Monday, May 10, 2010

Neandertal, Early Modern Hybridization

The Telegraph has a story about research indicating a shared history between Neandertals and early modern humans. This story appeared a few days ago in the New York Times. I did not link to this. Richard Alleyne, the Telegraph science correspondent writes:
Human-Neanderthal relations occurred as the first pioneering bands of homo sapiens ventured out of Africa, scientists believe.

When they reached the Middle East they ran into groups of Neanderthals who preceded them and it is now thought that they mated.

The discovery emerged from the first attempt to map the complete Neanderthal genetic code, or genome. It more or less settles a long-standing academic debate over interbreeding between separate branches of the human family tree.

Evidence in the past has pointed both ways, for and against modern humans and Neanderthals mixing their genes.
This is support for the contention of Erik Trinkaus that the Lagar Velho burial in Portugal reflects hybridization, as well as the findings of Dave Frayer and Fred Smith, who have long argued that the early modern humans in Europe from Mladec, Stetten, Predmosti and several other sites have traits present in their Neandertal antecedents from the area. This will certainly add fuel to the fire in the continuity/replacement debate concerning the appearance of modern humans.

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