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Neanderthals' demise caused by modern human invasion

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  • Registered Users Posts: 8,551 ✭✭✭Rubecula


    I have heard this argument before. To be honest, in my own mind, the jury is still out on this one.

    PS there was an article shown in a documentary a few years ago that small groups of Neanderthals existed until comparitively recent times in isolated pockets around Europe. I think the last ones were thought to be living in caves on the coast of Portugal (or somewhere similar)

    I can't remember the program so I am afraid I can't even find a link to it.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 60,159 Mod ✭✭✭✭Wibbs


    Gibraltar and and southern Spain is their last known hangout. I'm with Rubecula on this one. Don't quite buy it. I'm sure population growth was a factor, or was a result of something else. It could simply be that you see less Neandertals because they were already dying out, not necessarily because Sapiens was pushing them out. IE after the KT boundary dinosaurs go extinct and then you have huge amounts of mammals. It doesn't mean the mammals outcompeted the dinos.

    one researcher says ""Faced with this kind of competition, the Neanderthals seem to have retreated initially into more marginal and less attractive regions of the continent and eventually, within a space of at most a hundred thousand years, for their populations to have declined to extinction – perhaps accelerated further by sudden climatic deterioration across the continent around 40,000 years ago.". Couple of points there. Oh look climactic change around 40,000 years ago. Funny enough the same date for the earliest evidence of moderns showing up. Second point, he had a brain fart when he says "within a space of at most a hundred thousand years". We only shared the land in Europe for 10,000 years(on current evidence. We also shared the land in the middle east at an earlier date(60,000 BP) and yet no huge population diffs show up at that stage).

    As for this"The arrival of modern humans coincided with the appearance of elaborate cave paintings, decorative stones and beads, and imported shells, suggesting H. sapiens had a more complex society than the Neanderthals.", recent discoveries in Spain seem to show Neandertals had shell pendants and the like before they met Sapiens. They also mined and concentrated pigments likely for body adornment. One of the researchers posits that maybe Sapiens may have been influenced by them intially. Beads and pigment use does show up in Sapiens in one site in southern Africa at 90,000, but then seems to stop, or at least doesn't spread to the point where it's all over the place. Sapiens hits Europe and Bang! cultural explosion in very short order. Now it could be just down to a larger population keeping and transmitting the novel ideas and that does make sense. That said handaxes as a cultural item evolves, transmits and lasts for over a million years in much earlier humans and across most of the world they lived in. Something else seems to happen in Europe. IMHO it's influence and competition from the Neandertals. Or at least that has been overlooked.

    Their hunting toolkit was sophisticated enough to allow them to survive successive ice ages and interglacials for the guts of 200,000 years plus. Now climate change and their large prey species moving or dying out had an impact. One theory holds that they weren't as omnivorous as us. We'd eat any goddamn thing. They were picky eaters and needed more calories. So they starved. Problem with that is sites in Italy and Spain show that they ate all sorts of things, including seals and shellfish. Recent discoveries found between the teeth of Neandertals (from Iran IIRC) show they also cooked and ate grains, so this doesn' seem to fit as an explanation.

    For me I reckon it's a combination of all three. This combination may not have been that big a pressure, it could be as simple as moderns had just one more kid per small family group. Over the course of 10,000 years that would make a huge diff.

    ASIDE I see they changed the pic that dlofnep quoted in the article. For my money though it's an earlier hominid I reckon its a lot closer to how a Neandertal looked like compared to the cleanshaven hippie types that look back at us from recent reconstructions.

    Rejoice in the awareness of feeling stupid, for that’s how you end up learning new things. If you’re not aware you’re stupid, you probably are.



  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 7,225 ✭✭✭Yitzhak Rabin


    Wibbs wrote: »
    ASIDE I see they changed the pic that dlofnep quoted in the article. For my money though it's an earlier hominid I reckon its a lot closer to how a Neandertal looked like compared to the cleanshaven hippie types that look back at us from recent reconstructions.

    Thats one thing that gets me too. I don't know whether its the scientists or the artists that are the culprits, but us humans are so species-centrist.

    Whats that? Neandertals were quite clever? Better make them look exactly like us so, there's no way a hairy ape-looking fella could also be smart.

    How did we go from this:

    1909-picture-of-neanderthal-man-based-on-la-chapelle-aux-saints-neanderthal-skeleton.jpg

    to this

    Neanderthal-family-in-a-c-007.jpg

    Granted, the first one is probably a bit too primitive, but the second one is equally as silly in my opinion.

    I'd say the neandertals were very hairy. Why would we have:

    hairy elephants
    evi_woollymammoth_large.jpg

    hairy rhinos
    15.jpg

    hairy....whatever you'd call these fellas

    Chalicotherium.jpg

    hairy pigs
    Daeodon2.jpg

    But for some reason now that we know that Neandertals are smart, all of a sudden they're the exception to the rule, and even though they evolved to be adapted to the cold, they somehow didn't have the most obvious adaption, and nice warm coat of hair.

    Instead, they look exactly like us freaks that evolved down in the african savvanah.

    Neanderthal.jpg

    I don't buy it.



    EDIT:

    Here's a good example to illustrate my point.

    This is a recent 'reconstruction' of a neanderthal male:

    adult_male_neanderthal.jpg

    and these are two famous sportspeople

    nikolai_valuev-klitschko.pngsebastien-chabal-20071012-323734.jpg

    The reconstruction looks more 'saipien' than actual humans!


