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More evidence published that Neanderthals were little different from "modern humans"

Discussion in 'World History' started by innonimatu, Feb 22, 2018.

  1. innonimatu

    innonimatu Deity

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    Paintings dated 64000 found in Spain shown that cave painting did not start with the so-called "modern humans", but existed already before their assumed migration into Europe.

    Discovery of cave paintings and decorated shells reveals Neanderthals were artists

    To be clear, assumed is my own criticism of a theory of human evolution that should have been shelved due to new evidence years ago. I do not believe that a total replacement of the population of Europe some 40000 years ago happened, or that any credible evidence of such replacement has ever been produced to justify the hold such a theory has had during the last decades. Theories on pre-history always rested on exceedingly thin evidence of few archaeological remains. Fortunately we keep adding to that record, things should improve!

    Human evolution and the birth of human "culture" seems to me more likely to have been a continuum from a far more distant time, with populations moving and mixing in all directions for nearly a million years.
     
  2. Arakhor

    Arakhor Dremora Courtier Moderator

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    I was under the impression that genetic studies on Neanderthal remains indicates that we (Europeans) share less than 5% of our DNA with our northern cousins. What's more, unless I'm missing something very obvious, since there are no Neanderthals alive today, by default there must have been a total replacement of the humans living in Europe.
     
  3. Ferocitus

    Ferocitus Deity

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  4. Olleus

    Olleus Deity

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    5% is a fair bit though.

    I was under the impression that, over the last decade or so, the general consensus was that homo sapiens had interbred and dominated the Neanderthals, rather than wiping them out. What, to me at least, isn't clear is whether the domination happened through violence, some kind cultural assimilation, or if homo sapiens just outbred them to the point of irrelevance.
     
  5. Hrothbern

    Hrothbern Deity

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    None of that 5% is on the Y-chromosome
    A. That could be sheer coincidence ofc.
    B. It could also be that male Neandertaler DNA (on that Y-chromosome) was a negative evolutionary factor for hybrid offspring (there are some findings there)
    C. It could also be that female Neandertaler were caught as wife
    D. or in some conflicts only male Neandertaler were killed.

    All 4 factors could still fit a in general peaceful situation.
    And in order to get that 5% Neandertaler DNA bred into our genes C and/or D must have happened a lot. Even 100% peacefull would be possible with B.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2018
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  6. Olleus

    Olleus Deity

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    I've also heard the idea that female homo sapiens would struggle to give birth to a mixed child because Neanderthals are larger and homo sapien birth is also very tricky. A female Neanderthal would have less far fewer problems giving birth.

    This would explain why male homo sapien + female Neanderthal DNA is far more prevalent than the reverse.
     
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  7. innonimatu

    innonimatu Deity

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    Does anyone here know on what evidence were those 5% number for DNA mixing based?

    Afaik DNA that old can only be extracted already quite degraded. In this I always tend to skepticism until I can read about the data used.
     
  8. Arakhor

    Arakhor Dremora Courtier Moderator

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    I believe that the Neanderthal genome has been sequenced, so it would (presumably) be a simple case of mathematics when comparing our genomes. (I don't know for certain though.)
     
  9. innonimatu

    innonimatu Deity

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    An example of how DNA data has been misused and abused to draw false "knowledge":

    A single specimen had been used to claim that "Neanderthals made it a habit of breeding with immediate family members". A single other specimen invalidated that. We're talking about very sparse evidence here, being used to back various theories.

    I believe it will take data from thousands of individual remains to make any reliable guess about what really happened. And even thousands are very few to map populations across the whole eurasian space!
    Until then we have theories, different people favor different theories, but we should not be talking as if we already know what happened.

    Genome sequencing and comparison relies heavily on statistical analysis. There have been scandals over misuse of "DNA evidence" in criminal cases where the source material was recent and well preserved. I do expect better work standards from research teams, but the material they work with is much worse...
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
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  10. Arakhor

    Arakhor Dremora Courtier Moderator

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    Science is all about makng hypotheses, forming theories based on those hypotheses and then perhaps disproving those theories. No one is suggesting that these claims are graven in stone, presumably.
     
  11. innonimatu

    innonimatu Deity

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    No indeed. But it gets dangerous for researcher's credibility when press releases and disseminate theories and a few years later they have to be thrown away.

    Back in 2010 this was the summary of the first study that purported to have reconstructed a (though press releases went on to say "the") Neanderthal genome:

    Notice the terms "draft" and "filling the gaps". Notice also that they claimed to have sequenced DNA from one individual, and compared it with 5 modern individuals. In a medical study this would be absolute garbage, a single samples just can't prove anything about a population. It was useful because it produced new information, of course. But claiming that "both Europeans and Asians share 1% to 4% of their nuclear DNA with Neandertals" from this study of one individual is scientific garbage.
    The summary should have been much more cautious and conditional in presenting results, to avoid these being repeated as some categorical discovery and later shown wrong. To be fair the abstract is more cautions, but the press misrepresents it, and universities are only too happy to encourage that in order to get short-term publicity.
     
