Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Hey Cus,Good To Know Ya

Jurrasic Park may arise with a Neandertal colony instead of Dinosaurs. After all in the 19th Century we kept folks in Zoo's during the rise of European colonization of Africa. And they were human beings. These folks after all are only our cousins.

Announcing a two year Neandertal genome decoding project ...
"If Dr. Pääbo and 454 Life Sciences should succeed in reconstructing the entire Neanderthal genome, it might in theory be possible to bring the species back from extinction by inserting the Neanderthal genome into a human egg and having volunteers bear Neanderthal infants. This might be the best possible way of finding out what each Neanderthal gene does, but there would be daunting ethical problems in bringing a Neanderthal child into the world again."

How Neandertal DNA Will Shed Light on Human Genes
Neandertals, our most closely related cousins, vanished approximately 30,000 years ago, leaving only traces of their existence. Now scientists in Germany and Connecticut plan to resurrect their DNA, potentially shedding light on our own unique evolutionary path.

Also See:

454 Life Sciences' Genome Sequencer 20(TM) Wins R&D 100 Award

ScienceDaily: Neandertal Genome To Be Deciphered

Max Planck Society - Press Release Neandertal Genome to be Deciphered

But it seems that it has taken ten years to get this project off the ground

Neandertal DNA Archaeology September/October 1997
For the first time, DNA of a premodern human has been recovered. Svante Pääbo of the University of Munich and colleagues in Germany and the United States successfully extracted the DNA from a right humerus (upper arm bone) of a Neandertal. Their findings, presented in the July issue of the journal Cell, provide important information about when Neandertals and modern humans diverged from a common ancestor, the nature of interaction between Neandertals and modern humans, and the ultimate fate of the Neandertals.

Neandertal DNA sequences and the origin of modern humans.
Furthermore, the age of the common ancestor of the Neandertal and modern human mtDNAs is estimated to be four times greater than that of the common ancestor of human mtDNAs. This suggests that Neandertals went extinct without contributing mtDNA to modern humans.

Are you a Neandertal? Take the genome sequency quiz on how much you know about Neandertal DNA. The Neandertal Mystery (and human history)

With all this news about Neandertal's in 2006 it could be because this is the 150 anniversary of the first discovery of Neandertal.

The 1856 discovery of the Neandertal type specimen (Neandertal 1) in western Germany marked the beginning of human paleontology and initiated the longest-standing debate in the discipline: the role of Neandertals in human evolutionary history

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We may have coexisted but human Neandertal interaction appears limited to humans taking over long deserted Neandertal caves. Scientists find contention in the idea that their was social interaction and mating between us For instance a the conclusion in a 2004 Study found: No Evidence of Neandertal mtDNA Contribution to Early Modern Humans.

But that was contradicted this summer by the release of this study:

There is a little Neanderthal in a lot of us

People who have large noses, a stocky build and a beetle brow may indeed be a little Neanderthal, according to a genetic study. But the good news is that other research concludes that Neanderthals were much more like us than previously thought.

People of European descent may be five per cent Neanderthal, according to a study published in the journal PLoS Genetics, which suggests we all have a sprinkling of archaic DNA in our genes. The researchers focused on linkage "disequilibriums," or sections within genes that did not make sense if only modern human matings are considered.

"Instead of a population that left Africa 100,000 years ago and replaced all other archaic human groups, we propose that this population interacted with another population that had been in Europe for much longer, maybe 400,000 years," says Dr Vincent Plagnol, of the University of Southern California, who with Dr Jeffrey Wall analysed 135 different regions of the human genetic code. "Possible Ancestral Structure in Human Populations".

Meanwhile our cousins appear to have survived longer than once thought.Carbon dating confirms Neandertals lived longer along with modern humans than previously thought. Giving more evidence of possible interaction.

Neandertals' Last Stand Was in Gibraltar, Study Suggests
A new cave discovery suggests that Neandertals survived until at least 28,000 years ago—2,000 years longer than previously thought. The Iberian Peninsula—now home to Spain, Portugal, and Gibraltar—was a final holdout for Neandertals (often spelled "Neanderthals") as modern humans spread across the rest of Europe and an ice age descended, a new study says .

The Last of the Neandertals?
The Gibraltar dates appear to represent the latest known Neandertal sighting, because there are no other accepted sites younger than 30,000 uncalibrated years ago. But the Gibraltar Neandertals were not entirely alone: Although there are very few modern human sites in southern Spain or Portugal at that time, one site about 100 kilometers east at Bajondillo, Spain, has been dated to about 32,000 uncalibrated years ago. The team concludes that Neandertals did not rapidly disappear from the area as moderns advanced across Europe but co-existed with them by taking refuge at Gibraltar and other southern sites over thousands of years. "While pioneer modern humans were staking tenuous footholds" in the region, the last Neandertals "were hanging on," Finlayson says. He points out that Gibraltar was surrounded by coastal wetlands and woodlands and blessed with mild temperatures around this time, making the peninsula an excellent refuge from competition with the moderns.

But they were not wiped out by modern humans. No siree....wait for it.....Climate Change may have had something to do with it.

Neanderthals' 'last rock refuge

Chris Stringer thinks the site provides an important insight into the reasons for Neanderthal extinction.

"For years, many of us have tended to look for one single reason why Neanderthals died out - that we interbred with them, or out-competed them, or killed them off. The Gibraltar evidence fits into a picture that has been emerging in recent years of quite a complex event," he explained.

"The idea of modern humans coming in and Neanderthals dying out simply didn't happen."

One view of Neanderthal extinction has them rapidly vanishing as modern humans swept across Europe. Modern man is a suspect, but the new evidence supports an important role for climate change.