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,815 ✭✭✭Hannibal


    Wasn't there some type of DNA analysis done that suggested they had hair of a reddish colour?
    I'd imagine they were hairy as they lived in a colder Europe so they would have needed some type of winter coat to survive.

    Below is an article from Sciencemag.org

    "Neandertals, the closest evolutionary relatives of present-day humans, lived in large parts of Europe and western Asia before disappearing 25,000 years ago. We present a draft sequence of the Neandertal genome composed of more than 4 billion nucleotides from three individuals. Comparisons of the Neandertal genome to the genomes of five present-day humans from different parts of the world identify a number of genomic regions that may have been affected by positive selection in ancestral modern humans, including genes involved in metabolism and in cognitive and skeletal development. We show that Neandertals shared more genetic variants with present-day humans in Eurasia than with present-day humans in sub-Saharan Africa, suggesting that gene flow from Neandertals into the ancestors of non-Africans occurred before the divergence of Eurasian groups from each other."


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,815 ✭✭✭Hannibal


    yekahS wrote: »

    and these are two famous sportspeople

    nikolai_valuev-klitschko.pngsebastien-chabal-20071012-323734.jpg

    The reconstruction looks more 'saipien' than actual humans!
    5445696


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  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 60,159 Mod ✭✭✭✭Wibbs


    yekahS wrote: »
    Thats one thing that gets me too. I don't know whether its the scientists or the artists that are the culprits, but us humans are so species-centrist.
    And prone to fashion.
    Whats that? Neandertals were quite clever? Better make them look exactly like us so, there's no way a hairy ape-looking fella could also be smart.
    Bingo! Exactly. There's some deep need for us not to be alone, but at the same time the idea of something very like us in culture, but looks very different doesn't sit at all well. On the cultural front, yes we had a massive explosion in culture around 40,000 years ago, but go back to say 100,000 years ago and try play spot the difference between what cultural remains we leave and what Neandertals left. It's not easy at all.
    I'd say the neandertals were very hairy. Why would we have:


    But for some reason now that we know that Neandertals are smart, all of a sudden they're the exception to the rule, and even though they evolved to be adapted to the cold, they somehow didn't have the most obvious adaption, and nice warm coat of hair.
    +1000. Exactly. Animals that in their African tropical and sub tropical versions are largely hairless, adapt to the colder climes of Europe by growing hair, yet another animal that in their African tropical and sub tropical versions are largely hairless stay that way when they migrate to the same environment? Makes no sense. Sure they had animal hides for protection and I suspect could tailor clothes better than we currently think, but IMHO they would be a lot hairier than modern humans. We see this today with modern populations. Europeans are the hairiest of all modern humans. Now it's possible that Neandertals adapted like Asians in a similar temperate climate and had more subcutaneous fat as a protection, but I'd be going with hairy myself
    Here's a good example to illustrate my point.


    and these are two famous sportspeople
    sebastien-chabal-20071012-323734.jpgI'll give you a closer one to your last example;
    1-neanderthal.jpg
    They might be brothers. :) Funny thing about brow ridges in moderns and you see this even more in native Australians. Our brow ridges if we have them are biggest nearer the nose, whereas previous hominids they're bigger closer to the edge of the face. I wonder do immature neandertal kids start brow ridge development like moderns only getting the full effect as they age and mature? It's long being a theory of mine that brow ridges in early humans was a male secondary sexual characteristic. We lost them as we became more neotonous. Even so in modern humans the males still have bigger ones.

    Dotsey wrote: »
    Wasn't there some type of DNA analysis done that suggested they had hair of a reddish colour?
    Some it appears did have that alright, but it's a slightly different genetic mutation in modern humans IIRC.

    My idea of how a Neanderthal would look like is this;
    168933.jpg
    From an old drawing of one. I did a bit of photoshoppery on it to fit my idea. First I increased the eye size by a third. They had huge eye sockets. Much bigger than moderns. Another local adaptation you see today. Europeans have the biggest eye sockets in moderns. The further one goes away from the tropics the bigger the eyes get. Lower light in upper lattitudes the likely reason. Neandertals really ran with this. One of the reasons their heads and brains are so big(even bigger than ours) is to house a bigger area for processing vision at the back of the skull.
    You can see it in this comparison
    Sapiens_neanderthal_comparison.jpg

    They were likely serious sight hunters. IMHO the current theory favours this ability was about general visual accuity, but what about f it was because maybe they were low light even nocturnal hunters? This would make more sense to me for a close in ambush attack hunting style which they defo favoured. Like the way lions may hunt more at night. If you can see better you have a serious advantage. You can get right up close. You don't need long range weapons the way moderns had them. It would explain why they never appeared to invent them. A throwing dart is kinda useless in the ranges encountered by a nocturnal predator.

    They're also just bigger overall. Much bigger. And contrary to popular weren't that much shorter than moderns and about the same as moderns back then. 5 foot 5 kinda area. That said one Iranian lad was 5 11 - 6 ft.

    I also decreased the size of the ears and lips. Two areas very prone to frostbite, so makes no sense to have big ones.

    Rejoice in the awareness of feeling stupid, for that’s how you end up learning new things. If you’re not aware you’re stupid, you probably are.



