Deluge of Atlantis

Deluge of Atlantis
Deluge of Atlantis

Saturday, September 10, 2011

It Wasn't JUST Neanderthals

..It Wasn't Just Neanderthals: Ancient Humans Had Sex with Other Hominids
 [Yahoo News Story] By Adam Clark Estes, The Atlantic Wire – Tue, Sep 6, 2011

.........Scientists have collected evidence for years that modern humans interbred with our ridge-browed Neanderthal ancestors in Eurasia. But in Africa, where the Homo sapien species is said to have emerged, a lack of genetic evidence has left researchers scratching their heads about exactly how we came to beat out not only the Neanderthals, or Homo neanderthalensis, but other archaic species like homo erectus and homo habilus. A new paper published by Michael Hammer from the University of Arizona, however, provides evidence that homo sapiens not only interbred with Neanderthals in Eurasia, they also had sex with several species of our ancestors across the African continent. And they did it often. "We think there were probably thousands of interbreeding events," said Hammer. "It happened relatively extensively and regularly."

What we know about the history of our species has long been determined by what we can learn from our ancestors' remains. As recently as five years ago, researchers deduced that humans and Neanderthals had interbred at some point based on the shapes of skulls found in caves or buried under thousands of years worth of soil. A ground-breaking paper published last year by Swedish evolutionary biologist Svante Pääbo in Science brought genetics into the equation. Pääbo provided genetic proof that homo sapiens migrated out of Africa and into the Neanderthal-occupied Eurasian continent, where they met and mated with the more primitive men. Pääbo and his team made the discovery while comparing samples of Neanderthal DNA with that of modern human DNA.

In a recent profile on Pääbo, The New Yorker's Elizabeth Kolbert describes what's become known as the "leaky replacement" hypothesis: “Before modern humans "replaced" the Neanderthals, they had sex with them. The liaisons produced children, who helped to people Europe, Asia, and the New World. The leaky-replacement hypothesis--assuming for the moment that it is correct--provides further evidence of the closeness of Neanderthals to modern humans. Not only did the two interbreed; the resulting hybrid offspring were functional enough to be integrated into human society. Some of these hybrids survived to have kids of their own, who, in turn, had kids, and so on to the present day. Even now, at least thirty thousand years after the fact, the signal is discernible: all non-Africans, from the New Guineans to the French to the Han Chinese, carry somewhere between one and four per cent Neanderthal DNA.

 Hammer says that the interbreeding didn't stop with Neanderthals, however, but because of environmental conditions, we haven't been able to do the same genetic research with our African ancestors. "We don't have fossil DNA from Africa to compare with ours," Hammer explains. "Neanderthals lived in colder climates, but the climate in more tropical areas make it very tough for DNA to survive that long, so recovering usable samples from fossil specimens is extremely difficult if not impossible." Lacking actual DNA, Hammer and his team did what any modern scientist would do: they wrote a computer program. Using modern human DNA, Hammer says, they were able to "simulate history" and sort of reverse-engineer human DNA. In doing so, they found evidence that Homo sapiens not only had sex with Neanderthals, they also interbred with Homo erectus, the "upright walking man," Homo hobilis, the "tool-using man," and possibly others. Hammer says that despite earlier skepticism about interbreeding between human species and despite the belief that humans were an exception to certain laws of evolution, our DNA shows otherwise.

 One big question remains: Why did modern man survive as the archaic species died off? Kolbert talked with Pääbo at length about this topic, and while we still don't know the answer, genetic research like Hammer's that tracks the migration of homo sapiens around the globe provides some clues. In fact, it seems like what makes modern man different has a lot to do with traveling to new places and conquering them. Kolbert writes:

 “From the archeological record, it's inferred that Neanderthals evolved in Europe or western Asia and spread out from there, stopping when they reached water or some other significant obstacle. (During the ice ages, sea levels were a lot lower than they are now, so there was no English Channel to cross.) This is one of the most basic ways modern humans differ from Neanderthals and, in Pääbo's view, also one of the most intriguing. By about forty-five thousand years ago, modern humans had already reached Australia, a journey that, even mid-ice age, meant crossing open water. Archaic humans like Homo erectus "spread like many other mammals in the Old World," Pääbo told me. "They never came to Madagascar, never to Australia. Neither did Neanderthals. It's only fully modern humans who start this thing of venturing out on the ocean where you don't see land. Part of that is technology, of course; you have to have ships to do it. But there is also, I like to think or say, some madness there. You know? How many people must have sailed out and vanished on the Pacific before you found Easter Island? I mean, it’s ridiculous. And why do you do that? Is it for the glory? For immortality? For curiosity? And now we go to Mars. We never stop." ..

