Anthropologists who believe in sapiens-archaic interbreeding

From: Glenn Morton (
Date: Sun Feb 03 2002 - 21:07:20 EST

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    Because so many apologists think that we and the archaics didn't interbreed,
    I thought it would be appropriate to post a list of anthropologists speaking
    to the matter:

    "As we have already mentioned, there are occasional hints of interbreeding
    between the two populations of hominids e.g., the bulging occipital bone of
    one of the Cro-Magnon skulls, or the projecting mid-face of one of the
    Moderns from Predmosti. We are not sure that such features do in fact
    represent the result of interbreeding, but even assuming that they do, we
    believe that such instances were exceptions, and that there was minimal gene
    flow (interbreeding) between the two populations." Christopher Stringer and
    Clive Gamble, In Search of the Neanderthals, (New York: Thames and Hudson,
    1993), p. 193

    [Stringer is often thought to advocate no interbreeding, but this quote
    shows that isn't the case--grm]

    Even the one anthropologist who has most consistently denied genetic input
    from Neanderthals has recently opened the door to some minimal genetic
    input. Tattersall writes:

            揟he alternative is to admit that Homo neanderthalensis and H. sapiens, as
    befits two organisms whose bony structures differ so strongly, belonged to
    two different species. In which case, they could not or would not have
    interbred. This is not to say that no matings ever took place between the
    two (after all, even today some humans are notoriously undiscriminating in
    such matters!) It is simply to say that any biologically significant
    exchange of genes would have been minimal to nonexistent. And, if true, this
    has powerful consequences for what we can infer about the interaction
    between Neanderthals and moderns. Ian Tattersall and Jeffrey Schwartz,
    Extinct Humans, (New York: Westview Press, 2000), p. 221

    "Or to put it better, since Homo sapiens is the senior
    species, the living one and the one we know about we must go back
    to the early Middle Pleistocene before the differences merit
    recognizing another species, Homo erectus. And, although it is
    more properly a measure of contemporary species difference, we
    cannot say whether it would have been possible (repulsive as the
    idea may strike you) for Homo sapiens and Homo erectus to
    interbreed. The chances are that they could." ~ William Howells,
    Mankind in the Making, (Garden City: Doubleday & Co., Inc.,
    1967), p. 239-240

    "Economic competition for the available resources would be the mechanism of
    replacement of one population by another where there was coexistence,
    perhaps coupled in some areas with a small degree of interbreeding (in which
    e.g. a few Neanderthal genes would have been taken into the much larger
    modern human gene pool)." Christopher Stringer and Clive Gamble, In Search
    of the Neanderthals, (New York: Thames and Hudson, 1993), p. 72
            "The point is, though, that such breeding plans have given rise to a large
    body of genetics theory--and this theory shows that the British and European
    populations of Siberian tigers would effectively be genetically continuous
    even if the flow of genes between them was remarkably small. In other
    words, if just one European tiger per generation was brought to Britain--or
    indeed just one in several generations--this would achieve all the mixing
            "Translate this into the experience of early hominids, from erectus
    onwards: highly mobile, often adventurous, and marauding throughout Africa
    and Eurasia. It seems inconceivable to me that newly arriving groups would
    not have mated at least from time to time with peoples they met along the
    way. Sometimes the contacts would have been friendly, sometimes forced.
    But such things must surely have occurred, and if they did then there would
    indeed have been gene flow between the many groups, precisely in the way
    that Milford Wolpoff emphasizes. I still think the candelabra hypothesis is
    wrong. But I also feel that we can reasonably impose considerable gene flow
    on to the Out of Africa scenario. So in important details Wolpoff would
    certainly be right. Modern human beings would indeed contain Neanderthal
    genes." Colin Tudge, The Day Before Yesterday, (London: Pimlico, 1994), p.

    "The process of biological replacement was far more complex than mere
    population movements, and probably involved slow assimilation and
    hybridization of Neanderthal populations." Brian M. Fagan, The Journey from
    Eden, (New York: Thames and Hudson, 1990), p. 49.

