The Neandertal-Human hybrid question

Discussion in 'Ancient History and Mythology' started by juantoo3, Dec 7, 2005.

  1. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Kindest Regards!

    In response to the growing interest in the question of Neandertal / Cro-Magnon hybrids, I have put together a few references that look at several aspects of the unusual find in Portugal of the child of Lapedo.

    http://home.entouch.net/dmd/neanev.htm
     
  2. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    http://home.entouch.net/dmd/hybrid.htm
     
  3. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    http://www.athenapub.com/8zilhao1.htm

    http://www.comparative-religion.com/forum/showthread.php?t=877&page=9&pp=15

    There is much more to the story than simply dentition. Whether or not a hybrid admixture of Neandertal and modern Human genes could survive to be viable and produce further offspring is a question still open to discussion. There is not enough conclusive evidence one way or the other. What Lapedo and Skhul V show is that, viable or not, Neandertal and Cro-Magnon did interbreed. I am of the opinion that there was some cultural interaction between the two groups, that could lead to interbreeding. Whether this was through commerce (trade or barter), coexistence in the same proximity and mutual cooperation for survival, or perhaps even through warlike activities (stolen “wives”) at this point can only be conjecture.
     
  4. Bandit

    Bandit New Member

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    sorry i dont have much to add here Juan. i am kind of watching this one develop so thanks for the updates & possibilities.
     
  5. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    There's a lot of debate on the issue - I think we may find a few surprises yet, after a few more years of research. :)
     
  6. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Kindest Regards, Brian and Bandit!

    Thanks.

    I agree Brian, and that is pretty much the point I was trying to make. There is far too much going on in this field to conclusively and boldly state that there was "no interbreeding" between Neandertal and Cro-Magnon. It is evident there was some hanky-panky, but how much, to what extent and whether or not the offspring were viable, are all still very open to debate among researchers in the field.

    I just thought it a bit bold to assert that genetically there was no possibility that Lapedo was a hybrid, particularly when that assertion was based solely on teeth, half of which were missing, while totally ignoring the remainder of the physiology. :D
     
  7. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Kindest Regards, Tao Equus!

    I did not properly thank you for the initial link you provided. I do think the find of a Neandertal child in the Caucasus Mountains can only add to the understanding in the field. Perhaps here, in a thread devoted to the subject, we can expand a bit better without highjacking the other thread.

    http://cogweb.ucla.edu/Abstracts/Goodwin_00.html

    I have pulled some relevant quotes from the link you initially provided that I would like to touch on as an interested observer. (read: amateur, armchair anthropologist)

    The first thing I noted is the numbers pertaining to when “Africans” moved into Europe. Here it is stated, rather succinctly, that this migration event took place 40 thousand years ago. Yet, there are known finds of “Africans” on the Eurasian continent that are dated as far back as one hundred thousand years and more. Arbitrary figures…we don’t have any specificity, it is guesswork at best. Even with carbon dating. Skhul V is dated as I recall somewhere on the order of 100 thousand years ago, and is considered by some to show possible hybridization. Granted, this was not in Europe, it was in the Middle East, but the influx of Africans onto the Eurasian continent must have already begun by this time.

    This reference claims a second mtDNA sampling on Neandertals, but as pointed out by Glen Morton in one of the references I posted above, mtDNA sampling has not been done yet on pre-historic Africans (Cro-Magnon). At least, not that has been brought to my attention. Comparing this DNA sample with modern humans is going to create some difficulties in my mind.

    For instance: “The baby’s mitochondrial DNA differed from that of the other Neanderthal in 3.5 percent of the locations tested, while the divergence from humans was 7 percent. Scientists consider that to be a substantial gap. "It all points away from the Neanderthal," Goodwin says.”

    Now, I’m not quite certain how to understand this. Looking around, I see figures of from 3-5% divergence between humans and bonobos, from everywhere between the Nature channel and specific researchers involved in the human genome mapping project. So, if I am to take what this reference says at face value, I am to believe we are more closely related to bonobos than we are to Neandertal? This, despite the generally accepted conclusion that the common ancestor of Neandertals and Cro-Magnon is around 150-200 thousand years ago (this reference claims 500 thousand years), yet the common ancestor between bonobos and humans is much, much greater than that. Somewhere on the order of 1-2 million years. Now, I am in agreement that 3% is a “substantial gap.” But not substantial enough, apparently, by some of the findings of Neandertal / Cro-Magnon hybrids. Either this hints that bonobos and humans can interbreed, or somebody’s figures are not quite correct.

    I think it is only proper to note that late Neandertals were every bit as “cultured” as Cro-Magnon of the time. As I recall, Neandertal had larger brains, developed tools before Cro-Magnon, and otherwise exhibited trade and industry, communication and culture, including religion and “common welfare,” very comparable to their Cro-Magnon neighbors. Whether by trade or “borrowing” is unclear.

