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: Scientists discover an early modern human with a recent neanderthal ancestor

Related Stories

What rabbits can tell us about Neanderthal extinction?

June 9, 2015

When thinking about the extinction of Neanderthals some 30,000 years ago, rabbits may not be the first thing that spring to mind. But the way rabbits were hunted and eaten by Neanderthals and modern humans – or not, as ...

French teen finds 560,000 year-old tooth (Update)

July 28, 2015

A 16-year-old French volunteer archaeologist has found an adult tooth dating back around 560,000 years in southwestern France, in what researchers hailed as a "major discovery" Tuesday.

The 'return' of the hazel dormouse to the Iberian Peninsula

June 12, 2015

From the east of France all the way to Russia, the hazel dormouse now inhabits practically the whole of Europe. However, on the Iberian Peninsula it is absent where its first remains were found, which date from the Miocene, ...

Recommended for you

Chemists solve major piece of cellular mystery

August 27, 2015

Not just anything is allowed to enter the nucleus, the heart of eukaryotic cells where, among other things, genetic information is stored. A double membrane, called the nuclear envelope, serves as a wall, protecting the contents ...

0 comments

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.