  12. innonimatu

    innonimatu Deity

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    I'm kind of answering myself now that I searched, but I guess it'll be interesting for anyone reading the tread to quote here some pieces from this study.

    On the difficulty of deciding what is a "match":
    On the degradation of ancient DNA:
    On comparing the DNA:
    Still reading the paper, I'm liking the actual work. Too bad it gets easily misrepresented in the press.

    Talking about the misuse and misrepresentation of scientific studies made me recall a recent example, but this one is just about very modern humans :lol: two studies with similar statistical conclusions produced these headlines in our amazingly ignorant (when not outright deceitful) press:


    and the people wonder how "populists" can get appreciated by attacking the press...
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2018
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  13. Olleus

    Olleus Deity

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    This is often the problem. Most science is (no matter what we tell the funding agencies) incremental and only has direct impact on a small number of people in related fields. Almost by construction, such work isn't of interest to the general audience or the press. So science journalist either report the bad science who make the (false) grandiose claims that excite people, or misinterpret 'proper' science to make it say ludicrous things. This misinterpretation can be deliberate but more often is due to scientists not being very good at describing their results to the public, and that science journalists rarely have a background in science so don't understand the subtleties.

    As an aside, this is why science that makes it to the newspapers if far more often shown to be wrong than science taken from a peer reviewed journal. To be in the newspaper it must be exciting and/or overthrow previously known results, but a paper which does that is far more likely to be wrong than a paper that does some minor incremental changes.
     
  14. Arakhor

    Arakhor Dremora Courtier Moderator

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  15. innonimatu

    innonimatu Deity

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    And on the early history of man, we keep discovering how little we have actually discovered so far. Stone tools found in east Asia dated to 2.1 million years ago. The pre-history of mankind seems to older than many people had assumed.

    These finds tend to be dismissed as mistakes, but evidence is piling up as more remote areas are explored more carefully. Nice that there are new things to discover in the world yet.

    I think that even these are only timid steps on the way to admitting that our species evolved different lines and kept mixing over perhaps a couple million years years and an area that included all of the temperate region of the "old world".

     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
  16. Ferocitus

    Ferocitus Deity

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    There are so many threads to the evolution of homo sapiens that a paper by 23
    authors from a variety of fields was released yesterday that tries to develop a
    forward for the next few years...

    Rethinking Homo sapiens? The story of our origins gets dizzyingly complicated
    https://theconversation.com/rethink...our-origins-gets-dizzyingly-complicated-99760
    Extract:
    So profound is the shift underway in human origins science that it’s seen the unusual step of a team of 23 researchers (led by Eleanor Scerri of the University of Oxford) publish today’s new synthesis of the evidence – and in doing so embrace the emerging picture of complexity and ditch the old simplistic ideas. Among their ranks are archaeologists, anthropologists, geneticists and climate specialists.

    It reads like a manifesto, and outlines the major new research directions archaeology should follow to solve our puzzling origins. A key message is that none of these disciplines on their own is capable of doing it and going it alone. That approach only leads to us grasping for simple answers to complex questions.


    A pdf of the paper can be downloaded from:
    https://www.cell.com/trends/ecology-evolution/pdf/S0169-5347(18)30117-4.pdf
     
  17. Arakhor

    Arakhor Dremora Courtier Moderator

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    It's all very interesting. Palaeoanthropology is one of those fields that's long fascinated me, but it's not a job I'd actually want to do.
     
  18. Ferocitus

    Ferocitus Deity

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    Obviously you're not one of my generation, so don't try to dig what we all say.
     
  19. Hrothbern

    Hrothbern Deity

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    Evolution is very much about surviving in your habitat, surviving the famines and growing fast during the good years. DNA evolving so that both are handled well.
    DNA evolving into a Jack of all Trades to populate more kinds of habitats mostly not so succesfull other than being a "high energy state" transition phase, possible in nice climate situations before traditional population has saturated it, and allowing for falling back in the old subset of genes in the old habitat, but also falling sideways in a new subset of genes for a new kind of habitat.
    It is much less a military logistic campaign gaining new ground with the latest DNA tech upgrade.

    Sweet spot hopping getting more attention now in the theories.
    The big trading market of the "new techs", the new genes, a long process parallel.

    With our genes not fully adapted to the changed food sources in Eurasia (we had to change/add metabolic pathways to handle vegetables with other poisons, other defensive mechanism against local herbivores, parasites, bacteria, adapt to less sun and higher latitudes sunlight variation, etc, etc),
    our food sources in Eurasia were more limited and only sweet spots, with an abundancy of food sources to choose from, including low burden for basics as shelter, fresh water, etc, were "good enough" to survive "bad" climate periods and grow population in "good" climate periods.
    In this background our genes evolved to the local food, not to survive, but because it generated more ofspring.

    Every "good" climate period a phase, where the best adapted grew faster, a phase to hop to new sweet spots, the best adapted genes having the most capacity to do so, and to interchange genes, enabling combining the best ones for the common pool. The "bad" periods again nice to get rid of genes that were less effective, on their own, or in a combination.
     
  20. innonimatu

    innonimatu Deity

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