Re: Neanderthal DNA

Glenn Morton (
Fri, 11 Jul 1997 22:46:30 -0500

At 03:59 PM 7/11/97 -0700, Robert Wahl wrote:
>What do you suppose, if the Neanderthal didn't have any human children, can
>we consider this good evidence that they couldn't? If so, this would make
>them a different species. Whether or not the Neaderthal was human really
>depends upon weather they, like the children on the titanic, had a human
>ancestor. What do we know about that?

I do not think that this is good evidence that they couldn't have children.
However, before going into detail on why, I would like to get the original
article in Cell. I have ordered it from my library (it may be a few weeks
before it comes in).

I will cite one of the reasons I don't find this disturbing. That is the
parallel with Coyotes and wolves.

"The coyote and wolf have a sequence divergence of 0.075 +/-
0.002 and diverged about one million years ago, as estimated from
the fossil record. consequently, because the sequence divergence
between the most different genotypes in clade 1 (the most diverse
group of dog sequences) is no more than 0.010, this implies that
dogs could have originated as much as 135,000 years ago. "~Carles
Vila et al, "Multiple and Ancient Origins of the Domestic Dog,"
Science, 276(June 13, 1997):1687-1689, p. 1689

If coyote and wolf can still interbreed and produce fertile offspring after
1 million years, why is it so hard to believe that Neanderthal and modern
man could do the same after only 700,000 years of being split? This is
especially true when you consider that the wolf and coyote have gone through
more generations in that one million years than humans and Neanderthals
would have gone through.

Secondly, the Atapuercans, I mentioned in that post on the earliest burials
are believed to be an intermediate between archaic Homo sapien and
Neandertal. They lived 800,000 years ago at Sima de los Huesos. (I can't
place my hands on my copy of that article but it is in Science around
5-29-97. The authors propose these people as the ancestors of neanderthals
and the links between our ancestors and theirs. Now, if the Sima people
were carrying their dead into deep caves for burial like the Maya did, then
this is an indication that they were human and had spiritual beliefs. If
the ancestors of Neanderthal were human, then the descendants were also.
This would be true regardless of whether they left descendants on the earth
today or not.

I really don't want to say much more until I can get the article and
understand the author's arguments.


Foundation, Fall and Flood