  • Registered Users Posts: 5,279 ✭✭✭Adam Khor


    yekahS wrote: »
    Thats one thing that gets me too. I don't know whether its the scientists or the artists that are the culprits, but us humans are so species-centrist.

    Whats that? Neandertals were quite clever? Better make them look exactly like us so, there's no way a hairy ape-looking fella could also be smart.

    How did we go from this:

    1909-picture-of-neanderthal-man-based-on-la-chapelle-aux-saints-neanderthal-skeleton.jpg

    to this

    Neanderthal-family-in-a-c-007.jpg

    Granted, the first one is probably a bit too primitive, but the second one is equally as silly in my opinion.

    I'd say the neandertals were very hairy. Why would we have:

    hairy elephants
    evi_woollymammoth_large.jpg

    hairy rhinos
    15.jpg

    hairy....whatever you'd call these fellas

    Chalicotherium.jpg

    It's a Chalicothere... but not from Neanderthal times. It did coexist with australopithecines in Africa, though...

    Wibbs wrote: »
    And prone to fashion.

    Bingo! Exactly. There's some deep need for us not to be alone, but at the same time the idea of something very like us in culture, but looks very different doesn't sit at all well. On the cultural front, yes we had a massive explosion in culture around 40,000 years ago, but go back to say 100,000 years ago and try play spot the difference between what cultural remains we leave and what Neandertals left. It's not easy at all.
    +1000. Exactly. Animals that in their African tropical and sub tropical versions are largely hairless, adapt to the colder climes of Europe by growing hair, yet another animal that in their African tropical and sub tropical versions are largely hairless stay that way when they migrate to the same environment? Makes no sense. Sure they had animal hides for protection and I suspect could tailor clothes better than we currently think, but IMHO they would be a lot hairier than modern humans. We see this today with modern populations. Europeans are the hairiest of all modern humans. Now it's possible that Neandertals adapted like Asians in a similar temperate climate and had more subcutaneous fat as a protection, but I'd be going with hairy myself


    They might be brothers. :) Funny thing about brow ridges in moderns and you see this even more in native Australians. Our brow ridges if we have them are biggest nearer the nose, whereas previous hominids they're bigger closer to the edge of the face. I wonder do immature neandertal kids start brow ridge development like moderns only getting the full effect as they age and mature? It's long being a theory of mine that brow ridges in early humans was a male secondary sexual characteristic. We lost them as we became more neotonous. Even so in modern humans the males still have bigger ones.


    Some it appears did have that alright, but it's a slightly different genetic mutation in modern humans IIRC.

    My idea of how a Neanderthal would look like is this;
    168933.jpg
    From an old drawing of one. I did a bit of photoshoppery on it to fit my idea. First I increased the eye size by a third. They had huge eye sockets. Much bigger than moderns. Another local adaptation you see today. Europeans have the biggest eye sockets in moderns. The further one goes away from the tropics the bigger the eyes get. Lower light in upper lattitudes the likely reason. Neandertals really ran with this. One of the reasons their heads and brains are so big(even bigger than ours) is to house a bigger area for processing vision at the back of the skull.
    You can see it in this comparison
    Sapiens_neanderthal_comparison.jpg

    They were likely serious sight hunters. IMHO the current theory favours this ability was about general visual accuity, but what about f it was because maybe they were low light even nocturnal hunters? This would make more sense to me for a close in ambush attack hunting style which they defo favoured. Like the way lions may hunt more at night. If you can see better you have a serious advantage. You can get right up close. You don't need long range weapons the way moderns had them. It would explain why they never appeared to invent them. A throwing dart is kinda useless in the ranges encountered by a nocturnal predator.

    They're also just bigger overall. Much bigger. And contrary to popular weren't that much shorter than moderns and about the same as moderns back then. 5 foot 5 kinda area. That said one Iranian lad was 5 11 - 6 ft.

    I also decreased the size of the ears and lips. Two areas very prone to frostbite, so makes no sense to have big ones.

    This is super interesting stuff. Nocturnal Neanderthal... that is something I never imagined, partly because I assumed the threat of cave lions, sabertooths and giant hyenas would be to great for any kind of hominid, no matter how strong, to wander at night... but then again, having night vision (if it indeed had it) would help the Neanderthal detect predators and deal with them better than we could ever do...
    Plus, it was obviously much stronger and more resistant than humans (I think there was fossil evidence for Neanderthals surviving injury that would've killed any Homo sapiens)...

    This gets me thinking once again of the so called Wild Men of European folklore. They are always described as being very hairy, except for their hands and feet, and also, in some accounts, as having very large, red eyes and large teeth. They were said to live in the deepest, wildest, most remote parts of the European forests. Maybe the very last surviving Neanderthals?
    The most interesting part is that in some stories, the Wild Men (even though being "savage" according to most accounts) were smart enough to speak and use tools.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 60,159 Mod ✭✭✭✭Wibbs


