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The Well-Tailored Neanderthal; Or, They Walk Among Us!



Theres a welsh guy who writes into FT every so often thst reckons Gingerness, left handedness and socialism are traits associated with neanderthal genes. The Fir Bolg thing is usually taken to refer to the shorter, darker population group found in western Ireland, the "Black Irish", who had the run of the place till the celts turned up.
I was earlier talking on another thread, where someone mentioned that maybe the irish encountered neandertals when they came there. Interesting that people will blame both Australia and Ireland on neandertals. But I guess that would explain all the red hair the irish have :)

I do however remember reading an article saying that the neandetals since living in northern europe probably were blonde and red-haired. Not dark haired and dark skinned like people usually imagine them.
the ancient irish and scots could very well of been related to neanderthals. that could explain theyre physical differences and why the romans feared them so much ...
the ancient irish and scots could very well of been related to neanderthals. that could explain theyre physical differences and why the romans feared them so much ...

Tang- What physical differences are these? The romans didnt fear the scots+irish in particular they just never quite got round to conquering them as there wasnt much wealth in Scotland to be had and the landscape didnt suit their economic system. ...
The Well Tailored Neandertal; Or, They Walk Among Us!

Now, when I hand my physical anthropology class, it was explained that the Neandertal fossils that were first excavated and treated as examples of the regular body type were actually suffering from old age and advanced arthritis and in fact normal Neandertals really wouldn't be that different from modern humans - in other words, no stooping Quest For Fire types, but essentially the people of today.

Is this the accepted anthropological view, and if so, does that mean that maybe there isn't any real genetic difference between Neandertal and Homo Sapian?
I always understood that they were a slightly different species. So genetically similar and crossbreeding would have been possible. Wonder what the results would have been like and are there still a few of them left that might account for some hairy men sightings ???
Well! You Chaps Are In Luck!

I read a book, or two, by Stan Gooch, years back, who deals with this very problem.

And he's on at Unconvention 2003!

I begin with the fact that, as a hybrid cross between Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon (which some sections of academia are again starting to deny), we have inherited two very different sets of basic instincts - a situation frequently found when widely separated species of animals are experimentally crossed. I suggest that both our personal and social problems arise from this, including the division of the political world into left and right wings. However, this is but one example of the permanent duality of our universe at every level. Incidentally, positive/negative, female/male, matter/anti-matter, cerebellum/cerebrum. (Neanderthal had a much larger cerebellum than Cro-Magnon, and women have larger cerebella than men, and so on.)

Stan Gooch gave up a career as a professional psychologist to pursue his ideas about the nature and origin of consciousness. Literary Review has called him "one of the most formidable and consistent thinkers alive today" and his ideas about the cultural legacy of the Neanderthals and their lasting impact on the psyche of Cro-Magnon man are set out in a series of books, including The Paranormal, Guardians of the Ancient Wisdom, The Double Helix of the Mind, and Cities of Dreams. (Recently, archaeologists confirmed his 1989 prediction that Neanderthal man was red-haired).

Very controversial, but interesting. I'm not sure that DNA research backs the theory.
Thanks Androman. I will make sure I do not miss that part of the Uncon :yeay:
I've always thought that if modern humans and Neandertals were genetically close enough to breed then chances are they would have done and that the results may well be walking around now.

I don't know if this is true or not, but I remember reading that one of the distinctive features of neandertals was that their toes were more-or-less the same length whereas modern humans tend to have a long "big" toe and progressively smaller ones down to the "little" 'un.

My toes follow the modern pattern (yay for me!) but my brother's follow the neandertal pattern... which, if this is true, suggests that we are indeed cross breeds.

Yay @ my modern toes, too. :D

Yes, I recall reading somewhere that Neandertals didn't so much become extinct as absorbed through inter-breeding until they were indistinguishable from the rest of us. Helpfully, I don't remember where, and I don't recall if this is the accepted anthropological view, or not. A recent TV prog seemed to suggest that Neandertal died out because she couldn't adapt to the changing environment as well as we could.

But! Neandertal was a sub-species of homos sapien; they were (or are) homo sapiens neanderthalensis, while we're homo sapiens sapiens. Not much more difference than say, a Bengal tiger and a Siberian tiger.

Says Donald Johanson, who dug up the "Lucy" fossil;
I consider Neanderthal conspecific with sapiens, with myself. One hears talk about putting him in a business suit and turning him loose in the subway. It is true, one could do it and he would never be noticed
I'm sure I read recently that geneticists have found no evidence at all for neanderthal genes in modern humans?
Gene evidence (or lack thereof)

Marion, yes I've heard that too.

