An explanation for prop forwards

The ancestors of modern humans interbred with Neanderthals and another extinct line of humans known as the Denisovans at least four times in the course of prehistory, according to an analysis of global genomes published on Thursday in the journal Science.

Hey, works for me (I was a full back).

31 thoughts on “An explanation for prop forwards”

  1. One cannot help but wonder in what manner this occurred, since Neanderthals and Sapiens were quite clearly distinct species and unlikely to have experienced mutual attraction or capable of pair bonding. (Denisovan remains are currently so fragmentary (two teeth, one finger bone) that we know very little about them).

    Neanderthals were cold adapted, had no clothes-making technology, did not huddle around fires and had ridges on their fingers which in other apes are from the infants hanging onto their mothers’ fur, so they were probably furry and had rough, unattractive skin and no sexually attractive breasts.

    It’s all a bit puzzling.

  2. H. neandertals and H. sapiens were not sufficiently speciated to make interbreeeding impossible. There’s currently investigations as to whether they should be H. neandertals or H. sapiens neanderthals, a subspecies of H. sapiens just as H. sapiens sapiens are (ie, us).

  3. Bloody backs, jogging around making sure their expensive hairdos aren’t ruined while us forwards do all the damn work….

  4. jgh,

    There’s a difference between “capable of producing fertile offspring” and “want to fuck each other”. We might be looking at a few bestiality fetishists for an explanation here. Heh.

    There’s also a current trend for minimising the differences between the two species and even as you say claiming they are the same species. This appears to be partly PC driven; I’ve even seen people accuse those who see them two different species with significant differences as “racist”. Srsly.

    I can’t help but think that most of the current reconstructions of Neanderthal are ludicrously anthropomorphic (sapiens-morphic?), despite the very great skeletal differences. They are actively being imagined as “as human as possible”, both physically and psychologically. It’s a matter, I think, of fashion.

    Although the matter of fur is far from settled, as I said above the balance of evidence is in favour of them being furry, rather than naked. Which makes the naked redheads with tattoos currently appearing in a museum near you look a little dubious.

  5. ukliberty: manufactured alcohol, proven archeologically, roughly 10.000 years ago. And that’s the stuff we’ve *found*…
    ( http://www.penn.museum/research/projects-researchers/asian-section/112-the-earliest-alcoholic-beverage-in-the-world )

    DNA evidence suggests a *lot* earlier, with sections of humanity losing/having diminished expression over the ages, depending on how much (fruit)alcohol they would have encountered in their diet. ( even in us Caucasians, alcohol tolerance needs to be *trained* …. )

    We’re not the only ones going for the Booze.. 😉

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRvT3m5eBUQ

  6. The 3% Neanderthal DNA in human Europeans is pretty well established.
    My guess is this is male sapiens + female neanderthal given the relative sizes of the birth canal.
    But the props vs backs thing is complete bollocks. Kiwi (Maori) SA (perm any black population) and Oceanic (Samoa, etc) cannot be explained by Neanderthals.

  7. @SE,

    Typical scuridophobic ignorance on display. The fur is only part of it – most important is what Mrs Tufty does with the nuts.

  8. IanB : “I can’t help but think that most of the current reconstructions of Neanderthal are ludicrously anthropomorphic (sapiens-morphic?), despite the very great skeletal differences. They are actively being imagined as “as human as possible”, both physically and psychologically. It’s a matter, I think, of fashion.”

    It’s indeed been a matter of fashion, but not in the way you think..
    The brutish, befurred, stupid ape-man is an image that has been popularised since even the 19th C, but it’s been known for decades that Neanderthals didn’t look like that. At all.
    The usual science v/s popular myth thing.

    They weren’t brutish, or stupid.
    Their cranial volume was larger than ours, while being close to our modern size. If anything, they could be *smarter* than us, under the same circumstances. They needed to be, given the environment they lived in. The stupid met Darwin at an early age…
    They knew trade. Unless you care to explain how substantial amounts of Russian flint and other hard, workable rock ended up in Spain by natural forces at a time when H.Sap hadn’t left Africa yet.
    They knew jewellery and adornments. They worked ochre. They had art
    Their stone tools were sophisticated and pretty close to technical perfection for the material involved. Better certainly than the stuff we’ve found from H.Sap at that same timeframe.

