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Human evolution: In this episode, the Neanderthals keep us alive

File:Neanderthal DNA extraction.jpg
extracting Neanderthal DNA/NIH

Look, it’s summer, every second day is Slow Newsday. At The Daily Mail (22nd August 2011), Fiona Macrae asks, “Was the human race given an ever-lasting boost by breeding with Neanderthal man?”:

We like to think our superior brainpower means we survived while they perished. But we may not have been alive today, if it were not for the Neanderthals.

How so?

Interbreeding with Neanderthals gave our ancestors a ready-made cocktail of DNA invaluable in fighting diseases common in northern climates, research by immunologist Peter Parham suggests.

You know it’s screen writing when “suggests” replaces “determined.”

This, in turn, vastly sped up our evolution, and gave us the strength and resilience needed to populate the world.

And it didn’t do anything of the kind for the ‘Thals? Guys, there’s a hole in our story here.

Professor Parham, of the respected Stanford University in California, focused on a family of 200-plus genes called human leukocyte antigens that are key to the workings of the immune system.

He showed that some of our HLA genes are identical to those that were found in Neanderthals.

That’s it! Once the source is unimpeachable, forget the hole. Start shooting first thing tomorrow.

Physicist Rob Sheldon, who watches the series, has asked: Are Neanderthals – or are they not – a distinct species?

Shush, Rob. If it were generally admitted that Neanderthals are not a distinct species, we’d have to cancel the series. Interspecies sex hints keep up media interest. Take that away, and it’s just boring old science.

File with: In this episode, an early industrial revolution was the closing curtain for Neanderthals

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Let me ask my question again. I don't have any problems with modern man being related to Homo erectus. If Homo erectus was extinct for 140,000 years, not only could we not breed with them, we couldn't even be related. That means Homo sapiens "just appeared" on the scene. Is that correct or do I seem to be missing a piece of the puzzle? Also, Great site! I read the post and learn something new everyday. It's taking me a while to get up to speed on things though. julianbre
I thought Modern humans never co-existed with Homo erectus or am I wrong on this? According to new research, reported in the journal PLoS One, "The analyses suggest that Homo erectus was gone by at least 143,000 years ago—and likely by more than 550,000 years ago. This means the demise of Homo erectus occurred long before the arrival of Homo sapiens. Thus, Homo erectus probably did not share habitats with modern humans,” said Indriati." julianbre
Speculation in the name of science is speculation, not science. Yeah, "suggests" is right up there with myta, musta, and lycli, as in myta-chondria, musta-happened, and lycli-genic. ;-) Querius
New podcast: "Do Humans Share A Common Ancestry With Neanderthals?" http://intelligentdesign.podomatic.com/entry/2011-08-22T15_30_13-07_00 bornagain77
"You know it’s screen writing when “suggests” replaces “determined" I am so glad you pointed this out. In so many articles or other communications you find statements that are technically true but lead to a false impression. Often questions are used in this manipulative way. "Are ID-ists creationists, or just evil? And when will we know if they are stupid or just evil?" Notice how creationists are now stupid? But I didn't have to go out and say "Creationists are stupid." But most people won't take the time to challenge it if it is not explicitly said. Same thing with the word "suggests." When this story is re-told, people will say, "Scientists are now finding that humans mated with neanderthals and that made them more fit leading to our population growth." Later it will be "It is a proven fact that..." Collin

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