9 comments:

  1. Kolbert's thoughts are very well-expressed and gave me something to think about during Sunday breakfast (much better than the news). On some level, the anthropic principle is at work in the sense that we are asking questions from the privileged position of being the one surviving Homo. of many.

    I wonder if AMHs were better placed to accommodate conceptions of time and space? Time in a linear sense and space in the abstract geographical sense. All the known Homos demonstrated planning and abstract thought and yet we seemed more able to imagine ourselves in a different geographical location at a point in the future...or past.

    Even moreso, we could express these abstract thoughts through objects like the Lebombo bone thereby allowing our thoughts to remain, or travel, without us.

    ReplyDelete
  2. In the opinion of experts such as Stringer, Neanderthals seem to have had a completely different psychology in which the whole mentality was on a more instinctual level and there might not even have been the modern-human ego complex. And they seem to have done very little planning for the future, or even made any modifications of their behaviour for the seasnable availability of certain resources. Neanderthals did not exploit salmon runs, there are very few fish vertebrae at their levels; but CroMagnons certainly did exploit salmon runs and certainly had some concept of seasonality.

    It is very difficult to grasp what this means on a psychological level because we moderns are used to thinking differently. But apparently Neanderthals did not bother to think of themselves as separate entities from their environment, either singly or communally. They did not project mental pictures of themselves into the past or the future. They did not think about themselves a whole lot, period.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Where do you stand on our expanding understanding of Neanderthal behaviour? I refer to a recent study that noted their use of bird wings. Although the paper didn't make the suggestion, it raised the thought in my mind that they used them ornamentally.

    If this was the case, it would suggest more complex abstract thinking and perhaps a group identity. Speculative, I know, but it's interesting to see our conception of Neanderthals being 'fleshed out' as new discoveries are brought to light and older ones are reappraised.

    http://www.paleoworking.net/Fumane_PNAS1016212108.pdf

    ReplyDelete
  4. What I just quoted was Chris Stringer's opinion. Where I stand is that they probably had a greater development of the spiritual side than they are usually given credit for, and probably some of the concepts we describe as Animism and Shamanism. That could account for ritual use of bird wings.

    As to supposedly surviving Neanderthals, the allegations do include such things as they can read minds and hypnotise people. Not saying I can prove that, but it is alleged repeatedly in different parts of the world.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.

    ReplyDelete
  5. There's an interesting post on 'A Very Remote Period Indeed' that comments on a new paper about Neanderthal shellfish use across a longer period than previously demonstrated. You might find it interesting....

    http://averyremoteperiodindeed.blogspot.com/2011/09/neanderthals-shellfishing-150000-years.html

    The paper - http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0024026

    ReplyDelete
  6. I knew of that: in fact, there is no direct evidence linking the Neanderthals to shellfish harvesting, except for the presemption that "early modern H. sapiens" were NOT present then African early modern H.sapiens could actually have settled in the area and have been responsible for the midden deposit.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.

    ReplyDelete
  7. BTW, I count the Fontechevade cranial fragments as closely similar to early modern Africans such as the specimens from Border Cave in South Africa, and some more recent finds in East Africa, although the specimens from France are not so old. This says to me that early African colonists had attempted to colonise the Southern European coastal zone during the Interglacial period but failed to keep their foothold and eventually gave way to an all-Neanderthal Europe that held for MOST of the period of 100,000 to 35,000 years ago. And if the Grimadi skeletons show characteruistics of Africans, well, then that also is only to be expected.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I wouldn't be so sure archaic humans never reached Australia, the Kow Swamp remains and the Cohuna skull show close similarity to neanderthal skulls. And they are from only around 11,000 years ago. Puts a new spin on things, much more research is needed, but cultural sensitivities will most likely prevent it.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Anonymous-You would be Forest Guy in this case?-this is the reply I sent through the regular email: "There is actually a large number of early Aboriginal skulls that only make sense as being survivals of what was called Solo Man in Indonesia: they do not match typical Homo sapiens at all and they have been called Homo erectus. The classification is still a matter of debate. But I have no problems at all in relating these 'Robust' skulls to more modern reports of Yowies and such."

    I was thinking of posting a Yowie Update on the matter and I was gathering together more materials for that. But the latest track cast photos I got (Via Rex Gilroy) were rather disappointing, they look like fakes. When I get better evidence together to make a better presentation, I'll go with it.


    Best Wishes, Dale D.

    ReplyDelete

This blog does NOT allow anonymous comments. All comments are moderated to filter out abusive and vulgar language and any posts indulging in abusive and insulting language shall be deleted without any further discussion.