Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Humans are from Africa, Neanderthals are from Europe: get over it

But which one said "no means no"?

Humans didn't breed with Neanderthals
Neanderthals and modern humans share a common ancestor who is thought to have spanned Africa and Europe about half a million years ago.

About 350-300 million years ago, though, the two populations became separated. The Europeans evolved into Neanderthals, and the Africans into modern humans.

However, as today, populations wouldn't have been completely mixed across continents: closer populations would have been more genetically similar to each other than those further apart. And because of this, the amount of ancestral DNA shared with Neanderthals would vary.

Neanderthals and modern humans share a common ancestor who is thought to have spanned Africa and Europe about half a million years ago.

About 350-300 million years ago, though, the two populations became separated. The Europeans evolved into Neanderthals, and the Africans into modern humans.

However, as today, populations wouldn't have been completely mixed across continents: closer populations would have been more genetically similar to each other than those further apart. And because of this, the amount of ancestral DNA shared with Neanderthals would vary.

By examining the different genetic makeup among modern human populations, the scientists attempted to quantify this variation. They simulated a large number of populations representing Africa and Eurasia over the last half-million years, and estimated how much similarity would be expected between a random Neanderthal individual and modern humans in Africa and Eurasia. The resuts were pretty much what we see today.

"Thus, based on common ancestry and geographic differences among populations within each continent, we would predict out of Africa populations to be more similar to Neanderthals than their African counterparts - exactly the patterns that were observed when the Neanderthal genome was sequenced; but this pattern was attributed to hybridisation," says Manica.

"Hopefully, everyone will become more cautious before invoking hybridisation, and start taking into account that ancient populations differed from each other probably as much as modern populations do."

By the bye, in the picture above, the European Neanderthal is on the left. He insisted all Neanderthals should have the god-given right to be armed, and should be careful of not being caught wading in gene pool.

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