Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Neanderthal Humans

The oldest human fossils are millions of years old so the idea that Neanderthal fossils represent a recent stage of evolution from ape-like hominids to modern humans doesn't make sense.  The sequencing of the Neanderthal genome is almost complete and not surprisingly it reveal that Neanderthals and modern humans are virutally identical.  Here's the report:

After years of anticipation, the Neanderthal genome has been sequenced. It’s not quite complete, but there’s enough for scientists to start comparing it with our own.

According to these first comparisons, humans and Neanderthals are practically identical at the protein level. Whatever our differences, they’re not in the composition of our building blocks.

However, even if the Neanderthal genome won’t show scientists what makes humans so special, there’s a consolation prize for the rest of us. Most people can likely trace some of their DNA to Neanderthals.

“The Neanderthals are not totally extinct. In some of us they live on a little bit,” said Max Planck Institute evolutionary geneticist Svante Pääbo.

It took four years for Pääbo’s team to assemble a working sequence from DNA in the bones of three 38,000-year-old Neanderthal women, found in Croatia’s Vindija Cave. The sequence, published May 6 in Science, covers about 60 percent of the entire genome.

Read it all here.


Anonymous said...

But that's not the idea at all - most scientists believe they were a parallel evolutionary hominid branch. Of course dna will give a more precise picture.

Alice C. Linsley said...

True science seeks the truth, not to promote any agenda. What's your agenda, Anonymous?

Holloway (1985: 320) has stated "I believe the Neanderthal brain was fully Homo, with no essential differences in its organization compared to our own."

Neanderthal anatomy is identical to humans: same number of bones which function in the same manner (Trinkaus and Shipman, 1992).

Humans are able to naturally reproduce their own only by intercourse with other humans.

Neanderthal humans walked upright, had human dentition, opposing thumbs, hunted in groups, fabricated artistic articles such as jewelry, performed rituals/ceremonies, buried their dead, were organized in communities, made tools, built shelters, shared food. By every indicator, they were fully human.

Ed said...

So in other words, Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens are related to one another the way I am related to black people or some such thing?

If that's the case, it seems as though one ought to eliminate any separate category on the species level.

Ed said...

(I was tempted to say "Native Americans," and then I remembered that I am part Native American, so we're talking direct linkage there.)

Alice C. Linsley said...

Yes, Ed. We are the same species and not separate, as proposed by macro-evolutionary theory. Neanderthals are far from the oldest humans. The oldest human fossils are millions of years old, but generally not categorized as such. The labels applied to different fossils represent attempts to force the evidence into a Darwinian framework. Ignore the labels and look at the evidence. The bulk of the fossils in question fall into 2 categories: apes or humans, but nothing in between.