    I admit to not fully understanding the implications of mtDNA analysis, but since mtDNA comes only from the mother, it seems to me that only half of the child’s actual DNA is being measured…are these researchers possibly comparing apples to half-apples? Note too, that this comparison is only with one other Neandertal. It does seem pretty apparent that it is a comparison of an infant to an adult, of which there is, I would think, a pretty good degree of latitude in interpretation.

    As for “The Neanderthal DNA was also no more similar to the DNA of Europeans than people elsewhere, which might have been expected if Neanderthals had mated in large numbers with their human neighbors in Europe,” I see a couple of things. First, I agree with Trinkhaus, in that it shows that hybrids were not a common happening. Or, the Neandertal DNA has been so dispersed among modern humans as to make differentiation impossible. Either way, it does not refute the possibility of hybridization in specific instances.

    I will go one step further. Concluding that such hybrids were “mules,” that is sterile and infertile, is again purely conjecture without evidence. That evidence is not likely forthcoming because there are no living Neandertals to “test” the hypothesis. But I can give some relevant examples, the most notable being Prezlewski’s (sp?) wild horse being able to freely mate with standard horses, with very viable offspring. Despite the acknowledged fact the wild horse has two more genes than the standard horse. So even in the world of Equines, “mules” are not a given. Even among hybrids that typically produce sterile offspring, it is known that occasionally there is a viable hybrid produced. This does not suggest any great impact on evolutionary development, but it is a known curiosity. If this were the case, a viable hybrid that is typically sterile, then the impact on a given population would be minimal and very localized. If, on the other hand, Neandertal were sufficiently similar to produce viable offspring with Cro-Magnon, it could very easily be that the cause of their disappearance was by being absorbed so totally as to not leave much of a trace of their existence. The two “evolutionary branches” could have grown back together.

    There are other considerations as well, but this is sufficient I think for now. :D
     
  8. Tao_Equus

    Tao_Equus Interfaith Forums

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    Hi Jauntoo and you'r right this does need its own thread.

    First off neither did I intend to be in any sense argumentative. The competition between the the divergents and the out of africa camps of anthropologists does seem to cloud the debate at times. Rightly or wrongly this is why my own personal most likely scenario is based entirely on the work of geneticists.
    Contrary to what you have written there have infact been 3 extractions of mtDNA from Neanderthals, from the Caucasas, Germany and Croatia. The genetic difference between the 3 samples are comparable to that of modern europeans, africans and native australians. The 2 Italian scientists that did a comparative study of these samples, and also compared them with modern man and the great apes, concluded that like modern man Neanderthals evolved from a rather small population only much further back in time than us. All 3 samples shared significant genetic features that are not found in any modern humans, but should be if we were interbreeding as little as 30,0000 years ago, which led them to conclude that our cro-magnun ancestors did not successfully interbreed. This is not to say that it was not possible or that it did not happen in some instances, but that the genetic heritage of neanderthals is not present in modern man. NOTE: I have been trawling the Proceedings from the National Academy of Sciences site trying to find this paper, where I know it was published, but as I cant recall the name of the two Italians its not easy. I will endeavour to do so however.

    mtDNA studies are pivotal to the 'out of Africa' hypothisis of modern man and show that we all share a common small group of ancestors, possibly numbering as few as 30 individuals. This group is believed to have come from somewhere close to central Africa and lived around 150,000yrs ago. Earlier common ancestors are found throughout the old world and in Australia which shows that Homo-erectus spread far and wide, as would be expected of such an adaptable species. Divergent theories however cannot dismiss the mtDNA evidence. And it is not half an apple, we all carry mtDNA but it is only passed, and almost intact, from the mother. Nuclear DNA is subject to 50% change with each reproductive cycle.

    The differences you allude to in comparing bonobo and neanderthal are because, I think, one is measuring nuclear DNA and the other mtDNA.

    I do have more to add but unfortunately I have to go out. Hope this makes it clear why I tend to believe that unfortunately we were less than freindly to our Neanderthal cousins.

    Regards

    TE
     
  9. Tao_Equus

    Tao_Equus Interfaith Forums

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    Hi :)

    Still searching for that paper without success. Have however found the following link that gives a plethora of links to related articles; http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/Launchpad/3917/mtdna.html


    Regards

    TE
     
  10. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Kindest Regards, Tao Equus!

    Apologies for the late response. My schedule, ..., (*broken record*)... :)

    Thank you for the resource! The link doesn't work, but I took what my cursor revealed and was able to paste into the address bar and gain access at work. I printed out a number of papers, but I was a bit disappointed that some of the ones I was most interested in cost $30 bucks apiece. I appreciate artistic control over intellectual property, but this is relating to a scientific and educational subject.

