The Emerging Fate Of The Neandertals

April 25, 2007
The Emerging Fate Of The Neandertals
The Oase 2 (Upper) and Muierii 1 (Lower) crania in norma lateralis left. In an article appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Erik Trinkaus, Ph.D., professor of anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis, has brought together data showing that early modern humans did exhibit evidence of Neandertal traits. Credit: Romanian Academy/Muzeul Olteni/Erik Trinkaus

For nearly a century, anthropologists have been debating the relationship of Neandertals to modern humans. Central to the debate is whether Neandertals contributed directly or indirectly to the ancestry of the early modern humans that succeeded them.

As this discussion has intensified in the past decades, it has become the central research focus of Erik Trinkaus, Ph.D., professor of anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis. Trinkaus has examined the earliest modern humans in Europe, including specimens in Romania, Czech Republic and France. Those specimens, in Trinkaus' opinion, have shown obvious Neandertal ancestry.

In an article appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Trinkaus has brought together the available data, which shows that early modern humans did exhibit evidence of Neandertal traits.

"When you look at all of the well dated and diagnostic early modern European fossils, there is a persistent presence of anatomical features that were present among the Neandertals but absent from the earlier African modern humans," Trinkaus said. "Early modern Europeans reflect both their predominant African early modern human ancestry and a substantial degree of admixture between those early modern humans and the indigenous Neandertals."

This analysis, along with a number of considerations of human genetics, argues that the fate of the Neandertals was to be absorbed into modern human groups. Just as importantly, it also says that the behavioral difference between the groups were small. They saw each other as social equals.

Source: Washington University in St. Louis

Explore further: More traits associated with your Neandertal DNA

Related Stories

More traits associated with your Neandertal DNA

October 5, 2017

After humans and Neandertals met many thousands of years ago, the two species began interbreeding. Although Neandertals aren't around anymore, about two percent of the DNA in non-African people living today comes from them. ...

Neanderthal boy's skull grew like a human child's: study

September 21, 2017

The first analysis of a Neanderthal boy's skull uncovered in Spain suggests that he grew much like a modern boy would, in another sign that our extinct ancestors were similar to us, researchers said Thursday.

No signs of incest in new Neanderthal woman genome

October 5, 2017

A complete genetic analysis of a Neanderthal woman whose remains were found in a cave in Croatia shows no apparent incest in her ancestry, contrary to a previous specimen, researchers said Thursday.

Dating encounters between modern humans and Neandertals

October 4, 2012

To discover why Neandertals are most closely related to people outside Africa, Harvard and Max Planck Institute scientists have estimated the date when Neandertals and modern Europeans last shared ancestors. The research, ...

Recommended for you

Nuclear technology unlocks 50-million-year-old time capsules

December 11, 2017

A scientific analysis of fossilised tree resin has caused a rethink of Australia's prehistoric ecosystem, and could pave the way to recovering more preserved palaeobiological artefacts from the time of dinosaurs or prehistoric ...

Egypt archaeologists discover mummy in Luxor

December 9, 2017

Egyptian archaeologists have discovered a mummy in one of two previously unexplored tombs across the Nile from the southern city of Luxor, the antiquities ministry said Saturday.

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.