Re: DISCOVER/Neanderthal/Homo Sap.

2 Sep 1995 21:59:22 GMT

In article <429rnt$>, (Erin Miller) writes:
>Are you SURE they were _Homo sapiens neanderthalensis_?

Well, that's what the textbooks still say.

>Lots of scientists seem to think they should be called _Homo neanderthalensis_
> in which case, see the other posts on the many reasons why such matings
>might not have occured (and even do not occur in sibling species which
>*are* techincally capable of it).

Lots of scientists also believe the alternative. Let's face it, in our
field one can't know anything for sure, can one? So, I wouldn't ridicule
a layperson for asking a legitimate question (like, couldn't they have been
having sex?) There's no way we'll ever know if there was an actual species
difference, since we can't mate with one now, or look at their DNA. Many of
the later hominid "species" look functionally very similar, in my view.
There seems to be a great trend towards "splitting" lately, which may not
be justified in this case.
Of course, there is always the old saying "Would you mate with a Neandertal?"
Sexual selection is still a possibility, in any case, but being (generally)
unwilling to mate is still not the same as being unable.
Caroline Cooper
Dept. of Anthropology
SUNY Albany