    Adam Khor wrote: »
    This is super interesting stuff. Nocturnal Neanderthal... that is something I never imagined, partly because I assumed the threat of cave lions, sabertooths and giant hyenas would be to great for any kind of hominid, no matter how strong, to wander at night... but then again, having night vision (if it indeed had it) would help the Neanderthal detect predators and deal with them better than we could ever do...
    Plus, it was obviously much stronger and more resistant than humans (I think there was fossil evidence for Neanderthals surviving injury that would've killed any Homo sapiens)...
    Pretty much. They were very robust by comparison. The nocturnal idea just seems quite fitting when you look at various things. Their hunting strategy. Close in ambush predators. Some stuff I've read claims that Neandertals used stabbing spears because they never invented the idea of throwing and/or their shoulders weren't suitable for throwing compared to ours. OK enough theory, but Homo Heidelbergensis, the previous folks in Europe and highly likely the progenitors of Neandertals did have projectile weapons. The oldest found in fact. They have same of similar shoulders. So why did Neandertals not bother? Couple of guesses. 1) Hunting terrain. Projectile weapons work at a distance(duh :)) so are very good for open areas, grassland and the like. Not so hot for deep forest. You're as likely to hit a tree or brush as hit the prey. For African Sapiens traipsing around in grassland developing long range was the way to go. Ambush was a lot harder. Neandertals may just have stopped bothering with the long range stuff 2)my take, time of day favoured for hunting. Forests, even tropical ones are low light environments. Maybe the forests grew at some point between heidelbergensis and Neandertals evolving? More and more hunting was done in low light and low range conditions. Their eyes adapted for the low light of the forests and got bigger as did their brain centres processing the visual info. Maybe at some point the adaptation got big enough to allow dusk and dawn hunting when animals were more vulnerable(I wonder has anyone looked at the hearing centre of the brain to see if it's bigger too)? This selected for the trait even more. Then maybe, just maybe they started to deliberately hunt at dusk, early morning and night (especially moonlit nights). This would give them all sorts of advantages. Diurnal prey have less defences at night. Easier to lay in wait and ambush them whn they're at their most vulnerable. Now this wouldn't mean they couldn't or did't hunt in full daylight either, but maybe the dark hunting was more favoured for the big prey? As for large predators? Most large predators are mostly diurnal hunters anyway. In any event a group of Neandertal adult males each one with around 6 times the strength of a strong modern human and armed to the teeth would provide a worrying target even for a big cat. These guys were capable of felling large prey, much larger than themselves in close in combat.

    This might also partially explain their demise. The climate changed and forests gave way to more grassland. Their cover was blown, even in the dark. At first they were probably OK since the two peoples would have had different hunting strategies(in my take anyway). They probably crossed paths face to face rarely enough because of same. This may explain the genetic heritage. Neanderthal DNA seems to come from a few events* in the Levant area. A more open area and where we co existed for many thosands of years cheek by jowl. My mad notion would only apply to the "classic" European neandertals of the colder north regions. IMHO I'd expect the two populations probably differed in a few small but significant way.
    This gets me thinking once again of the so called Wild Men of European folklore. They are always described as being very hairy, except for their hands and feet, and also, in some accounts, as having very large, red eyes and large teeth. They were said to live in the deepest, wildest, most remote parts of the European forests. Maybe the very last surviving Neanderthals?
    The most interesting part is that in some stories, the Wild Men (even though being "savage" according to most accounts) were smart enough to speak and use tools.
    It might certainly be a race memory alright. I'd say classic descriptions of trolls might fit too. Living in caves and deep forests, hugely strong, shaggy hair, big noses, not very clever etc. It would be my hunch they went extinct more recently than 25,000 years ago. In forest like you mention. We have the "last" ones from southern Spain in coastal caves, because that preserves evidence. I'd not be that shocked to discover they died out closer to say 10,000 years BP. Wooly mammoths made it to 11,000 years ago in an isolated dwarfed population on a Siberian island.



    *though I suspect there were far more events, just that over the ages these events bred out/were diluted. Plus the full Neandertal nuclear DNA hasn't been fully extracted yet AFAIK. There may be more bits and pieces in Eurasians yet to be found.

    Rejoice in the awareness of feeling stupid, for that’s how you end up learning new things. If you’re not aware you’re stupid, you probably are.



  • Registered Users Posts: 5,279 ✭✭✭Adam Khor


    I just found a super-interesting article on this alternate view of the Neanderthal and what it SHOULD look like...
    The creature is so creepy, so not human and yet, it WAS a human species... this is awesome stuff. I think I'm replacing the classic Neanderthals in my mind with these scarier types. :D

    The author goes as far as to saying that Neanderthals had vertical pupils, like cats, and that they probably hunted the first waves of Homo sapiens to reach Europe to extinction- he also quotes another guy who called Neanderthals "wolves with knives".

    http://www.themandus.org/ebook_chapter_8.PDF


    ugly_neanderthal2.jpg


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 60,159 Mod ✭✭✭✭Wibbs


    Interesting angle alright.. Might stump up the couple of quid for the ebook. That said, on first glance?

    While I would be first to agree that the current fashion for a bloke who just needs a shave, I have a couple of problems with his reconstruction. Numero Uno; The "apelike" face. Flat nose, jutting lower face, black skinned. The nose the most obvious and provable one. For all his well thought out theory(and it is) he made one big mistake, or loves his theory so much sought to tweak the results. The skull he picked for the reconstruction is missing the nose bone. In reality they have the dubious distinction of having the biggest conks of any human species so far discovered. We're talking Cyrano de Bergerac here. You can see this in the pic I link above comparing our two species. They had huge projecting noses. Not even remotely like the great apes. Jutting lower face? It's how you angle the skull. Bit of sleight of hand here. Again to fit his theory IMHO. If you took a modern flat of face human and angled the head back the jaws would stick out. If you show them at the proper angle no such jutting is shown. The linked pic above shows this and here's another;
    neanderthal3.jpg
    Yes they still have more of a muzzle than us and the receding chin which exaggerates this, but not nearly to the degree shown in his reconstruction.

