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Thread: Neanderthal taxonomy reconsidered

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    Post Neanderthal taxonomy reconsidered

    Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Feb 3;101(5):1147-52. Epub 2004 Jan 26. Related Articles, Links


    Neanderthal taxonomy reconsidered: implications of 3D primate models of intra- and interspecific differences.

    Harvati K, Frost SR, McNulty KP.

    Department of Anthropology, New York University, 25 Waverly Place, New York, NY 10003, USA. katerina.harvati@nyu.edu

    The taxonomic status of Neanderthals lies at the center of the modern human origins debate. Proponents of the single-origin model often view this group as a distinct species with little or no contribution to the evolution of modern humans. Adherents to the regional continuity model consider Neanderthals a subspecies or population of Homo sapiens, which contributed significantly to the evolution of early modern Europeans. Paleontologists generally agree that fossil species should be equivalent to extant ones in the amount of their morphological variation. Recognition of fossil species therefore hinges on analogy to living species. A previous study by one of the authors and recent work by other researchers [Schillachi, M. A. & Froelich, J. W. (2001) Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 115, 157-166] have supported specific status for Neanderthals based on analogy to chimpanzees and Sulawesi macaques, respectively. However, these taxa may not be the most appropriate models for Pleistocene humans. Here we test the hypothesis that Neanderthals represent a subspecies of H. sapiens by comparing the degree of their morphological differentiation from modern humans to that found within and between 12 species of extant primates. The model taxa comprised >1,000 specimens, including phylogenetic (modern humans and African apes) and ecological (eight papionin taxa) models for Pleistocene humans. Morphological distances between model taxon pairs were compared to the distances between Neanderthals and modern humans obtained by using a randomization technique. Results strongly support a specific distinction for Neanderthals.

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    Post Re: Neanderthal taxonomy reconsidered

    a distinct species with little or no contribution to the evolution of modern humans.
    Results strongly support a specific distinction for Neanderthals.
    This assumption is definitely true.
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    Post Re: Neanderthal taxonomy reconsidered

    This approach to create or designate a morpho-species out of the fossil evidence is much better than simply arbitraily doing so. Unfortuately, I cannot do pdf on this computer. I am interested in learing the sample size for the Neanderthals used and if it was enough to be considered statistically significant. Also, the sex breakdown is something to be considered. Does the non-human primate material contain both sexes? If so, the Neanderthal material must do do also.

    If, in fact, the Neanderthals qualify as a seperate species, we are still faced with some problems. This would imply that one species (Neanderthal) could not be ancestral to a sister species (sapiens). However, these two species were seperated by geography. When they came together, it may still be possible that they exchanged genes on a limited extent. Domestic cattle and the Bison can and do interbreed in captivity yet probably have a more distant relationship to each other than do Neanderthals and sapiens. Cattle and the Bison are both good species.

    My point is what we are really talking about here is reproductive isolation in the late Pleistocene when these two human groups came together--whatever we call the species involved. If there was absolute isolation, then the Out-of-Africa thesis is correct. If one species evolved into another (now almost universally discredited), then the multiregionalists have carried the day. But, there is a third option. This is interbreeding at the edges where the two populations met. How much is not even the real question. If it happened, then, however small or insignificant, the relationship of Neanderthal to sapiens is alltogether different.

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    Post Re: Neanderthal taxonomy reconsidered

    How much is not even the real question. If it happened, then, however small or insignificant, the relationship of Neanderthal to sapiens is alltogether different.
    I believe that this could be at least possible. But I dont think such bastards survived.

    Furthermore you must keep in mind that sapiens is a social species and that he had evolved a certain kind of communication etc. which the Neandertals didnt.

    That some sapiens rapes Neandertals or the other way around doesnt mean that this bastards were integrated in the group later.

    Especially linguistic abilities might have developed quite fast especially in the time these two species were isolated from each other.

    Often genetically still compatible groups doesnt mix because of different appearance and behaviour and usually such groups are called species too.
    Same might be true for sapiens and neandertalensis.
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    Post Re: Neanderthal taxonomy reconsidered

    It is often said that barter between Bushmen and the Bantu often involved women. The women usually went from the Bushmen to the Bantu. Likewise, between Pigmy and Bantu with the Bantu as the recipients. Something like this could have occurred between sapiens and Neanderthal. In the worst case for survival of Neanderthal genes, the Neanderthals would have been the recipients. But even here, some of this hybid population may have ended up "back-breeding" with sapiens. The sapiens-Neanderthal interaction is the only way I can explain European pigmentation, facial features, some aspects of post-cranial anatomy shared only by Europeans and Neanderthals, and the fact that Europeans have a greater head size than other races (holding body size constant).

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    Post Re: Neanderthal taxonomy reconsidered

    Why all this hate for Neanderthals... I don't see anything especially wrong with them. They lived so far back in the past that, if there is any, their ancestry is surely spread among ALL Europeans. We've done really good with or without their DNA.

    btw. Mongoloids have larger cranial volumes. ( AFAIK )

    I suppose that the largest-headed populations in Europe are those with most UP ancestry. According to Coon, the biggest heads in Europe belonged to Irishmen and Montenegrins. I don't know who was third.

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    Post Re: Neanderthal taxonomy reconsidered

    The sapiens-Neanderthal interaction is the only way I can explain European pigmentation, facial features, some aspects of post-cranial anatomy shared only by Europeans and Neanderthals, and the fact that Europeans have a greater head size than other races (holding body size constant).
    I dont think so.

    The difference between even first modern Europids and CLASSICAL Neandertalids (not speaking about certain groups on the border) was so big that I dont see any significant influence both in old Europids and modern ones.

    Furthermore I believe that it was just convergent evolution in both Europids and Neandertalids to some degree but without the Neandertalid dysplasia.

    Europids didnt developed such primitive and undesirable features because the environment had changed and they used their better communication, brain etc. to avoid physical overspecialization like it was the case in Neandertalids which represent imo and undesirable development of mankind in one of its worst forms, similar to Australopithecus robustus.

    Their small group organization, technical and other abilities were not the same and head-brain size can be just compared if the structure is the same which was not the case.

    I see no proof and no reason to integrate classical Neandertalids in any model of Europid evolution.
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