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Earth Science

DNA Analysis Probes the End of Human-Neanderthal Sex 160

Posted by timothy
from the if-you-buy-their-claim-that-it's-ended dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Modern Europeans may have interbred with Neanderthals as recently as 37,000 years ago, after modern humans with advanced stone tools expanded out of Africa, according to a new study. In an attempt to understand why the Neanderthals are more closely related to people from outside of Africa, researchers from Harvard and the Max Planck Institute estimated that while the last sex between Neanderthals and modern humans may have occurred 37,000 to 86,000 years ago, it is most likely that it occurred 47,000 to 65,000 years ago."
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DNA Analysis Probes the End of Human-Neanderthal Sex

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  • by rubycodez (864176) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @11:12AM (#41576695)

    raped my great-great-.......great grandaddy! and he liked it!

    • by jhoegl (638955)
      Baby, it will rock your world
    • "Have you noticed, that humans and Neanderthals are still having sex?
      All the denouncement had absolutely no effect.
      Parents and counselors constantly scorn them,
      But humans and Neanderthals are still having sex and nothing seems to stop them."
    • by drkim (1559875)

      You know what they say:

      "Once you go Neanderthalensis, you'll never go back-a-lensis!"

      (Fine. You find a rhyme for 'Neanderthalensis')

      • (Fine. You find a rhyme for 'Neanderthalensis')

        Supercalifragilisticexpialidensis.

      • by anwaya (574190) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @09:24PM (#41580543)

        You know what they say:

        "Once you go Neanderthalensis, you'll never go back-a-lensis!"

        (Fine. You find a rhyme for 'Neanderthalensis')

        Next time you rhyme 'Neanderthalensis'
        Leave that task to an amanuensis,
        Or someone who doesn't sit on fences:
        They'd just still need to know what your sense is.

        • by drkim (1559875)

          You know what they say:

          "Once you go Neanderthalensis, you'll never go back-a-lensis!"

          (Fine. You find a rhyme for 'Neanderthalensis')

          Next time you rhyme 'Neanderthalensis'

          Leave that task to an amanuensis,

          Or someone who doesn't sit on fences:

          They'd just still need to know what your sense is.

          Wow!
          A "tip-o-the-mod-point" to Ogden Nash here...

          Good job.

        • by Speare (84249)

          Leave that task to an amanuensis,

          I am not just impressed with the vocabulary, but with the sublime self-reference that this line makes, in the context of your reply.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      No sex for 37,000 years. They should just accept that it's not working out and get a divorce.

  • by 2phar (137027) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @11:12AM (#41576697)

    the last sex between Neanderthals and modern humans may have occurred 37,000 to 86,000 years ago

    Maria Shriver begs to differ.

    • by Shavano (2541114) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @11:33AM (#41576791)

      Funny, but Maria is probably as Neanderthal as Arnold. What interests me is that the Neanderthal genes never made it back into Sub-Saharan Africa, which means that some Africans remained mostly separated from non-Africans for a quite a long time. Same goes for Micronesians and Austrailians, who have Denisovan genes that the rest of humanity doesn't have.

      And I guess this explains how it is we managed to end up with noticeably tweaked physical features. If Europeans and Mid-East people had been exchanging a lot of genes with Sub-Saharan Africans (for example if there had been a lot of trade between Africa and Europe or if there had been migrations into Africa) you'd expect there to be less difference in skin and eye color and more variation of hair curliness among Africans.

      Had there been more trade or immigration to Africa, Africans might look more like African-Americans, who have a mixture of African, European and other ancestry.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        I think this is probably the first time I've seen African-American not used as a catch-all term for "people of colored skin". Bravo.
      • by mveloso (325617)

        "What interests me is that the Neanderthal genes never made it back into Sub-Saharan Africa"

        That reminds me of an old joke about Jesus and the second coming:

        Man #1: Why hasn't the second coming happened yet?
        Man #2: Have you been to Palestine?
        Man #1: Yes, I have
        Man #2: Would you go back?
        Man #1: No
        Man #2: Exactly!

