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Proof That Humans Interbred With Neanderthals

1614 words - 7 pages

Over the last few hundred years, more and more has been added to the world’s fossil collection, fossils from all over the world. New theories have been created and old theories have almost been proven about the evolution of man. For example, we have proof that different species of man existed with certain types of DNA sequences and instincts, some we may not have anymore, or some that other species did not have back then. Even though it is subjected to much debate, one of the most widely accepted theories however, is that Homo sapiens interbred with the slightly more primitive species of man, the Neanderthal.
It all started when the first Neanderthal fossil to get a lot of attention was ...view middle of the document...

80,000 to 50,000 years ago, there was an overlap in the middle east, which was a good time for interbreeding between the two species (Hammer, 67). 29,000 years ago, a modern human skull was found in Romania, which had “rather archaic features.” It has been proven that Homo sapiens and Neanderthals split around 40,000 years ago, giving the two species about 20,000 years to interbreed. Then 28,000 years ago, Neanderthals disappeared from the fossil record, and reappeared 12,000 years ago (Than, 1).
Many people find it difficult to accept that Neanderthals interbred with the modern human (Than, 1). However, one of the most dominant Neanderthal genes is red hair, which can be shown in a very small percentage of the Homo sapiens population, as well as pale skin, which can also be shown in the human population, in a bigger percentage. This gene may have protected Neanderthals because it gave them the ability to receive a lot of vitamin D. However, the red hair/pale skin mutation doesn’t support any type of gene flow within Neanderthals and Homo sapiens (Hammer, 69). As well as proof in modern humans, there is a huge database for proof of interbreeding. Not only did Neanderthals and Homo sapiens interbreed, but other species did as well, such as Neanderthals and Cro-Magnon Men. Neanderthals and the modern human didn’t have enough mating to make an impact, it was considered a “Neanderthal-human one night stand.” Sexual maturity came late in Neolithic humans, even though they had relatively short lives (Than, 1).
There is always the possibility that DNA was contaminated, which could severely alter or change the DNA. Sometimes water, oxygen, and different types of microbes break down the DNA, making it harder to determine what kind or what gene said DNA is for. Cytosine is able to change into a different nucleotide, Uracil. All organisms decompose after death. This makes it very hard to work with the DNA, because it is harder to extract, and therefore examine. (Hammer, 68).
All modern ethnic groups carry Neanderthal DNA, whether it is dominant or recessive, even though Neanderthals were outside of the range of variation of Homo sapiens mtDNA sequences. The scientist Trinkaus quotes, “One to four percent is truly a minimum. But is it ten percent? Twenty percent? I have no idea.” For example, one of the most prominent is the FOXP2 gene which enables the speech area of the brain. Some researchers argue that speech is what makes Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens different. However, it takes many more genes than the FOXP2 gene to produce language. Scientists and researchers can are not able to tell exactly how well Neanderthals spoke, or even, if they spoke, and have determined with much research that the modern gene for FOXP2 must have come up prior to the lineage split with Neanderthals, around six million years ago(Than, 1).
Johannes Krause, another Scientist, says “Of course many genes are involved in language, so we can’t say from this result alone that...

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