… not Neanderthal man.
(God will hear you. That Neander guy won’t.)
Shoulda seen this one coming.
No sooner did the Neanderdunce finally graduate from elementary school (and turn out to have married into the family in the meantime) than new accusations started up. To hear the Daily Mail tell it,
It has been around 30,000 years since the ancestors of modern-day humans are thought to have wiped out the ancient Neanderthals.
But new research shows that the extinct species could be taking revenge on us from beyond the grave by making us more vulnerable to potentially killer diseases such as cancer and diabetes.
Neanderthals and modern humans are thought to have co-existed for thousands of years and interbred, meaning Europeans now have roughly 2 per cent Neanderthal DNA.
Obviously, the Neanderthals were not in any meaningful sense an extinct species and it sounds as though modern humans outnumbered them and simply absorbed their lineage and culture, as has happened to many groups in recorded history. Think: Angles, Saxons, Picts, …
The cancer claim is based on recent research that showed,
They examined the genomes of 67 people with cancer, and found they contained six of the sequences supposedly unique to the ancient humans. Belshaw suspects that all 14 might still be around, although finding the rest will take more time. The viruses insert themselves into DNA repeats – patterns that occur in multiple locations throughout the genome, only one of which will carry the sequence in question, so tracking them down is time consuming.
The new study is important, says Magiorkinis, because it emphasises that modern humans can differ from one another significantly in the non-coding parts of their genomes. “The results show that we can find individuals today who share loci with Denisovans or Neanderthals, but not with other humans alive today,” he says.
Oh well, at least blaming cancer on Neanderthal man can’t be used to scapegoat anyone now living.
Interesting rebuild of a Neanderthal from skeletal remains: