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Neandertals

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In 2010 when the Neandertal sequence paper was published the word was that all non-Africans had the same proportion of ancestry from this population, a few percent. Over the past few years researchers have looked closer, and come to the conclusion that that was wrong. In particular, East Asians seem to have ~20 percent greater... Read More
The Austronesian expansion over the past 4,000 years, Credit
Over the past week or so the perpetual argument about whether we were "superior" to Neandertals or not has cropped up again, thanks to a new paper in PLoS ONE, Neandertal Demise: An Archaeological Analysis of the Modern Human Superiority Complex. In it the authors utilize material remains to infer that no, in fact Neandertals... Read More
A new paper in PNAS, Patterns of coding variation in the complete exomes of three Neandertals, reiterates what seems to be an emerging fact about ancient northern Eurasian hominins: they were rather inbred. The chart above illustrates it by focusing on regions of the genome that code for proteins. The ratio of benign to deleterious... Read More
Another Neandertal paper in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. But, because there is a delay between when the press is released to talk about it, and when it goes live, I haven't gotten a look at the primary material. There's a lot of juicy stuff in this piece at NBC Science though, Brain comparison... Read More
A month ago I posted Don't trust an archaeologist about genetics, don’t trust a geneticist about archaeology, in response to James Fallows at At 5% Neanderthal, You Are an Outlier. Fallows has now put up a follow up, The Neanderthal Defense Committee Swings Into Action, where he links to my response post. This prompted the... Read More
If you have a hard time following all the Neandertal genomics findings from the last few years, and their implications, National Geographic has a really thorough piece up. It's a good digest of all the news you can use. One thing I would like to add: from what I can tell the probability of the... Read More
John Hawks prompts to reemphasize an aspect of my thinking which has undergone a revolution over the past 10 years. I pointed to it in my post on the Khoe-San. In short, the common anatomically modern human ancestors of Khoe-San and non-Khoe-San may not have been people. Rather, people may have evolved over the past... Read More
Last August I had a post up, The point mutation which made humanity, which suggested that it may be wrong to conceive of the difference between Neanderthals and the African humans which absorbed and replaced them ~35,000 years ago as a matter of extreme differences at specific genes. I was prompted to this line of... Read More
"There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare [children] to them, the same [became] mighty men which [were] of old, men of renown." - Genesis 6:4 The Pith: Pygmies and Khoisan have admixture from a... Read More
Steve Hsu points me to a piece in The New Yorker on the science and personality of Svante Pääbo. The personality part includes references to Pääbo's bisexuality, which to me seemed to be literally dropped into the prose to spice it up. Of course it was the science which I found interesting. There are many... Read More
John Hawks weighs in on the paper I pointed to yesterday. As someone who couldn't make heads or tales of the stratigraphy I'm a little relieved that John took time out from his tour of Rome to comment. Not too surprisingly it seems that the relatively definitive seeming conclusion of the study authors, and especially... Read More
When the draft sequence of the Neandertal genome was analyzed it turned out that there was little difference across non-Africans in their proportion of admixture from this other human lineage. It was a rather strange finding as Neandertals seem to have flourished from Europe to the Altai, and from the ice sheets to the fringes... Read More
Mr. James Winters at A Replicated Typo pointed me to a short hypothesis paper, Neanderthal-human Hybrids. This paper argues that selective mating of Neandertal males with females of human populations which had left Africa more recently, combined with Haldane's rule, explains three facts: - The lack of Neandertal Y chromosomal lineages in modern humans. -... Read More
Mitochondrial DNA and human evolution: And so was published in the year 1987 the paper which established in the public's mind the idea of mitochondrial Eve, which gave rise to a famous cover photo in Newsweek. This also led to the Children of Eve episode on the PBS documentary NOVA. Here is the summary: As... Read More
I just purchased a copy of William Golding's The Inheritors. Golding is famous for writing Lord of the Flies, a work of literature of such influence that it has made the transition into our everyday lexicon. But I just listened to a podcast of an interview with a biographer of the great author, and it... Read More
John Hawks has a very long post up. This part caught my attention: As Hawks notes later, this paper comes pretty close to resolving whether Neandertals were of the same species as we moderns, at least using the biological species concept. There were fertile hybrids. That should not be too surprising, a few years ago... Read More
Read Carl Zimmer's post, Skull Caps and Genomes. The papers aren't on the Science website yet. And of course, Google News. I think I'm just going to wait on the papers before I say much more.... Good time to be alive, no? Update: John Hawks. Update II: Science got the page up.
Mr. Carl Zimmer points me to a new article in Nature, Neanderthals may have interbred with humans. The details within the article are more tantalizing, it seems to me, than the headline would imply. The topline is this, researchers presented the following at the recent meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists: * An... Read More
Neanderthals 'had sex' with modern man:The way Paabo is couching it, what he has found then seems likely to be evidence that humans who had just expanded Out of Africa contributed to the genomes of Neandertals. In other words, modern human introgression into Neandertals. Of course if the gene flow was from modern human to... Read More
Razib Khan
About Razib Khan

"I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com"