    As for fur… No they didn’t. Hairy certainly, but not more than us, especially if you consider such examples as say, Robin Williams… And red,.. yes.. that particular colouration has been found in their genes.
    If they purely relied on their own hair for insulation in the positively Siberian climate they lived in, they’d have needed full fledged fur, with undercoat, and seasonal shedding, to event start to survive. And there’s no single genetic marker found to point to that. At all.
    They must have relied on clothes for protection against the elements, especially in winter. Given the tools found, furs/hides certainly.
    There’s no way to tell if they used grass ( the Other Clothes ), since there’s bugger all chance of anything made of it surviving after all this time, so there’s not a chance of archeological evidence one way or another, but given the rest they did, it certainly wouldn’t surprise me.

    All that stuff is based on real archeology, and comparative genetics. The real sciencey stuff that deals in facts.
    And those fact give a far different image of what Neanderthals looked like and could accomplish than the image that is stuck in your mind.

  9. IanB: “There’s a difference between “capable of producing fertile offspring” and “want to fuck each other”. We might be looking at a few bestiality fetishists for an explanation here. Heh.”

    The fact that the Neanderthal and Denisovan genes still survive up until this day, surviving anything Evolution could throw at us tells us a couple of things:

    – crossbreeding, where it happened, cannot have been an isolated case. You need a good amount of crossbreeding, even if you consider inbreeding in closed communities, for a gene to be “seeded” enough to survive in the population at large.

    – The Neanderthal/H.Sap halfbreeds must have been pretty good-looking and/or hugely successful in life in general. Else the genes would not have been spread through the human population as a whole.

    – H.Sap/Neanderthal pairings and their offspring must have been fertile. Again, else the genes could not possibly have spread in the population. That’s the thing with genes, y’know..

    So while you can’t tell whether or not encounters between Neanderthals and H.Sap were friendly as such, the Neandertal women most certainly were Humped, and Humped hard, as were their offspring.

    The males…. well… good chance they didn’t fare as well..
    For what anthropology and history are worth, all data points to the fact that Pacifism is a pretty modern affliction.
    In our “natural state”, the Meek do indeed inherit the Earth. Terminally.
    Even chance the Neanderthal women were Booty in both meanings. Making it even less likely they were Fugly to our ancestors.

  10. Grikath-

    Neandertals never innovated beyond the Mousterian toolkit. They are notably lacking in innovation in general. They were already a separate species long before the explostion of innovation which characterised sapiens (the reason for which is still not known).

    They did not have the technology for producing tailored clothing (absolutely necessary for sapiens in Europe in that climate (or indeed the current one)) although they may have produced, at best “poncho” type garments, which are no way warm enough for a naked ape. And as I pointed out, they do not seem to have used fires for warmth, only cooking, and the infants clung to their mothers’ fur according to the fingerbones.

    As to assumptions about my motivations; emotionally, at a gut level, I would prefer the opposite. I “like” the idea of the clever Neanderthal who was just like us, not the “ape man”. I particularly “like” the idea of having neanderthal ancestors.

    But the evidence we have suggests that these were very different creatures to us. They diverged at the H. heidelbergensis stage, well before sapiens evolved with our unique traits that created the truly modern human.

    Most importantly perhaps, this squat, powerful, robust species was a carnivorous top predator who engaged large prey directly and lived almost entirely on meat. It appears that both females and males engaged in this form of hunting. Neanderthal groups were smaller than sapiens groups and were basically a hunting pack.

    Sapiens is an omnivore; we get most of our calories from gathering plants, while our hunting strategy involves throwing spears from a safe distance at prey, not running at it with stabbing spears and knives, let alone jumping on it as Neanderthal injuries indicate that they did. Worlds apart. A hybrid child in a neanderthal band would be a weakling stuck on PIP with a “hunting disability”.

    A hybrid (male, at least) in a sapiens band may do better, being very strong. If it could survive on the low meat diet. He would not integrate well into sapiens hunting strategies though, but it’s possible he could maintain himself by hunting solo for smaller prey.

    But the interesting thing here is the moral judgements being imposed on evolution. It’s now not PC, apparently, to not apply moral universalism to discussion of a different species of homo. But it is not an insult to say that they were different from us. They evolved a distinct morphology (and apparently psychology) well suited to their environment. They were, as I said, top predators who routinely took on prey at close quarters that would have us overwhelmed and running in terror. Their uniqueness enabled them to survive an environment that we can only tolerate by deploying advanced technologies like tailored clothing which they did not have.

    “Ape man” is only a put down if you think there is something wrong with apes. We are all apes. We are apes with particular evolutionary adaptions; particularly, sapiens is a warm environment adapted species. Neanderthal was a cold adapted species. Diff’rent strokes.

  11. So…

    My guess would be occasional opportunistic rape of female sapiens by male neanderthals. There is not (so far as I know) any neanderthal mitochondria in the human line, which are maternally inherited. Resulting male hybrids in a sapiens community would have had a strength (and possibly aggression) advantage which could enable them to survive and reproduce, particularly as they were adapted for extreme close quarters fighting (with prey). It’s unlikely on the other hand that furry, fugly females would have had much reproductive success in a sapiens community.

