Culture Darwinism Human evolution Intelligent Design

Neanderthal woman, Denisovan man

Spread the love
bone fragment (‘Denisova 11’), found in 2012, represents the daughter of a Neanderthal mother and a Denisovan father/T. Higham, University of Oxford

From ScienceDaily:

Together with their sister group the Neanderthals, Denisovans are the closest extinct relatives of currently living humans. “We knew from previous studies that Neanderthals and Denisovans must have occasionally had children together,” says Viviane Slon, researcher at the MPI-EVA and one of three first authors of the study. “But I never thought we would be so lucky as to find an actual offspring of the two groups.”

Well, it’s lucky for sure, but it’s the sort of thing we might expect to exist. We just want our team, institution, or country to get the credit.

Analyses of the genome also revealed that the Denisovan father had at least one Neanderthal ancestor further back in his family tree. “So from this single genome, we are able to detect multiple instances of interactions between Neanderthals and Denisovans,” says Benjamin Vernot from the MPI-EVA, the third co-author of the study.

“It is striking that we find this Neanderthal/Denisovan child among the handful of ancient individuals whose genomes have been sequenced,” adds Svante Pääbo, Director of the Department of Evolutionary Genetics at the MPI-EVA and lead author of the study. “Neanderthals and Denisovans may not have had many opportunities to meet. But when they did, they must have mated frequently — much more so than we previously thought.” Paper. (paywall) – Viviane Slon, Fabrizio Mafessoni, Benjamin Vernot, Cesare de Filippo, Steffi Grote, Bence Viola, Mateja Hajdinjak, Stéphane Peyrégne, Sarah Nagel, Samantha Brown, Katerina Douka, Tom Higham, Maxim B. Kozlikin, Michael V. Shunkov, Anatoly P. Derevianko, Janet Kelso, Matthias Meyer, Kay Prüfer, Svante Pääbo. The genome of the offspring of a Neanderthal mother and a Denisovan father. Nature, 2018; DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0455-x More.

But why did we “previously” think they wouldn’t get together?

Also: from ArsTechnica:

The authors argue that, despite the indications left in modern genomes, Denisova 11 strongly suggests that interbreeding was common whenever two different groups overlapped. After all, we don’t have a lot of genomes from archaic humans, and we’ve already found one that’s the direct product of interbreeding between two groups.

By contrast, modern humans seem to have displaced archaic ones fairly rapidly, suggesting there was a limited time window in which interbreeding could have taken place. Still, the clear signs of interbreeding and apparent past willingness to live together may indicate that the modern humans absorbed earlier populations rather than completely displacing them. John Timmer, “DNA shows girl had one Neanderthal, one Denisovan parent” at Ars Technica

Two longstanding Darwinian myths are threatened by these types of finds: One is the “missing link,” the not-quite-human, that we hardly expected to interbreed. In any Darwinian scheme, someone must be the subhuman. But the position seems currently vacant…

The second myth is the notion that life is a war of all against all for the survival of the fittest. Thus according to the myth, current humans got where we are by exterminating other lineages. The historical reality of which we have evidence is closer to what these researchers see when studying archaic populations: “modern humans absorbed earlier populations rather than completely displacing them.” Put simply, members of smaller or dwindling groups must often have children with members of more numerous groups if they are to have any at all, thus accelerating the assimilation process. If the larger group are migrants into the territory, the advance guard is usually young, unattached men, who speed up the assimilation process even further. No one doubts that there was a lot of violence back then but violence isn’t the main driver in such a story.

Note: Yes, that title is a pop culture reference.

See also: In any Darwinian scheme, someone must be the subhuman. Otherwise, there is no beginning to human history.

and

Do racial assumptions prevent recognizing Homo erectus as fully human?

5 Replies to “Neanderthal woman, Denisovan man

  1. 1
    daveS says:

    Two longstanding Darwinian myths are threatened by these types of finds: One is the “missing link,” the not-quite-human, that we hardly expected to interbreed. In any Darwinian scheme, someone must be the subhuman.

    This continues to puzzle me. I provisionally accept the hypothesis that modern humans evolved from earlier apelike forms without the intervention of a Designer.

    Yet I don’t consider any of those earlier forms to be “subhuman”.

    In order to do so, one must have in mind a scheme for ranking lifeforms in some “great chain of being” (which I do not). In my reckoning, there are no “subhumans”.

  2. 2
    vmahuna says:

    All modern humans who have hair colors other than black and eye colors other than brown have Neanderthal ancestry. How our Neander buddies got the strange new colors themselves is unknown. But I lean towards 2 guys in the early NFL breeding program. Guy #1 says, “Hey, Joe. I just figured out how to change eye color. How’s about we give the next batch BLUE eyes.” To which Guy #2 says, “Hey, whatever floats yer boat. Go for it.”

    ALL versions of humans appear POOF! without any intermediate versions. Although I’m still waiting for an extended explanation of Eskimos. Eskimos have (or had) an odd “circum-polar” territory. And there is no evidence they EVER moved south. That is, the people who walked into North America from Siberia were coming from Eurasian stock. Why didn’t the Eskimos tag along? A similar question is why black Africans chose to stay in Africa. Although in their case, the white Europeans had control of Gibraltar and Palestine, so the Europeans may have made it clear they weren’t welcome.

  3. 3
    ET says:

    daves:

    I provisionally accept the hypothesis that modern humans evolved from earlier apelike forms without the intervention of a Designer.

    If you fully understood what is involved to make such a transformation real, you wouldn’t accept it at all.

  4. 4
    polistra says:

    The refusal to see or assume interbreeding runs contrary to one of the oldest and truest facts of genetics.

    Mongrels are stronger than purebreds.

    It shouldn’t be surprising that the people who survived to leave fossils were the mongrels. Survival of purebreds should be the surprising situation.

  5. 5
    EDTA says:

    >We knew from previous studies that Neanderthals and Denisovans must have occasionally had children together.

    But did their in-laws approve? And did anyone look askance at them in restaurants?

Leave a Reply