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

EnolaGaia

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Personally I think it's more likely that Homo Sapiens carried bacteria and viruses that we are relatively immune or at least have developed resistances to but which devasted the Neanderthals. ...
This newly reported research indicates the opposite ... Neanderthals already living outside of Africa passed their own uniquely evolved viral defenses to the newcomers ...

Modern humans inherited viral defenses from Neanderthals
Neanderthals mysteriously disappeared about 40,000 years ago, but before vanishing they interbred with another human species that was just beginning its global spread. As a result of these ancient trysts, many modern Europeans and Asians today harbor about 2 percent of Neanderthal DNA in their genomes.

Curiously, some snippets of Neanderthal DNA pop up more often in modern human populations than others, leading scientists to wonder if their spread was propelled by chance or whether these frequently occurring genes confer some functional advantage.

Stanford scientists have now found compelling evidence for the latter. "Our research shows that a substantial number of frequently occurring Neanderthal DNA snippets were adaptive for a very cool reason," said Dmitri Petrov, an evolutionary biologist at Stanford's School of Humanities and Sciences. "Neanderthal genes likely gave us some protection against viruses that our ancestors encountered when they left Africa."

When first contact occurred between the two species, Neanderthals had been living outside of Africa for hundreds of thousands of years, giving their immune systems ample time to evolve defenses against infectious viruses in Europe and Asia. Our newly emigrated ancestors, by comparison, would have been much more vulnerable. "It made much more sense for modern humans to just borrow the already adapted genetic defenses from Neanderthals rather than waiting for their own adaptive mutations to develop, which would have taken much more time," said David Enard, a former postdoctoral fellow in Petrov's lab.

Petrov and Enard said their findings are consistent with a "poison-antidote" model of gene swapping between two species. In this scenario, Neanderthals bequeathed to modern humans not only infectious viruses but also the genetic tools to combat the invaders.

"Modern humans and Neanderthals are so closely related that it really wasn't much of a genetic barrier for these viruses to jump," said Enard, who is now an assistant professor at the University of Arizona. "But that closeness also meant that Neanderthals could pass on protections against those viruses to us."

In their new study, published online Oct. 4 in the journal Cell, the scientists show that the genetic defenses that Neanderthals passed to us were against RNA viruses, which encode their genes with RNA, a molecule that's chemically similar to DNA. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-10/suo-mhi092818.php
 

catseye

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Interesting that the write up says that Neanderthals had 'flared rib cages and therefore no waist', whilst the most up-to-date images distinctly show the female to have a pronounced inward curve above her hips. Are we trying to move towards making Neanderthals fit our own, modern aesthetic of beauty?
 

staticgirl

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I would imagine that the increased levels of source material is refining the way they looked all the time. As the final paragraph says, they may have had a varied range of typology so some would have been more graceful or stockier than others. Just like with us.

That was a fascinating article James_H!
 

blessmycottonsocks

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Norfolk jokes aside, there's a higher amount than average of North Norfolk people with big jutting foreheads and jawbones where I live although I'm not convinced there's a neanderthal connection. I've got a bit of a jutting forehead myself and have gotten used to people thinking I'm frowning sometimes, I try to just joke it off with "I'm not frowning, I'm just ugly" .. my forehead has been described as a little bit Schwarznegger like, I'd prefer to have his muscles and his money though.
Tom Huxley saw Neanderthal traits in the Frisian people. Would be interesting to know whether they have a higher than average % of Neanderthal DNA. This from the Wiki page:

"Thomas H. Huxley in 1904 saw among Frisians the presence of what he suspected to be Neanderthaloid skeletal and cranial characteristics as an evolutionary development from Neanderthal rather than as a result of interbreeding, saying that "the blond long-heads may exhibit one of the lines of evolution of the men of the Neanderthaloid type,"
 

skinny

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Did bad luck kill the Neanderthals?


