Neanderthal/sapiens breeding
Sat, 20 Nov 1999 21:42:24 +0000

I wish I had seen this a couple of hours ago.

"Radovcic draws my attention to a grayish green band, the so-called G3
level that contained some of the Neanderthal fossils he himself unearthed
and fishes a cast of one of the ancient bones out of his pocket. 'The
Vindija hominids were modernized Neanderthals,' he says, showing me thte
partial lower jaw featureing the beginnings of a chin--one of the hallmarks
of modern human morphology. And although other fossils from the site
reveal typical Neanderthal traits such as the pronounced browridge, they
are most delicate and modern in shape in the Vindija people than in earlier
Neanderthals. Radovcic and others who have studied these remains believe
this apparent shift toward the modern condition suggests interbreeding
between Neanderthals and moderns--a case that is strengthened by early
modern human fossil finds from central Europe that bear some
Neanderthal-like features. (Many researchers, however, maintain that the
two groups did not exchange genes. To them, these similarities simply
reflect convergent evolution.)." Kate Wong, "Cave Inn," Scientific
American, Dec. 1999, p. 34

It does seem odd that Neanderthals held the classic form for thousands of
years and began their convergent evolution just as modern men were
reportedly entering Europe. Makes one wonder if an old discredited genetic
idea is true--the view that a being reproduces what it sees while it is
mating. :-)

In point of fact the simplest explanation is interbreeding. For an earlier
work on the mixed traits of central European Neanderthals. (see Fred
Smith, "Upper Pleistocene Hominid Evolution in South Central Europe,"
Current Anthropology, 23:6(Dec. 1982)) Of this work, Chris Stringer wrote:
"While he does not avoid possibly conflicting evidence, Smith presents the
best case yet assembled from any area for a local evolutionary transition
between Neanderthals and early anatomically modern hominids." Comments, p.
690 of Dec. 1982 Current Anthropology.

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