Ich Bin Ein Neandertaler

My lifelong fascination with prehistoric stuff just got a major jolt with the headline that early Humans did indeed inter-breed with Neanderthals. So much so, the experts say, that many of us, myself included, carry Neanderthal DNA in our makeup.

Here's an excerpt from Discovery News:

"If your heritage is non-African, you are part Neanderthal, according to a new study in the July issue of Molecular Biology and Evolution. Damian Labuda of the University of Montreal's Department of Pediatrics and the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Center conducted the study with his colleagues. They determined some of the human X chromosome originates from Neanderthals, but only in people of non-African heritage.

'This confirms recent findings suggesting that the two populations interbred,' Labuda was quoted as saying in a press release. His team believes most, if not all, of the interbreeding took place in the Middle East, while modern humans were migrating out of Africa and spreading to other regions.

The ancestors of Neanderthals left Africa about 400,000 to 800,000 years ago. They evolved over the millennia mostly in what are now France, Spain, Germany and Russia

So, this new finding has me wondering. What part of human nature can be attributed to our Neanderthal past?

There's probably no way of knowing. Though some scientists speculate, saying that Neanderthals made stone tools and may have had language, music, and art abilities. They may have even buried their dead, suggesting the use of ritual, and perhaps a belief in an afterlife?

In their heyday, the Neanderthals ranged across most of Europe and Asia, including some very cold spots. I wonder how they would handle this heat wave we are now having? I'll bet they would head North in search of cooler climes.

In any event, let's raise a toast to our new ancestors, the Neanderthals. Welcome to the Human Family!

Posted by Terrence Seamon on Wednesday July 20, 2011


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