Neanderthal and Early Modern Humans
The history of life on earth goes back to millions of years. Many species and creatures evolved and changed through time, leading up to what we know today as, modern man. One of the creatures most similar to modern man is the Neanderthals; they are sometimes referred to as “early modern humans.”
An article entitled “Early man steered clear of Neanderthal romance” by Michael Hopkin, explains that there was a discovery that early human ancestors of modern man did not breed with their “cousins,” the Neanderthals, according to DNA that has been studied. “Neanderthals vanished from Europe between 30,000 and 40,000 years ago, roughly the time that truly modern man made his first appearance in the region. Researchers have been divided over whether the two groups ever came face to face-and if they did, whether relations were hostile or harmonious” (Hopkin, 16 March 2004).
Based on research of Human and Neanderthal DNA samples, there is not much evidence of interbreeding between the two. In the chance that it did happen, it was not often. “DNA from the two sets of samples was distinct enough to rule out large amounts of mixing between the two” (Hopkin, 16 March 2004). You must now have in mind that DNA is hard to preserve; therefore it is almost impossible to be certain about these findings.
The basis of this research was from mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) found in fossils from Germany, Russia, and Croatia. Mitochondrial DNA is “The genetic material found in mitochondria, the organelles that generate energy for the cell. Not inherited in the same fashion as the nucleic DNA” (4 March 2004). Studies found that these Neanderthals carried some mtDNA that can not be found in modern humans; a reason for this may be due to the fact of a genetic drift.
There were 24 Neanderthal remains and 40 early modern human remains that were studied. The bimolecular preservation of DNA of five early humans and four Neanderthals was helpful enough for the preservation.
“All four Neanderthals yielded the mtDNA sequences similar to those previously determined from Neanderthal individuals, whereas none of the five early modern humans contained such mtDNA sequences. In combination with current mtDNA data, this excludes any large genetic contribution by Neanderthals to early modern humans, but does not rule out the possibility of a smaller contribution” (Serre, 16 March 2004).
Therefore, early modern humans and Neanderthals could have been around and breeding at the same time, it is just a small chance.
Between 30,000 and 40,000 years ago, Neanderthals were gone from Europe (where these fossils were found). Right around that time, the early modern humans were beginning to migrate to parts of Europe. This brings up the point that it could be possible that Neanderthals and early modern humans came eye to eye, but no one knows what the...