Wired Science (May 6, 2010)
"After years of anticipation, the Neanderthal genome has been sequenced. It's not quite complete, but there's enough for scientists to start comparing it with our own.
"According to these first comparisons, humans and Neanderthals are practically identical at the protein level. Whatever our differences, they're not in the composition of our building blocks.
"However, even if the Neanderthal genome won't show scientists what makes humans so special, there's a consolation prize for the rest of us. Most people can likely trace some of their DNA to Neanderthals.
" 'The Neanderthals are not totally extinct. In some of us they live on a little bit, said Max Planck Institute evolutionary geneticist Svante Pääbo...."
When I read that "humans and Neanderthals are practically identical at the protein level," I wondered if that meant that humans are practically identical, or humans whose ancestors lived in Europe for the last few thousand years are practically identical. The researchers took ethnicity/ancestry into account:
"...the researchers produced a more immediately stirring result. They compared the Neanderthal genome to genomes of five people from China, France, Papua New Guinea, southern Africa and western Africa. Among non-Africans, between one and four percent of all DNA came from Neanderthals...."
The Wired Science article goes into a fair level of detail about this research. Interesting, if you're into that sort of thing: which I am.
Folks in Africa don't have the Neanderthal heritage: which isn't all that surprising, considering what's been happening for the last 160,000 or so years. ("'Journey of Mankind:' 160,000 Years of Ups and Downs" (November 1, 2007)) From the looks of it, my ancestors had a serious case of 'sand in the shoes,' and moved out of Africa a long, long time ago. Later, finding their way back might have been tricky: and I'm not convinced that the more sensible folks, who didn't go gallivanting off to the ragged edge of nowhere, would have been all that glad to have the crazy ones back.
I don't look very much like a Neanderthal, myself: but I don't look like my Campbell forebears, either. My branch of the clan lost the 'wry mouth' that gave us our name several generations back. Change happens.
- "Homo Erectus, Kitchens, and Human (Pre)History"
(December 21, 2009)
- "There Weren't Many Neanderthals - Which is Why They Died Out?!"
(July 17, 2009)
- "Early Humans: Climbing/Walking Tradeoff Pushed Back"
(April 30, 2009)
- "Neanderthals Didn't Look Like Us: and it Didn't Matter"
(March 24, 2008)
- "Africans, Europeans, Asians, and Other Ethnic Groups: Humanity's Family History Gets Updated (Four Articles and an Abstract)"
(February 23, 2008)
- "World History Timeline"
(March 30, 2008)
- " 'Journey of Mankind:' 160,000 Years of Ups and Downs"
(November 1, 2007)
What's a nice Catholic fellow doing, writing about Neanderthals? Ultra-terse answer: My faith doesn't encourage me to ignore facts or reason. I've discussed this sort of thing before, in another blog:
- "'If you must see ghosts ...' Materialism, Being Spiritual, and Uncle Deadly"
A Catholic Citizen in America (December 18, 2009)
- "Faith and Reason, Religion and Science"
A Catholic Citizen in America (March 20, 2009)
- "Catholic Church, Creationism, Evolution, Facts and Faith"
A Catholic Citizen in America (March 5, 2009)
- "Emotions, the Frontal Cortex, The War on Terror, Anarchists, and the Illuminati"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (December 23, 2008)