News24

Humans, Neanderthals: No hanky-panky

2012-08-14 22:42

Paris - Anthropologists have dealt a blow to theories that Homo sapiens and Neanderthals interbred, bequeathing humans today with some of the genetic legacy of their mysterious cousins.

Over the last two years, several studies have suggested that H sapiens got it on with Neanderthals, an enigmatic hominid who lived in parts of Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East for up to 300 000 years but vanished some 30-40 000 years ago.

The evidence for this comes from fossil DNA, which shows that on average Eurasians and Asians share between one and four percent of their DNA with Neanderthals, but Africans almost none.

But a new study by scientists at Britain's University of Cambridge says the shared DNA came from a shared ancestor, not from "hybridisation" or reproduction between the two hominid species.

Reporting on Monday in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Andrea Manica and Anders Eriksson at the university's Evolutionary Ecology Group devised a computer model to simulate a genetic odyssey.

It begins with a common ancestors of Neanderthals and H sapiens who lived around half a million years ago in parts of Africa and Europe.

Around 300 000-350 000 years ago, the European population and the African population of this hominid became separated.

Living in genetic isolation, the European range evolved bit by bit into Neanderthals, while the African range eventually became H sapiens, which expanded in waves out of Africa from around 60 000-70 000 years ago.

Communities of H sapiens that were geographically closer to Europe - possibly in North Africa - retained a relatively larger share of the ancestral genes, according to the theory.

They also became the first colonisers of Eurasia during the progressive "Out of Africa" migration.

Africans pure

This could explain why modern-day Europeans and Asians but not Africans have the tiny bit of genetic similarity with Neanderthals.

"Our work shows clearly that the patterns currently seen in the Neanderthal genome are not exceptional, and are in line with our expectations of what we would see without hybridisation," Manica said in a press release.

"So, if any hybridisation occurred - it's difficult to conclusively prove it never happened - then it would have been minimal and much less than what people are claiming now."

One of the great questions of anthropology is what happened to the Neanderthals.

Hybridisation would have answered that, at least partly. By interbreeding with humans, the Neanderthals were not wiped out by H sapiens or by climate change as some contest. Instead, Neanderthal genes were merged into the genome of the dominant strain of Homo.

In a separate study published in PNAS, scientists led by Svante Paabo at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, found that Neanderthals and H sapiens split between 400 000 and 800 000 years ago, an earlier date than thought.

The team also calculate that humans split from chimpanzees - our closest primate relative - around seven to eight million years ago, earlier than the six-to-seven million years ago that is a common estimate.

Comments
  • Jacques - 2012-08-14 23:25

    Interesting. Heaven knows what the Nats would have said if they were presented with this! With the 'blacks are genetically inferior' pseudo-science they spewed. Europeans part neanderthal and Africans pure human?! Anyway, good to see such advances in anthropology, yay for Genetics!

      james.rossouw - 2012-08-15 01:18

      And the fact Bub. Black DNA within 3% of Ocean Invertebrate, White 4% BIG spread. Source any Bio Chemist with PHD in Nano Tech. Sorry to pop yer bubble.

      james.rossouw - 2012-08-15 01:28

      Eh Jacques, 1959 US AAMD rated retarded as IQ <85. 1/2 of US Blacks tested below. 1973 now the AAMR lowered standard to IQ <70. 12% blacks Tested below. Prof Dunning Cornell U in recent study determined that some people are too stupid to realize they are stupid.

      zaatheist - 2012-08-15 05:07

      @James.Rousouw Ah. A racist religious bigot who trawls neo-Nazi web site like Stormfront searching for anything that will support his contemptible world view. He is quoting an obscure 50 year old (1959) debunked American study written at a time when black Americans were still denied full citizenship rights. I am surprised he does not use the Bible to support his racism. James, is it not Prof Dunning who said in effect, "people are self-delusional when it comes to their own intellectual skills?" A description that fits you to a "T". You are one sick puppy. Here is a much more recent study just for you James. "Intelligence Study Links Low I.Q. To Prejudice, Racism, Conservatism Are racists dumb? Do conservatives tend to be less intelligent than liberals? A provocative new study from Brock University in Ontario suggests the answer to both questions may be a qualified yes." http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/27/intelligence-study-links-prejudice_n_1237796.html Oh dear. James. Suggest you save yourself further embarrassment, delete your post and hide away.

      sean.carbutt - 2012-08-15 07:31

      @ zaatheist, LOL, you da man. Love that answer, short, sweet and in your face.

      Jacques - 2012-08-15 10:33

      James, what a fail. As zaatheist said, the IQ tests of the time are about as scientific as chappy wrappers today. IQ tests are even controversial today! So ja. What a fail.

      stirrer.stirrer - 2012-08-15 14:08

      Jacques, if you read and analyze carefully: what it means, is that Africans seperated from the rest of the human race more than 300,000 years ago. Not me saying it, it's in the scientific evidence...

