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16 June 2015

Qiaomei Fu, a palaeo-genomicist (the study of ancient genomes) at a meeting in New York (see meetings.cshl.edu/abstracts/genome2015_abstract.html) said that her research team had found evidence of modern humans interbreeting with Neanderthals 40,000 years ago, in Romania. Evidence of genetic DNA from both human types in a single specimen is interesting. Is it due to co-mingling – or was something else going on? See http://phys.org/print350807146.html

See also www.q-mag.org/neanderthal-jewels-and-fashions-1.html

See also http://phys.org/print351843742.html … where the headline is 'inter species love-ins' – and more or less describes what happens when consensus beliefs (rather than objective science) dominate a subject, and eventually hit the brick wall of genetics and ancient DNA. It was always a strange idea that modern humans had a pristine origin unfettered by lesser sub groups that went before them, a sort of racial purity more befitting the era between the wars than the brave new world of post WWII. Apparently, this is what lies at the heart of the Out of Africa hypothesis (or settled science paradigm). It was one of those 'feel good' ideas that caught the mood of the moment and the enthusiasm for multi culturalism – and a general condemnation, supposedly, of the inter war consensus. One consensus was replaced by another – but how much do they differ? The fact that people promoting Out of Africa were discriminating against Neanderthals didn't seem to occur to them – or any other variety of humanity living prior to the modern human apogee around 50,000 years ago (they can't even agree on the dates). It seems that developments in the study of DNA from our fossil ancestors are forcing a major re-write of human evolutionary theory – 'it's a sobering time for scientists who in the post-genomic era are being forced to re-evaluate the theories we've promulgated and assumptions we've held dear over many decades …'. The author doesn't appear to see anything odd in the fact that one idea ruled the roost and was able to face down any dissent from that idea. It ain't just climate science that has been subject to projection of modern ideas into the past – or the future. It seems rife right across the board. I wonder how the Chinese will treat the same issue. Will they find human origins began in East Asia?

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