    揑t is however abundantly clear that the moderns came storming through this
    long relationship and have multiplied to occupy the entire Earth as no other
    creature has ever done before, while the neanderthals have faded away.
    Whether or to what extent there was intermarriage between the moderns and
    the neanderthals before the latter disappeared again is a matter for
    speculation. It is almost inconceivable that there was none at all. IT
    does seem likely, then, that specifically neanderthal genes are with us
    still, just as Milford Wolpoff suggests. Colin Tudge, The Day Before
    Yesterday, (London: Pimlico, 1995), p.229

    "Thorne observes that living indigenous Australians share a special suite of
    skeletal and dental features with humans who inhabited Indonesia at least
    100,000 years ago.
      "Therefore, he offers, a simpler explanation is that the two populations
    arrived in Australia at different times--one from China and the other from
    Indonesia--and mixed, much like what has been proposed for Neanderthals and
    moderns in Europe. Exactly the same pattern exists in recent history, Thorne
    adds, pointing to the interbreeding that took place when Europeans arriving
    in North America and Australia encountered indigenous peoples. "That's what
    humans do."
            "The mystery of human origins is far from solved, but because DNA may not
    be as diagnostic as it once seemed, Thorne says, "we're back to the bones."
    University of Oxford geneticist Rosalind M. Harding agrees. "It's really
    good that there are things coming from the fossil side that are making
    people worry about other possibilities," she muses. "It's their time at the
    moment, and the DNA studies can just take the back seat." Kate Wong, 慖s Out
    of Africa Going Out the Door? Scientific American, Aug. 1999, p. 13-14

            揑t does look very much as if anatomically modern humans did evolve only in
    Africa and then spread out across the world replacing the local archaic and
    Homo erectus populations. The genetic evidence is not conclusive enough to
    rule out the possibility that the moderns may sometimes have interbred with
    the archaics as they colonized new areas and that, therefore, some of their
    genes could have entered the modern gene pool, but this is not the same
    thing as multiregional evolution. John Haywood, The Illustrated History of
    Early Man, (London: PRC Publishing Ltd., 2000), p. 49 [Actually, it is.
    Multiregionalism depends upon gene flow between the populations and what he
    admits to is gene flow--grm]

    揟he human frontal bone Eurasian range of these archaic humans. The human
    frontal bone from Velika Pecina, generally considered one of the earliest
    representatives of modern humans in Europe, dated to ~5 ka B.P., rendering
    it no longer pertinent to discussions of modern human origins. 揊red H.
    Smith, Erik Trinkaus, Paul B. Pettitt, Ivor Karavanic, and Maja Paunovic,
    揇irect Radiocarbon Dates for Vindija G1 and Velika Pecina Late Pleistocene
    Hominid Remains, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
    96(1999):2:12281-12286, p. 12281

    "Though the extent of mixing between the modern and Neanderthal populations
    is not known, Trinkaus said that the disappearance of Neanderthals could be
    attributed in part to interbreeding as well as competition." JOHN NOBLE
    WILFORD, "Neanderthals and Modern Humans Coexisted Longer Than Thought" The
    New York Times: August 29, 1995

            "A different picture comes from central Europe, where there is abundant
    evidence of continuous evolution, genetic admixture and interbreeding
    between the resident neandertals and the early modern humans who were
    filtering in slowly from the Levant and possibly elsewhere. Specific
    details in the shape of the nose and brows, and particular features of the
    back of the skull and the femur that are shared by neandertals and modern
    humans in central Europe, all indicate genetic continuity during the long
    period over which a major anatomical change from fully Neandertal to fully
    modern human occurred." ~ Erik Trinkaus and Pat Shipman, The Neandertals,
    (New York: Vintage Books, 1992), p. 415