    His contention that the eye level is radically different? Same again. Squeezing the evidence to back up his theory.
    Look what happens when you put them eye level to eye level;
    neand1.jpg
    Doesn't look so radically different now. Again the skull he picked(La Ferrassie 1 Here's his actual skull http://www.modernhumanorigins.net/laferrassie1.html) as well as missing the nose bone was a bit of a narrow lantern faced lad. The Sarah Jessica Parker of his gang. The rest so far found aren't. Plus even here he's hyped up a bit. His forehead wasn't that low. Here's an "average" Neandertal lad compared to a modern human;
    zoom.jpg
    Check out the hooter on the lad on the left(the lad on the right could sue me if I get too descriptive of his own roman nose :D)

    Then we get to black skin. Nope again. The Ku Klux Klan would have welcomed them with open arms. As well as being red haired every so often, they were also white skinned. This is shown in the genes. They have the same adaptation as white Europeans. Indeed I'd have the notion that this is where those of us reading who are palefaces may have gotten this adaptation so rapidly. Why? The climate arguments don't quite work for me. Tasmanians who lived at similar (southern) latitudes and who were in those latitudes for nigh on 40,000 years never lost their African colouring under similar selection pressures. So white skin happening in Europe seems odd. Asian folks lost the dark skin but in a different way.

    The rest of the body? Ok yes they were significantly more muscled and robust, but so were we at the time. Not up to their standards but higher than today. He exaggerates the lack of waist. I'm sure if Neandertal lad fell in with the wrong gym crowd and took up chugging anabolics he might look like that, but naturally? I seriously doubt it. The calf attachments alone show someone with little knowledge of human anatomy. Here's a comparison with a modern(though for me the height disparity is a little too much)
    neander-human-comp.jpg
    Yes they have a bigger rib cage, but don't walk like John Wayne, nor is their head tipped that far forward. It's more forward than ours, but not to that degree. The vertical pupils? No. No way IMH. No other great ape has this adaptation. I can't even think of a monkey that does. I seriously doubt it. Outside the film of the book anyway, for cinematic effect.

    I would go along with the wolves with knives description though.

    Rejoice in the awareness of feeling stupid, for that’s how you end up learning new things. If you’re not aware you’re stupid, you probably are.



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  • Registered Users Posts: 5,279 ✭✭✭Adam Khor


    I'm learning tons here. Prehistoric humans were never my speciality, even tho they are a quite interesting subject...

    You know, recently they published a study which said that all of us non-black humans are part Neanderthal. I didn´t read the full article and certainly didn´t read the paper but it got me thinking...

    If we, pale-skinned humans, are part Neanderthal, is it possible then that we inherited said skin from Neanderthals themselves? I mean there's genetic evidence, as you point out, that Neanderthals were white, right? And the Homo sapiens who left Africa were, I would assume, black skinned. Today, the study says, black people are the only ones without Neanderthal genes... so, maybe we are white because we are part Neanderthal? Same with red hair...

    Just a thought. Like I said I know jack about prehistoric humans and I know to you guys the question is probably stupid but hey, better ask and look stupid for a minute, than not asking and being stupid for life, right? :D


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 60,159 Mod ✭✭✭✭Wibbs


    Kinda. White skin AFAIR is not just one gene, it's not like switch this on, black, switch this off white. There are a few involved. In the DNA they've so far extracted they've found a mutation in Neanderthals that gave them red hair, but it's a slightly different mutation to modern humans. It's in the same area that leads to white skin so they reckon they were also white.

    All modern humans who left Africa were black alright. You can see evidence for that without going near the DNA. Along the south coast of Asia there are small populations of dark skinned folks, so called "Negritos" that appear to be African and theire genes back this up. They've a very old heritage. They're like fossil footprints of us leaving Africa and spreading out along the coasts. Andaman Islanders a good example living on islands off the east coast of India;
    Andaman_Islands.PNG
    3184612185_c09f72131e.jpg
    Black folks a loooong way from Africa.

    Now the explanation that Europeans became white because of climate adaptation while seeming logical and self explanatory always seemed to me too neat. Plus like I mentioned the peoples of Tasmania in a similar climate to Europe http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_of_Tasmania kept their African skin and remained very dark. They were in Tasmania for about the same length of time as moderns were in Europe. Now the other explanation is a genetic bottleneck in Eurpe and a smaller gene pool caused local mutations to spread more rapidly. Again I find that somewhat dubious as again Tasmanians were even more isolated. Europe and the near east is like a feckin busy crossroads of people moving back and forth by comparison. Now it could simply be that a once off freak genetic event spread through the population because of a conferred advantage and the same freak event never happened anywhere else. That's possible, maybe that's what happened but just doesn't feel right to me anyway.

