Re: Neanderthals...

Alex Duncan (
19 Sep 1995 00:02:20 GMT

In article <> Bearcat, writes:

>: >1. Geographical separation of Neanderthals and Homo sapiens for
>: >two million years sounds convincing for splitting them to different
>: >species. Anyway, if the separation was complete, there was no
>: >pressure to _develop_ mating hindrances between them. Instead, if the
>: >speciation occured in the same area and was based on differences in
>: >living habits, such hindrances should be advantageous. They would
>: >help to avoid crossings that were inferior to both parental types.
>: >Those different looking apes wandering, but not breeding together
>: >(and maybe specializing in different food) is a good example. Goat
>: >and sheep are another. Any population geneticists out there?
>: Where'd you get 2 Myr? Most of the evidence I'm aware of suggest
>: possible separation by 300 kyr, or perhaps a little older, depending on
>: how old you think Petralona might be.
>She's talking about Homo erectus, not modern humans.

So should I be replacing the term "Neanderthals" w/ H. erectus, or "Homo
sapiens" w/ H. erectus? Either way there are problems. There is no
evidence that suggests that a lineage (separate from H. erectus) leading
to either Neandertals or H. sapiens has been extant for 2 Myr. The
oldest good fossil evidence for H. sapiens is on the order of 100 to 125
kyr (I'm excluding most of what now gets lumped into "Archaic H.
sapiens"), and the oldest good evidence for a Neandertal lineage is
probably Atapeurca or Petralona, at somewhere between 300 kyr and 450 kyr
(and of course, the evidence that Atapeurca or Petralona represent
Neandertal precursors is not conclusive).

Alex Duncan
Dept. of Anthropology
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX 78712-1086