I know even less about biology/genetics than I do about other sciencey subjects discussed on this board... but how do they know? Did they find a blueprint for "typical homo sapien" and compare it to "typical neandertal"? Or are they making these profound judgements based on a scant few examples?

I've also heard that humans (and indeed our knuckle-dusting possible relatives) share something like 95% of our DNA with bananas.... :rolleyes:

Re: Gene evidence (or lack thereof)

mejane said:
I've also heard that humans (and indeed our knuckle-dusting possible relatives) share something like 95% of our DNA with bananas.... :rolleyes:
No Jane, I think it's only about 50% with bananas (and other fruit'n'veg). 95% (or more) is with our chimpy cousins.

A lot of human abilities are down more to culture than biology. Feral children demonstrate this - if they aren't rescued young enough, they remain basically 'animal'.
Jane-there are probably specific gene markers found only in neanderthals that are not present in any modern humans.

Human genetics and genetics in general are very interesting , my father recently had his genes tested which was interesting as it came up with Viking ancestry , specifically a rare marker from the far North of Europe , which is strange as his father's side of the family were Surrey farmers!
Ah, I take it I'm wrong, then? Oh, well, first time for everything ;)

Genetics is indeed a facinating subject and one that I would love to know about... wandering dangerously off-thread here, but can anyone recommend a good "idiot's guide" to the subject?

Thanks, Chris. That looks like a excellent site. :yeay:

I have to recommend a really good book on human genetics,and I havent even finished reading it! It is Genes , Peoples and Languages by Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza , it isn't a dumbed-down popular book so you might need a very basic knowledge of genetics or general science to understand some of it but it isn't like a text book , it is very well written and interesting.

Here is a small section of what he has to say about Neanderthal genes:

The results of mitochondrial DNA show clearly that Neandertal was not our direct ancestor

There are lots more references through the book , I'm still on blood types and the reasons for racial characteristics ( I didn't know white people were white because they needed to sythesize vitamin D from the sun due to the diet of colder climates! )
the secret is to bang the rocks together guys!

Pardon, but I thought seeing as we co-existed with neandertal man (and woman), it's fairly widely accepted that they're not our direct ancestors. We split from a common ancestor about 100,000 years ago, and they died out and we didn't. If we did interbreed it's conceivable we could all have a little neadertal in us, especially us northern europeans, but the human race as a whole is not descended from neadertal. They're more like our brothers and sisters. Human evolution, despite the traditional ape-to-man diagrams, doesn't work in a ladder, one species giving rise to another. It's more like a tree, with lines splitting into two as different evolutionary pressures affect different populations. Several species of hominid have co-existed in the past, causing anthroplogists much headache when they dig them up and have to decide if they are our ancestors, or some sort of third cousin. It's just -as far as we know :)- we're the only species of hominid that survives today.

Excuse me if I'm stating the bloody obvious, but I wasn't sure if you meant "us" in the sense of modern man (and woman) or "us" in the sense of the human race in our whole ancient sprawling rock-banging cave-painting glory.

And we share 98% of our DNA with the chimp and gorilla, (some sources say 99% - I suppose it depends if you round up or round down.. ah, 98.4% according to this. How can you round up to 99 with a .4? Cheating buggers!) Despite appearances, we're more closely related to the African apes than a horse is to a zebra, or a dog to a fox. Kinda cool, eh :D
That was just one reference in the book , there are other references to Neandertal DNA and the lack of evidence of genetic relationship with modern humans . I can't remember where I read about the recent findings but it was probably something like National Geographic or New Scientist.

I sort of took the reference I quoted to mean no human is directly descended from on the maternal line ,identifiable in the mitochondrial DNA , it would be possible to detect something similar through a male line too , rather than to mean all humans were not descended from Neandertals.
I have viking blood as my father suffers (and I probably will too) from a rare problem in the joints of the hand. It originates in people with viking ancestory. I believe that arsehole thatcher had it.

There is no doubt that Neanderthal man was a seperate kind of human but there has always been doubt about his proliferation and co-existance with Homo-Sapiens. It seems that we did co-inhabit certain regions and some intelligences and ideologies are not so far apart from our own. Their burials are testament to their devotion to family and a reflection of their placement of value on certain objects of desire.

We must not forget that the so-called stone age Homo-Sapien was no different to ourselves. Either physically or mentally. His mind and body were capable of the same feats of dexterity and agility. His wit and culture (at least a local ideology) would have all the social graces and intellectual abilities as those today. It seems that neanderthal had all these merits too (or at least their own versions) and that he was very much an alternative human being. I would love to have met one so I could invite him to a spear throwing competition.

