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Latest from Daytime Soaps 120,000 BC season: Inbreeding may have caused Neanderthal extinction


In this episode, the Neanderthals might have died out as a separate group due to Intro of inbreeding:

The first strong case of Neanderthal inbreeding came in 2014, when scientists published a genome extracted from a toe bone found in the Altai Mountains of Siberia. Alive roughly 120,000 years ago, this Neanderthal woman had closely related parents: half-siblings, double first cousins, an uncle-niece couple or some other combo with equal relatedness.

So what about Neanderthals? Until we have more genomes, it’s hard to gauge the prevalence of inbreeding and its impact on the species overall. But we can say confidently, some Neanderthals were inbred and that didn’t help their chances of surviving. Maybe it even contributed to their extinction. Hey, if inbreeding took down royal dynasties, it may have taken a toll on Neanderthals, too.Bridget Alex, “Neanderthals Were Inbreeding. Did it Help Cause Their Extinction?” at Discover Magazine

Well, now that our writer mentions it, we don’t really have thousands of Neanderthals for a big sociological study. It’s interesting, of course, and the main thing is, we can probably get more information as we continue to dig.

While we are here anyway, we are reminded that Neanderthals did not have hunched backs:

After more than a century of alternative views, it should be apparent that there is nothing in Neanderthal pelvic or vertebral morphology that rejects their possession of spinal curvatures well within the ranges of variation of healthy recent humans,’ the researchers argue in the new study. In the paper published to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team used a pelvic reconstruction to investigate the curvature in the spine of the La Chapelle-aux-Saints individual. The partial skeleton was discovered in 1908, and is said to represent an older male in his sixties or seventies at the time of death. Cheyenne MacDonald, “Neanderthals did NOT have hunched backs: New study on ancient spine of older male individual discovered in France shows their posture was much like modern humans’” at Daily Mail

Oh. Well, spinal medicine wasn’t much advanced back then, was it?

Hat tip: Ken Francis, author with Theodore Dalrymple of The Terror of Existence: From Ecclesiastes to Theatre of the Absurd.

See also: “Humans still marry Neanderthals.” Is this what some people call science?

How neanderthals got the role of subhumans

Neanderthal Man: The long-lost relative turns up again, this time with documents

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