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

rynner2

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Neanderthal genes 'survive in us'
By Paul Rincon
Science reporter, BBC News

Many people alive today possess some Neanderthal ancestry, according to a landmark scientific study.

The finding has surprised many experts, as previous genetic evidence suggested the Neanderthals made little or no contribution to our inheritance.
The result comes from analysis of the Neanderthal genome - the "instruction manual" describing how these ancient humans were put together.
The genomes of 1% to 4% of people in Eurasia come from Neanderthals.

But the study confirms living humans overwhelmingly trace their ancestry to a small population of Africans who later spread out across the world.

The most widely-accepted theory of modern human origins - known as Out of Africa - holds that the ancestors of living humans (Homo sapiens) originated in Africa some 200,000 years ago.

A relatively small group of people then left the continent to populate the rest of the world between 50,000 and 60,000 years ago.

While the Neanderthal genetic contribution - found in people from Europe, Asia and Oceania - appears to be small, this figure is higher than previous genetic analyses have suggested.

"They are not totally extinct. In some of us they live on, a little bit," said Professor Svante Paabo, from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

Professor Chris Stringer, of London's Natural History Museum, said the conclusions had come as a surprise to many experts - including him.
"As one of the architects of 'Out of Africa', I have regarded the Neanderthals as representing a separate lineage, and most likely a separate species from Homo sapiens," he explained.
"Although I have never ruled out the possibility of interbreeding, I have considered this to have been small and insignificant in the bigger picture of evolution."

"They're us. We're them," said John Hawks, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Wisconsin in the US.
"It seemed like it was likely to be possible, but I am surprised by the amount. I really was not expecting it to be as high as 4%," he said of the genetic contribution from Neanderthals.

The sequencing of the Neanderthal genome is a landmark scientific achievement, the product of a four-year-long effort led from Germany's Max Planck Institute but involving many other universities around the world.

The project makes use of efficient "high-throughput" technology which allows many genetic sequences to be processed at the same time.
The draft Neanderthal sequence contains DNA extracted from the bones of three different Neanderthals found at Vindija Cave in Croatia.

Retrieving good quality genetic material from remains tens of thousands of years old presented many hurdles which had to be overcome.
The samples almost always contained only a small amount of Neanderthal DNA amid vast quantities of DNA from bacteria and fungi that colonised the remains after death.

The Neanderthal DNA itself had broken down into very short segments and had changed chemically. Luckily, the chemical changes were of a regular nature, allowing the researchers to write software that corrected for them.

Writing in Science journal, the researchers describe how they compared this draft sequence with the genomes of modern people from around the globe.

"The comparison of these two genetic sequences enables us to find out where our genome differs from that of our closest relative," said Professor Paabo.
The results show that the genomes of non-Africans (from Europe, China and New Guinea) are closer to the Neanderthal sequence than are those from Africa.

The most likely explanation, say the researchers, is that there was limited mating, or "gene flow", between Neanderthals and the ancestors of present-day Eurasians.


This must have taken place just as people were leaving Africa, while they were still part of one pioneering population. This mixing could have taken place either in North Africa, the Levant or the Arabian Peninsula, say the researchers.

The Out of Africa theory contends that modern humans replaced local "archaic" populations like the Neanderthals.
But there are several variations on this idea. The most conservative model proposes that this replacement took place with no interbreeding between modern humans and Neanderthals.

Another version allows for a degree of assimilation, or absorption, of other human types into the Homo sapiens gene pool.

The latest research strongly supports the Out of Africa theory, but it falsifies the most conservative version of events.

The team also identified more than 70 gene changes that were unique to modern humans. These genes are implicated in physiology, the development of the brain, skin and bone.

The researchers also looked for signs of "selective sweeps" - strong natural selection acting to boost traits in modern humans. They found 212 regions where positive selection may have been taking place.

The scientists are interested in discovering genes that distinguish modern humans from Neanderthals because they may have given modern humans certain advantages over the course of evolution.

The most obvious differences were in physique: the muscular, stocky frames of Neanderthals contrast sharply with those of our ancestors. But it is likely there were also more subtle differences, in behaviour, for example.

Dr Hawks commented the amount of Neanderthal DNA in our genomes seemed high: "What it means is that any traits [Neanderthals] had that might have been useful in later populations should still be here.
"So when we see that their anatomies are gone, this isn't just chance. Those things that made the Neanderthals apparent to us as a population - those things didn't work. They're gone because they didn't work in the context of our population."

Researchers had previously thought Europe was the region where Neanderthals and modern humans were most likely to have exchanged genes. The two human types overlapped here for some 10,000 years.

The authors of the paper in Science do not rule out some interbreeding in Europe, but say it was not possible to detect this with present scientific methods.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8660940.stm
 

The late Pete Younger

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Very interesting, I would think that any cross breeding would most likely be between modern male and neanderthal female, thus any offspring would have remained with the neanderthals and so preventing any further integration of the neanderthal genome into the mordern human line.
 

rynner2

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I'd thought of posting in this thread a couple of weeks ago (before that beeb article came out) because I'd noticed a man shopping in Tesco's who has a classic neanderthal profile.

I've seen him once or twice since - but I guess it would be bad manners to ask him for a DNA sample... ;)
 

oldrover

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Very interesting, I would think that any cross breeding would most likely be between modern male and neanderthal female, thus any offspring would have remained with the neanderthals and so preventing any further integration of the neanderthal genome into the mordern human line.
That's a really interesting point, why would it be likely that way round though.[/quote]
 
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rynner2 said:
I'd thought of posting in this thread a couple of weeks ago (before that beeb article came out) because I'd noticed a man shopping in Tesco's who has a classic neanderthal profile.

I've seen him once or twice since - but I guess it would be bad manners to ask him for a DNA sample... ;)
Probably a wise idea. John Prescott is easily riled.
 

oldrover

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Because men's behaviour was most likely the same then as it is now.
Wouldn't that equally apply to Neandertals though.

Should be easy to prove one way or another - mitochondrial DNA always comes from the mother.
Trouble there though is your only going to get an idea of the male female ratio among those who continued to breed within the modern lineage.
 

Zilch5

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The thick plottens...


Neanderthals, Humans Interbred—First Solid DNA Evidence
Most of us have some Neanderthal genes, study finds.


According to a new DNA study, most humans have a little Neanderthal in them—at least 1 to 4 percent of a person's genetic makeup.
The study uncovered the first solid genetic evidence that "modern" humans—or Homo sapiens—interbred with their Neanderthal neighbors, who mysteriously died out about 30,000 years ago.
What's more, the Neanderthal-modern human mating apparently took place in the Middle East, shortly after modern humans had left Africa, not in Europe—as has long been suspected.
"We can now say that, in all probability, there was gene flow from Neanderthals to modern humans," lead study author Ed Green of the University of California, Santa Cruz, said in a prepared statement.
That's no surprise to anthropologist Erik Trinkhaus, whose skeleton-based claims of Neanderthal-modern human interbreeding—previously contradicted with DNA evidence—appear to have been vindicated by the new gene study, to be published tomorrow in the journal Science.
"They've finally seen the light ... because it's been obvious to many us that this happened," said Trinkaus, of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, who wasn't part of the new study.
Trinkhaus adds that most living humans probably have much more Neanderthal DNA than the new study suggests.
"One to 4 percent is truly a minimum," Trinkaus added. "But is it 10 percent? Twenty percent? I have no idea."
(Also see "Neanderthals, Modern Humans Interbred, Bone Study Suggests.")
Surprising Spot for Neanderthal-Human Mating
The genetic study team reached their conclusion after comparing the genomes of five living humans—from China, France, Papua New Guinea, southern Africa, and western Africa—against the available "rough draft" of the Neanderthal genome. (Get the basics on genetics.)
The results showed that Neanderthal DNA is 99.7 percent identical to modern human DNA, versus, for example, 98.8 percent for modern humans and chimps, according to the study. (Related: "Neanderthals Had Same 'Language Gene' as Modern Humans.")
In addition, all modern ethnic groups, other than Africans, carry traces of Neanderthal DNA in their genomes, the study says—which at first puzzled the scientists. Though no fossil evidence has been found for Neanderthals and modern humans coexisting in Africa, Neanderthals, like modern humans, are thought to have arisen on the continent.
"If you told an archaeologist that you'd found evidence of gene exchange between Neanderthals and modern humans and asked them to guess which [living] population it was found in, most would say Europeans, because there's well documented archaeological evidence that they lived side by side for several thousand years," said study team member David Reich.
For another thing, Neanderthals never lived in China or Papua New Guinea, in the Pacific region of Melanesia, according to the archaeological record. (See "Neanderthals Ranged Much Farther East Than Thought.")
"But the fact is that Chinese and Melanesians are as closely related to Neanderthals" as Europeans, said Reich, a population geneticist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University.
(See pictures of a reconstructed Neanderthal and take a Neanderthals quiz.)
Neanderthal-Human One-Night Stand?
So how did modern humans with Neanderthal DNA end up in Asia and Melanesia?
Neanderthals, the study team says, probably mixed with early Homo sapiens just after they'd left Africa but before Homo sapiens split into different ethnic groups and scattered around the globe.
The first opportunity for interbreeding probably occurred about 60,000 years ago in Middle Eastern regions adjacent to Africa, where archaeological evidence shows the two species overlapped for a time, the team says.
And it wouldn't have taken much mating to make an impact, according to study co-author Reich. The results could stem from a Neanderthal-modern human one-night stand or from thousands of interspecies assignations, he said.
(Related: "Neanderthals Grew Fast, but Sexual Maturity Came Late.")
More DNA Evidence for Neanderthal-Human Mating
The new study isn't alone in finding genetic hints of Homo sapiens-Homo neanderthalensis interbreeding.
Genetic anthropologist Jeffrey Long, who calls the Science study "very exciting," co-authored a new, not yet published study that found DNA evidence of interbreeding between early modern humans and an "archaic human" species, though it's not clear which. He presented his team's findings at a meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists in Albuquerque, New Mexico, last month.
Long's team reached its conclusions after searching the genomes of hundreds of modern humans for "signatures of different evolutionary processes in DNA variation."
Like the new Science paper, Long's study speculates that interbreeding occurred just after our species had left Africa, but Long's study didn't include analysis of the Neanderthal genome.
"At the time we started the project, I never imagined I'd ever see an empirical confirmation of it," said Long, referring to the Science team's Neanderthal-DNA evidence, "so I'm pretty happy to see it."
Source: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news ... -dna-gene/
 