There have always been idiots and a bank of ignorance in our cultures. There probably always will be. Stone age man had the same potential as you or I. Different oppertunities and chances in life but........the same potential. Take a kid from the stone age and bring 'em up here and now and you would get a contemporary youth.

There is even doubt that they were smaller or had shorter lives than todays people....like we were all taught. They would have been fitter and healthier. They would have been exposed to different but far fewer diseases and those diseases would have been easily contained. Their diet would have been healthier and more regular. It could be disasterous though so people would suffer hunger and starvation....blah, blah........

Anyhoo, if we lived beside Neanderthals.............

If a man could shag a sheep...he could shag a neanderthal lady!

Nice new article about Neanderthal morphology here.

Examining the upright skeleton, Dr. Tattersall disputed the notion, once current even among some scientists, that Neanderthals may have been so humanlike that if dressed in contemporary clothing, they could have passed unrecognized on the subway. This impression has been characterized in popular cartoon figures of a heavy-browed Neanderthal in a jaunty fedora.

I can't get enough of those "heavy-browed Neanderthal in a jaunty fedora" cartoons!
[sulk] I was going to post that link, MD, but I couldn't find this thread - because Nearderthal had been mis-spelt in the title!

I've now corrected it. [/sulk]
I believe Neandertal can be spelled both ways , with or without the 'h' .
Sorry to a pedant, but I actually physically can't help it :D


Bill Bryson, Troublesome Words:

Neandertal increasingly is the preferred spelling for the extinct species of human, though the formal scientific rendering Homo neanderthalensis still generally keeps the -thal spelling.
I think the academic body in Germany that actually rules on German language changes recently decided to go with the tal(valley)spelling.But in scientific nomenclature,I believe the older thal spelling would still be correct.
Viking hands

St.Clair said:
I have viking blood as my father suffers (and I probably will too) from a rare problem in the joints of the hand. It originates in people with viking ancestory.

Would that be Dupuytren's contracture? My Da suffers from it in both hands, and I'm looking forward to the day I develop it, too.
k, I've just had a lecture course on Human evolution, and the fact is we still aren't sure (there's loads of academic disagreament. it's quite cool) about how many hominin species there have been, let alone how they all were related to each other... Plus new species seem to be turning up at the rate of about 1 a year at the moment.

but anyway, I think general concensus at the moment is that Neanderthals and us arose seperately out of a chap called H. heidelbergensis (who in turn arose from H. erectus in Africa ~0.8 MYA) We evolved in Africa roughly 0.2M years ago, and Neanderthals in Europe a bit earlier. Europe was colder (ice age) and the way the Neanderthals look (stockey, big noses etc) has been described in part to that. So, then the climate warmed up again and we migrated from Africa to Asia and eventualy to Europe about 40 KYA (Neanderthals persisted in Europe 'til about 30 KYA) and I think the current beleif (from mitochondrial DNA sequencing) is that the 2 species may have lived side by side, but they didn't interbreed:
More extensive analyses confirmed that the Neanderthal sequence consistently fell outside the mtDNA sequence variation observed in modern humans. They also suggested that the closest contemporary lineages to the Neanderthal sequence came from Africa. So the genetic relationship between Neanderthals and modern Europeans appears to be no closer than the average relationship between Neanderthals and any modern human — running counter to the view that Neanderthals were at least partly ancestral to modern Europeans
With respect to the contentious issue of whether Neanderthals and anatomically early modern humans exchanged genes, these new results diminish, but do not rule out, that possibility. Clearly, Neanderthal populations represented by the type specimen did not contribute mtDNA to the modern human population. But, as the authors are careful to point out, this does not exclude the possibility of exchange of nuclear genes.
above quotes from an article in nature a few years ago by Ryk Ward and Chris Stringer (#388, pp225 - 226)

plus I don't think anyones ever found a fossil that they can prove is a hybrid.
Ok, but I have a question: if Neandertals died out approx 30k years ago, how can anyone know what the H.S.N genome looked like to eliminate it as a source of the H.S.S genome? An awful lot of authorative statements are being made on this thread that H.S.S and H.S.N are not related, with precious little empirical proof or any reference to allow the interested to form their own opinion. Not saying I have a pet theory or anything, but would like the facts in order to formulate one for myself.
Stu Neville said:
Not saying I have a pet theory or anything, but would like the facts in order to formulate one for myself.

You can't handle the facts!