    It would be my take that Europeans got this advantage from the local relict population. IE Neandertals. I'd suspect Asian folks may have gotten some of their characteristics from the local relicts they encountered. People like the Andamans and others didn't because maybe they hugged the coasts as the first people to leave Africa. They didn't bump into the relict populations that lived more in the interior. Or they moved fast, always moving ever onwards. Maybe avoiding the locals out of fear? We forget that we didn't move into unsettled areas. There were people there already. Populations would be low compared to today of course, but if you were to be one of those first moderns moving through the world it would be clear enough ye weren't alone. Maybe those first peoples only stopped when they found places like islands(or even continents like Australia) that were uninhabited by the older humans. The moderns who followed them moved further afield and inland to the interior. Maybe they stayed in places longer. Maybe they were more aggressive or had better long range weapons that gave them a tactical advantage over the locals? They might have been more willing to actively engaged with the existing peoples. Not always aggressively, but enough to stand their ground. Ditto in Africa. It seems that we evolved as fully modern in north east Africa, but we didn't just leave Africa, we would have moved through that continent too. I'm sure there would have been relict humans in other parts of Africa and we encountered them too. There are modern humans in the southern tip of that continent by 100,000 years ago.

    All conjecture of course, but it would explain and tie up the loose ends between the out of Africa/multiregional debate. Genetics seemed to close the door on that, when they found all moderns were African in origin. That became the mantra. "We're all Africans you know". Very neat, but at the same time dig deeper and it asked as many questions as it answered. Now with confirmed DNA of relict humans in moderns, Neandertal in Europeans and west Asians and Denisovian genes(from one finger bone!:eek:) in south east Asians, that "pure" African model is a little less true. I'm quite sure there are far more of these stories of all our heritages to be found. If just one finger bone can do it, what lays out there ready to be found? I'd predict the next one they'll find is in Africans. Their African "neandertal"/Erectus 2.0.

    A good while ago here I predicted we'd find Neandertal DNA in Europeans and they did. When they did I reckoned they'd find similar in Asians and they did. My reasoning being this: The story went Erectus evolves and spreads through the world. Then you get local evolution of Erectus. In Europe they became Neandertals. In Africa they became us. So far so god. That left a big gap for me. Asia. It didn't seem right to me that Erectus stayed the same in that huge area for over a million years in a very diverse environment with different selection pressures and didn't change locally they way they did in Europe and Africa? Didn't make sense. Still doesn't. So I thought of Erectus 1, then Erectus 2.0(Neandertals/us/Asian?). If you look at some of the fossils coming out of China they seem to show Erectus 2.0, or what you would expect them to look like. Bigger brained Erectus. Local Asian "neandertals" basically Around the 120,000 years mark. http://news.discovery.com/history/neanderthal-human-mating.html It's fascinating stuff.




    *I found a great page on Asian hominids around the 150,000-200,000 year mark and while they have some erectus features they're more evolved ones. Sadly I can't find the link. I'll dig deeper. :)

    Rejoice in the awareness of feeling stupid, for that’s how you end up learning new things. If you’re not aware you’re stupid, you probably are.



  • Registered Users Posts: 30,746 ✭✭✭✭Galvasean


    Can't say I'm a fan of these unhairy restorations of neandertals either. Look how hairy 'normal' people get!
    tomselleck.jpg&sa=X&ei=pLE6ToeHCtGxhQfom8GkAg&ved=0CAgQ8wc&usg=AFQjCNFzac5fWYggG12dFSBbbcQH0ST9AA

    It only makes sense that people evolved specifically to live in lands of ice and snow would be even hairier!


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,279 ✭✭✭Adam Khor


    Galvasean wrote: »
    Can't say I'm a fan of these unhairy restorations of neandertals either. Look how hairy 'normal' people get!
    tomselleck.jpg&sa=X&ei=pLE6ToeHCtGxhQfom8GkAg&ved=0CAgQ8wc&usg=AFQjCNFzac5fWYggG12dFSBbbcQH0ST9AA

    It only makes sense that people evolved specifically to live in lands of ice and snow would be even hairier!

    MINDRAPE!!

    But I agree with you :D

    Now, on a slightly different topic, do you guys think Homo erectus/Homo georgicus/Homo floresiensis were (relatively) hairless like us, or very hairy like Neanderthals?


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 60,159 Mod ✭✭✭✭Wibbs


    I'd reckon most archaics were hairy or hairier than us anyway. Erectus the first we know of to leave Africa traveled throughout the world. Into pretty diverse climates, some pretty cold and much colder than where they came from. They didn't have clothing as far as we know to alleviate the temperature diffs they encountered. Hairy seems logical. That said us in our climate controled lives aren't a good judge. EG Fuegians from the southern tip of south America walked about the place in very little clothing in a damn cold climate. They seemed immune to the cold, well cold that would have the rest of us crying for our mammies. Ditto for the Tasmanians going by reports. The only clothing they had was a drape, most often used as a rug. They did smear their skin with fat though as others do, which gives some protection, but still hardy lads and lasses aint in it. Maybe Erectus wasn't that hairy. European level. 1-2 Sellecks :D Maybe they did the same with fat from the animals they hunted?

    The again maybe smooth skin evolved in Africa with proto us? Why? Specific climate needs and we end up hairless today because we're all majority Africans and those same people invented tailoring so didn't need to get hairy when we went walkabout. Europeans(Eurasians really) are the hairiest folks today. Maybe because of the Neandertal? Black blokes are much less hairy and Asian blokes are even less hirsute. Ditto for facial hair. European lads are all ZZ top, Africans are less beardy again and Asians are lucky if they can grow that "Fu Manchu" style tache. Obviously I'm seriously simplifying the populations here. EG Some Japanese men can grow big beards.

    Rejoice in the awareness of feeling stupid, for that’s how you end up learning new things. If you’re not aware you’re stupid, you probably are.