    The genetic lines of any hybrids born to females in neanderthal communities who did survive would have gone extinct with them anyway.

    European males can be pretty hairy, in extreme cases verging on having a pelt. That may be the Neanderthal legacy.

  12. ” (Denisovan remains are currently so fragmentary (two teeth, one finger bone) that we know very little about them).”

    @IanB

    I’m betting big tits, too

  13. Surreptitious Evil

    So, if you have a cooking fire going and it’s a bit sodding freezing, you are going to have to be spectacularly dumber than the norm not to notice that it’s a bit more pleasant closer to the fire.

    And, of course, have a fairly spectacular arse for your position re the fire to leave archaeologically sound traces.

  14. Neanderthal sites, unlike human ones, do not show any organisation around a hearth. They used fire, it appears, purely for cooking meat.

    It’s worth remembering that fully anatomically modern humans (AMH) existed for some time before the final leap forward in mental development which made us capable of rapid innovation and original thinking evidenced by a sudden explosion of “cultural” archaelogical remains. It’s that which allowed H. sapiens to spread into environments for which we did not evolve. Making tailored clothing being a fundamental example. This happened long after the split from Neanderthals, who would have had to rely on evolutionary adaptions, not inventions.

    We know that they had needles for instance, but not ones which are suitable for tailoring. They couldn’t make boots, trousers, parkas, gloves or hats.

    Sapiens can’t survive most of the year in England without these technologies. They were living and hunting on tundra. The current popular reconstructions of a naked, clean shaven(!) bloke in furry underpants (to protect our sensitivities), made to look as “sapiens” as possible by the sculptors, does not make much sense at all.

  15. Surreptitious Evil

    Neanderthal sites, unlike human ones, do not show any organisation around a hearth. They used fire, it appears, purely for cooking meat.

    ‘Hearth’ is a technology, albeit a basic organisational one, that makes a fire slightly more efficient for certain purposes.

    The lack of one (see impromptu fires at h.sap gatherings) doesn’t mean that peeps aren’t using it for getting warm.

  16. So Much For Subtlety

    Ian B – “Sapiens is an omnivore; we get most of our calories from gathering plants”

    I am not sure that is true. Most of it seems based on the work of feminist “scholars” who cheated. They admitted to things like driving the women to their collecting sites. Oddly that meant they collected more.

    “A hybrid child in a neanderthal band would be a weakling stuck on PIP with a “hunting disability”.”

    It is interesting, mildly, to think of the assumptions behind Tarzan.

    “They were, as I said, top predators who routinely took on prey at close quarters that would have us overwhelmed and running in terror.”

    I would be interested to know how anyone could know that.

    Ian B – “It’s unlikely on the other hand that furry, fugly females would have had much reproductive success in a sapiens community.”

    There is no women so f-ugly that someone won’t knock her up. Well not many. Some may not admit to doing so in public. But they will. When was beer invented?

    Surreptitious Evil – “The lack of one (see impromptu fires at h.sap gatherings) doesn’t mean that peeps aren’t using it for getting warm.”

    I don’t think Ian is arguing they did not have one. I think he is arguing that surviving sites do not show people clustered around it. They spread out over a wider area to sleep. Sapiens showed clustering around the fire. So they were clearly using it for warmth.

  17. Ian.. Genetic comparison proves that especially us Europeans have positively selected the Neanderthal traits for skin and hair over the original H.Sap set…
    If anything our hairyness, or lack of it, is a direct reflection of how they looked. The straight thicker hair we tend to have compared to sub-sahara Africans is theirs, as is the fact that our skin is tougher and thicker (and in and of itself more insulating) due to higher keratin content.

    Your furry Neanderthal never existed. No genes for fur in their genome. Period.
    And the genes that cause differences in our hairyness, sometimes to extremes, have been proven to be due to different mutations in the cases where we know what causes it.
    That’s entirely ours, not Neanderthal at all.

    As for clothes… You don’t need fancy tailoring to make effective isolating, lifesaving clothes from fur, sinew, and a bit of flint.
    Chaps, loincloth, poncho, loose arm sleeves, primitive caligae. Done.
    All tubes with a single seam, a large flat bit with a hole in it and no seams at all, a small rectangular piece, and some foot-tracing and strap-cutting.
    If you want your head warm, make another tube.. done.
    No Armani, but it works. Quite more effectively than quite a bit of the modern fancy stuff as well, although a lot more itchy.

