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Genome of Neandertals Reveals Inbreeding 109

Posted by samzenpus
from the cracking-the-code dept.
sciencehabit writes "In a report on the most complete genome of a Neandertal ever sequenced, an international team of researchers has found that the parents of a Neandertal woman from Siberia were as closely related as half-siblings. The genome also shows that at some point the Neandertals interbred with other human groups, including their cousins the Denisovans, and our own modern human ancestors. There are even signs of Denisovans interbreeding with a mysterious archaic species. In all, the study suggests very close encounters among the several kinds of hominins living in the past 125,000 years. The detailed genome of the extinct Neandertals—our closest relatives—also offers a new look at the genetic differences that set our species apart from all the others."
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Genome of Neandertals Reveals Inbreeding

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  • Not surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JasoninKS (1783390) on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @10:01PM (#45732849)
    Not a surprise really. There weren't exactly large groups running around to intermingle. You want to procreate and expand the species you had to look within your own local group.
    • by ackthpt (218170)

      Not a surprise really. There weren't exactly large groups running around to intermingle. You want to procreate and expand the species you had to look within your own local group.

      They probably didn't have intolerant idiots telling them who they could mate with, either.

      • by quantaman (517394)

        They probably didn't have intolerant idiots telling them who they could mate with, either.

        Taboos against inbreeding are hardly the result of intolerance since inbreeding drastically increases the probability of recessive genes becoming expressed. Since recessive genes are rarely expressed they're not exposed to the same selection pressure and tend to be less fit as a result.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          They probably didn't have intolerant idiots telling them who they could mate with, either.

          Taboos against inbreeding are hardly the result of intolerance since inbreeding drastically increases the probability of recessive genes becoming expressed. Since recessive genes are rarely expressed they're not exposed to the same selection pressure and tend to be less fit as a result.

          Yeah, but try telling that to a caveman and all you get back is "Oog make fire! Fire hot! Hot like Oogs sister!".

        • by tlambert (566799)

          They probably didn't have intolerant idiots telling them who they could mate with, either.

          Taboos against inbreeding are hardly the result of intolerance since inbreeding drastically increases the probability of recessive genes becoming expressed. Since recessive genes are rarely expressed they're not exposed to the same selection pressure and tend to be less fit as a result.

          So your claim is that by engaging in inbreeding, we are putting evolutionary pressure on the recessive genes, thus removing them from the gene pool, and that this is beneficial?

          You are aware that, if you have a single gene for sickle cell anemia, rather than coming down with the disease, you're effectively immune to Malaria, since the blood cells will sickle in the presence of Malaria, but not otherwise, right?

          http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110428123931.htm [sciencedaily.com]

          • Re:Not surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

            by quantaman (517394) on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @11:43PM (#45733255)

            Taboos against inbreeding are hardly the result of intolerance since inbreeding drastically increases the probability of recessive genes becoming expressed. Since recessive genes are rarely expressed they're not exposed to the same selection pressure and tend to be less fit as a result.

            So your claim is that by engaging in inbreeding, we are putting evolutionary pressure on the recessive genes, thus removing them from the gene pool, and that this is beneficial?

            Beneficial for the species possibly, but not for the poor individuals who are tasked with the job of carrying those genes out of the pool.

            (though it might be bad of the species as you'll lose some diversity too, recessive genes still get selection without inbreeding)

            You are aware that, if you have a single gene for sickle cell anemia, rather than coming down with the disease, you're effectively immune to Malaria, since the blood cells will sickle in the presence of Malaria, but not otherwise, right?

            http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110428123931.htm [sciencedaily.com]

            Recessive genes are less fit on average, that doesn't mean in some instances they can't be as or even more fit than their non-recessive counterparts.

            The sickle cell gene example, aside from being fascinating, actually proves my point. It would not have survived as a dominant gene in that form since the side effects of full expression are too harmful, it either would have been removed from the genepool, mutated to only go sickle with Malaria, or another gene would have popped up that made it only go sickle with Malaria. It's the fact that it's recessive that's allowed it to retain such poor fitness.

        • inbreeding drastically increases the probability of recessive genes becoming expressed

          Not just that, but copy errors, but the thing is that while the relative increase is drastic (> 5x) the absolute occurrence is still small enough (~ 1/20) that enough people "get over" the taboo and the results aren't terrible.

          Anecdotally, I know that the renters across the street had a kid with "those problems" but I also don't know who the people are that I meet everyday who don't have them.

          Anyway, the Neanderthals p

          • by Alomex (148003)

            the absolute occurrence is still small enough (~ 1/20)

            It is 1/20 for each defective gene you carry, so the final probability ends up being much higher.

        • by C0R1D4N (970153)
          Take that ginger kids!
        • by Anonymous Coward

          Taboos against inbreeding are hardly the result of intolerance since inbreeding drastically increases the probability of recessive genes becoming expressed.

          This is an urban myth, happily kept alive by those on higher moral grounds (sarcasm intended). The chance of the offspring of 2 full cousins having diseases from recessive genes is between 2 and 3 percent higher than the chance for 2 random people. Although 2-3 percent may still seem like a lot today, back in the times we are talking about here, it was a fart in the wind and would have gone entirely unnoticed unless the Neanderthals managed to master advanced statistics.

          • Taboos against inbreeding are hardly the result of intolerance since inbreeding drastically increases the probability of recessive genes becoming expressed.

            This is an urban myth, happily kept alive by those on higher moral grounds (sarcasm intended). The chance of the offspring of 2 full cousins having diseases from recessive genes is between 2 and 3 percent higher than the chance for 2 random people. Although 2-3 percent may still seem like a lot today, back in the times we are talking about here, it was a fart in the wind and would have gone entirely unnoticed unless the Neanderthals managed to master advanced statistics.

            This is compounded across generations. It is 2 or 3 percent per generation as the bad genes stick around.

        • I would have thought it would go the other way, similar to "modern" bigoted families who would chuck a shit if their son/daughter/etc. produced offspring with a black person.

          • by quantaman (517394)

            Ironically the taboos actually has a similar motivation. In both cases they're trying to prevent their offspring from getting bad genes, the problem with the anti-miscegenation folks is they think other races are bad genes.

        • by swalve (1980968)
          And then the people with recessive genes die out and don't pass themselves on. That's the point, if there is such a thing, of DNA. In the long term, good genes win out over bad ones. If the available mating population is small, everyone has to mate a lot and throw away a few 'tards. That's that happens in pretty much all the species- young that don't keep up with their peers are either expelled from the nest or eaten by tigers. Look at the classic example of modern inbreeding- the European royals and t
      • Or the Westermarck effect, apparently.
    • Re:Not surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @10:26PM (#45732963) Homepage Journal

      Agreed. What is so surprising about some inbreeding? The human animal is an animal after all. Take any animal, and set a limited population apart. They're going to mate, and that population will continue mating, until something happens to reintroduce that limited population back into the larger population. It isn't a matter of preference - it's a matter of necessity.

      Once reintroduced into the larger population, some limited inbreeding may or may not continue. But, interbreeding is going to happen as well.

      Life. What a concept. Life struggles to continue, under all conditions.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        So what you're saying is Life....finds a way.

        • by nospam007 (722110) *

          "So what you're saying is Life....finds a way."

          Don't you remember? That wasn't 'Life' that was...Newman!

    • by rrohbeck (944847)

      Replying to undo moderation mouso.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Not a surprise really. There weren't exactly large groups running around to intermingle. You want to procreate and expand the species you had to look within your own local group.

      Precisely, the landscape wasn't peppered with groups of humans. When you ran into another group your first reaction would have been to cautiously interact with them rather than attack. The opportunity to find a mate that wasn't closely related to you was way more important than wiping out the other group when you could just stay out of their territory and remain friends. These people would not have cared very much if a perspective mate was a Neanderthal, Denisovian or another modern human. Conflict only sta

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The opportunity to find a mate that wasn't closely related to you was way more important than wiping out the other group when you could just stay out of their territory and remain friends

        Or if they were weak, you could simply slay the males and the elderly, plunder their resources, and take their women as breeders.

    • by RockDoctor (15477)

      There weren't exactly large groups running around to intermingle.

      Precisely. At this time the entire humanoid population of Europe was under a hundred thousand. Less than a football (any shape or rules) stadium full, spread over an entire continent.

      At which sort of population density, almost everyone you meet has at least one great grandparent in common with you (a modern definition of "incest") ; most people you meet on a daily basis have a grandparent in common with you.

      So, for both Neander-boys and Nean

    • by argStyopa (232550)

      It seems to be working for Iceland, for that matter.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @10:01PM (#45732851)

    . . . so easy, a caveman could do her!

  • Incest (Score:3, Funny)

    by JustOK (667959) on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @10:04PM (#45732861) Journal

    Incest is best. Keep it in the family. Or genus

  • by PPH (736903) on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @10:19PM (#45732939)

    ... there is no record of a Slashdotter ever having bred with a supermodel.

  • in runs in the family
  • "Squeal like a pig !"
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .

    ( apologies to James Dickey and the cast and crew of the film "Deliverance" )

    And someone at Slashdot has a sense of humor of sorts ...

    captcha = stiffer

  • There was a great article in Science a few weeks ago evaluating 6 extremely complete skeletons that were "collected" by a giant cat about a million years ago. (reference below)
    The biggest revelation to many biologists was the amount of variation among the skulls. If they'd been found independently, they probably would have been put into different species. It's almost as if biologists haven't figured out that people vary quite a bit within species.
    Why can't we just see ourselves as one big amorphous mass o

  • Humans like to have sex.
  • Just because they're trendy to talk about, you don't need to use some new-age, look at me, I know about Neanderthals and Denisovans way of spelling their name. They're Neanderthals, despite the fact that 'tal' is the German word that it's based on.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @11:57PM (#45733313)
      I noticed your sig and I'm a bit low at the moment so: I just want to tell you all here that the LHC is in Europe.

      Whar's mah karmah?
      • by BluBrick (1924)

        I noticed your sig and I'm a bit low at the moment so: I just want to tell you all here that the LHC is in Europe. Whar's mah karmah?

        Oh, you get a karma increase alright, you just get to share it with the hordes of other trolls who use the AC "account". Unfortunately, any karmic boost is comprehensively outweighed by the karmic bitchslapping (which you also get to share) brought about by the combined actions of those other ACs.

        How about that? Occasionally, life is fair!

    • by formfeed (703859)

      They're Neanderthals, despite the fact that 'tal' is the German word that it's based on.

      Thal is the older German spelling of Tal, meaning valley. Both are pronounced the same, with t not th. It simply means Neander valley. The Valley is now called Neandertal, but my uncle kept his original name.

  • an international team of researchers has found that the parents of a Neandertal woman from Siberia were as closely related as half-siblings

    So pretty much like the European royal families, huh?

    • by rts008 (812749)

      Yes, since the first comment came up, I was looking for this very comment.

      My first thought when I read the article was...'Hmmm, it didn't work out too well for the Neandrathals inbreeding just like it did not work for the Hapsburgs either.

      • or the pharaohs...
      • The Hapsburgs were more about marrying nieces to their uncles. Which only became a problem when it happened over half a dozen generations, such that Charles II's great great grandma was also his great great great great grandma on the other side.
  • Ma? You awake?

  • Sweet FA sets us apart from all the others. We're just the latest and most successful members of the genus homo.

  • I read that inbreeding was bad and causes issues like defects.

    • by kenwd0elq (985465)

      The problem with inbreeding depends on the closeness of the relationship. With your sibling? If you carry ANY defective recessive genes at all, the chances of a child having it expressed is one half. With your 2nd cousin? A much lower chance of recessives matching. But in a small community, you'll almost certainly be marrying a cousin of some degree or another, even if your culture either marries outside the village (Ashkenazim) or raids for women (Viking or Polynesian, for example). If your culture

      • While closeness is important, repeated closeness is a much bigger factor. You could have a child with your sister with a fairly small chance of birth defects, but if those offspring had offspring, the chances increase dramatically. IIRC, cousin marriages were common in the middle east, but it's a system of parallel cousin marriage with rules that prevent repeatedly drawing from the same small gene pool. It's an interesting mechanism of staying within the tribe without most of the adverse effects of inces
        • by Cutterman (789191)
          Not so. In Saudi, where cousin marriages are very common, the incidence of genetic defects (particularly ano-genital malformations) is very high. A reconstructive surgeon's paradise. Mac
  • Any small tribe or village, even up to the last century, is going to have some inbreeding; if there's only 250 people in your village (and assuming that the population has been relatively stable for the last few hundred years) and every potential mate in your village is at least a 4th cousin, probably more than one way. As James Burke noted, the steam engine caused a revolution in genetic engineering, because with the railroad and the steamship, it was possible to meet and mate with people who weren't rela

    • by lxs (131946)

      The summary clearly states inTERbreeding, the title turned it into inbreeding which is more or less the opposite. But this is Slashdot where the editors can't write and the posters can't read.

      • The summary clearly states inTERbreeding, the title turned it into inbreeding which is more or less the opposite. But this is Slashdot where the editors can't write and the posters can't read.

        except that TFA includes the quoted title from the summary...

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The summary clearly states inTERbreeding, the title turned it into inbreeding which is more or less the opposite. But this is Slashdot where the editors can't write and the posters can't read.

        Hmmm who can't read?

        Source article:

        "Paabo and his colleagues could tell that this Siberian Neandertal was the product of inbreeding and that her ancestors also chose their mates from their extended family. This suggests that this Neandertal woman came from a small, isolated population, the team reports online today in Nature."

        Abstract Here: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature12886.html

        " mating among close relatives was common among her recent ancestors"

        Yes, the article also discusses interbreeding.

    • by Valdrax (32670)

      When those people came to Hawaii and wed other Japanese (and Chinese) people from other villages, their children were inches taller - living in the same culture, often on similar diets. Their children were taller still, and THEIR children are the size of everybody else.

      Similar, but almost certainly not the same diet their parents had growing up. Heights is up across the Western world across population due to increases in available calories. The Dustbowl and the Great Depression were the last times in America that large swathes of the population suffered famine. Despite all the unhealthy effects of too many calories in the American diet, we generally have far more access to protein and to vitamins & minerals than our ancestors from about a century ago and than peopl

  • by koan (80826)

    And what arose form this inbreeding?

    Modern Man.

  • ... stays in Neander Valley.
  • So I did a real bad thing there because...

    ...l think you're my sister.
    Is that all? No.
    My family's last name is Buckwalter.
    My brother's name is Cletus.
    So you see, we're not related.
    We can have sex again.
    Joe, what's the matter?
    Don't I turn you on?
    I don't know what the problem is.
    Would it help if you went back to thinking I'm your sister?
    Like I'm some sort of white-trash perv?!
    I'm your sister. I'm your sister.
    Oh, you're m
  • Many scientists classify modern humans and Neanderthals as both the same species, they're both human e.g., Homo sapiens. They are then classified as different sub-species. Sub-species can interbreed.

    It is also spelled Neanderthal, with an 'h'.

    I know, picky, picky, picky...

The use of anthropomorphic terminology when dealing with computing systems is a symptom of professional immaturity. -- Edsger Dijkstra

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