  • walter.lebza - 2012-08-15 00:43

    When they say europeans are partly neanderthals and africans are pure without tiny bit of neanderthal genes it is true, but the one they say humans split from chimpanzees thats mind bogling. How can some kind of a creature give birth to a human baby and later a chimpanzee baby? From one womb? Thats how stupid science is. 2 trees might look alike but that doesn't mean they descend from one parent tree.

      en.gineer.359 - 2012-08-15 04:13

      You don't understand the concept, simple as that. Parents can give birth to two different looking kids can they not? Those siblings are the same, yet different. If kid A went to go live in Europe, and kid B went to go live in Asia, do you think their offspring would look alike after 500 000 years? Not even close. Take those differences over millions of years, and you can end up with completely different species originating from the same source (the original parents), so to speak. This \split\ didn't happen in 1 day. Nothing magical about that concept....although It's still very fascinating.

      zaatheist - 2012-08-15 05:13

      There will always be those, buoyed up by the false confidence of religion, expressing their ignorance of science as a virtue, thus qualifying them to make fools of themselves in public! By your own admission do not understand evolution so it is better you keep your ignorance to yourself or do some study of the subject. There are plenty of internet resources available.

      sean.carbutt - 2012-08-15 07:34

      @ walter, if we followed your infantile logic, well then we may as well all be clones. There is this little thing called evolution and not the Darwin one, natural evolution. The one where GOD tries to improve upon its earlier creations, survival of the fittest. Also the priod in question is wella couple of million years, not 9 months. EEIsh

      walter.lebza - 2012-08-15 09:35

      Mememan, don't doubt our education I'm a productive SA'n engineer and the only science I understand is the one that works. The one that produced Aeroplanes, Motor cars, microwaves, washing machines, ferrel's wheel, computer, hydrolics etc thats engineering science. But there's another science that says 'which came first the chicken or the egg?' this science is difficult.

      raven.sqarr - 2012-08-15 11:19

      @ Walter - biology is also science - science derived from greek to devide and study. Mechanics and thermodynamics are not the only sciences out there. With proper education the intermingling of various paths of science is inevitable, meaning future aeronautical engineers will also have to study biomechanics, in this case birds, to evolve their aircraft. From one engineer to another.

      chrono.man.7 - 2012-08-15 11:49

      Pathetic little people here.

      paulthebok - 2012-08-15 15:13

      @ Meme You not getting of so lightly, explain your answer ... "neither" ... lol .. if neither came first , how come that chicken egg burger I had for lunch tasted so good?

      paulthebok - 2012-08-15 15:25

      @Meme You say .... "Evolution works over intermediary steps" ... ok so please explain the absence of "intermediary steps" in the fossil record? AND ... you mention "genes", so please give me a example, just ONE , of mutation adding information to the genome? Please Meme , DON"T use this tactic on me ... "Walter, I can explain it to you, but I can't comprehend it for you." Explain it, answer the questions, give us example of these fossils, and of mutation adding information to the genome.

      allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-08-15 15:48

      The answer to the chicken egg question is this: Once upon a time there were two animals that we wouldn't quite consider chickens, that those not-quite-chickens mated, that an egg was laid, and that out of that fertilized egg hatched the first animal that meets whatever our definition of chicken is. In other words, the egg came first. @paul - there is evidence of intemediary as well as active evolutionary processes .There is evidence across all branches of science and global consensus in the scientific community . If you really interested and have an honest quest for inquery you'll read about it youself otherwise continue to believe the stories of people who require zero evidence for their belief set and maintain these beliefs in the face of contrary evidence . Why not let these guys decide who is guilty and innocent of crimes by just having a look at them.

      karien.haasbroek - 2012-09-14 14:28

      Walter.Lebza: you must be familliar with the laws of thermodynamics then, right?

  • walter.lebza - 2012-08-15 00:47

    No wonder europeans are so hairy.

      lindibleu.nhlapo - 2012-08-15 08:22

      no Walter dearest, that has more to do with adaptation to climatic conditions than anything else. are you being deliberately obtuse or is this a normal state of mind for you?

      jacowium - 2012-08-15 12:52

      Walter, what do you have to gain in advertising your clear lack of understanding any biological concepts here?

  • Wilhelm - 2012-08-15 00:48

    who needs the Neanderthals...