We need to consider demography, not just external factors, study suggests.
By Dyani Lewis

The last Neanderthals were snuffed out around 40,000 years ago. But what led to their demise – and whether our own ancestors had a hand in their downfall – is an enduring mystery.

A new study, published in the journal PLoS ONE, suggests that simple fluctuations in the make-up of the population – and a dose of bad luck – were probably enough to push Neanderthals over the edge.

https://cosmosmagazine.com/palaeont...il&utm_term=0_3f5c04479a-ac6a4b68f0-180342817

Details of the study:
Inbreeding, Allee effects and stochasticity might be sufficient to account for Neanderthal extinction
  • Krist Vaesen ,
  • Fulco Scherjon,
  • Lia Hemerik,
  • Alexander Verpoorte

 
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IbisNibs

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Diseases can certainly wreak havoc, but I doubt it would explain the total extenction of Neaderthals. Europeans brought diseases to the Americas, but there are still Native Americans around even though those diseases were horrendously fatal.
There seems to be a correlation between the rise of homo sapiens and the loss of every other species (except pigeons and rats). (And dogs and cats.) We are so voracious. Maybe we out hunted Neanderthals and gobbled up too much of their food sources (?). Maybe our superior good luck charms out performed theirs? Or maybe we were more adaptable? (Like dogs and cats, and pigeons and rats . . . )
 

blessmycottonsocks

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Diseases can certainly wreak havoc, but I doubt it would explain the total extenction of Neaderthals. Europeans brought diseases to the Americas, but there are still Native Americans around even though those diseases were horrendously fatal.
There seems to be a correlation between the rise of homo sapiens and the loss of every other species (except pigeons and rats). (And dogs and cats.) We are so voracious. Maybe we out hunted Neanderthals and gobbled up too much of their food sources (?). Maybe our superior good luck charms out performed theirs? Or maybe we were more adaptable? (Like dogs and cats, and pigeons and rats . . . )
The Native American population was tiny compared with that of Europe. Small and comparatively inbred populations will have little or no resistance to diseases brought by large populations, who had been living together in close proximity and had built up a generational resistance to pathogens. Some diseases went the other way - we can thank Americans for syphilis for example, but the overall effect was dramatically one-sided. Something like 90% of Native Americans succumbed to European diseases. That's a pretty sobering statistic and I find it plausible that large bands of out-of-Africa humans could have had a similar effect on Neanderthal humans.
 

AlchoPwn

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The Native American population was tiny compared with that of Europe. Small and comparatively inbred populations will have little or no resistance to diseases brought by large populations, who had been living together in close proximity and had built up a generational resistance to pathogens. Some diseases went the other way - we can thank Americans for syphilis for example, but the overall effect was dramatically one-sided. Something like 90% of Native Americans succumbed to European diseases. That's a pretty sobering statistic and I find it plausible that large bands of out-of-Africa humans could have had a similar effect on Neanderthal humans.
That isn't quite true bmcs. What you are talking about is the population of the Americas after smallpox and Spain. The fact is that Tenochtitlan was a huge sprawling city of over 200,000 (probably 300,000), and the Mound Builders had cities larger than those of Europe. In 1500 AD the only larger European city was Istanbul, and the second largest city, Paris, was smaller, at only 200,000. Much of the problem stemmed from the Expedition of Hernando De Soto, who actively spread smallpox across North America, having learned the trick from the happy accident that allowed Cortez's victory in Mexico. By the time the USA started its westward push it is true that the Native American populations were a fraction of their former size, but they had been subjected to an alarming germ warfare based genocide, that turned them from major settled civilizations into something more akin to Mad Max or the Walking Dead survivors.
 

IbisNibs

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Yes, Native Americans were literally decimated by European diseases and other factors.
I have to admit that I don't know what the comparative population levels are supposed to have been.
It has been debated how small the Native American populations actually were before they first encountered Europeans. My understanding is that contact came earlier than once believed, so that by the time the main wave of European immigrants came, a lot of damage had already been done by flu, colds, measles, small pox, etc., those usual culprits. The tribes were smaller and not as productive or prosperous as they once had been (I'm referring to North Americans).
And yes, as I understand it, Europeans also got some fun stuff from the Americans like syphilis, as well as tomatoes, potatoes, squash, turkeys, llamas, gold, silver—but they got horses in the exchange, so maybe it was a fair trade. Horses are cool.