  • Registered Users Posts: 5,279 ✭✭✭Adam Khor


    Wibbs wrote: »
    The again maybe smooth skin evolved in Africa with proto us?

    But why?

    And why is it that, out of all non-giant, non-burrowing African savannah mammals, there is only ONE that is relatively hairless (compared to its relatives anyways)?
    I'm talking about the warthog:

    warthog.jpg

    Very little hair if you compare it to say, the River Hog:

    red_river_hog.jpg

    Or the Giant Forest Hog:

    giantforesthog.jpg

    If you think about it, there are some interesting similarities between hominids and warthogs... they are both omnivores that left the jungle for the savannah. Maybe there's an advantage that caused them to lose their fur, some sort of adaptation to this new environment? But then... why aren´t there more hairless African mammals (leaving the giants like elephants and rhinos aside).

    I'm imagining a bunch of freaky-looking, relatively hairless Australopithecines right now. I blame you guys for twisting my view of hominids completely :D


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 60,159 Mod ✭✭✭✭Wibbs


    One big difference though AK, upright walking. Maybe that's the diff?

    Rejoice in the awareness of feeling stupid, for that’s how you end up learning new things. If you’re not aware you’re stupid, you probably are.



  • Registered Users Posts: 5,279 ✭✭✭Adam Khor


    Wibbs wrote: »
    One big difference though AK, upright walking. Maybe that's the diff?

    Probably... there's only one large biped in the African savannah, the ostrich, and it does have huge patches of featherless skin under its wings...
    But then again ostriches are very large and their bald patches are supossed to get rid of excess heat... so I still wonder, why would being bald be an advantage for hominids?


  • Registered Users Posts: 30,746 ✭✭✭✭Galvasean


    Less stuff to get yanked on during a fight?
    [/semi-serious]


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,279 ✭✭✭Adam Khor


    Galvasean wrote: »
    Less stuff to get yanked on during a fight?
    [/semi-serious]

    Too bad we kept the nipples :P


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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,015 ✭✭✭rccaulfield


    From Wibbs- "Now it could simply be that a once off freak genetic event spread through the population because of a conferred advantage and the same freak event never happened anywhere else. That's possible, maybe that's what happened but just doesn't feel right to me anyway."

    Sherlock Holmes springs to mind-'when you eliminate the impossible whatever remains no matter how unlikely must be the truth'
    Great thread here-Food for thought!


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,220 Mod ✭✭✭✭slowburner


    Wibbs wrote: »
    Here's a comparison with a modern(though for me the height disparity is a little too much)
    neander-human-comp.jpg
    Yes they have a bigger rib cage, but don't walk like John Wayne, nor is their head tipped that far forward. It's more forward than ours, but not to that degree. The vertical pupils? No. No way IMH. No other great ape has this adaptation. I can't even think of a monkey that does. I seriously doubt it. Outside the film of the book anyway, for cinematic effect.

    I would go along with the wolves with knives description though.
    Sorry to butt in and backtrack but the comparison above is well distorted to make modern man as different as possible from NM. Have a look at the modern man's left hand :D.
    And look at his knock knees. The other night I watched an excavation of Nelson's hospital - all the mariners' leg bones were much more like NM's. Does the picture come from the wecannotbeneanderthal.org by any chance?


  • Hosted Moderators Posts: 11,362 ✭✭✭✭Scarinae


    Adam Khor wrote: »
    And why is it that, out of all non-giant, non-burrowing African savannah mammals, there is only ONE that is relatively hairless (compared to its relatives anyways)?
    I'm talking about the warthog

    Warthogs burrow, I've seen them do it.

    This is a really interesting thread, but I don't have a lot to add to it, as it's not an area I've ever studied. Has anyone read William Golding's book The Inheritors? It's probably really dated as it was written in the 50s I think, but I liked it although it was immensely depressing.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 60,159 Mod ✭✭✭✭Wibbs


    I think there's some element of that. Any reconstruction, especially a mosaic type one is going to carry some conjecture, though this recent one is pretty damned impressive. I think to get a better idea a comparison with a cro magnon or earlier modern human might give a better idea of the state of play when these two humans met. EG the would be shorter on average. Though you get Neandertals taller than the average, just like moderns. One guy was nigh on 6 feet. Like us they varied individually and over time.

    Even modern peoples vary. IE African populations tend to be narrower in the hip than Europeans and narrower again than Asians. Europeans have the biggest eye sockets, Africans the smallest and Asians in the middle. Eye socket shape is distinctive as well. Modern human populations have local differences in the skeleton. Ask any pathologist who will be able to spot an average Asian, African or European from looking at the skeleton. http://www.redwoods.edu/Instruct/AGarwin/anth_6_ancestry.htm We vary quite distinctly, though subtly along general ancestry. So who do you compare to Neandertals? If you picked a gracile African skeleton for example, the difference would be larger than if you picked a robust Eurasian.

    That said Neandertals do show very distinctive features that mark them out compared to us, especially in the skull, but also in the hip width and ribcage and shoulder to name a few. As an average we differed from each other as you would expect sub species to do. Even if you averaged out all the humans alive today you'd still see a disparity on certain points with Neandertals.

