July 18, 2011

Neanderthals interbred with modern humans

A few years back, science consistently reported that modern humans never interbred with Neanderthals. I found that news depressing so I was very happy to read a story this morning confirming that non-Africans show evidence of interbreeding with Neanderthals. There is clear evidence of this in our X chromosomes.

It seems this extinct species did not die out completely (i.e., uselessly). They remain a part of us today. I wonder what contributions they made to our genome. Perhaps they passed on attributes that helped us to survive to the present day. I'd like to think so.

If only they were still alive. It would be insanely interesting to learn how we differ from them, not only physically but in terms of mental abilities. We'll never have that opportunity, alas. But they live on in us, and we will take them with us far into the future (if we don't go extinct). Very cool.

And let's not fail to notice a delightful fact that arises unbidden from this bit of scientific news -- only Africans are "pure" homo sapiens. The rest of us are interspecies mongrels. Take that, Fox viewers!


Artichoke Annie said...

Off the wall comment: I hate those Geico commercials that portray the Neanderthals as complete idiots!!!!

(I hope it's Geico, if not my apologies.)

writenow said...

So do I. They make me angry. Good to hear an echo.