illuminati37411

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Stan Gooch

Isn't this latest research suggesting that modern humans are 4% Neanderthal a further vindication of Stan Gooch? He was right about the red hair and now he's right again.
 

Quake42

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Ancient humans, dubbed 'Denisovans', interbred with us

Professor Chris Stringer: "It's nothing short of sensational - we didn't know how ancient people in China related to these other humans"

Scientists say an entirely separate type of human identified from bones in Siberia co-existed and interbred with our own species.

The ancient humans have been dubbed Denisovans after the caves in Siberia where their remains were found.

There is also evidence that this group was widespread in Eurasia.

A study in Nature journal shows that Denisovans co-existed with Neanderthals and interbred with our species - perhaps around 50,000 years ago.

An international group of researchers sequenced a complete genome from one of the ancient hominins (human-like creatures), based on nuclear DNA extracted from a finger bone.

'Sensational' find

According to the researchers, this provides confirmation there were at least four distinct types of human in existence when anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens) first left their African homeland.

DNA from a tooth (pictured) and a finger bone show the Denisovans were a distinct group Along with modern humans, scientists knew about the Neanderthals and a dwarf human species found on the Indonesian island of Flores nicknamed The Hobbit. To this list, experts must now add the Denisovans.

The implications of the finding have been described by Professor Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London as "nothing short of sensational".

Scientists were able to analyse DNA from a tooth and from a finger bone excavated in the Denisova cave in southern Siberia. The individuals belonged to a genetically distinct group of humans that were distantly related to Neanderthals but even more distantly related to us.

The finding adds weight to the theory that a different kind of human could have existed in Eurasia at the same time as our species.

Researchers have had enigmatic fossil evidence to support this view but now they have some firm evidence from the genetic study carried out by Professor Svante Paabo of the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany.

"A species of early human living in Europe evolved," according to Professor Paabo.

"There was a western form that was the Neanderthal and an eastern form, the Denisovans."

The study shows that Denisovans interbred with the ancestors of the present day people of the Melanesian region north and north-east of Australia. Melanesian DNA comprises between 4% and 6% Denisovan DNA.

David Reich from the Harvard Medical School, who worked with Svante Paabo on the study, says that the fact that Denisovan genes ended up so far south suggests they were widespread across Eurasia: "These populations must have been spread across thousands and thousands of miles," he told BBC News.

One mystery is why the Denisovan genes are unique in modern Melanesians and are not found in other Eurasian groups that have so far been sampled.

'Fleeting encounter'

Professor Stringer believes it is because there may have been only a fleeting encounter as modern humans migrated through South-East Asia and then on to Melanesia.