    Then there’s the issue of all that mammoth hair they must have had lying around, given that they hunted them and all..
    Lots of hair on a mammoth, even without killing them, they shed.. plenty to pick up.
    Bet ya they also knew how to make felt?

    And really.. You expect us to accept that with all they could obviously accomplish, they somehow missed the “fire = light and warmth” connection? In a positively Siberian climate?

    “There is not (so far as I know) any neanderthal mitochondria in the human line, which are maternally inherited.”

    No there isn’t. Neanderthal mtDNA is distinctly different from ours, and that particular set hasn’t been found.
    However, It’s not that hard for female lines to go extinct, roughly the same as male lines, if you don’t consider the dangers of giving birth.
    Mind.. that set would be rare to begin with. It may be that the current amount of scanning simply hasn’t encountered it. You’d need to type the vast majority of humanity to be sure you haven’t missed it. But the odds to any Neanderthal mtDNA surviving after all this time are very slim.

    But the lack of Neanderthal mtDNA doesn’t preclude the “Neanderthal Women as Booty” scenario. If any female F1 crossbreed only had, for whatever reason, boys surviving to reproductive age, that mtDNA line would have been gone in the first generation… And the Neanderthal DNA would still have been passed on through the male line.
    You can’t tell either way based on mtDNA, really. Maybe if we manage to get more DNA data from remains through the meso/neolithic eras. We could get lucky and spot it, pinpointing when it disappeared.

    Afaik there’s no data on the Neanderthal Y-chromosome, so you can’t tell who most likely humped whom that way either.

  18. Ian B – “Sapiens is an omnivore; we get most of our calories from gathering plants”

    It’s been established from coprolites and collagen analasys from Neanderthals and pre-settlement H.Sap that their diets were more or less exactly the same. 80% meat, 20% roots/fruits/veggies/nuts.
    H.Sap simply hunted different prey.

    Incidentally, Belgian research into tooth remains has proven Neanderthals cooked their veggies. Who knew..

  19. SMFS.. When you can sleep on mammoth skin/wool…. who needs a fire to sleep close to?
    Caves aren’t that cold.. even in winter. Two sheepskin and a wollen blanket is all you need to be toasty, really.

  20. Grikath, you are declaring that far more is known about DNA than actually is. We do not know those things about the genome. We know what some alleles do, like the red hair one. But we simply don’t know those things about skin and fur gene complexes. Having the whole genome available does not mean you can read it like a book. We don’t know what most of our own genes do, which is why most of the time the best is “gene X seems to have some effect on Y” type stuff.

    We don’t even have direct evidence of when sapiens lost our fur, and have to rely on inferences from things like the evolution of the human body louse and skin colour. The skin colour approach from the genetics for dark skin (perhaps an adaption to nakedness, though gorillas are furry and black skinned) points to more than a million years ago. The louse is less than 100,000 years ago. Take your pick. Also, remember that even if the last common ancestor was naked, it would have been pretty easy to reactivate the fur genes for cold adaption. Hirsute children are born to sapiens occasionally to this day.

    As to clothing, you underestimate the need for good clothes in cold conditions. Neanderthal had awls which could make holes, so they could perhaps lace stuff together if they thought of it. But they didn’t have the sewing equipment necessary to make “tubes”. Even basic clothing is an advanced technology, and they just were not technologists. They made the same tools for hundreds of thousands of years and never innovated. The pulse of innovation when AMH became full modern human is by contrast striking in the archaeological record. Clothing as we know it was not something that the common ancestor could have had, and all the evidence we have says that Neanderthal didn’t invent it 200,000 years before we did, since they left behind none of the tools necessary to make it.

    So logically, unless somebody digs up a sewing kit to prove otherwise, they must have been physically cold adapted.

    As to the hunting style, we can make pretty good guesses from their weapons and injuries sustained. And the fact that you don’t need to be built like a short brick shithouse to throw spears from a distance at gazelles, but you do if you’re mobbing a woolly rhinoceros. Also, balls of steel.

    And, once again, the neanderthal infants had finger bones adapted to grip their mother’s fur.

  21. And, once again, the neanderthal infants had finger bones adapted to grip their mother’s fur.

    I get what you’re saying from this, but I don’t understand (not being a biologist or archaeologist) how we can be sure that the fingerbones in Neandertals weren’t just vestiges of the apes they had evolved from.

    After all, humans still have vestigial tail bones.

  22. “the neanderthal infants had finger bones adapted to grip their mother’s fur.”

    Care to give a link for that to any actual science?
    Because in two days of searching I haven’t been able to find anything corroborating that statement, other than a bloggy echo-chamber stating this as “fact” without offering anything in substantiation or reference to anything actually scientific.

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