    But some archaic european moderns show Neandertal features. They're more robust, shorter on average, higher bone densities compared to us today etc. Some rare ones also show much more archaic features in the skull that aren't around today(hence why a couple of scientists were convinced of us gettin busy long before the DNA proved this). Though that said how many people have they looked at in the current population? It's always going to be down to sample size. There may well be small numbers of modern Europeans walking around bold as brass who have subtle clues to their forebears, never mind folks elsewhere.

    But I would agree, the differences are siezed upon or not depending on the observers subjectivity to some degree. Even the reconstruction which is fantastic I have some little niggles about. 1) for the skull they chose a little bit of an outlier as he was very long face(Ferassie 1 IIRC). The reconstructed skull is also a litte odd as it shows a modern feature in the teeth/jaw/ Namely a gap between the last molar and the upright bit of the jaw thingy(dentists and doctors cringing as they read. :o:D).
    zoom.jpg

    Neandertals differ from moderns in having no such gap or very little of one. Id est Sapiens_neanderthal_comparison.jpg
    AFAIR even Ferrasie 1 doesnt have such a gap(but is in need of some orthodontics:)), so why the gap?
    ferrassie-neanderthal-skull.jpg

    Neither does this Chapelle-Aux Saints chap;
    MHB50E918.jpg
    The reconstructed teeth seem odd too. Actual Neandertal front teeth seem more narrow, more pole like compared to moderns. They're molars were bigger too and again the reconstruction seem to have smaller ones. They also show distinctive wear patterns to their front teeth which I can't see in the reconstruction. :confused: Basically with the best will in the world the skull reconstruction is largely based on one long faced guy who may have been a slight outlier. Still it was and is a fantastic piece of paleoanthropolgical detective work. You can even buy one if you have 7 to 10 grand to dispose of. http://www.boneclones.com/sc-019.htm He also sports much more of a distinct and modern chin than I would have expected? Man I'd love one of them in my hallway. Hell in my bedroom(with a full scale dalek in the other corner :D)

    Rejoice in the awareness of feeling stupid, for that’s how you end up learning new things. If you’re not aware you’re stupid, you probably are.



  • Registered Users Posts: 5,279 ✭✭✭Adam Khor


    Fishie wrote: »
    Warthogs burrow, I've seen them do it.

    This is a really interesting thread, but I don't have a lot to add to it, as it's not an area I've ever studied. Has anyone read William Golding's book The Inheritors? It's probably really dated as it was written in the 50s I think, but I liked it although it was immensely depressing.

    Yeah, well, they do burrow but they are not like, specialized burrowing animals living underground, like the naked mole rat I was thinking about when I wrote "non-burrowing"...

    Never heard of that book, is it fiction?


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 7,225 ✭✭✭Yitzhak Rabin


    I love reading about the stuff we can infer from fossil hominid finds, and the article Adam Khor posted which depicted neanderthals as upright and scary gorillas, shows how the same fossil can lead people to assume completely different things.

    I often wonder, if in 200,000 years if people dug up the remains of a hard living, strong robust, black South African miner, and the remains of a dainty, gracile, Hong Kong businessman, would they conclude they were different species? Would they point to the stronger bones of the african, the more pronouced brow-ridge? The flatter face of the Hong Kong fossil, the thinner and more fragile bones?

    I often wonder if the various 'species' that we have classified aren't all just different individuals on a species spectrum? I'm talking about Homo cepranensis, Homo antecessor, Homo heidelbergensis, Homo rhodesiensis etc.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,279 ✭✭✭Adam Khor


    yekahS wrote: »
    I love reading about the stuff we can infer from fossil hominid finds, and the article Adam Khor posted which depicted neanderthals as upright and scary gorillas, shows how the same fossil can lead people to assume completely different things.

    I often wonder, if in 200,000 years if people dug up the remains of a hard living, strong robust, black South African miner, and the remains of a dainty, gracile, Hong Kong businessman, would they conclude they were different species? Would they point to the stronger bones of the african, the more pronouced brow-ridge? The flatter face of the Hong Kong fossil, the thinner and more fragile bones?

    I often wonder if the various 'species' that we have classified aren't all just different individuals on a species spectrum? I'm talking about Homo cepranensis, Homo antecessor, Homo heidelbergensis, Homo rhodesiensis etc.

    Haha I can see scientists erecting a new species from my fossil remains, based on my narrow jaw, slender hips, and strangely twisted middle finger in the right manus :D


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 7,225 ✭✭✭Yitzhak Rabin


    Adam Khor wrote: »
    Haha I can see scientists erecting a new species from by fossil remains, based on my narrow jaw, slender hips, and strangely twisted middle finger in the right manus :D

    They'd obviously point to my far more developed right arm and conclude that I used it for spear-throwing :P


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,279 ✭✭✭Adam Khor


    yekahS wrote: »
    They'd obviously point to my far more developed right arm and conclude that I used it for spear-throwing :P

    Same here... :D


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  • Registered Users Posts: 8,551 ✭✭✭Rubecula


    Adam Khor wrote: »
    Probably... there's only one large biped in the African savannah, the ostrich, and it does have huge patches of featherless skin under its wings...
    But then again ostriches are very large and their bald patches are supossed to get rid of excess heat... so I still wonder, why would being bald be an advantage for hominids?

    We lose excess heat by sweating. And we do this all over our skin. Hair would not make evapouration of sweat easy. It is a pretty good cooling system we have evolved. Not sure how many other savanna animals have such a good system. So if they don't actually lose heat in this way, no need to lose the hair/fur.


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