It's Very Likely Neanderthals and Humans Had Sex, Produced Offspring
April 10, 2014 8:40 PM
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.
"If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that's been on shelves for more than five minutes, I'll give you 1,200 bucks for it." -- SCEA President Jack Tretton
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
PIQ ROBOTTM reveals its new artificial intelligence software
November 29, 2016, 12:59 AM
One more time - Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone Around the World
November 24, 2016, 4:00 AM
Google’s Smart Contact Lens Project gets halted for 2016
November 20, 2016, 7:00 AM
Cell Research Study shows African Americans have greater immune response to infection
November 10, 2016, 1:00 AM
UTHealth Clinical Trial Shows Progress Using Stem Cells to Treat Traumatic Brain Injury
November 8, 2016, 1:00 AM
Uber Partners with Circulation to Pilot Program Connecting Transportation and Digital Health Care
November 6, 2016, 5:00 AM
Most Popular Articles
Surface Pro 5 Rumors - New Release Date and Price
April 22, 2017, 6:45 AM
Apple Watch NikeLab Limited Edition unveiled.
April 22, 2017, 6:20 AM
SAPPHIRE PULSE Radeon RX 580 8GD5 – Great Value for the Money
April 20, 2017, 7:47 AM
Meet the Smartphone with four cameras - Alcatel Flashphone
April 5, 2017, 11:20 AM
Dell Inspiron 17 7000 – A Premium Laptop featuring 7th Gen Intel Core i7 in a 2-in-1 Frame.
April 19, 2017, 7:45 AM
Latest Blog Posts
Galaxy Note 8 – Available Second Half 2017
Apr 28, 2017, 7:30 AM
Google Android App – Huge improvement on Nighttime Photography
Apr 27, 2017, 7:40 AM
Google Co-Founder, Sergey Brin has an Airship
Apr 26, 2017, 6:43 AM
Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus – Lots of Glass that Breaks Easily
Apr 25, 2017, 7:20 AM
Samsung Galaxy S8 – Warning for Pet Owners
Apr 24, 2017, 5:59 AM
Sound Bars and the Costs?
Apr 23, 2017, 6:30 AM
Link your Brain to Your Computer – In Four Years…Maybe
Apr 22, 2017, 7:03 AM
Google Home can now identify users by their voice.
Apr 21, 2017, 7:15 AM
Amazon Lex – Now Available for Developers.
Apr 20, 2017, 6:58 AM
You can now use Instagram offline on your Android Smartphone
Apr 19, 2017, 8:00 AM
Now you can livestream to YouTube from your mobile device.
Apr 18, 2017, 8:05 AM
Google Home – Is It a Spy Device?
Apr 17, 2017, 7:30 AM
Apple added to self –driving test permit list
Apr 15, 2017, 6:21 AM
Project Scorpio – Coming on June 11
Apr 14, 2017, 6:20 AM
Looks Like Samsung Has Been Forgiven.
Apr 13, 2017, 6:50 AM
United Airlines - Blasted on China’s Social Network and the Stock Market
Apr 12, 2017, 6:50 AM
Amazon's Third-Party Sellers Hacked
Apr 11, 2017, 6:25 AM
Microsoft Surface Pro5 Details Revealed
Apr 9, 2017, 6:41 AM
Own An Android Phone? Then you could be hacked over Wi-FI
Apr 7, 2017, 6:47 AM
Apple confirms iOS 10.3 bug and its effect on iCloud Services
Apr 6, 2017, 6:30 AM
Apple Rolls Out New Version of Apple Music
Apr 5, 2017, 10:35 AM
Apple in the News
Apr 4, 2017, 9:03 AM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2017 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information