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Human evolution episode #4899: Oh listen! THOSE two were seeing each other back on the savannah! Everyone knew it!

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hominid fossil/Michael F. Hammer

From “Ancient humans were mixing it up” ( Eurekalert, September 2, 2011) we learn, “Anatomically modern humans interbred with more archaic hominin forms even before they migrated out of Africa, a UA-led team of researchers has found.”:

In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, or PNAS, a team led by Michael Hammer, an associate professor and research scientist with the UA’s Arizona Research Labs, provides evidence that anatomically modern humans were not so unique that they remained separate.

“We found evidence for hybridization between modern humans and archaic forms in Africa. It looks like our lineage has always exchanged genes with their more morphologically diverged neighbors,” said Hammer, who also holds appointments in the UA’s department of ecology and evolutionary biology, the school of anthropology, the BIO5 Institute and the Arizona Cancer Center.

Note, however, that they did not discover this from DNA but from “a computational and statistical approach”:

“Instead, we looked at DNA from modern humans belonging to African populations and searched for unusual regions in the genome.”

Because nobody knows the DNA sequences of those now extinct archaic forms, Hammer’s team first had to figure out what features of modern DNA might represent fragments that were brought in from archaic forms.

Which means that the finding has the status of a rumour spread by a sharp-witted but sometimes unreliable neighbour.

“We think there were probably thousands of interbreeding events,” Hammer said. “It happened relatively extensively and regularly.”

Sure. These liaisons co-evolved with the rumour mill and Fault! Fault! Fault! divorce. Also, the earliest use of the term “tomcat” to refer to a human being …

“Anatomically modern humans were not so unique that they remained separate,” he added. “They have always exchanged genes with their more morphologically diverged neighbors. This is quite common in nature, and it turns out we’re not so unusual after all.”

Yes, but maybe the neighbours weren’t that unusual either.

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3 Replies to “Human evolution episode #4899: Oh listen! THOSE two were seeing each other back on the savannah! Everyone knew it!

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    File under; evidence molded to fit philosophical preconception of evolution.

  2. 2

    My major beef with these kinds of papers, is that they hide their major assumption in the way they form their hypothesis. In this case, the hypothesis is that finding some similar genes is evidence of cross breeding. Now recall that finding some similar bones in anthropology is evidence, not of cross-breeding, but common descent. Unless it is convergent evolution.
    So the appearance of “similarity” is used for a multitude of unrelated theories. After all, if Neanderthals and humans are descended from some common ancestor, why do we need cross-breeding to account for similar genes?

    This makes the science a minefield of hidden assumptions and contradictory conclusions, which seemingly doesn’t bother anyone, but sure makes the pursuit of that science a logical tangle.

    Why can’t we have some clarity here? Why can’t we have a single theory that incorporates both common descent and cross-breeding, that incorporates both genotype and phenotype? Why all the unnecessary confusion?

    Unless its intentional.

    After all, we’re talking about the origins of us, and so we should have a say in who our ancestors are. These theories, then, are some sort of Freudian projection of what Darwinists want to believe about themselves and their friends, but most importantly, their enemies. And Freud was a notoriously slippery theorist too.

  3. 3
    ciphertext says:

    From the linked paper:

    Because nobody knows the DNA sequences of those now extinct archaic forms, Hammer’s team first had to figure out what features of modern DNA might represent fragments that were brought in from archaic forms.

    Seems like that would merit a paper of its own don’t you think? It doesn’t seem that the theory followed a path of necessary, incremental, development, as one would expect, where the hypothesis was buttressed by well “vetted” theories. Rather, it would appear that the author’s paper had to develop other, supportive, hypotheses to rest upon. Is that a common occurrence? It would seem too difficult to test. There would be too many assumptions made for a proper review to occur.

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