The end of the Neanderthals

Chin Rey

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Not discussed in the article is that this might also explain why we have Neanderthal genes in our species. There simply weren't enough of their own kind to afford to be picky about who you slept with.
I don't think it had much to do with lack of choices. Try to spend an hour or two in a crowded place in SL using a female avatar and you'll see what I mean. ;)

More seriously, when it comes to choosing the ideal partner to breed with, there are two conflicting urges that are built into the very core of how genetics work. They're not even restricted to human but apply to all animals who actively choose who to breed with. One one hand, we want somebody simialr to ourselves since it increases the chances of producing an offspring but on the other hand we are also atracted to differences since genetic diversity often pays in the long run.

There's no Neanderthal Y chromosome genes in modern humans, indicating that our ancestors thought Neander chicks were hot. Alternately, the larger cross-breed babies weren't viable in human mothers.
There are two other theories to explain this. One is that male offspring of a human mother and a neanderthal father always would be infertile.

The other explanation is that statistically a variant of a gene that is only shared by a small fraction of a population has a strong tendency to vanish after a few generations unless it gives the individual some sort of edge. This is a well known mechanism in genetics and there's even a name for it. I can't rememebr what it was at the moment, can anybody else?
 
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Myficals

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I dunno. I think the large brains, leading to (for placental mammals) a relatively early birth, leading to intensive parental involvement in upbringing and high energy costs, is more than enough explanation for our litter size.

Granted, I don't even play a biologist on television, but humans being a bonobo/pig hybrid... It's less compelling to me than the aquatic ape hypothesis and that (if you'll pardon pun) really doesn't carry water very well at all.
 

Fionalein

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Litter size is determined by offspring strategy, there are K species (few high intensity care offspring) and r species (many low maintenance offspring). Humans clearly are a K strategy species*. This is totally unrelated to hybrid status.

*bites tongue not to make a joke on evangelical christians
 

Beebo Brink

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Granted, I don't even play a biologist on television, but humans being a bonobo/pig hybrid... It's less compelling to me than...
In this context, "less compelling" implies there's even an iota of plausibility in this ridiculous theory. This is right up there with faked moon landings and a flat earth. Utter balderdash.
 

Fionalein

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One one hand, we want somebody simialr to ourselves since it increases the chances of producing an offspring but on the other hand we are also atracted to differences since genetic diversity often pays in the long run.
Which led to scientists discovering that 3rd grade cousins are the awkward prefered choice in humans,...
 
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Katheryne Helendale

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In this context, "less compelling" implies there's even an iota of plausibility in this ridiculous theory. This is right up there with faked moon landings and a flat earth. Utter balderdash.
On the other hand, it would explain Trump.
 

Argent Stonecutter

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I have some Neanderthal dna. But what I don’t understand, is how two species can produce viable progeny. I thought that, for example, horses and donkeys could produce mules, but mules cant procreate.

i never ever see this explained. Until I do I am just going to assume that Neanderthals were not a separate species from humans.
Zoological taxonomy is pretty messed up, and classifications of species keep shifting. They recently reclassified the North African golden jackal as the Golden Wolf, and just like that the whole "some dogs are descended from jackals" narrative became a lot less meaningful.

And even in the case of well justified species distinctions, you get quite a lot of interspecies breeding in captivity.

Back in the '70s Sea Life Park had a "wholfin" on display: a cross between a male dolphin (tursiops truncatus) and a female false killer whale (pseudorca crassidens). This was a cross across *genus* lines. The size difference between the father and daughter was substantial, and I suspect that a female dolphin x male whale cross would be pretty bad for the mother.
 

Bartholomew Gallacher

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BTW the geographical location, the Neandertal in Germany, is quite a lovely visit.

Although the original canyon was destroyed due to mining operations in the 19th century, it's still a good day trip. You can go there by train from Düsseldorf Main Station, the trip takes approx. 30 minutes only.
 

Fionalein

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Did someone already bring up the sustainability issue? One theory is Neanderthals actually had way superior brains and bodies to us. Homo sapiens hour came when the steppes slowly turned into wood and the superior meat food thus got scarce. We did not win the evolutionary race because we were physically or mentally superior, we won because we could survive on a less nourishing partialy plant based diet.
 

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Did someone already bring up the sustainability issue? One theory is Neanderthals actually had way superior brains and bodies to us.
Maybe they saw the end coming, built a fleet of spaceships, and escaped to another planet...
 
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Ashiri

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We are the Borg. We assimilate other cultures and (sub)species.
 

Beebo Brink

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Fascinating and persuasive theory about the interaction of competing Homo species:
 

Lexxi

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There's no Neanderthal Y chromosome genes in modern humans, indicating that our ancestors thought Neander chicks were hot. Alternately, the larger cross-breed babies weren't viable in human mothers. Given that Neander genes are 1.5-2% of non-African populations, there's a lot more of their genes around now than when they were a separate population (thousands to tens of thousands population).
I'm using the first mention in this thread of Neanderthal Y chromosome's to link to an article I just read, and one reason why it might possibly be hard to find Neanderthal Y chromosome genes in modern humans (because modern humans Y chromosome took over in Neanderthals):

A recent study suggests that those early encounters allowed the Homo sapiens version of the Y chromosome to completely replace the original Neanderthal one sometime between 370,000 and 100,000 years ago.