  • Mandy Casey - 2012-08-15 01:16

    Myth Busted. Timeline goes like this then: chimpanzees, hominid, neanderthals and homosapiens. Homosapiens then became dominant and Neanderthals vanished. 8 million years later. The only problem I see here is that chimpanzees are still here and they have not evolved into anything else yet. Myth Busted.

      zaatheist - 2012-08-15 05:11

      Another who does not have the faintest idea (or who more likely is wilfully ignorant) about evolution. Chimpanzees and humans share a common ancestor. Humans did not evolve from chimpanzees. Evolution is a simple fact. We can choose to remain ignorant of it, we can stick our fingers in our ears and refuse to think about it, we can even rail against it and shout and scream that it is not allowed to be true. But facts are facts, and will not go away just because we don't like them. We don't get to vote for our preferred method of having come into existence as a species, any more than we can choose to have been delivered by stork rather than conceived and born in the usual way. - Paula KIrby

      merven.halo - 2012-08-15 07:20

      Mandy, first do some research and get up to date with the facts before commenting. There was a common ancestor from which hominids and chimps came. Example: you get dogs and wolfs. They both come from the same ancestor.

      paul.vanlooy.52 - 2012-08-15 07:48

      You're right Mandy Casey. That's because chimpanzees are real. Hominids, Neanderthals etc. have evolved only because they are text book fantasies (with some totally irrelevant bones to try and justify them).

      paul.vanlooy.52 - 2012-08-15 08:24

      Merven.halo. What you're talking about is known as micro-evolution. That's happens all the time. It's merely variations of the same kind. You can cross a dog with a dog and a cat with a cat, but you can't cross a cat with a dog, not matter how long you wait.

      tommy.jones.754918 - 2012-08-15 11:57

      Mandy, so what you basically asking is: You have two groups of chimps (7-8 million years ago) in the same environment, why does one group evolve and the other remain as is?

      paulthebok - 2012-08-15 15:45

      @Meme So it's creationist nonsense .... "Russian entomologist Yuri Filipchenko first coined the terms "macroevolution" and "microevolution" in 1927 in his German language work, "Variabilität und Variation". We get blamed for everything, I can give you many examples where scientist themselves use these terms, so why blame us?

  • Gerald Jordaan - 2012-08-15 01:22

    So where does the Mongolian spunk bubble fit into all this?

  • lala.kunene - 2012-08-15 01:31

    just dont believe........

      Mandy Casey - 2012-08-15 02:09

      They will change their minds next week and have new evidence with new conclusions, they always do.

      zaatheist - 2012-08-15 04:19

      All you guys do it add to the World's considerable stockpile of stupid.

  • nico.brits.581 - 2012-08-15 04:24

    Europeans and Asians share between 1 and 4% of their DNA with Neanderthals and Africans zero, but we have been told we share up to 96% with our DNA with Chimps and 44% with bananas. Go figure. And scientists get fired when they just hint that The Theory might not be what it promised to be.

      Madoqua - 2012-08-15 08:01

      I just love it when politicians and pseudo-scientists totally misunderstand statistics and then jump to conclusions. You, Nic, are assuming that of the 96% and 44% that Humans (Homo sapiens sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis) share with Chimps and bananas, they don't also share with each other. The 1-4% shared neanderthal DNA is just as likely (when looking at bananas) from the shared 44% as the not shared 56%. And yes, scientists get fired up when new evidence contradicts previous evidence and theories. This leads to new theories and better understanding; progress in every sense. It's the tried and tested scientific method, to which we can attribute all our modern day technology and scientific understanding.

      LanfearM - 2012-08-15 12:06

      @ Madoqua - "And yes, scientists get fired up when new evidence contradicts previous evidence and theories. This leads to new theories and better understanding; progress in every sense. It's the tried and tested scientific method, to which we can attribute all our modern day technology and scientific understanding." What an excellent comment! I wish all these naysayers who think scientific advancement is a liberal conspiracy, will read what you wrote and try and understand it.

      Desilusionada - 2012-08-15 12:51

      @MemeMan By your definition I could classify fidel as an autocratic, certain conspirator. Mores the pity he will not be able to evolve.

  • ricky.correia.925 - 2012-08-15 04:27

    So it was the Africans who initially "invaded" Europe and not the other way around ... Bloody agents ...

      merven.halo - 2012-08-15 07:21

      So the entitlement mindset goes back a very long time...

      lindibleu.nhlapo - 2012-08-15 08:24

      ha ha, good one Ricky!!

  • millionwatts1 - 2012-08-15 07:14

    Seems like nobody knows these things for sure. What was true yesterday is not true today after these 'studies'.

  • jody.beggs - 2012-08-15 09:38

    Wow what a turn around , the native African's are god's chosen people. Bet that must irritate the white supremist xians. And people still believe jesus was white. Idjits

  • mosis.hanz - 2012-08-15 09:49

    I Like Zaatheist's Comments; now that's what you call using your intellectual prowess to defeat a self delusional apathetical buffoon with narcissistic behaviour and an involuntary loose motion that burbles forth from its 1:4 scale version of a brain. Yes that applies to you “James.Rousouw”

      adriaan.mostert - 2012-08-15 12:43

      What is interesting is that non of the theist who troll this forum admonished James.Rousouw - interesting but consistent with religious behaviour.

      Desilusionada - 2012-08-15 12:54

      James Roussow, You are admonished!

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