Even with the desvastating effect of European disease on Native Americans, there are still surviving tribes, so my logic was that the effect must have been even worse on the Neanderthal; if they were isolated and inbred, that could account for that.
What a fate.
 

blessmycottonsocks

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That isn't quite true bmcs. What you are talking about is the population of the Americas after smallpox and Spain. The fact is that Tenochtitlan was a huge sprawling city of over 200,000 (probably 300,000), and the Mound Builders had cities larger than those of Europe. In 1500 AD the only larger European city was Istanbul, and the second largest city, Paris, was smaller, at only 200,000. Much of the problem stemmed from the Expedition of Hernando De Soto, who actively spread smallpox across North America, having learned the trick from the happy accident that allowed Cortez's victory in Mexico. By the time the USA started its westward push it is true that the Native American populations were a fraction of their former size, but they had been subjected to an alarming germ warfare based genocide, that turned them from major settled civilizations into something more akin to Mad Max or the Walking Dead survivors.
Fair comment.
I did read Jared Diamond's "Guns Germs and Steel" many years ago and was trying to recall the salient points.
I think he also claimed that Europeans living in close proximity with cattle, horses, swine and domestic animals also boosted our immunity, compared with that of Native Americans.
 

AlchoPwn

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Fair comment. I did read Jared Diamond's "Guns Germs and Steel" many years ago and was trying to recall the salient points. I think he also claimed that Europeans living in close proximity with cattle, horses, swine and domestic animals also boosted our immunity, compared with that of Native Americans.
I liked Diamond's book as it got a lot of people reading about history from a perspective beyond names, dates and stories, and into economic history and the history of science and technology. Also, in broad terms GG&S is pretty much correct, but if you want to poke holes in the details, there is still room to do so. Certainly the Eurasian cohabitation with multiple domesticated species does seem to have led to many epidemics, and much better immune systems than those of the New World as a result. One thing that GG&S mentions is the barrier that malaria posed to colonizing Africa and the Caribbean. I think the explanations of why Africa doesn't have more domesticated species was flimsy. Having personally ridden on a Zebra, and African Elephant, and an Ostrich while variously in South Africa, Kenya, and Zimbabwe, I think the line between "tame" and "domesticated" is blurry, and excuses for lack of domesticated animals being due to unreliable rainfall is pretty spurious when examined.
 

IbisNibs

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Pedantry demands I point out that decimate literally means to reduce by 10%.
I am not aware of any term for a 90% reduction, but it's not far off genocide.
I love pendants (those with a sense of humor at any rate).
I had the definition backwards, as I was thinking it meant only 10% were left. Here is definition #2 from the New Oxford American Dictionary:
"historical: kill one in every ten of (a group of soldiers or others) as a punishment for the whole group." So I stand corrected.

Definition #1 is not precise, plus it is confusing, as it says "kill, destroy, or remove a large percentage or part of." This is probably a more recent and less precise meaning that arose because of people like me, who have misused the word because they thought it meant only 10% were left . . .

. . . so yes, genocide. :(
 

Bad Bungle

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The “Columbian Theory” of the origin of syphilis is disputed. Some authorities believe that it had always existed in Europe, but has just been misidentified:
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_syphilis#Origin

maximus otter
I read as a teenager that syphilis originated in (presumably ancient) Egyptian charnel houses as a result of necrophilic practices by the attendants. In fact I remember a passage explaining that parents of a deceased attractive daughter would wait a few days (in the heat) before handing the corpse over to the morticians. This wasn't something I'd make up - can't speak for the Reader's Digest though.
 

AlchoPwn

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