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  (Source: BBC)
New study offers strong genetic evidence in support of the hypothesis that humans and their close kin hooked up

With the sequencing of the Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) genome, we discovered that 1 to 4 percent of genes of humans (Homo sapiens) 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
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 and the Wageningen University (Netherlands) have published an impressive study in the peer-reviewed journal Genetics that indicates that's indeed how the genetic similarity likely arose.
The new study comes in response to a 2012 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Anders Eriksson and Andrea Manica of the 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.
But 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 and genetic variance, 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.

Neanderthal chuck norris
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 comments to The Verge:

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.

neanderthal skull
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.

Sources: Genetics, The Verge

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RE: Not News
By EricMartello on 4/14/2014 10:25:35 AM , Rating: 1
when everybody does it is pretty telling. This is not a lib vs rep deal unless you get all of your news from faux news.

No, actually, not everybody does it. The majority of character attacks and other fact-less nonsense comes from the left, because that is the side of politics where facts do not exist.

If you have a problem with a news outfit that reports facts and allows opposing viewpoints to debate then you have a problem with Fox News. If you think you are "smart" because you buy into that whole anti-fox bit then you've already taken a big stride toward being part of America's problem - a liberal.

Not saying libs are any better (or worse) than cons. See it for what it is, many people seem to resort to these type of tactics.

Again, false. The most recent presidential campaigns highlighted the difference quite clearly. Obamas re-election campaign was ENTIRELY comprised of lies, half-truths and character attacks. Romney did not stoop to obama's level and instead campaigned on what he wanted to do - revitalize America's economy. Romney has already been vindicated in showing that he was right about the things he said during his campaign while obama continues to look as dumb as he is.

The media was entirely complicit in playing up obama and playing down romney, as they always are, ensuring that Americans who rely on the news do not get all of the facts and cannot make an intelligent decision. Fox News, was the only news outfit that gave fair coverage to all sides.

Anybody that can be in Whitehouse has to be pretty smart, however, of all of the presidents that have been around in the television (and internet?) age, W came across sort of aloof and I can see why some may say his is an idiot. While I didn't like his policies, and the way the government was run, I don't think he was an idiot.

And yet GW ran the USA far better than obama has...what you believe you didn't like was all of the BS that the media spun against him and you were too lazy to verify.

Many of GW's policies were so effective that obama didn't even change any of them, and when they were about to expire, he renewed them - yes, the very same policies he campaigned against.

I actually think that Obama is probably not quite as bright as W, although he comes across more so on TV usually due to him being a better (imo) public speaker, and better at telling people what they want to hear.

Which is why he doesn't do interviews on Fox News.

I personally think Clinton was the best President in my short life time due to him being more centrist instead of pushing way left (or right). The majority of the country seems to be stuck on pointing fingers. This seems to be what the 2 parties want so we don't ever actually hold anybody accountable. In the end, both parties are full (almost entirely) of people that really only care about themselves instead of actually doing things for the people.

Clinton wasn't a centrist, he was a realist who understood that if he wanted to get anything done he'll have to find some common ground between opposing ideas. He did try and fail to get cap-n-trade passed, and under obama the liberals are trying this failure of an idea again by having CO2 labeled a "pollutant" among other things.

The political left only exists to benefit the rich, wealthy elites that want to keep their money and power. Commoners who buy into the propaganda that the left cares only become stepping stones for these pieces of trash to stay in power.

The political right is the party that wants a reduced government with more limited powers, and is not concerned about telling people what they should consider to be "the greater good", rather they want people to be able to make it on their own.

Your generalizations highlight your ignorance on politics, probably because you are one of those buffoons who "gets his news from the daily show".

RE: Not News
By sgw2n5 on 4/14/2014 12:00:46 PM , Rating: 2
The funny (well... more sad really) thing is that I'm sure that you believe everything you just posted.

You really are deluded.

RE: Not News
By EricMartello on 4/14/2014 4:10:08 PM , Rating: 2
Oh my...the only thing sharper than your wit is a rubber spatula.

RE: Not News
By sgw2n5 on 4/15/2014 2:43:26 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sure the irony of insulting someone's wit while flubbing the insult will of course be lost on you...

RE: Not News
By EricMartello on 4/15/2014 4:09:33 PM , Rating: 2
Bet you wish you could edit or delete that comment, don't you? LOL

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