Human-Neanderthal coupling was rare: study

September 12, 2011
A photographer takes pictures of the Neanderthal man ancestor's reconstruction, displayed in a show of the Prehistoric Museum in Halle, eastern Germany. Scientists have shown that modern humans have some traces of genes from Neanderthals, but a study out Monday suggests that any breeding between the two was most likely a rare event.

Scientists have shown that modern humans have some traces of genes from Neanderthals, but a study out Monday suggests that any breeding between the two was most likely a rare event.

The new computational model, based on from modern humans in France and China, shows successful coupling happened at a rate of less than two percent.

The research suggests that either inter-species sex was very taboo, or that the hybrid offspring had trouble surviving, according to the findings in the .

There may have been "extremely strong barriers to between the two species because of a very low fitness of human-Neanderthal hybrids, a very strong avoidance of interspecific mating, or a combination," said the study by researchers at the University of Geneva and the University of Berne in Switzerland.

Between two and four percent of the can be linked to the long-extinct Neanderthals and their cavemen relatives.

The squat, low-browed Neanderthals lived in parts of Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East for up to 300,000 years but all evidence of them disappears some 40,000 years ago, their last known refuge being Gibraltar.

Why they died out is a matter of some debate, because they co-existed alongside modern man.

A study by French researchers published in the journal Science last month suggested that modern humans gleaned a competitive immune advantage from their liaisons with cavemen.

However, scientists still have no evidence to suggest the nature of those sexual encounters, whether violent or consensual.

Previous studies have also suggested that were crowded out by modern humans, and that the death blow to their species may have been accelerated by a spate of harsh, wintry weather.

Explore further: Dying young did not cause Neanderthals' demise

More information: “Strong reproductive isolation between humans and Neanderthals inferred from observed patterns of introgression,” by Mathias Currat and Laurent Excoffier, PNAS (2011).

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5 / 5 (1) Sep 12, 2011
who says Neanderthals are extinct hasn't be out and about enough - and they are much more attractive to modern women who want a husband that can fix things in the home - it is clear that they attracted the early "modern" woman with their skills in surviving in the ice age climate then
not rated yet Sep 13, 2011
Title needs to add " Before the advent of beer "
1 / 5 (1) Sep 13, 2011
There is now evidence of sexual recombination that suggests our ancestors came from different species who exchanged genetic material (Abi-Rached et al., 2011), despite the common very strong avoidance of interspecific mating (Currat & Excoffier, 2011). Interspecifc mating can be politely referred to as mixing but it is technically referred to as symbiogenesis.

Pheromone-dependent social selection of eusocial insects appears to precede sexual selection. Social selection enables evolution via symbiogenesis in bacteria (Margulis, 1998) and it enables sexual selection in other closely related species across an evolutionary continuum due to their proximity (exception: incest avoidance in mammals).

The picture in the article gives a common sense impression that sexual selection in closely related human species is not a function of visual input, which is also ridiculous from the perspective of evolutionary biology.
not rated yet Sep 13, 2011
Yeah we probably interbred with them some, I have seen some very gorilla-like people in my life. It is interesting that the offspring would be weakened, that would explain it well.

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