    "So, Hammer favors a model that shows a wave of modern people coming out of
    Africa, replacing most of the genes of ancient people, but interbreeding
    enough to add some ancient non-African genes to our genome.
    Paleoanthropologist Fred Smith of Northern Illinois University in De Kalb,
    who proposed one such intermediate model, predicts that like so much of
    human history, Ode real story "won't be black or white. Genes and fossils
    are showing that population dynamics are a lot more complex than we
    (Gibbons A., "Y Chromosome Shows That Adam Was an African", Science, Vol.
    278, 31 October 1997, p805)

    "Out of Africa apologists who argue that there can have been no
    interbreeding between the 'chosen people' from Africa, Eve's descendants,
    and the rubble of archaic Homo sapiens, especially Neanderthals, might care
    to consider this point. The genetic distance between wolf and coyote, and
    even between wolves at extreme ends of their geographical distribution, is
    greater than that between us and Neanderthals. The physical difference
    between various dog breeds is many times as great as that between these two
    human groups. And yet there is no doubt that all dogs belong to a single
    species, which according to archaeologists is only about 14 000 years old!
    This renders the relentless splitting we have witnessed in hominid lineages
    ludicrous. The counter argument is that the dog's enormous variability is
    the result of cultural interference. it probably is, but perhaps the people
    using this argument would care to demonstrate that there was no cultural
    interference in human breeding patterns. We certainly have powerful such
    patterns in modern humans, and on the basis of probability may have had them
    throughout the Pleistocene. If this were true, then the determinist models
    of palaeoanthropologists would be mere houses of cards." ~ Robert G.
    Bednarik, "Origin of Dogs," Artefact 1997, 20, pp.81-82, p. 82

    "It appears likely that modern humans first evolved in Africa around 130,000
    years ago and then spread into the remainder of the Old World (and later the
    New World), replacing all of their archaic predecessors. But does this mean
    that the Neandertals and other archaic Homo sapiens people contributed no
    genes to the modern gene pool? That probably is going a bit overboard. The
    archaics were, afterall, members of our species-at most, subspecifically
    different from us-and thus could theoretically have interbred with early
    moderns. Given the eclectic sexual appetites of modern people, it seems
    likely -- and perhaps inevitable - that some degree of subspecific mixture
    occurred. But while we should not completely debar Neandertals and other
    non-African archaicss from the ancestry of modern humans, it seems probable
    that their contribution was small." ~ Bernard G. Campbell and James D. Loy,
    Humankind Emerging, (New York: HarperCollins, 1996), p. 472

    "Among animals generally, a subspecies, which can interbreed with a sister
    subspecies, always has the potential to become, over time, a separate
    species that cannot interbreed with a sister species if the genetic
    differences have become great enougH. It seems on the face of it unlikely
    that late human populations might have diverged to such a point--like the
    separation of horses and donkeys, let us say-- in a few hundred thousand
    years. Nevertheless, many closely related species can interbreed given the
    chance, like lions and tigers in a zoo, so the criterion is not absolute."
    ~ William Howells, Getting Here, (Washington: Compass Press, 1993) p.

            揂 modest amount of interbreeding between African and
    Asian populations then would have fostered the concurrent
    evolution of modern human traits, in Hey抯 view.
            搾These new DNA data show surprisingly ancient
    separations in our species, comments anthropologist Henry
    C. Harpending of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
    The results contradict mitochondrial DNA studies, including
    some coauthored by Harpending, which place modern humanity抯
    roots in a single African population that greately expanded
    its numbers around 50,000 years ago as it spread to other
            揝uspicions have arisen that natural selection can
    rapidly reshape mitochondrial DNA structure, casting doubt
    on the ability of that genetic material to clarify the time
    and place of modern human origins. B. Bower, 揇NA data
    Yield New Human-Origins View, Science News, 155(1999):181

    "'I would not find it strange that humans who left Africa (after LM3's
    ancestors) did replace -- by interbreeding or killing -- anatomically modern
    humans, or any other prior forms,' Mitchell says. ",4057,1590695%255E11011,00.html
    Mungo Man: the last of his kind? By LEIGH DAYTON 09jan01


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