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Homo Sapiens Neanderthalensis Essay

917 words - 4 pages

The Homo sapiens Neanderthalensis were present during the end of the ice age, and were very adapted to living in this cold environment. Socially, the Homo sapiens neanderthalensis were also thought to be more advanced than species of the past. Bones of this species were also very robust as well as muscular. These characteristics were first thought to be signs that they were hard-working, but these same characteristics were also found in children; therefore, it is now believed this was a genetic trait instead Visual comparisons of phenotypic traits may be misleading and do not necessarily reflect the genotype that causes them to be expressed. Genotype may not be inferred directly from phenotype, in most cases. According to Darwin, any trait that is not heritable is not relevant to the study of evolution. Environmental Factors interact with genotypes to produce a phenotype within a reaction norm. It may be very difficult to “disentangle” environmental effects from inherited genetic control when the traits expressed have to do with shape and are the result of differential growth processes. This is further complicated by polygenic control of most phenotypic traits. One to one translations from genetic controls to single traits are rare. Most differences between Neanderthals and Modern Humans are related to size differences between skeletal elements, which are determined by growth processes. Perceptions of differences by researchers, and their implications, are often subject to the scientific climate of the time period of study.
Differences are measured using a point of similarity as a benchmark. There is an underlying assumption that theses points of similarity are in fact similar genetically. Positional analysis reveals that many of these visual points of similarity are not really similar, meaning the use of these points as benchmarks do not produce comparable measurements, rendering the measurement meaningless. If the point of study is to identify biologically significant similarities and differences, then the task at hand is to sort homologies from analogies and to sort true genetic variation from variation due to differential growth and other epigenetic factors. This makes the study of bone growth and bone morphology vital to the pursuit of comparative morphology and the study of organisms where no direct genetic data is available, most specifically fossils.
3. “How mothers mold modern skull” In order to study the capabilities and limitations of growth processes and establish consistent patterns, extremes must be taken into consideration to establish the range of possible variation. Head molding, which is still in practice today, provides examples of what is possible within this range of normal variation. Because infant bones are pliable until around one year of age, mothers are able to mold their infant’s skulls into a variety of shapes. After one year these shapes are essentially locked in place for the duration of life. This...

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