Sunday, May 9, 2010

Neanderthals are not "totally extinct"

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Genesis 1:27

Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, Romans 1:22

As reported by Canwest News Service:

There is a little Neanderthal in most of us, according to an international team that has added an intriguing twist to human ancestry.

The cave dwellers interbred with "modern" humans shortly after they left Africa, say the scientists, who have extracted the genetic evidence from gnawed bones found in a Croatian cave.

Their analysis shows that one to four per cent of all the DNA in people of non-African ancestry originated with our thick-browed cousins.

"The Neanderthals are not totally extinct," says team leader Svante Paabo, of Germany's Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, noting how their genes live on in us "a little bit."

"One to four per cent of the DNA that I carry in my cells, if I come from outside Africa, is from the Neanderthals," he says...

...The genomes show that Neanderthals interbred with the "modern" humans after they migrated out of Africa. "It's certainly an indication of what went on socially when Neanderthal and modern humans met," Paabo told a media teleconference.

Co-author David Reich, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School, says it is difficult to know how much mingling and mating went on.

There may have been a "large number of matings among large populations, or a small number of matings -- even dozens -- into a quite small founding population of modern humans moving outside Africa," says Reich.

The researchers suspect the interbreeding occurred in the Middle East 45,000 to 80,000 years ago and before humans spread out across Asia...

...Neanderthals had slightly larger brains than Homo sapiens, were stockier and more muscular.

Just a few questions, Chief: If interbreeding took place between Neanderthals and "modern" humans, doesn't that mean that the Neanderthals were, in fact, human? And if their brains were larger than those of modern man, couldn't that indicate that they were smarter than us? Wouldn't that indicate "devolution" rather than evolution?

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