Televisual representation of a Neanderthal (BBC)
In the end, rapid climate change may have doomed the species
The Neanderthals survived in local pockets during previous Ice Ages, bouncing back when conditions improved. But the last one appears to have been characterised by several rapid and severe changes in climate which hit a peak 30,000 years ago.

These were probably more dramatic in more northerly parts of Europe, where they may have upset the balance between Neanderthals and modern humans, allowing moderns to gain the upper hand.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A.
PNAS, January 17, 2006; 103(3): 553 - 557.
T. Higham, C. B. Ramsey, I. Karavanic, F. H. Smith, and E. Trinkaus
Revised direct radiocarbon dating of the Vindija G1 Upper Paleolithic Neandertals

And Neandertals may be the evolutionary norm and modern humans the deviant, coincidental with Stephen J. Goulds theory of evolution being a truncated bush rather than a tree.

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Modern Humans, not Neandertals, may be evolution's "odd man out"

New research published in the August, 2006 journal Current Anthropology by Neandertal and early modern human expert, Erik Trinkaus, Ph.D., professor of anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis, suggests that rather than the standard straight line from chimps to early humans to us with Neandertals off on a side graph, it's equally valid, perhaps more valid based on the fossil record, that the line should extend from the common ancestor to the Neandertals, and Modern Humans should be the branch off that. "I wanted to see to what extent Neandertals are derived, that is distinct, from the ancestral form. I also wanted to see the extent to which modern humans are derived relative to the ancestral form," Trinkaus says. "What I came up with is that modern humans have about twice as many uniquely derived traits than do the Neandertals. "In the broader sweep of human evolution," says Trinkaus, "the more unusual group is not Neandertals, whom we tend to look at as strange, weird and unusual, but it's us - Modern Humans."

The most unusual characteristics throughout human anatomy occur in Modern Humans (right), argues Trinkaus, not in Neadertals (left).
The most unusual characteristics throughout human anatomy occur in Modern Humans (right), argues Trinkaus, not in Neadertals (left).

Trinkaus first asserted this theory three years ago.

And Neandertals were more advanced than once thought.

How modern were European Neanderthals?

Neandertals were much more like modern humans than had been previously thought, according to a re-examination of finds from one of the most famous palaeolithic sites in Europe by Bristol University archaeologist, Professor Joao Zilhao, and his French colleagues.

Professor Zilhao has been able to show that sophisticated artefacts such as decorated bone points and personal ornaments found in the Châtelperronian culture of France and Spain were genuinely associated with Neandertals around 44,000 years ago, rather than acquired from modern humans who might have been living nearby. His findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) USA.

Now archaeologists can show that the Grotte des Fées stratigraphic pattern is illusory because the supposedly Neandertal levels overlying those belonging to the modern human Aurignacian culture are in fact backdirt from nineteenth-century fossil hunting. According to Professor Zilhao and his team, this adds to the evidence from other sites in the region that the Neandertals already had the capacity for symbolic thinking before the arrival of the modern humans into western Europe, which has been radiocarbon dated to around 40,000 years ago.

Professor Zilhao said: "This discovery, along with research on the rock strata at other cave sites, has huge implications for how we view the European Neandertals and, more widely, human evolution. The differences between Neandertals and modern humans may be much less than had been previously thought, suggesting that human cognition and symbolic thinking may date back to before the two sub-species split around 400,000 years ago."

New Neandertal remains from Cova Negra (Valencia, Spain).

The recognition of diagnostic Neandertal features in several of the specimens, as well as their western European context and late Pleistocene age, suggests that all the human remains from Cova Negra represent Neandertals. The archaeological evidence from Cova Negra indicates sporadic, short-term occupations of the site, suggesting a high degree of mobility among Neandertals.

Evidence shows they were tool makers who had developed a flint based tool manufacturing base. Anghilak Cave: Documenting Neandertal Occupation at the Periphery thus proving the importance labour in the transition of becoming human.

And evidence shows that Neandertals were practicing mutual aid and solidarity.

Does Wounded Skull Hint at Neandertal Nursing?
European researchers have investigated a 36,000-year-old case of assault and battery. Their conclusion: the victim, a Neandertal, possibly male, received a violent blow to the head. Presumably he survived, however, because somebody nursed him back to health.

Neandertal Humans Developed Social Skills
"This is the oldest example of someone surviving for some period of time without an effective set of choppers," Trinkaus said. "There had to have been extensive preparation of food a combination of cutting and cooking before this person could eat. They had good cutting tools and controlled fire, but the absence of real hearths and tools that would have done more than dice the food suggests that this individual was being given softer food items by other members of the social group

A good site dealing with Neandertals and Evolution/Creationism is Fossil Hominids. Because the evidence show that Neandertals were not what Creationists claim they are;

They were people, forced to live in harsh conditions, after the dispersal of humanity at Babel, during the great post-Flood Ice Age.

Photo: Front and side view of Neandertal skeleton reconstruction
Scientists made castings from two Neandertal specimens to reconstruct the first-ever fully articulated Neandertal skeleton, seen above in frontal and side views.
National Geographic News March 10, 2005

For a virtual tour on Neandertals go to: Prehistoric Cultures -- Universitiy of Minnesota Duluth They prove that Jocks are not an evolutionary branch of Neandertals.

Old Stone Age is a website dedicated to ongoing Neandertal digs in Europe.

Blogs to keep you uptodate on the lastest Neandertal news;

John Hawks Anthropology Weblog paleoanthropology, genetics, and evolution

General Evo News

Technocrati Links for Neandertal

And about that spelling thing.....Robert J. Sawyer: Neanderthal or Neandertal

And you too can be a Neandertal.





Primitive Man

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