19 April 2012

Neanderthals ~ a life not unlike our own, explored

There has been a great deal of news about Neanderthals over the past few weeks. Firstly, I noticed a few articles on the Neanderthal diet and then it was the imagination inspiring National Geographic's special the Neanderthal Code that intrigued me. So, with interest and imagination bursting from the seams of my consciousness, I started dreaming. Dreaming of a day in which I could have said, Hi- to my fellow man... A day in which our people would not be able to boisterously exude superiority over all other life, as someone could have argued their case. I can feel the reality of a day when a fellow 'success of evolution' shared my path and was possibly so close an evolutionary cousin that we could have bred. It is so stimulating to read about Neanderthal's and their affiliation or integration with Homo sapiens. With each new discovery, more questions are raised. Thankfully, others are just as passionate and the information is beginning to flow. The Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and 454 Life Sciences are the facilitators of the Neanderthal Gene sequencing project. ; Through the discovery of a rarely well preserved femur bone that was luckily full of wonderfully dense Neanderthal DNA, we may soon have more answers than we were looking for…

Many specimens have been tested in this search, and if I remember correctly, (I think the source may be the Neanderthal Code special) they had yet to ever find a quality nuclear DNA sample and only had been able to procure Mitochondrial DNA prior to this discovery. Mitochondrial DNA only contains (10 as I thought I heard, 12-13 per some internet resources) pairs of proteins and does not carry nearly as much material as a Nuclear DNA.

Every day we are exposing our presumptions about what Neanderthals were, and every day we are surprised at our how close we really are to the Neanderthal. Here's an article on the complexity of Neanderthal Tools and a general one about Neanderthals that discusses the larger brain cavity of the Neanderthal compared to Homo sapiens. Larger brain cavities!

Now, the complete coding of the DNA of Neanderthals is what is going to answer all the questions of cognitive differences as well as a vast collection of other knowledge that I am simply gitty to find out about. But, in the meantime, let's daydream. Let's wonder what it would have been like for Homo sapiens to mate with Neanderthals. Or, more specifically, let's imagine love, family, mixed species children. Let's imagine how likely that mixed families would be welcome among the masses, or were the Homo sapiens simply exiled to live among the Neanderthals or vice versa? Were there multiple generations of mixed species, followed by half species mixing with full etc.? Did the only 'mixing' happen among the exiled and were they exiled from the Homo sapiens communities as well as the Neanderthal, to live in some sort of community of their own? Or, were they considered so alike, that interbreeding was barely noteworthy?

It was speculated that Neanderthals did not have much linguistic ability, which has since been debunked, by the first results out of the above mentioned nuclear DNA project. The differences are less and less, the intrigue- more and more. These 'people' that we lived along with in time, were very much like us. The gene sequencing should answer just how close our cousins are. Also, whether interbreeding took hold enough, if at all, to show some effect or evidence upon our own DNA.

The intriguing, though I feel unlikely, question is; are the Neanderthals still alive and well, living among our genes?

*National Geographic Image



  1. Nice summary post, with many links I have yet to follow, Good writing!

  2. Larry,

    Thanks so much for your kind comment :)



I've Thought...

03.09 ~ I am but human, in my thoughts and desires- in my inconsistencies. It makes my opposing decisions no less real, no less quantitative... confusion is but the eye of truth, beckoning reason. ~ 03.12 ~ Time. It's existence is action progression, regression, reflection and projection. What in time is solidified and carried to another time is my choice. In one choice you lose all others; as an atom appreciates when the observer decides. It's a blue ocean of intrigue and a wave of contentment- that I am lost in, whilst, carried by. ~ 03.23 ~ That we are all part of one pulsing energy of life.. ~ 3.28 ~ There is no greater power, than the power of words. In speech we pass each other in halls, ride in elevators and embark in the great adventure that are words - with all of their beauty and intrigue. There are no wrong words spoken, only wrong interpretations and implications. Honest words are organic, true and expressions of what we are; existing autonomously and innocently, regardless of what others may think of them. 3.30 ~ That, the more I learn, the more I realize how little I know. It certainly doesn't help being in the company of those who have succeeded in accumulating far more knowledge than I. Is the differentiation between intelligence and knowledge simply the accumulation verses the ability to learn/understand? Or, are the two interchangeable. I feel as though time is passing faster than my ability to accumulate... do other people share this conundrum, I wonder... 4.02 ~ That, "It is what it is" isn't exactly accurate. "It is what I make it" is more so... 4.08 ~ That, "it's not time that matters... it's that mattering is what makes time." 4.12 ~ I watch and wonder... think and ponder... about it. Should I find that I have analyzed to much, to little; or that the quandary was all for not, I'll not know till the applicable time has passed.I hereby instill time as my guide, innocently and fully without disposition and without angst. (4.17) ~ Though random, we should not ignore paths crossed. Just as, we should not entirely exclude emotion from our conclusions. (4.26) ~ That I dispise my lack of control over my own intentions and wonder why I am so weak in this regard. (4.27) ~ That I have opened doors, I wished to open, while simultaniously putting other doors at risk of closing. It's not with resistance I contemplate, it's with anxiety. (4.28) That, I should take a break. Time to simply be, for a bit. (5.01) Its hunger drives decent of rational, a battle of wit and need. Like rain pouring down, wisped by winds, settled by gravity, I’m drawn to it ~ KAS