This is due to humans, err, interacting constantly and repeatedly and the effects propogating through populations. But the studies took that kind of simple-minded thing into account, of course.)

        • by arth1 (260657)

          So, all that it really says is that at least one Neanderthal engaged in bestiality. Given the number of generations since then, it's not surprising that most of the world can trace one of the myriad of ancestries also to that incident.

          What is surprising is that it hasn't spread back to Africa.

          There could, perhaps, be a gene that suppresses that marker, e.g. by causing infertility when encountered, while at the same time increasing the chance of survival in Africa? Something like sickle cell anemia or lact

  • In other words (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Scareduck (177470) on Monday July 18, 2011 @06:18PM (#36804816) Homepage Journal

    The Neanderthals didn't become extinct so much as they merged with H. sapiens.

    • i have read some of the archaeology people's writings, and uhm, they have a nice euphemism. "outcompeted". they look at burial sites and so forth to chart the spread of the species.

      and uhm. the neanderthals were mass slaughtered.

      actually its pretty common in history, from the genetic records, to have waves of populations come in and slaughter the existing population, completely displacing it.

      yay us.

      • 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.

        • 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.

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

            To this I reply "Richard Kiel".

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Richard_Kiel_2.JPG [wikipedia.org]

            Case closed.

            • He has gigantism. Acromegaly [wikipedia.org] is a known comorbidity of gigantism which explains his appearance.

              • I was, of course being facetious in my remark. However, it got me thinking (dangerous I know). Is it not possible that, due to some very minor genetic mutation in Africans 170,000 years ago or so the, pituitary gland began to produce ever-so-slightly less GH, while it continued normally for Neanderthal populations. This reduction in GH produced Africans with less pronounced facial features, while these feature remained prominent in Neanderthals. It seems to me, as many genetic mutations do, that every once
        • waves of populations come in and slaughter the existing population, completely displacing it.

          GP doesn't necessarily contradict this theory. It makes sense to me. They killed all the males and kept the females for pleasure, many of which resulted in offspring. These offspring came to dominate to the point that very few tribes existed that were not tribes descendants of this hybridization. Not too hard for me to believe.

    • It could be a merger, it could be a little bit of gene flow followed by extinction. The data don't say.

      A previous result suggested non-African humans have about 4% of their genome descended from Neandertals. For the sake of argument, I'll take that as a fact.

      Merger scenario: a big wave of modern humans flow into Neandertal territory, outnumbering them by about 25 to one. They all form one big happy interbreeding population, soon forming a uniform gene pool which is about 4% Neandertal, reflecting the origin

  • by TWX (665546) on Monday July 18, 2011 @06:20PM (#36804834)

    Somehow I doubt that telling those white supremacists that they're the ones descended from Neanderthals and that the Africans are the only group lacking Neanderthal DNA would do anything to change their perspectives.

    • by a whoabot (706122)

      Why would you ever suppose that it would?

    • You do know that Neanderthals had bigger brains? Hardly a problem for supremacists (not that they needed a rational argument)

    • The racists will just claim that the Neanderthal DNA makes them superior.

    • Somehow I doubt that telling those white supremacists that they're the ones descended from Neanderthals and that the Africans are the only group lacking Neanderthal DNA would do anything to change their perspectives.

      What do you mean, "change perspectives"? Clearly our people are most direct descendants of a superior Neanderthal people, and hence should be the master race. Neanderthal power! ~

  • 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.

    • From what I understand paleontologists love balling each other out over this sort of things. Doubly so when humans are involved.

      If early modern humans and neanderthals were still closely related enough to mate should they be considered the same speciees? If so then our species has a much larger family tree than thought. If not then why would the offspring of the two different species mating be considered homo sapient and not homo neanderthalensis. Why why why?

      Glad there's pepole thinking about this stuff...

      • From what I understand paleontologists love balling each other ...

        *snicker* *giggle*

        It's 'bawling out' [wiktionary.org] dude.

      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        I thought the definition of species [wikipedia.org] was

        a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring

        . So if humans and neanderthals could in fact interbreed, then wouldn't they be the same species? Were they any further apart than pygmys and tall white europeans? I would think that if neanderthals had survived to this day, they would have all the same rights as the rest of humans, and probably be considered human.

    • by jheath314 (916607)

      Currently we believe they were far more stocky and muscular than modern humans (from looking at the way their muscles connected to the bones), and they appeared to be more robust (several severely fractured bones show signs of healing).

