Re: Neanderthal DNA

Dick Fischer (
Sat, 12 Jul 1997 08:41:18 -0500

Glenn Morton wrote:

>There is a report in Cell which I don't have) that Neanderthal DNA has been
>isloated. The short note I ran across at:
>said that it shows that Neanderthals left no descendants. I will say that
>if this work holds up to scrutiny, it does not impact the humanity or lack
>there of for the Neanderthal. None of the inhabitants of the Norse colony
>on Greenland have left any descendants on today's earth either nor did the
>children killed on the Titanic leave any descendants, but they were fully

Let's pause a moment to think this through. If we are Homo sapiens sapiens,
and Homo sapiens neanderthalensis are proper designations, then we are/were
related sub-species capable of interbreeding. Okay, if my brother remains
childless he will leave no progeny. But the Neanderthals were a large
geographically-dispersed population in the same regions as Homo sapiens
for a long period of time, one would think that if they were capable of
interbreeding, they would have. This finding suggests that even assuming
Neanderthals branched off the same limb we did, they speciated eventually.
That would mean that Neanderthals (now the proper designation) are a
separate species from Homo sapiens. We are as horses are to zebras, for
example, incapable of breeding, not as dogs are to wolves, occasionally
having litters.

BTW, would this mean that Adam was the head of more than one species?

Dick Fischer