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Neanderthals in the news again

8 November 2023
Anthropology, Archaeology, Genetics

At https://www.livescience.com/archaeology/humans-and-neanderthals-mated-250000-years-ago-much-earlier-than-thought … a comparison of the genomes of Neanderthals who lived in Siberia around 120,000 yeara ago. with those of Modern humans in sub-Sahara Africa, suggests they  interbred as early as 250,000 years ago. Rather, they say one group of Homo sapiens from Africa interbred with Neanderthals – but they subsequently died out. The are said to have left a genetic footprint it is claimed as Neanderthal DNA  contains moder human genes. To muddle things a bit further they also say populations of anatomically modern huimans also inherited Neanderthal DNA and migrated back to Africa.

In the study the sequence of an Altai Neanderthal was compared to 180 people from 12 sub Sahara populations. They then looked for genes shared by both Modern humans and Neanderthals. They found all the  sub Sahara genomes containd Neanderthal DNA. Only a small proportion however – a ratio of .5 per cent. This, they concluded, was inherited by Modern humans that migrated back into Africa. Sounds like there is a long way to go until it is sorted out. Small gene samples can spoil the results.

At https://phys.org/news/2023-10-neanderthal-cuisine-excavations-reveal-neanderthals.html … which mostly concerns fire hearths in caves. They were used to cook food as they found burnt animal bones, burnt wood, and ash. Not only that the rock beneath the hearth was reddened by  the heat of many fires. They ate goats, deer, horses, aurochs, rhinoceros, turtles, for example. Fish and shellfish were on the diet near the coast – and roasted nuts were consumed everywhere. The research came from a cave in Portugal. There seemed to be little, if any, difference between Neanderthals and later Modern humans of the Upper Palaeolithic. One archaeologist said, they do no seem to belong to different species. I wouldn’t say they were different human forms.

See also https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0292075

At https://phys.org/news/2023-10-neanderthals-dangerous-cave-lions.html … Neanderthals killed cave lions, we are told, and wore their skins. If you set up home in a cave you would have to deal with other occupants, such as cave lions and cave bears. It is assumed cave lions actually lived in caves, but this is not certain. They might have been brought there after being hunted. See also https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-42764-0

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