    I am still going through the literature. I did find, and printed, what I believe to be the paper by Duarte, et al, that Morton refers to in the previous posts. When I get a chance to finish going through the material I have I will post some of the relevent stuff I have read.

    I did a read of a short paper on the development of thought in prehistoric humans. Or better stated, a critque of another paper on thought. A lot of it referenced things I am not familiar with, but there were a few interesting tid bits to nibble on.

    The research isn't going away soon. If this thread takes a little while to develop, that's alright by me. So please don't be too upset if I do not respond quickly. Thanks again. :)
     
  11. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    I hope you will not mind, I did see a couple of things I wanted to address.
    I want to say I was quoting another. I don't know for fact how many have been sampled, you are the first to bring this to my attention. I did find some material that deals with this, but I still have reservations concerning comparison *solely* with mtDNA of modern humans, not Cro-Magnon Africans of similar age as the Neandertal samples. If the hypothesis of constant rate of change in the genome bears any weight, it hardly seems accurate to compare against samples of recent age to make comparison for the sake of possible ability to interbreed between Neandertal and Cro-Magnon in antiquity.

    OK, I do not know precisely what that difference might be, but the same source from where I pulled my quotes of Francis Collins and Craig Ventor includes a comment that the difference between the two most divergent humans on the planet is half of one percent. (.005) Out of 30 thousand genes. So I am guessing that the differences between "modern europeans, africans and native australians" is much, much less. Certainly nowhere near 6% plus for Neandertals. Of course, I did not take the samples or perform the dating or analyze the data.

    Of course, this is also certainly a possibility. You suggested elsewhere that you believed Neandertal met a rather violent end at the hands of Cro-Magnon. I know that is the long standing belief in the field, especially prior to Lapedo. And Lapedo does not do away with that possibility. Personally, I do think that most of the Neandertal population probably did meet an unfortunate end at the hands of Cro-Magnon in some form or type of warfare. Which is why my comment about stolen wives, much as Native Americans sometimes did.

    There have been one or two findings that initially suggested cohabitation of Nean. and C-M, only to be reinterpreted later as not being the case. There are caves with findings from both cultures separated by layers of sediment (some very thin, suggesting only a few hundred years separation). Both buried their dead with respect. Both have shown signs of caring for their wounded. And there are some few examples of the artwork of one being found in possession of the other. So there is some hint as well of cultural interaction in a more friendly manner. (Although war, philosophically speaking, is still a manner of cultural interaction, albeit not a pleasant one)

    I look forward to seeing this paper presented.

    This reminds me of something else I read, although it escapes me exactly where and in what context. One of the papers I read suggested that (I believe it was) h. erectus also lived contemporaneously with Neandertal and Cro-Magnon for a time. Three species of humans at the same time walking the planet...interesting (to me anyway).

    Again, I am not familiar enough to refute or agree. I do seem to recall that mtDNA is passed from a mother to all of her children, but through those children who are daughters that mtDNA again passes, relatively unchanged, to yet another generation. Through a successive string of daughters, as I understand the idea, mtDNA would remain virtually unchanged for generations, even thousands of years. It is on this basis that "mitochondrial eve" and "common ancestor" hypotheses come from.

    Now, I understand mtDNA is far easier to acquire in sufficient quantities to examine than nuclear DNA, but I still can't shake the feeling it is only half of the story.

    Perhaps. I think it also displays the old adage, "numbers don't lie, but you can lie with numbers." So even though I am certain there are advocates from both opposing camps that can throw numbers around quite well, in the end it is all only educated guesses. And prevailing politics. And grant money.

    I am very much enjoying this discussion, even if I am not as able to participate as I would like to. Thanks again! :)
     
  12. Tao_Equus

    Tao_Equus Interfaith Forums

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    Hi Juantoo,
    thx for your reply. I have uncovered some more details on this subject which I shall post once I have time to coherantly present them. One of which is the fact that some 10 neanderthals have now been mtDNA sequenced!!
    I have now found the link to the Italian study, sorry it took me so long but I am useless and just learning, without aid, how to use a computer. Anyway, here it is:
    http://www.pnas.org/cgi/gca?allch=&SEARCHID=1134490455664_6429&FULLTEXT=Italian+scientist+mtDNA+neanderthal&JOURNALCODE=&FIRSTINDEX=0&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&gca=pnas%3B100%2F11%2F6593&allchb=

    Regards

    TE
     
  13. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Sorry Tao, this link didn't work for me at all. Those PNAS guys sure are paranoid about someone reading their papers. I tried monkeying with the link you gave to see what I could get to come up and I kept getting the same error message, so something is not translating well. This is the same bunch I was talking about wanting $30 bucks per paper. (non-subscriber price, of course)

    BTW, are you sure you're "just a cook?" If you are only now getting around to using a computer, yet have the collection of knowledge you obviously do, hmmm.... :)

    In any event, glad to have you around!
     
  14. Tao_Equus

    Tao_Equus Interfaith Forums

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    Hi Juantoo,
    Hmmmm, sorry about that, probably my fault. I will give you the name of the paper and you can go to the PNSA site and look it up, its; Evidence for a genetic discontinuity between neandertals and 24,000-year-old anatomically modern Europeans. Published May 12th 2003 10.1073/pnas.1130343100.
    I dont understand how you are being asked for $$$ to see papers here, that has never happened to me and I am able to read anything on their site free of charge. Could it be you are not clicking on the 'abstract' and instead requesting a print ready version?

    lol, be carefull....if you flatter me like that I may start posting even more :p In answer yes I am just a cook. I did subscribe to New Scientist and Scientific American for many years and was an avid reader of non-fiction, until I bought this wretched machine. For about 10 years I worked with trees, first the fruiting varieties and then later forestry. During that time I did study the associated biology through open learning and short intensive courses. More recently I did a foundation year of open learning with the BBC's Open University titled 'Introduction to Science'. Basicly I'm just thirsty for knowledge of the world around us and make some effort to keep up with the latest research. As for my computer skills, well I still have not figured out how to cut and paste text into this box :p

    With reference to an earlier post I have found out that the estimated rate of mutation in mtDNA is as low as 1 mutation in 10,000yrs. The Wikipedia site seems to have a pretty good summary of what mtDNA is and why its so useful for studying genetic changes.

    Regards

    TE
     
  15. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Thanks Tao!

    I finally found and read the paper. Interesting. I can see where they have concluded that Neandertal genes have not made it into mainstrean human genes. And I see that they did compare with two Cro-Magnon from southern Italy dated almost comtemporary with the Neandertals they compared against.

    Lapedo did make me begin to wonder how we should interpret the possibility of having Neandertal genes in our make-up, what implications there might be towards the various religious institutions. Now I can see that is most likely a moot point. Thanks again, I have a great deal more to go through.

    I still have reservations about using mtDNA though.
     
  16. Tao_Equus

    Tao_Equus Interfaith Forums

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    This does raise many questions on the argument of the 'made in Gods image' debate. Neanderthal was not man but had art and thus culture, reason and most likely some system of belief. They lived in the pre-creationist era etc.

    Even with our eyelids stapled open and enquiring with absolute purity we are only ever going to see a fraction of a fraction of the big picture......but its fun looking:)

    Regards

    TE
     
  17. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Kindest Regards, Tao Equus!

    Thank you for the response.
    I suppose a lot hinges on how inclusive we view ourselves as being. If we absolutely must draw a line, then I suppose Neandertal would not be considered human. But then, that very same line would also be used to draw distinctions between all races.

    The flip side is in being inclusive, we ultimately see connection between ourselves and eventually all life. Neandertal may not be "human," yet they were certainly no more animal than humans are.

    I don't see "pre-creation" in this. Neandertal, in my view, were just as likely created as humans, indeed all life. Pre-Edenic, is a possibility.

    Absolutely. And as ever with big questions, we may never have a complete and factual grasp of the whole. At least in this existance.

    In looking to ancient pre-history we find that humanity, Cro-Magnon and Neandertal, had an elemental religion. It was not Christianity, it was not Monotheistic. Neither was it Pagan in any modern sense of the term. It was Shamanic, in the loose meaning of the term. It was naturalistic. But it was there! Some of the cave art I have looked into suggested religion, an intuition of something larger than the individual, something larger than the society, something "out there" as much as 30 thousand or even more years ago. Whether invoking sympathetic magic, or training for a successful hunt, or honoring the spirit of the animals who gave themselves for food, the cave art seems to have a spiritual connection, an invocation to connect man to God.

    If there were no God or spirit, why were these ancient peoples so preoccupied with invoking this sympathetic magic? Surely, if God does not exist, He would not have existed then. And peoples then would have no need to invoke Him. Indeed, the prominent place of God in pre-historic peoples lives would be a large, empty hole if He did not exist. These peoples would have filled that hole with something else. Their time and effort were far too precious to waste on fantasy and imaginings. (Unlike us today! :D )

    In short, I do not see Neandertal, in any interpretation, as refutation of God. Quite the contrary, I see Neandertal as a complementary confirmation, a "second witness" if you will, that confirms the presence of God, in my view.

    Come to think of it, I suppose the real question is why we grew out of our original view of God and developed the various religious institutions and the power structures that followed?
     

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