      I think the most interesting difference is that their children appeared to mature faster than ours, taking only 11 years to become fully-grown. (I think the evidence for this is still debated). Even though interbreeding evidently took place, it seems to me they were neverth

    • Morphologically there were considerable differences. Just because two species can interbreed does not make them the same. You would indeed know if a Neandertal was sitting across from you on the bus. I'm not saying he would be any less human, but this isn't the very minor genetic differences one finds between, say, an Amerindian and a San bushman. There may be Neandertal genes in everyone but sub-Saharan Africans, but all in all, humans are still a very closely related group, more closely related, for i

  • 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 Cronock (1709244)
      The introduction of the gene requires mating in regards to Neanderthals, whereas it's a little difficult to mate with a virus.
    • by Raenex (947668)

      The human genome contains all kinds of junk that isn't expressed, including code for various viruses.

      Obligatory Dresden Codak [dresdencodak.com]

  • by Hartree (191324) on Monday July 18, 2011 @06:31PM (#36804944)

    I think it's proof that most of us slashdot geeks are such social basket cases even our ancestors had to move to a foreign land and get a neanderthal to date them.

    Those slashdotters who are from Africa get a free pass on this one.

    • by couchslug (175151)

      "I think it's proof that most of us slashdot geeks are such social basket cases even our ancestors had to move to a foreign land and get a neanderthal to date them."

      Yes, BUT IT WORKED!

  • has never seen Steve Ballmer dance around the stage yelling "developers developers developers"
  • 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 MightyMartian (840721) on Monday July 18, 2011 @07:35PM (#36805686) Journal

      It's not poorly defined so much as there's no single definition that will do. The definitions provided are generalized by the very nature of the species concept itself. As with the definition of life itself, there's no black and white, but continuums. Take a look at ring species for the root of the problem with eukaryotic organisms. It gets even more complicated when you deal with procaryotes. It gets just as bad when you deal with some bizarre reproductive strategies like polyploidism in plants which can produce a new species in a single generation.

      • When two living colonies separate for a long enough period of time, they turn into separate species. My understanding of both Neanderthal and Homo Sapien is that while they are genetically apart, not so much as to still create a hybrid. For example, two Neanderthals may conceive a child with the same success rate as two Homo Sapiens. However when a Neanderthal mates with a Homo Sapien, conception isn't impossible but rather much more rare. Maybe this why there's only a 4% genetic differentiation to this day

    • No... it really isn't a stretch.

      There are significant physiological differences between Neanderthal and Homo sapiens. Just because two species can interbreed does not mean they are the same species.

      We know that Neanderthal evolved much more directly from H. erectus than H. sapiens. On top of that, Neanderthal existed separate from Modern Humans for most of their existence. The genetic differences are as stark as the physiological differences.

      What allows for inter breeding is that the entire Homo genus has t

      • by glwtta (532858)
        Just because two species can interbreed does not mean they are the same species.

        That has been a part of the functional definition of "species" for quite some time.

        There also significant physiological and genetic differences between different human populations - that's rather the point, you can't just draw a line that says "different enough to be a different species".

        What allows for inter breeding is that the entire Homo genus has the same number of chromosomes. That is it.

        Well, there's probably
      • by realxmp (518717)

        There are significant physiological differences between Neanderthal and Homo sapiens. Just because two species can interbreed does not mean they are the same species.

        No it's not definitive, but it's one of the major things we look for. Not just can interbreed but whether frequent breeding occurs between them without human intervention. In this case however, human intervention is kinda a given though. Actually I'm not alone in my skeptism, there are other scientists who refer to them as Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, a subspecies of Homo sapiens rather than separate. The ultimate proof will be in these genetic comparisions between us, and neanderthals but getting tha

    • 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.

      Does that mean that since I was always told I was found under a rock...have rocks for brains and having a stubborn streak which makes me rock headed that I'm part of the suspected missing link for silicon based lifeforms?

  • "God made man
    But he used the monkey to do it
    Apes in the plan
    We're all here to prove it
    I can walk like an ape
    Talk like an ape
    Do what a monkey can do
    God made man
    But a monkey supplied the glue"

    -Devo

  • by retroworks (652802) on Monday July 18, 2011 @09:15PM (#36806632) Homepage Journal
    I read on a cave wall somewhere that it was one particular, and really hot, Neanderthal chick, "Loose Lucy", who the Neanderthal gene dates back to. Her kids really got around.
  • Is there some reason why this could not have happened by way of a virus?

If at first you don't succeed, you must be a programmer.

Working...