Re: Modern Neanderthals?

Rohinton Collins (
18 Oct 1996 19:20:11 GMT

> >Yousuf Khan wrote:
> That is precisely my point. We _do_ see the evidence of the
> today: the entire Caucasian race today shows the evidence of Neanderthal
> features, just by looks alone.

What?? Who taught you palaeoanthropology? What textbooks (if any) have you
been reading from? The Neanderthals show drastically different morphology
from H.s.s.
Among other things: they have no chin (although some later Neanderthal
specimens display the suggestion of a chin), AND they have LARGE brow
ridges, AND sloping foreheads, AND a stocky physique, AND distinct nasal
aperature morphology, AND distinct laryngeal/pharyngeal morphology. Need I
go on? Of course there is variation within a species, especially one as
dispersed as H.s.s., but no 'race' of H.s.s. consistently displays any of
these features, so how can you say that the entire Caucasoid race show
evidence of Neanderthal features?

> Even looking at reconstructed Neanderthal
> remains, one is hard-pressed to tell any real difference with a cursory
> glance. There is less difference in looks between a Neanderthal and

???? Cursory glance? What are you saying, that you base your assumptions on
cursory glances? Do you realise that you insult respected
palaeoanthropologists by such expressions? Have you studied ANY fossil
hominids whatsoever? From what authority is such a bold statement made?

> than there is between wolves, coyotes, and dogs, all of which are exactly
> the same species genetically.

Wolves and coyotes are reproductively isolated and are therefore considered
separate species. I confess I do not know if they can produce fertile
offspring. But whether they can or cannot is irrelevant, since naturally,
they wouldn't. Dogs have been bred by man and would not have evolved
naturally into the different breeds we see today. They do not even enter
into this argument. Please only express relevant points.

> The differences in size and musculature is minor, the entire human race
> shown signs of getting smaller and smaller with every passing generation.

Very untrue, the fossil remains from Skhul or Qafzeh, or indeed from
Cro-Magnon would all fit comfortably into the wide variation seen today. Oh
and evolution doesn't act generation by generation (unless under severe
environmental pressure), at least not on hominids.

> You see sometimes that people get taller because of better nutritional
> situations, but in general the whole human race is trending towards
> becoming less physical, and thus smaller.

You never explain yourself sufficiently Yousuf, You make wild statements
like this one without any evidence to back up your ideas.

> Yousuf Khan
> --
> Yousuf J. Khan
> Ottawa, Ont, Canada
> Nation's capital

It is now widely accepted, due to fossil evidence which shows the H.s.s.
lineage dating further back than *Homo neanderthalensis* ;) , that we did
not evolve from the Neanderthals. As to whether we interbred with them. The
fossil evidence describes two, very different species. There is no evidence
to suggest that they would have interbred with our antecedents. Any modern
features in the later Neanderthals can be explained as convergence (a
primitive chin, for example). And any *Neanderthal-like* features found in
us or our antecedents can be explained as (what's the word I'm looking for?
- Plesiomorphic?) features found in our common ancestor (like brow-ridges
and a sloping forehead) - archaic H.s. or H. erectus. As to the question of
what happened to them. It is not reasonable to suggest that, through
interbreeding, the Neanderthals were swallowed up by H.s.s.. A simple study
of their respective lifestyles, culture and group size (for want of the
correct term - again, someone help me out - if anyone is interested in this
subject, please say so) suggests markedly distinct species. It is more
likely that as the ice age passed, (not only for this reason) H.s.s. was
reproductively more successful. And since the food sources of the
Neanderthals and H.s.s. were very similar, the Neanderthals were simply
driven north by H.s.s.. Their territory diminished and they eventually
became too small a genetic resource for survival. This needn't have
happened very quickly, and does not require any murderous behaviour on the
part of H.s.s., look at the grey squirrel in the UK. It managed to displace
the red squirrel very efficiently in a matter of years, but no-one saw them
tearing out the throats of the red squirrels. Obviously the scenario I have
painted is very simplistic, but it may give you an idea of what happened to
the Neanderthals. I have necessarily left out many factors since no-one
wants to read a book when browsing Usenet :) . Perhaps someone would like
to discuss the cultural and cognitive reasons why Homo sapiens and Homo
neanderthalensis would not have interbred, or even mixed.

I don't mean to be rude or arrogant Yousuf, although I am aware that I
probably come across so. It is just that I have studied in this field, and
most of the statements you make reflect nothing of the fossil evidence so
far unearthed. A little reading on the subject would not go amiss, before
rolling headlong into discussion. This is a fairly specialized newsgroup
after all.

Apologetically yours,