Re: Modern Neanderthals?

C. Marc Wagner @ UCS (@)
Tue, 15 Oct 1996 16:33:16 -0500

Yousuf Khan wrote:

> Not if neanderthals weren't a separate species. I personally find the whole
> concept of classifying Neanderthals as a separate species as a racist
> concept. Scientists who are so disgusted by what they see that they can't
> stand to classify them in the same category as "us" (whoever "us" may be at
> the time).


> I can guarantee you that in the next 100 years that some anthropologists of
> that time will be sitting around discussing how racist we were for
> considering Neanderthal features as even remotely significant. Of course,
> by then they will have their own set of prejudices to overcome.

How did racism get into this discussion? The cornerstone of the
distinction between similar species is in the inability to interbreed.
All known Hominids living today are capable of interbreeding and thus
are of the same species -- H.s.s. -- and we are of a species with a
remarkably broad range of variability -- which we call "race" and which
some use as an excuse to make urselves feel somehow puperior to those
who are different..

Speciation is NOT racism! The debate, it seems to me, is whether or not
Neaderthals were a subspecies (H.sapiens neanderthalensis) and thus
capable of interbreeding with H.s.s. which co-existed with it. Or
whether Neaderthals were really Homo neaderthalensis, a separate but
related species, which COULD NOT interbreed with H.s.s..

While the "jury" is still out on this (based upon this thread, anyway),
it is my understanding, from reading this newsgroup over the last
several months, that the overlap of H.s.s. and Neaderthals was great
enough that we should have seen some evidence of common features among
the remains that we have if indeed interbreeding were possible.

C. MARC WAGNER -- UNIX Systems Specialist @ UCS
INDIANA UNIVERSITY -- Bloomington, Indiana, USA