The remains were excavated at a cave site in southern Siberia "It could be just 50 Denisovans interbreeding with a thousand modern humans. That would be enough to produce this 5% of those archaic genes being transferred," he said.

"So the impact is there but the number of interbreeding events might have been quite small and quite rare."

No one knows when or how these humans disappeared but, according to Professor Paabo, it is very likely something to do with modern people because all the "archaic" humans, like Denisovans and Neanderthals disappeared sometime after Homo sapiens sapiens appeared on the scene.

"It is fascinating to see direct evidence that these archaic species did exist (alongside us) and it's only for the last few tens of thousands of years that is unique in our history that we are alone on this planet and we have no close relatives with us anymore," he said.

The study follows a paper published earlier this year by Professor Paabo and colleagues that showed there was interbreeding between modern humans and Neanderthals as they emerged from Africa 60,000 years ago.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12059564
 

Bloodbeard

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As far as my limited knowlege of these things go we do share a very small amount of DNA with our neanderthal brethren, remains of a juvenile human found in Spain shows some crossover, I have been told that the neanderthals physical differences are due to them inhabiting a much colder environment mind you we seem to be finding new evidence all the time.
 

Zilch5

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Neanderthals were fashionable in feathers
Shows our closest known extinct relatives were capable of creating art
Neanderthals plucked the feathers from falcons and vultures, perhaps for symbolic value, scientists find.
This new discovery adds to evidence that our closest known extinct relatives were capable of creating art.
Scientists investigated the Grotta di Fumane — "the Grotto of Smoke" — in northern Italy, a site loaded with Neanderthal bones. After digging down to layers that existed at the surface 44,000 years ago, the researchers discovered 660 bones belonging to 22 species of birds, with evidence of cut, peeling and scrape marks from stone tools on the wing bones of birds that had no clear practical or culinary value.
"The first traces on the bones of large raptors were found in September 2009," said researcher Marco Peresani, a paleoanthopologist at the University of Ferrara in Italy. "After that, we decided to re-examine the whole bone assemblage recovered from that layer."
These birds included red-footed falcons (Falco vespertinus); bearded lammergeiers (Gypaetus barbatus), a type of vulture ; Alpine choughs (Pyrrhocorax graculus), a relative of crows; and common wood pigeons (Columba palumbus). The birds' plumages come in a variety of colors — the gray of the red-footed falcon, the orange-shaded slate gray of the bearded lammergeier, the black of the Alpine chough, and the blue-gray of the common wood pigeon.
"We know that the use of bird feathers was very widespread and that humans have always attributed a broad and complex value to this practice, ranging from social significance and games to the production of ornamental and ceremonial objects," Peresani told LiveScience. "Reconstructing this usually hidden and poorly known aspect among extinct humans is one of the aims of our research." [ Artist illustration of Neanderthal wearing feathers ]
The scientists detailed their findings online Feb. 21 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41721082/ns ... e-science/[/b]
 

staticgirl

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I think scientists are beginning to retreat from the idea that the Neanderthal's looks were due to cold adaptation. Possibly due to fossils found in warmer areas. I'll keep a look out and see if I can find a source.

It's a brilliant time for hominid research I think.
 

rynner2

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DNA reveals Neanderthal extinction clues
By Paul Rincon, Science editor, BBC News website

Neanderthals were already on the verge of extinction in Europe by the time modern humans arrived on the scene, a study suggests.
DNA analysis suggests most Neanderthals in western Europe died out as early as 50,000 years ago - thousands of years before our own species appeared.

A small group of Neanderthals then recolonised parts of Europe, surviving for 10,000 years before vanishing.
The work is published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution.

An international team of researchers studied the variation, or diversity, in mitochondrial DNA extracted from the bones of 13 Neanderthals.
This type of genetic information is passed down on the maternal line; because cells contain multiple copies of the mitochondrial genome, this DNA is easier to extract from ancient remains than the DNA found in the nuclei of cells.

The fossil specimens came from Europe and Asia and span a time period ranging from 100,000 years ago to about 35,000 years ago.
The scientists found that west European fossils with ages older than 48,000 years, along with Neanderthal specimens from Asia, showed considerable genetic variation.

But specimens from western Europe younger than 48,000 years showed much less genetic diversity (a six-fold reduction in variation compared to the older remains and the Asian Neanderthals).

In their scientific paper, the scientists propose that some event - possibly changes in the climate - caused Neanderthal populations in the West to crash around 50,000 years ago. But populations may have survived in warmer southern refuges, allowing the later re-expansion.