    • So you are telling me, that some couple has been without sex longer than Maria and Arnold . . . (ba-doom boom!)
    • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @11:54AM (#41576895)

      the last sex between Neanderthals and modern humans may have occurred 37,000 to 86,000 years ago

      Maria Shriver begs to differ.

      You got that mixed up, Neanderthals are from the past and Terminators are from the future.

    • i can see neanderthal in that just as much as in arnold

      unless your comment is more of a morality judgment on his actions, in that case WHOOSH on me

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      Does this mean I can have a gene test to see how much neanderthal I have in me? Cool...

    • by mcrbids (148650)

      to be fair, the study only shows the most recent likely successful reproduction, not the most recent sexual copulation.

      All the DNA testing of ancestry in the world wouldn't uncover the amount of copulation that happened in private with a bar of soap or a piece of soft cotton. (ahem)

  • by turkeyfeathers (843622) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @11:15AM (#41576703)
    And that's still better than most Slashdot readers.
    • I'm sure most of the readership is tallying up the last time they got laid, and wondering if they were in fact the last of their kind to do so.

  • by khallow (566160) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @11:16AM (#41576709)
    Humanity never had successful reproduction with sheep, but I wouldn't go as far as to claim as a result that we've never had sex with sheep.

    I do wonder what changed after the alleged period when occasional reproduction occurred.
    • Where is the like button?
    • by theskipper (461997) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @12:09PM (#41576975)

      It's Sunday, what the heck: (Source: http://www.squidoo.com/sheepjokes#module33629552 [squidoo.com])

      A New Zealander buys several sheep, hoping to breed them for wool. After several weeks, he notices that none of the sheep are getting pregnant, and calls a vet for help. The vet tells him that he should try artificial insemination.

      The New Zealander doesn't have the slightest idea what this means but, not wanting to display his ignorance, only asks the vet how he will know when the sheep are pregnant. The vet tells him that they will stop standing around and will, instead, lay down and wallow in the grass when they are pregnant.

      The Man hangs up and gives it some thought. He comes to the conclusion that artificial insemination means he has to impregnate the sheep. So, he loads the sheep into his truck, drives them out into the woods, has sex with them all, brings them back and goes to bed.

      Next morning, he wakes and looks out at the sheep. Seeing that they are all still standing around, he concludes that the first try didn't take, and loads them in the truck again. He drives them out to the woods, bangs each sheep twice for good measure, brings them back and goes to bed.

      Next morning, he wakes to find the sheep still just standing around. One more try, he tells himself, and proceeds to load them up and drive them out to the woods. He spends all day shagging the sheep and, upon returning home, falls listlessly into bed.

      The next morning, he cannot even raise himself from the bed to look at the sheep. He asks his wife to look out and tell him if the sheep are laying in the grass. "No," she says, "they're all in the truck and one of them's honking the horn."

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I do wonder what changed after the alleged period when occasional reproduction occurred.

      They probably discovered donkeys...
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VKWLC87Uzw

    • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @03:10PM (#41578069) Journal

      I do wonder what changed after the alleged period when occasional reproduction occurred.

      Not just successful reproduction, but offspring whose genetics was carried forward into current populations to be detected by such research.

      One possibility is the two branches diverged enough that crosses muled out. Another is that some crosses might still have remained fertile but the populations resulting from crosses after the cutoff date might have later died out without crossing back into those lines that did survive. (Perhaps cultural values or differing ideas of beauty led to a separation of these two branches of Humanity.)

    • by drkim (1559875)

      Humanity never had successful reproduction with sheep, but I wouldn't go as far as to claim as a result that we've never had sex with sheep.

      HEY!

      I was just helping it over the fence!

    • by jamstar7 (694492)
      You've been to Wyoming, I see...
    • by b4dc0d3r (1268512)

      The article is great for situations like this when you read the poorly crafted summary and then have questions.

      found that early humans had occasionally successfully interbred with Neanderthals

      ... meaning it probably did not work most of the time. What changed is most likely the rare chance in which it succeeded. It's not like they went from compatible to not compatible overnight. At some point the interbreeding stopped working.

