Readers may have wondered why I included the last picture - apart from the obvious physical resemblance. As I said in another post:
My hair's darker, but has red highlights like hers. And my hair's longer. My brow isn't ridged. But otherwise, we could be sisters - or at least relatives.Looks like I was right to wonder.
There is mitochondrial evidence showing little (if any) genetic mixing between H.Sapiens and H.Neanderthalis. But I can't help wondering. There is other evidence that says there may have been interbreeding. Apart from people like me.
From the National Geographic:
According to a new DNA study, most humans have a little Neanderthal in them—at least 1 to 4 percent of a person's genetic makeup.Some more than others, I imagine.
The study uncovered the first solid genetic evidence that "modern" humans—or Homo sapiens—interbred with their Neanderthal neighbors, who mysteriously died out about 30,000 years ago.
What's more, the Neanderthal-modern human mating apparently took place in the Middle East, shortly after modern humans had left Africa, not in Europe—as has long been suspected.
"We can now say that, in all probability, there was gene flow from Neanderthals to modern humans," lead study author Ed Green of the University of California, Santa Cruz, said in a prepared statement.
That's no surprise to anthropologist Erik Trinkhaus, whose skeleton-based claims of Neanderthal-modern human interbreeding—previously contradicted with DNA evidence—appear to have been vindicated by the new gene study, to be published tomorrow in the journal Science.
"They've finally seen the light ... because it's been obvious to many us that this happened," said Trinkaus, of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, who wasn't part of the new study.
Trinkhaus adds that most living humans probably have much more Neanderthal DNA than the new study suggests.
"One to 4 percent is truly a minimum," Trinkaus added. "But is it 10 percent? Twenty percent? I have no idea."
The genetic study team reached their conclusion after comparing the genomes of five living humans—from China, France, Papua New Guinea, southern Africa, and western Africa—against the available "rough draft" of the Neanderthal genome.And from another NatGeo article:
The results showed that Neanderthal DNA is 99.7 percent identical to modern human DNA, versus, for example, 98.8 percent for modern humans and chimps, according to the study.
In addition, all modern ethnic groups, other than Africans, carry traces of Neanderthal DNA in their genomes, the study says—which at first puzzled the scientists.
So how did modern humans with Neanderthal DNA end up in Asia and Melanesia?
Neanderthals, the study team says, probably mixed with early Homo sapiens just after they'd left Africa but before Homo sapiens split into different ethnic groups and scattered around the globe.
The first opportunity for interbreeding probably occurred about 60,000 years ago in Middle Eastern regions adjacent to Africa, where archaeological evidence shows the two species overlapped for a time, the team says.
But a new study of Neanderthal skeletons suggests the species grew quickly but reached sexual maturity later than so-called modern humans—and quite possibly survived to a ripe old age.Again, some of us more than others - though 47 years old is taking the concept of "late development" a bit far. Something went awry in the mix.
The actual paper on the subject is A Draft Sequence of the Neandertal Genome by Greene et al.
Now for a cognitive lateral arabesque: a segue, if you like. From The Neanderthal Theory:
This theory approaches the problem from a new radical viewpoint. Instead of approaching autism as a disorder, brain defect or the result of poor socialization or parenting, it claims that autistics are fully functional.Which correlates rather well with the proportion of Neanderthal DNA in those populations - there being considerable genetic intermixing between AfroAmericans and Caucasians in the USA.
All the areas that are central to autism are related to species-typical adaptations that vary widely between species. These include nonverbal signals, social organization, sensory acuteness, motor skills, general preferences, sexuality, physical traits and biological adaptations. Some of this diversity in autistics is poorly understood and virtually unresearched and therefore is not published in peer-reviewed journals. Because of this lack of research, Aspie-quiz, an online questionnary, is heavily referenced for these traits.
Recent genetic research have demonstrated that the Out-of-Africa (OoA) model with no interbreeding fails to explain nuclear DNA diversity in Eurasia. Several models of interbreeding that do explain this diversity exists today. It therefore is quite likely that Neanderthals contributed to the Caucasian genome. Aspie-quiz have demonstrated in a large survey in the US population that Afroamericans have only 1/6 of the autism prevalence of Caucasians. The same survey also indicates that Asians and American Indians have about 1/2 of the autism prevalence of Caucasians.
Again, from a previous post of mine:
These are all parts of a puzzle. You see, despite Autism as being seen as a "male disease", it also aflicts a greater than expected number of TS women. That is, people who are genetically and somatically male, but neurally at least partially female. There's even a special Yahoo Support Group because so many people have both Autism or Aspergers, and Transsexuality.And from yet another post of mine:There is known to be a statistically significant correlation between Asperger's Syndrome and Gender Dysphoria but the nature and implications of the link are unknown. Having both of these conditions is quite a plateful and gives us special challenges.To put it mildly.
Interestingly enough, when my metabolism went hormonally berserk, I lost the minor symptoms I had of a mild case of Asperger's, indicating that the problem may be at least partially hormonal, as well as connected with congenital neuroanatomy. We just don't know, like so much else to do with the brain, gender, and hormonal influences.
Gosh I love this! It's a detective story, where we're being given clues. Moving right along... now comes the juicy bitsI'm not yet ready to formulate a coherent conjecture. We have pieces of a puzzle that give tantalising glimpses of a whole, but that's all.Altogether, females had the largest gray matter volumes in all but two significant clusters, which were located in the left and right putamen. Here, MTF transsexuals had the largest gray matter volumesMore "typically feminine" than the usual factory model... or should we say that most women are less "typically female" than TS women? Less "strongly gendered" on average? You'd expect TS women to be more "strongly gendered" than average, as many would otherwise be able to cope with transsexuality without seeking treatment. But what about the rest of the brain? Many TS women show more typically male abilities in instinctive ballistics calculations for example.For the remaining clusters, MTF transsexuals had the smallest gray matter volumes, but their data spectrum largely overlapped with that of males.Fascinating! Not just more female than female in some areas, but slightly more male than male in others! I wonder, is this environmental? Would the same thing be shown in younger, "primary" transwomen? Or could it be that the anomalous hormonal wash in the womb bollixes things up in an even more complex manner than we thought? We're in the realm of conjecture here, so we can't say without a lot more study. One thing - there's a correlation between Transexuality and what has been described as "ultra male syndrome" - Asperger's. Might this "ultra-male" grey matter pattern be the cause? And could a change to a female hormone regime cause changes to it?
Rate of Transsexuality does not appear to correlate with any ethnic group - and that's important because it means Trannsexuality and Neanderthal DNA proportion are not connected.
But I am wondering if we can have the same effects regarding ASD - Autism Spectrum Disorders - from multiple causes, all resulting in neuroanatomy that is anomalous in specific areas. Could the hormonal whoopsie that causes transsexuality via anomalous neural development in many areas also cause some of the same effects as having rather more Neanderthal in one's ancestry than most - which also causes similar anomalies in just one or two areas?
Gosh, if only we knew more about Neanderthal endocrinology, it might explain so much.
OK, I know, "Neanderthal Endocrinology" is about as abstruse a subject as you can get, not exactly a popular research topic of interest to the masses, but I'm interested!
I have no complaints about the neurological effects of having Neanderthal DNA in my genes. But did I also have to get the ribcage too? And the shoulders? And the nose? *SIGH*