Low genetic variation can make a species less resilient to changes in its environment, and place it at increased risk of extinction.
"The fact that Neanderthals in Europe were nearly extinct, but then recovered, and that all this took place long before they came into contact with modern humans, came as a complete surprise," said lead author Love Dalen, from the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm.
"This indicates that the Neanderthals may have been more sensitive to the dramatic climate changes that took place in the last Ice Age than was previously thought."

Neanderthals were close evolutionary cousins of modern humans, and once inhabited Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia. The reasons behind their demise remain the subject of debate.

The appearance of modern humans in Europe around the time of the Neanderthal extinction offers circumstantial evidence that Homo sapiens played a role. But changes in the climate and other factors may have been important contributors.

"The amount of genetic variation in geologically older Neanderthals as well as in Asian Neandertals was just as great as in modern humans as a species," said co-author Anders Gotherstrom, from Uppsala University.
"The variation among later European Neanderthals was not even as high as that of modern humans in Iceland."

The researchers note that the loss of genetic diversity in west European Neanderthals coincided with a climatic episode known as Marine Isotope Stage Three, which was characterised by several brief periods of freezing temperatures.
These cold periods are thought to have been caused by a disturbance of oceanic currents in the North Atlantic, and it is possible that they had a particularly strong impact on the environment in western Europe, note the researchers.

Over the last few decades, research has shown that Neanderthals were undeserving of their brutish reputation.
Researchers recently announced that paintings of seals found in caves at Nerja, southern Spain, might date to 42,000 years - potentially making them the only known art created by Neanderthals. However, this interpretation remains controversial.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17179608
 

rynner2

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Never heard of the book, although it was published 3 years ago.
Never heard of the author either: his only mention on Wiki (I assume it's the same person) is here:
Scott is married to theoretical biologist Danny Vendramini. They have two adult daughters, one of whom is the writer Bella Vendramini. They live in Sydney's inner west

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosie_Scott
No mention of other publications or university degrees. Perhaps he's self-taught, like - er - Charles Darwin! ;)
 

rynner2

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Ronson8 said:
What a total load of bull shit, it must be a joke surely.
Another knee-jerk reaction! A joke? Well, the website is well put together, and they're trying to sell you a book.

Which parts of the theory do you disagree with, and why? Have you checked the references of the people who have apparently given the author favourable comments on the site?

Anyone can sit back and mutter 'Poppycock!' into his whiskers, but to be a meaningful critic takes hard work.
 

Mythopoeika

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Qualifications or not, he does present some thought-provoking ideas in his video about Neanderthals:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZbmywzGAVs

I wouldn't dismiss all of what he says outright.
My only question about it is - if Neanderthals were such awesome predators, where are they? How did humans manage to kill them off?
 
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Mythopoeika said:
Qualifications or not, he does present some thought-provoking ideas in his video about Neanderthals:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZbmywzGAVs

I wouldn't dismiss all of what he says outright.
My only question about it is - if Neanderthals were such awesome predators, where are they? How did humans manage to kill them off?
We interbred with them. A story on the other Neanderthal thread suggests we might have eaten them.
 

oldrover

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We interbred with them. A story on the other Neanderthal thread suggests we might have eaten them.
Yes but that thread didn't have any input from an ex script writer now turned 'evolutionary detective'.

Seriously though this is crap, not just because it's total nonsense, but more because it takes serious and profound questions and turns them into a cheap horror flick. Worse it appears to the casual reader of its response section that those who should know better have if not failed to endorse it, then failed to condemn it.

It reminds me of the sort of crap that another post on general forteana is dealing with now.
 

Mythopoeika

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Leaving aside the unsubtle video, some of what he says is valid, I think.

(1) Higher eye position.
(2) Larger eye size.
(3) Skull profile similarity to an ape, leading to the possibility that a Neanderthal may have had similar facial features to that of an ape.
(4) The assumption by scientists that a Neanderthal would have similar flesh and flesh/hair distribution to that of a human. He's right - it is an assumption, as we only have bones to work with.

The main thing I may dismiss is the slit-shaped pupil. We have no reason to believe that, as there is no evidence.

Oldrover - how is it total nonsense? Just looking for your thoughts.
 
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I don't see how he can dismiss all of the previous human-like reconstructions because they are based on the assumptions of scientists, and then come up with his own ape-like reconstruction based on his own, er, assumptions.

They do look quite cool, I must admit.
 
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