Neanderthals were NOT a sub-species of modern humans

Researchers claim Neanderthals were NOT a sub-species of modern humans


Researchers have identified new evidence supporting the growing belief that Neanderthals were a distinct species separate from modern humans (Homo sapiens), and not a subspecies of modern humans. The study also found that the Neanderthal nasal complex was not adaptively inferior to that of modern humans, and that the Neanderthals' extinction was likely due to competition from modern humans and not an inability of the Neanderthal nose to process a colder and drier climate, as has been previously suggested.

Samuel Márquez, PhD, associate professor and co-discipline director of gross anatomy in SUNY Downstate's Department of Cell Biology, and his team of specialists published their findings on the Neanderthal nasal complex in the November issue of The Anatomical Record .

They argue that studies of the Neanderthal nose, which have spanned over a century and a half, have been approaching this anatomical enigma from the wrong perspective. Previous work has compared Neanderthal nasal dimensions to modern human populations such as the Inuit and modern Europeans, whose nasal complexes are adapted to cold and temperate climates.

However, the current study joins a growing body of evidence that the upper respiratory tracts of this extinct group functioned via a different set of rules as a result of a separate evolutionary history and overall cranial bauplan (bodyplan), resulting in a mosaic of features not found among any population of Homo sapiens. Thus Dr. Márquez and his team of paleoanthropologists, comparative anatomists, and an otolaryngologist have contributed to the understanding of two of the most controversial topics in paleoanthropology -- were Neanderthals a different species from modern humans and which aspects of their cranial morphology evolved as adaptations to cold stress.

"The strategy was to have a comprehensive examination of the nasal region of diverse modern human population groups and then compare the data with the fossil evidence. We used traditional morphometrics, geometric morphometric methodology based on 3D coordinate data, and CT imaging," Dr. Márquez explained.

Neanderthal skull discovered in 1908 at La Chapelle-aux-Saints

Neanderthal skull discovered in 1908 at La Chapelle-aux-Saints ( Wikipedia). The new study found distinctive differences between the Neanderthal and Homo sapiens nasal complex.

Co-author William Lawson, MD, DDS, vice-chair and the Eugen Grabscheid research professor of otolaryngology and director of the Paleorhinology Laboratory of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, notes that the external nasal aperture of the Neanderthals approximates some modern human populations but that their midfacial prognathism (protrusion of the midface) is startlingly different. That difference is one of a number of traits suggesting an evolutionary development distinct from that of modern humans. Dr. Lawson's conclusion is predicated upon nearly four decades of clinical practice, in which he has seen over 7,000 patients representing a rich diversity of human nasal anatomy.

Jeffrey T. Laitman, co-author and Professor at the Icahn School of Medicine and director of the Center for Anatomy and Functional Morphology states that this article is a significant contribution to the question of Neanderthal cold adaptation in the nasal region.

"The strength of this new research lies in its taking the totality of the Neanderthal nasal complex into account, rather than looking at a single feature. By looking at the complete morphological pattern, we can conclude that Neanderthals are our close relatives, but they are not us," said Dr. Laitman.

Ian Tattersall, PhD, emeritus curator of the Division of Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History, an expert on Neanderthal anatomy and functional morphology who did not participate in this study, stated, "Márquez and colleagues have carried out a most provocative and intriguing investigation of a very significant complex in the Neanderthal skull that has all too frequently been overlooked." Dr. Tattersall hopes that "with luck, this research will stimulate future research demonstrating once and for all that Homo neanderthalensis deserves a distinctive identity of its own."

Featured image: Wax model of a Neanderthal. Credit: Erich Ferdinand / flickr


SUNY Downstate Medical Center. "Were Neanderthals a sub-species of modern humans? New research says no." ScienceDaily. 18 November 2014.

