It's Very Likely Neanderthals and Humans Had Sex, Produced Offspring
April 10, 2014 8:40 PM
comment(s) - last by
New study offers strong genetic evidence in support of the hypothesis that humans and their close kin hooked up
sequencing of the Neanderthals (
, we discovered that 1 to 4 percent of genes of humans (
) matched those found in Neanderthals. Notably, matching genes suggested Neanderthals
likely were fair skinned with blond/red hair
, while humans at the time appeared to mostly have dark skin and black/brown hair.
The hot question in the aftermath of that sequencing was whether these similarities occurred spontaneously or
whether they were the result of our ancestors getting it on
, technically speaking, with Neanderthals.
The interbreeding hypothesis is attractive due to geography if nothing else. Namely, the locations with the last surviving Neanderthal populations (Scandinavia, the English isles) also happen to have the most prevalent rate of Neanderthal appearance genes (fair skin, blond/red hair) of anywhere in the world.
We felt this particular hypothesis to be quite compelling. That Neanderthal glancing at you across the campfire might look a little odd at first, what with her fair skin, auburn hair, and angular cheekbones. But get a couple of Stone Age beers in you and she starts to look like a perfect 10.
Stone Age beer likely played a key role in human and Neanderthal hook ups.
[Image Source: Asle Rønning]
Now evolutionary geneticists with the
University of Edinburgh
(Netherlands) have published
an impressive study
in the peer-reviewed journal
that indicates that's indeed how the genetic similarity likely arose.
The new study comes in response to
a 2012 study
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
University of Cambridge
. That study acknowledged the interbreeding possibility, but argued in favor of an alternative -- sustained substructure. According to that theory, certain subpopulation of each group retained traits, or evolved traits in parallel, via random mutations.
Professor Laurent Frantz
of Wageningen University calls that idea "unparsimonious" (too theoretically complex/violating Occam's razor). He and his UK colleague did a more thorough analysis of
known human mutation rates
, plus looked at population distribution and other factors. The results, he states, show a resounding win for the interbreeding hypothesis, while leaving the door open to the possibility that some common genes did come from sustained substructure.
Likely not a coincidence: apparently Neanderthals looked a lot like Chuck Norris.
[Image Source: BBC]
Professor Frantz was the study's senior author, UK Professor Konrad Lohse was the first author. Professor Frantz
We did a bunch of math to compute the likelihood of two different scenarios. We were able to do that by dividing the genome in small blocks of equal lengths from which we inferred genealogy.
Our analysis shows that a model that involves interbreeding is much more likely than a model where there was sustained substructure in Africa. [Substained substructure might have contributed to genetic commonality] but it cannot be used to explain the genetic similarities [alone].
There seemed to be something that has gone wrong [in that study] because it seems unparsimonious... When we tested two hypotheses, we got a high support for a scenario where humans and Neanderthals interbred.
There have been a lot of arguments about what happened to these species. Some think that we outcompeted [other hominins] or that they were killed by humans, but now we can see that it's not that simple. Human evolution is much more complex than we previously thought.
In other words, why would early man, struggling to survive against nature and competing tribes, waste resources on killing and driving out Neanderthals? They could instead ally with them,
recruiting the close relative to join the tribe
Geneticist Svante Pääbo, one of the men who helped sequence the Neanderthal genome peers at the fossilized remains of his possible ancestor. [Image Source: Frank Vinken]
It's a compelling notion indeed. So crack open a cold beer; chances are your ancestors were doing the same on one fateful night some 500,000 years ago. Thanks to them, now that Neanderthal isn't just your close phylogenetic kin, it's also your direct ancestor.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
RE: Not News
4/11/2014 2:28:00 PM
It was aimed at them both :) Never said I was a prize either. I've got more but I try to keep it in check. I never said anything about her being a missing link to Neanderthal either ;) (think Lucy). And wow... gee, call me Neanderthal, boy that hurts, especially coming from you.
RE: Not News
4/14/2014 11:20:19 AM
LOL, read anything I write on here. It's contents speak for itself.
From my area, demeaning a female is highly offensive. Especially the particular person you mention. Attack her policies perhaps.
I'm sure you were kidding, but it was in poor taste.
"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation
Neanderthal-Human Breeding Was Hard, But Yielded Benefits
January 31, 2014, 4:48 PM
Paper Suggests Neanderthals Could Speak
July 15, 2013, 6:23 AM
Supreme Court Gives Mixed Verdict on Patenting Human Genes
June 13, 2013, 2:00 PM
Neanderthal Genome is Finished and Free
March 21, 2013, 8:11 AM
Neanderthal Sex Gave Europeans and Asians Stronger Immune Systems
August 26, 2011, 4:20 PM
Texas Chosen as Site for SpaceX's First Commercial Launchpad
August 5, 2014, 1:44 PM
South Carolina Prison Finds Crashed Drone Carrying Drugs, Phones
August 1, 2014, 2:49 PM
NASA's Mars 2020 Rover Gains Seven New Instruments for Exploration
August 1, 2014, 1:30 PM
NASA Opportunity Rover Breaks Record for Most Miles Traveled on Another Planet
July 29, 2014, 1:38 PM
Commercial Drones to Get Privacy Guidelines Via Executive Order
July 25, 2014, 5:34 PM
Pentagon's Priciest Project, F-35, Misses International Debut
July 25, 2014, 10:18 AM
Most Popular Articles
Lumia 830 Gets Major Upgrades Including New 20.1 Megapixel Toshiba Sensor
August 15, 2014, 6:00 PM
Windows Phone, BlackBerry Smartphone Market Share Falls to 2.5%, 0.5% Respectively
August 15, 2014, 9:44 AM
GM Concedes That the Cadillac ELR Doesn’t Really Compete with the Tesla Model S
August 15, 2014, 5:42 PM
Report: Windows 9 “Threshold” Tech Preview Coming Next Month
August 15, 2014, 11:29 AM
Apple Scores Patents, Preps New Reversible USB Plug for iPhone 6 Connector
August 18, 2014, 1:32 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Space Terrorism is a Looming Threat For the United States
Apr 23, 2014, 7:47 PM
Facebook Aims to Provide Internet to "Every Person in the World" with Drones, Satellites
Apr 1, 2014, 10:20 AM
Retail Mobile Sites Experience Outages in Light of Simplexity's Bankruptcy
Mar 14, 2014, 8:48 AM
Tesla vs. BMW: Who Has the Safer EV?
Feb 1, 2014, 2:56 PM
Justice Leaks Details of Next HTC One Two Flagship Phone
Dec 5, 2013, 4:04 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information