Re: Neanderthals as dead end?

Kevyn Loren Winkless (
29 Nov 1994 20:40:09 GMT

In <3b32e6$> (HARRY R. ERWIN) writes:
>selective pressure. Skin color is probably the most important such
>genetically controlled feature since a light skin in northern Europe helps
>avoid Vitamin D deficiency. We do know upper paleolithic cultures were
>present as far north as there was non-glaciated terrain (Martin Wobst--a
>discussion at the Cambridge Conference in 1990--and Clive Gamble--see his
>book, Timewalkers). If neanderthal genes could flow, they would have. If
>people want detailed references, I can provide them, including a couple of
>my own.

I think that this is a very important point: not only are such
non-fossilizing traits as skin coloration, hair coloration etc. the most
likely sources of gene flow (these seem to be the areas wherein gene flow
occurs most in modern populations, along with metabolic factors - again
which don't fossilize), we might assume that at this point in time (post
intellectual revolution) culture may have been a more important adaptive
element than much of genetics.

>: >Neanderthals were apparently adopting upper paleolithic culture during the
>: >period of contact in Europe, which is highly suggestive of assimilation.

This tells us a little about culture interplay...though we have to take
into account the point made about an apparent inability on the part of
Neandertalensis to assimilate much of the aurignacian etc. technology.
Or at least those aspects of it which preserved sufficiently to be

>: Well, there is certainly evidence that the neandertals *attempted*
>: to assimilate to upper paleolithic culture, but there is no evidence
>: that I know of that they ever managed to get past the rather crude
>: Chatelperronian stage to achieve a full-fledged Aurignacian technology.

>: of the *inability* of the neandertal to quite manage the intricacies
>: of upper paleolithic technology.

>would have resulted in gene flow if it were possible. Please remember that
>most species are isolated behaviorally, rather than by genetic barriers.
>Also, indirect competition would probably have been sufficient to knock
>out the neanderthals in a few hundred years if they didn't assimilate.

Very important indeed, especially if we are considering the possibility
of culture as an adaptive measure. Culture can be a very powerful
behavioural is in fact culture which limited any
large-scale interbreeding between, for instance, islamic peoples and
catholic peoples, or between the British traders and the Chinese at Hong
Kong. "They're different" "I don't like their sort"...xenophobia alone
might be seen as a powerful inhibitor for gene flow. Hominid males may
not be terribly picky, but once you bring culture into the bargain,
especially if there are any significant physical differences between two
peoples, you have to consider whether or not they consider each other to
be the same species. If not, then there would probably be much the same
tabu as one finds with bestiality.

"...I drank WHAT!!?" - Socrates