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


Roberto Peron's picture

No problem as I too enjoy the conversation.  Frankly, I do not know how Ketchum came up with the idea that this creatures "unknown homind father" may have been a sloth.  I don't even think it possible for a human to inbreed with a sloth because, as you say, there are limits.  I think she should have not made that statement and perhaps her results would have been taken more seriously.


Hi Roberto

Please excuse me for continuing this discussion, but you see, I enjoy it.

There is an enigma with the now recently accepted occurence of hybrid species. In the earlier accepted view of Darwinian evolution, hybrids where accidental and self eliminating occuransies. This same view is also the basis of how assesments have been made from the molecular analycis of evolution and relationships.

So when we now accept the presence of species being formed from hybridisations, we really don´t have the method for it. A first generation hybrid pose no problem , but a species formed from hybridisations further back in history will display a complete mosaic of fragments from both progenitors due to a long history of substitutions between the chromosomes. Each of these fragments may be so short and consequently the number of such fragments would be so BIG, so no one can today piece this together to reconstruct the original progenitors DNA sequences. Again so, we need a new tool for this work.

The best efforts so far have been done on finding out which part of the human DNA that originates from the Neanderthals and Denisovans by dr Päbos Group at the Max Plank institute. But with the situation with the Bigfoot nu genome, when at least half of the genome stems from an unknown progenitor, meaning not known sequences and functionalities, makes it seriosly hard to crack.

I agree that it should be looked upon seriously as you suggested. I also do not agree with dr Ketchum on the more expansive interpretations that she have made from the results of her study. