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Earth Science

DNA Analysis Probes the End of Human-Neanderthal Sex 160

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 __aaltlg1547 ( 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 on Sunday October 07, 2012 @11:38AM (#41576817)
  • Re:Racist Idiocy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @02:23PM (#41577727) Homepage

    If two individuals give fertile descendency, aren't they of the same species?

    Welcome to the Species Problem. []

    tl;dr - It's complicated.

  • 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.)

  • Re:Racist Idiocy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by crunchygranola ( 1954152 ) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @07:13PM (#41579651)

    ... Before that, Northern and Western Europe was a backwater and had been since before the dawn of civilization.

    Ever heard of Alexander of Macedon? You know...the guy who conquered half the world in the 4th century BC? Yeah, that was over two millennia ago. Maybe you should go take an Intro to Western Civ class, clown.

    And when did Alexander of Macedon ever set foot in Northern or Western Europe? He himself thought he had conquered half the world, but we have learned a little more geography in the last 2400 years. Most of Greece, most of Turkey, part of the eastern half of the Middle East and Pakistan is not half the world.

    Maybe Ringling Brothers is holding auditions AC.

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