Journal Reference :

Samuel Márquez, Anthony S. Pagano, Eric Delson, William Lawson, Jeffrey T. Laitman.  The Nasal Complex of Neanderthals: An Entry Portal to their Place in Human Ancestry . The Anatomical Record, 2014; 297 (11): 2121 DOI: 10.1002/ar.23040

By April Hollowa


Thank you GoldLions for the compliment. I like to see it more as common sense comes to common conclusions. I also think we are on a dwindling spiral as far as a species goes. For those who see the same I can give a synopsis of the process that you got into just now.

       The postulation is; Man was a Generalist by nature  and in time, became too smart for his own good,quite literally, and now is becomming a "Specialist", which is what most insects are. Having only oneself and a handfull of others, earlier man had to think on his feet and acquire a broad range of skills just to see another sunrise. He/she had to be very good problem posers as well as solvers. It was'nt enough to understand why an apple falls but also where and when , and which conditions put you in the proxinity of said apple. Ask anyone on the street what Intelligence is and you will get a variety of answers but there is a simple one liner that sums it all up; Intelligence is the relative speed at which one can detect, understand and solve problems. Nothing more and nothing less. His specialization began through agriculture, which was a means to secure food in such quantities as to afford spare time. Spare time, as innoxious as it seems was the begining of the end of large, fast thinking brains. At first these brains had plenty of applications, building the wonders of the world for instance, and all the other magnificient things they have left behind. Fast forward to now, Oh dear, how far we have fallen. Case in point; I ask my Son in law his "Opinion" on a matter and he promptly pulls out his i-phone and wants to google it! Thats a good example of not even needing to have a body of knowledge in your own head but rather keep it artificially on-demand. This tells me while there is a small portion of mankind thinking outside the box and creating all sorts of do dads the bulk of humanity knows less and less as individuals.


John Dale wrote; Is it safe to say that we, today, are domesticted humans?


Two great minds think alike, been saying this for years the same thing because with in our "modern high tech society" men has eliminated many hardships our primal ancestors once faced. We no longer need to be as physically fit just to bring home the bacon to feed family and self along with other daily with neighboring tribes, predators and disease.
As many of you already mentioned most people "evolved" or should I say DEvolved into couch potatos relaxing watching the "Modern day hunt/sports wars" on the tube with a press of a button.
Pass the beer and pretzels?

After reading through this thread I realized I have tried to tackle this subject more than once in my life aswell. Problem is, I don't have the schooling in certain subjects like many of y'all have, so my approach has been to compare things within the enventory of  my own awareness. Concerning the Biblical view towards the composition of mankind there is one unaswered question concerning how  it came to be. Now, when I say Biblical, this includes that whole Fertile Cresent part of the world because the basic stories of origins and the flood are so close as to appear the same or heavily borrowed from. God, who often referers to himself as "we," created Adam and Eve, they did what they did and got cast out of Eden.  Adam and Eve are the first "people" according to this story. Have I got that part right? So, God tells Adam and Eve to go forth unto the World, be fruitfull and multiply.  Who's fruit they supposed to fill? Who they gonna multiply with??. If they populated the world with their genetics alone then I'm guessing about four or five generations into it the kids are gonna be twelve toed cylops's with an IQ of minus 47.

       So, If the bible is in fact a reasonable facsimile of the truth, then you will have to assume that we are the product of an outside admixture to an existing group. Some think this is so and leave it at that. I feel left hanging there with more questions than before. To further the mystery, we have another group getting the "Daughters of men" pregnant, and not doing so with the consent of the original propagator. I would love some clarity on this.

      As to the significance of brain size I like to look at mans breeding of his beloved canines. An entire tea cup yorkie is smaller than a bull mastiff's head, so the two brains must totally vary in size but yet one isn't smarter or more dog than the other. Another relevant fact is that all domesticated animals have brains up to 25% smaller than their wild counterparts. Is it safe to say that we, today, are domesticted humans?

Roberto Peron's picture

I've started a thread on the forum so we can continue this discussion.  The thread is entitled "What is Bigfoot."  I hope to see all of you there and keep the conversation going.  Thanks to all of you for making this a respectful and intelligent discussion.



Roberto Peron's picture

LOL Goldlions I'm not even going to get into that can of worms.



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