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Thread: Neanderthals Didn't Mate With Modern Humans, Study Says

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    Neanderthals Didn't Mate With Modern Humans, Study Says

    Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans likely did not interbreed, according to a new DNA study. The study further suggests that small population numbers helped do in our closest relatives. Researchers sequenced the complete mitochondrial genome—genetic information passed down from mothers—of a 38,000-year-old Neanderthal thighbone found in a cave in Croatia. The new sequence contains 16,565 DNA bases, or "letters," representing 13 genes, making it the longest stretch of Neanderthal DNA ever examined.

    Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is easier to isolate from ancient bones than conventional or "nuclear" DNA—which is contained in cell nuclei—because there are many mitochondria per cell. "Also, the mtDNA genome is much smaller than the nuclear genome," said study author Richard Green of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Germany. "That's what let us finish this genome well before we finish the nuclear genome," he said.

    The new findings are detailed in the August 8 issue of the journal Cell.


    A Small Population

    The new analysis suggests the last common ancestor of modern humans (Homo sapiens) and Neanderthals lived between 800,000 and 520,000 years ago. This is consistent with previous work on shorter stretches of Neanderthal DNA. Contrasted with modern humans, Neanderthals exhibited a greater number of letter substitutions due to mutations in their mitochondrial DNA, although they seem to have undergone fewer evolutionary changes overall. The fact that so many mutations—some of which may have been harmful—persisted in the Neanderthal genome could indicate the species suffered from a limited gene pool. This might be because the Neanderthal population was smaller than that of Homo sapiens living in Europe at the time.

    A small population size can "diminish the power of natural selection to remove slightly deleterious evolutionary changes," Green said. The researchers estimate the Neanderthal population living in Europe 38,000 years ago never reached more than 10,000 at any one time. This could have been a factor in their demise, Green said. Homo neanderthalis first appeared in Europe about 300,000 years ago but mysteriously vanished about 35,000 years ago, shortly after the arrival of modern humans—Homo sapiens—in Europe.

    "If there were only a few, small bands of Neanderthals, barely hanging on, then any change to their way of life could have been enough to drive them to extinction," Green said. "One obvious change would have been the introduction of another large hominid—modern humans."


    Stepping Forward

    Stephen Schuster, a molecular biologist at Pennsylvania State University, said the new study should silence a lot of theories about interbreeding between Neanderthals and modern humans. The study shows that "at least for the maternal lineage, there are no traceable genetic markers that suggest admixture of Neanderthals and modern humans," he said. Schuster added that the researchers were exceptionally careful to isolate the Neanderthal DNA.

    "Many more precautions were taken to ensure that no contamination with human DNA has flawed the analysis," he said, noting that researchers sequenced each letter about 35 times to be sure of their work. "This was the weak point of previous reports," said Schuster, who was not involved with the study. Thomas Gilbert, an ancient DNA expert at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark who also was not involved in the study, called the research a "step forward" and a taste of what might come when the Neanderthal nuclear DNA is finished.

    The team's argument that the Neanderthal population was small 38,000 years ago is speculative, Green said, but "it's better than what we could have said before."


    Source: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/n...ertal-dna.html

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    Theres probably a few more Genetic tests they have to run, like the complete mapping of their genome. But all genetic and physical evidence does not show admixture or hybridizations, even on a minute scale.

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    I don't think this is exactly "new" evidence? This same evidence from the mtDNA was in my Anthropology textbook last year..

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    Can we put to rest the "Homo sapiens neanderthalensis" nonsense?

    "Humans and neanderthals are subspecies, therefore human races are not subspecies" was getting very old. :p






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    I just get tired of people calling bruenns and other UK types "neanderthals".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oski Von Skadi View Post
    I just get tired of people calling bruenns and other UK types "neanderthals".
    Depends upon which Bruenn you meet

    Anyway, I remember watching a programme where one man was adamant that evidence exists for a theory of inter-breeding between Humans and Neanderthals.

    As for the Human genome; I thought it hadn't actually been fully mapped?
    "The only way to get smarter is to play a smarter opponent."

    _________________

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    Don't Believe Everything You Read . . .

    . . . including mitochondrial genes. Here's the problem: anthropology has become divided between genes people and bones people. Since genetics are 'modern' and 'sexy,' bones evidence is downplayed. This is a big problem, since the genetics people rely on a very shaky assumption: that mitochondrial DNA mutates on a regular, clock-like schedule. Think about that for a minute. What else in all of biology is as reliable as that?

    Nothing, nothing at all. Which makes all the mtDNA data you can think of unreliable. The whole "Out of Africa" nonsense, and anything else relying on mtDNA. Even for geneology, it's unreliable. Here's an example: if your mom only has sons, and no daughters, her mtDNA is lost forever. That does not mean her DNA is not passed down, it's just scattered over millions of base pairs.

    Some studies rely on the Y chromosome to measure male lines of descent. However, many men father only daughters, and his Y chromosome is not passed on. Again, his DNA is out there, just not easily traceable. Eventually, all but a handful of 'lucky' (as in random) mtDNA and Y chromosome strains are 'eliminated,' but only from easy access. There are random base pairs in your DNA that even go back farther than our own species--honestly, even genus! So, it's nearly impossible to say that, FROM CURRENT DNA EVIDENCE ALONE, that interbreeding did not occur. In fact, it's rather silly . . .

    So, we have these silly studies (yep, I called them silly again--it's a good word!) that talk about restricted lines of descent, African-relatedness, et cetera, and not a bit of it jives with the evidence of the bones. And the bones rarely lie!

    There are dozens of examples of sapiens/neanderthaloid hybrids, from central Europe to the Fertile Crescent. There are transitional erectus skulls that shade gradually, over 100,000 year intervals, into sapiens of Mongoloid typology in China. Heck, there are even new, tiny skeletons from Indonesia that keep beating every mainstream attempt to classify them as sapiens--because they're not, they're a new (and recent!) hominin.

    I say, don't believe everything you read--believe in what you can dig up, and what you can physically measure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Octothorpe View Post
    There are dozens of examples of sapiens/neanderthaloid hybrids, from central Europe to the Fertile Crescent.
    Quote Originally Posted by Octothorpe View Post
    There are transitional erectus skulls that shade gradually, over 100,000 year intervals, into sapiens of Mongoloid typology in China.
    Will you indulge us?






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    Quote Originally Posted by SouthernBoy View Post
    Will you indulge us?
    I sure will, but it will require digging into my (paper) archives; I also return to teaching in two days (ack!). I'll get to that as soon as I can!

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    "Will you indulge us?"

    I sure will, but it will require digging...
    I'll get to that as soon as I can!
    during the digging,
    we may find
    some interesting reading.

    any other suggested studies?

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