Neanderthal/human relationship questioned

September 12, 2005

The debate over the relationship between Neanderthals and modern humans is taking on new virulence amid a collection of new evidence.

For years, paleontologists have argued about whether anatomically modern humans either wiped out the Neanderthals or whether Neanderthals and the invaders simply interbred to create today's Homo sapiens, the Washington Post reported.

While DNA analysis to date suggests Neanderthals and modern humans are probably unrelated, researchers say new analysis of materials from old excavations in France shows Neanderthals and modern humans coexisted in western Europe during the Neanderthals' waning days, and thus had "potential demographic and cultural interactions."

Co-author Paul Mellars -- a University of Cambridge archaeologist and leading proponent of the view that modern humans pushed aside and then replaced Neanderthals -- told the newspaper he knew "there would be screaming" after publication of the research in the journal Nature this month.

"It's hogwash," said Erik Trinkaus, an anthropologist at Washington University in St. Louis who is an advocate both of Neanderthal-modern human interbreeding and Neanderthals' ability to adapt and "modernize."

Trinkaus said Mellars "is grasping at straws."

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: DNA analysis of Denisovan molars offers more clues about ancient human relative

Related Stories

Time travel with the molecular clock

November 23, 2015

Migration isn't a new phenomenon, but new insights suggest that modern-day Europeans actually have at least three ancestral populations. This finding was published by Johannes Krause and prominently featured on the cover ...

Modern humans out of Africa sooner than thought

October 14, 2015

Human teeth discovered in southern China provide evidence that our species left the African continent up to 70,000 years earlier than prevailing theories suggest, a study published on Wednesday said.

Recommended for you

'Material universe' yields surprising new particle

November 25, 2015

An international team of researchers has predicted the existence of a new type of particle called the type-II Weyl fermion in metallic materials. When subjected to a magnetic field, the materials containing the particle act ...

CERN collides heavy nuclei at new record high energy

November 25, 2015

The world's most powerful accelerator, the 27 km long Large Hadron Collider (LHC) operating at CERN in Geneva established collisions between lead nuclei, this morning, at the highest energies ever. The LHC has been colliding ...

Study suggests fish can experience 'emotional fever'

November 25, 2015

(—A small team of researchers from the U.K. and Spain has found via lab study that at least one type of fish is capable of experiencing 'emotional fever,' which suggests it may qualify as a sentient being. In their ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.