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Neanderthals

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Kostenki Man, reconstructed by Mikhail Gerasimov (1907-1970). An early European who was not yet phenotypically European.
Who were the first Europeans? We now have a better idea, thanks to a new paper about DNA from a man who lived some 38,700 to 36,200 years ago. His remains were found at Kostenki, a well-known Upper Paleolithic site in central European Russia (Seguin-Orlando et al., 2014). Kostenki Man tells us several things about... Read More
Skull from Broken Hill (Kabwe), Zambia.  Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Archaic humans were still around when the Neanderthals were going extinct in Europe
East Africa, 60,000 to 80,000 years ago. The relative stasis of early humans was being shaken by a series of population expansions. The last one went global, spreading out of Africa, into Eurasia and, eventually, throughout the whole world (Watson et al., 1997). Those humans became us. This expansion took place at the expense of... Read More
Taiwanese aboriginal children, Bunun village (source: Jeremy Kemp). 60-70% of Taiwanese aborigines have a loss-of-function allele at the main hair color gene, MC1R, yet their hair is as black as humans with the original “African” allele. This seems to be a general pattern in Asians. They have fewer MC1R alleles than do Europeans, and the... Read More
World distribution of the recent Microcephalin allele. The prevalence is indicated in black and the letter 'D' refers to the 'derived' or recent allele(Evans et al., 2005) Almost a decade ago, there was much interest in a finding that a gene involved in brain growth, Microcephalin, continued to evolve after modern humans had begun to... Read More
Remains of archaic hominins from southwest China (Curnoe et al, 2012). They were around when villages and towns were arising in the Middle East. Recent findings have confirmed the ‘Out of Africa’ model of human origins, but only in part. The model diverges from actual prehistory on two main points. One is that modern humans... Read More
“Neanderthal” admixture seems to be higher in West Africans than in East Africans. How come? (Source) When modern humans began their expansion from a small core somewhere in East Africa, the continent probably had several different archaic populations. It now seems that one of them was related to the Neanderthals in Europe. In an ongoing... Read More
Modern humans entered the Americas from northern Eurasia. As they entered tropical environments farther south, they had to evolve new genetic adaptations from scratch. They no longer had the ones their remote forbearers had back in Africa. (Source) OK, so modern humans have archaic admixture, and the degree of admixture seems to be highest among... Read More
Map of Nigeria, showing the location of the Iwo Eleru rock shelter and the Iwo Eleru skulls. (Harvati et al., 2011) Sub-Saharan Africans have an unusual complex of dental features: The two low-frequency traits appear to be “derived.” They seem to have developed in sub-Saharan Africa after modern humans began to spread to other continents.... Read More
What did the Neanderthals look like? Source Hard to tell, since we know so little about their soft tissues. But they probably had fur. Were the Neanderthals as furry as bears? The question was raised by one of my readers, and I’ll try to reply at length in this post. There are three lines of... Read More
Yakuzas (Japanese mafia). The largest Yakuza syndicate is over 70% Burakumin. Source Here are a few themes I wish to write about during 2012: Archaic admixture: A wild goose chase? With the discovery that Europeans and Asians are 1 to 4% Neanderthal, there has been a rush to learn more. What genes are involved? Does... Read More
Broken Hill skull from Zambia, dated to 110,000 BP. It is often identified as a Homo sapiens, largely because it is so recent. We now have evidence that very archaic hominins inhabited central and southern Africa at least 35,000 years ago. The past year has brought us a new model of human evolution. It’s a... Read More
Andaman Islanders. Related peoples once inhabited the coastal regions of southern, southeastern, and eastern Asia. The past year brought two major advances: the long awaited sequencing of the Neanderthal genome and the genetic sequencing of an another archaic human, the Denisovans of East Asia, whose existence had previously been unsuspected. The bottom line comes down... Read More
With the onset of the glacial maximum c. 20,000 years ago, and the ponding up of the Ob River, humans circulated less easily from one end of the steppe-tundra belt to the other. This barrier separated ancestral Europeans from ancestral East Asians. Outside Africa, people seem to have the same amount of Neanderthal admixture, be... Read More
Skhul V – one of the Skhul-Qafzeh hominins. Were they the middleman between Neanderthal genes and the modern human genome? When I initially published my last post, I pooh-poohed the rumors about the reconstructed Neanderthal genome. How could modern humans have Neanderthal DNA when no such admixture appeared in previous analyses of mtDNA, dentition, and... Read More
Did the Neanderthal gene pool overlap with the modern human gene pool? In other words, are some modern humans genetically closer to some Neanderthals than they are to other modern humans? The answer is ‘yes’ if we look at individual DNA sequences, as shown in the first graph (above): Thus, the largest difference observed between... Read More
(see Coleman, 2010) About 80,000 years ago in East Africa, some human populations began to expand rapidly at the expense of others. This process culminated in a massive expansion that started spreading to other continents some time after 60,000 BP (Watson et al., 1997). This population expanded at the expense of more archaic humans. In... Read More
How did archaic humans evolve into the different populations of Homo sapiens we see today? The answer has long divided anthropologists. Some opt for the ‘out-of-Africa’ model; others for the multiregional model. According to the out-of-Africa model, we all descend from a small group that existed some 100,000 to 80,000 years ago somewhere in eastern... Read More
About two years ago, Gregory Cochran teased GNXP readers with a suggestion that Neanderthals might still be living among us. There was a flurry of speculation. Sasquatches? Yeti? Scottish redheads? Finally, the answer has come out. Greg thinks there may be infectious organisms that originally developed from Neanderthal tumors several tens of millennia ago. These... Read More
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