Genetics Human evolution Intelligent Design

Researchers: Neanderthals shared genes with woolly mammoths

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Neanderthals ate mammoths but they appear also, according to three case studies, to have “genetic similarities”:

“The first case study outlined the mutual appearance of the LEPR gene, related to thermogenesis and the regulation of adipose tissue and fat storage throughout the body,” TAU’s Department of Archaeology reported. “The second case study engaged genes related to keratin protein activity in both species. The third case study focused on skin and hair pigmentation variants in the genes MC1R and SLC7A11.”

Mammoths and Neanderthals “coexisted in similar geographic and environmental European settings during the Middle and Upper Pleistocene,” according to a synopsis of the paper. “Both were direct descendants of African ancestors, although both fully evolved and adapted in Europe during the Middle Pleistocene.”Jerusalem Post Staff, “ Neanderthals, Woolly Mammoths Shared Genetic Material, Say TAU Researchers” at Jerusalem Post

Well, the evolution message we were expecting was that they shared genes with chimpanzees. Elephants, not so much.

The Long Ascent: Genesis 1â  11 in Science & Myth, Volume 1 by [Sheldon, Robert]

Our physics color commentator Rob Sheldon, author of Genesis: The Long Ascent, saw this and kindly writes to say,


This article suggests that Neanderthals and Wooly Mammoths had the same unique LEPR gene (unknown to humans and elephants):

“The first case study outlined the mutual appearance of the LEPR gene, related to thermogenesis and the regulation of adipose tissue and fat storage throughout the body,” TAU’s Department of Archaeology reported.”

So is this a case of:
a) Horizontal gene transport?
b) Cross-breeding?
c) Convergence?

And if you think (b) is ridiculous, why is it the accepted explanation for how modern Europeans and Neanderthals share some genes?

(This is not a rhetorical question, but an effort to understand the opaque reasoning behind the discussion of the Neanderthal genome.)


Wethinks we are all“anti-science” for even wondering what’s going on here.

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See also: Researchers: Warm weather made cannibals of Neanderthals The researchers see it as a desperate measure. They don’t (and, of course, shouldn’t) rule out ritual cannibalism, which could also be a response to stress (= if we eat this person, we will absorb his ability to spot big game). Slowly the picture comes in and we are still looking for that subhuman Darwin promised us.

The Neanderthals are undergoing a renaissance Smarter every time we look at them!

and

Was Neanderthal man fully human? The role racism played in assessing the evidence

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3 Replies to “Researchers: Neanderthals shared genes with woolly mammoths

  1. 1
    Pearlman says:

    My initial comments prior to reading the nice article and comments by Rob Sheldon:
    maybe we were consuming them for food. or we had a common food source, or it had to do w/ atmospheric conditions.. or a common designer.. then a loss of information.
    twoud be interesting if apes from the ice age did not have

  2. 2

    Well, the news article finally hit the mainstream press.
    https://www.foxnews.com/science/woolly-mammoth-mystery-solved-study-reveals-shocking-details-about-prehistoric-creature
    The verdict to my question has now been answered. It was, of course, presented without any justification whatsoever, but it was obviously the least-embarrassing choice (for Darwin). Convergence. Humans and mammoths just happened to pick the same gene for dealing with the cold. The article even suggests it was because humans ate mammoths that they acquired the gene. Hmm, while I have heard of sea slugs reusing the chloroplasts from the plants they eat, this is the first time I have encountered an actual biologist suggesting the prehistoric concept that eating a tiger’s heart will make you brave. Maybe this is the closest a biologist can get to admitting horizontal gene transport (HGT) might mess with his Darwinian cladistic trees.
    But even saying “convergence” is a bit telling. If you are ready, here’s the odds.
    Human genome = 3Giga-bases. Error rate per generation, 1 base/gen. Neanderthal’s entire existence = 250,000 years = 12,000 generations. Size of the NEPA gene (say, 10,000 bases). That’s roughly 1 base needed per generation to construct this de novo gene. Then that is one chance in 3 billion, for 10,000 generations = (10^-9)^10,000 = 10^(-90,000) chance of making this gene in 200,000 years.
    Now this is such a ridiculous number, I can’t even make fun of it. The number of atoms in the entire universe is only 10^80. The shortest time interval even conceivable is the Planck time of 10^(-34)s. The age of the universe is some 3×10^(17) seconds, so if the entire universe were a computer where every atom could calculate the best nucleotide for this gene at its maximum speed, we are only up to 10^(131) tries, not even close to finding this gene, much less matching the elephant gene.
    This is precisely why Michael Behe says that no one has even come close to explaining convergence. Maybe African tribesmen were closer to the truth, maybe eating mammoth every day is a better answer.

  3. 3
    evograd says:

    “This article suggests that Neanderthals and Woolly Mammoths had the same unique LEPR gene (unknown to humans and elephants):”

    No, the article suggests that Neanderthals and Woolly Mammoths both adapted their LEPR genes in some ways to tolerate the cold, an idea that has been present in the literature for several years. This OP goes as far as suggesting that the LEPR gene itself arose (read:was created) independently in Neanderthals and Mammoths, being absent in modern Humans and Elephants, but this isn’t true at all. A very simple database search reveals that the LEPR gene is present in all jawed vertebrates (a few secondary losses may have occurred, I don’t know). Modern Humans and Elephants both possess the gene.

    If you read the citations in the paper in question that the authors refer to with regards to LEPR, you would find that totally different mutations adapted the Mammoth and Neanderthal versions of LEPR. Lynch et al. (2015) describe a single amino acid change in the Mammoth LEPR protein, relative to modern Elephants, at position 319 in the peptide. Meanwhile, Sazzini et al. (2014) investigated the Human/Neanderthal sequences of LEPR, and found a fixed single amino acid change in the Neanderthal version relative to modern Humans, at position 223 in the peptide. Completely different amino acid changes.

    Lynch, V. J., Bedoya-Reina, O. C., Ratan, A., Sulak, M., Drautz-Moses, D. I., Perry, G. H., … Schuster, S. C. (2015). Elephantid Genomes Reveal the Molecular Bases of Woolly Mammoth Adaptations to the Arctic. Cell Reports. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2015.06.027
    Sazzini, M., Schiavo, G., De Fanti, S., Martelli, P. L., Casadio, R., & Luiselli, D. (2014). Searching for signatures of cold adaptations in modern and archaic humans: hints from the brown adipose tissue genes. Heredity, 113(3), 259–267. doi:10.1038/hdy.2014.24

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