Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Modern Caveman

Why aren't there Neanderthals anymore? It seems odd that such a close relative of humans wouldn’t be around anymore. Especially since modern humans occupy nearly every part of the planet. Why are we around and not the Neanderthals? There's an older theory that says that Neanderthals were driven to extinction by the ancestors of modern humans. This theory made sense because lets face it, humans have not always been accepting of those different from them.

However, recent evidence suggests that there is a different reason. Science Daily has an article that refers to research done by Barton and Julien Riel-Salvatore of the University of Colorado Denver. This research consisted of using stone artifacts to tract the paths of these ancient groups as well as computer modeling. Basically, their research says that during the the Upper Pleistocene the ancestors of modern humans, and Neanderthals encountered each other in Western Eurasia. The two groups then mated and hybridized, but because the Neanderthal population was much smaller than the ancient human population, the Neanderthal population became “absorbed” into the ancient human population.

The above is supported by genetic analysis which shows that some DNA (1-4% of the total human genome) that came from Neanderthals. This is especially seen in modern humans of European descent.

When you think about it, Neanderthals aren't the only ones thought be be extinct that actually live on today. Dinosaurs are technically living among us today. Many groups of dinosaurs actually went extinct but those that survived changed over time and became birds.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120207100143.htm

http://www.micfarris.com/2009/11/dinosaurs-arent-extinct/



Posted by Joseph Frimpong Group A March 28 2011

14 comments:

  1. This is a really interesting outlook I had never even considered before! Humans are generally so warlike that it's very easy to assume that our ancestors killed off the neanderthals in prehistoric wars. It's nice to see that even that far back there were lovers as well as fighters.

    Rhys Ursuliak

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    1. Yeah, its easy to see humans as warlike ans constantly fighting with others. It's easy to forget that humans have a humane side to them.

      Posted by Joseph Frimpong

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  2. It is amazing to think that Human ancestors coexisted with Neanderthals, such a similar species to our own. It is something that is unparalleled in modern times. Our closest living relatives are chimpanzees and even then, there are significant anatomical and genetic differences. This theory of absorption certainly makes sense. If our species were so closely related the idea of interbreeding would make much more sense in the disappearance of Neanderthals, rather than an eradication of the species.

    Jeff Keating (2)

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    1. I learned about the Neanderthals in my Greek civilization class. Our civilization comes from the Greeks and so its makes sense that the neanderthals just blended into modern humans. Although it is common for us to assume that there was conflict and that why every results in what it is today, the world evolves. It is not derived solely from competition.

      Posted by Jen Silva(3)

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  3. I think the evolution of humans is a fascinating subject, and actually wrote about it on one of my previous blogs (focused more on Denisovans than Neanderthals). I also just recently read an article by a different person that discussed a similar thing - not only was there contact between neanderthals and those that gave rise to modern humans, but interactions between the two such as competition is likely what led to their demise.

    Posted by Laura Moro (2)

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    1. The Science daily article mentioned something about competition. However, their research showed that that Neanderthals had just as much technology and were just as good as surviving as our human ancestors.

      Of course since there were so many more of our ancestors than there were Neanderthals, the Neanderthals would be a a disadvantage in competing.

      Posted by Joseph Frimpong

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  4. This post is really interesting but it still leaves some questions unanswered. Is this saying that the ancestors of modern humans and neanderthals shared some common ancestor whose population diverged and gave rise to these two groups, and that then the two met up again?

    Posted by Michael Thomas

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    1. Yes, Neanderthals definitely share a common ancestor with humans. This article is referring to what happened when they meet again.

      Posted by Joseph Frimpong

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  5. I don't think we will be seeing a Neanderthal relatives anytime soon. Modern humans just proofed to be better at surviving then them. I studied animal evolution, but we covered humans very lightly. It could be a course in itself!

    Posted by Dorian Pillari(c)

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    1. Well the point of the article is that we are part Neanderthal.

      As I mentioned in a comment above, Neanderthals were actually pretty good just as advanced as human ancestors at that time. However, our ancestors probably would have had the advantage of bigger populations in competing.

      I agree that human evolution could be a course in itself. I wonder if UMASS offers something similar to that?

      Posted by Joseph Frimpong

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  6. This is a very interesting article! It is very weird to think that if the neanderthal population was larger than humans, we would not be here. I wonder how different the world would be.

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  7. I wonder why it was only two different branches of the same species that had this happen to them. Is it because the species had a large group wander into a different climate? This greatly convolutes evolutionary trees if taken into account for other animals as well. Very very interesting.

    Mike Selden (C)

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  8. I loved this post, especially since I always joke around with a friend of mine that he's a Neanderthal. What I haven't quite understood from your post, however, is if humans are just evolved Neanderthals or if technically a separate species simply because the conclusion slightly contradicts the question and answer of why don't we see Neanderthal's today?

    Karen Melendez (C)

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    1. I admit my introduction was a bit misleading. I sorted of implied that Neanderthals had died out.

      However, the main point from the was that Neanderthals breed with Humans so their genes live on in us. This technically makes us modern humans part Neanderthal.

      Posted by Joseph Frimpong

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