      I think what you are wondering is what caused the change. Were the populatio

  • by Anonymous Coward
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Alternate title: "Scientists Discover Marriage"

  • by retroworks (652802) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @12:02PM (#41576921) Homepage Journal
    There may have been a lot of sex without conception, and even a number of later Neanderthal-European hookups which did conceive. If the entire Neanderthal branch of evolution died out, it's equally possible that other, later branches, of Neanderthal-Euro stepkids died out, or used contraception. But I guess this gets the word "sex" in the headline, which is probably key. The study shows the last sex which produced surviving progeny which has been blood sampled, not necessarily evidence of the last snoo-snoo.
    • Or perhaps they didn't. Given the difference in cranial sizes, it is conceivable that they progressed technologically much faster than we did. As such, they may even still be among us, albeit hidden.

      • by jamstar7 (694492)

        Or perhaps they didn't. Given the difference in cranial sizes, it is conceivable that they progressed technologically much faster than we did. As such, they may even still be among us, albeit hidden.

        And slightly better looking [imdb.com]...

  • My wife says that when we have sex, she is doing it with a Neanderthal. But she likes it that way, so we're good.

    • by bytesex (112972)

      No *you* lie! Posting on Slashdot and maintaining that you have a wife. And having sex with her and everything! Tss.

      • by drkim (1559875)

        No *you* lie! Posting on Slashdot and maintaining that you have a wife.

        When he says 'wife' he's referring to his "One Million Years B.C." poster of Raquel Welch on the basement wall.

        This also explains the 'Neanderthal' fantasy.

  • Did I miss that post?

    Rgds

    Damon

  • I've dated a few chicks that thought I was a Neanderthal. I still got lucky though. Chicks just dig furrow brows.

  • I suppose it must have been about 50,000 years ago when the Neanderthals really started to let themselves go, remember?

  • the cast of the television series "Jersy Shore" continue to procreate, I for one as a scientist cannot in good conscience rule definitively on the end of human-neanderthal intercourse.

  • What makes me laugh is the changes that have occurred in artists illustrations of Neanderthals: Before dna connection made: Ugly, primitive - almost thuggish. After dna connection: Intelligent looking, caring for others - could almost be your old uncle... (not mine though;-)
  • Why only last night, but it was really dark and I was pretty wasted. I'm ashamed to tell you the rest. I think the scratches are going to heal pretty well though.
  • by RudyHartmann (1032120) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @02:34PM (#41577787)

    Neanderthal means Neander Valley in German. I used to live near Dusseldorf which is also close to this valley in Germany. There is a really nice train ride to get to it, there's a nice nature trail and a museum with some displays of Neanderthal bones and artifacts. Neanderthals could probably interbreed with modern humans even if they were a new species. There are inter-special hybrids, such as mules. But they are usually sterile if the genome is too divergent. Neanderthal DNA is believed to be in our modern genome too. So they could not have been to genetically different than we are. Species are somewhat arbitrarily assigned anyway. It is also commonly believed by many that they were lesser mentally developed and brute beasts. The average cranial capacity of Neanderthal skulls exceeds that of modern humans. There's a lot of controversy surrounding their intellectual ability. Especially their language skills. The hyoid bone in your throat allows you to produce the sounds of modern language. They have found Neanderthal hyoid bones which were well developed. This has deepened that controversy. Just like there is great physical diversity among domestic dogs, why couldn't the same apply to homo sapiens? There is speculation that they were not immune to some of the infectious diseases that we had spread to their population. That this might have been the cause of their extinction and not our superiority. This would also explain why contact with them invariably led to extinction.

  • Its still unclear how different Neanderthals may have appeared, but probably not that different. They could probably talk, but maybe not as well as cromagnon. They may have appeared more "robust", ie. muscular. Probably both of are races were your typical ape "horndogs" willing to have sex with anything that looked decent at certain times. Most of the apes and modern humans are like this.
  • Here's proof: The Many Faces of Ron Perlman" [perlmanpages.com]
  • produce viable offspring. This proves that if man can stick his dick in it, he will fuck it.

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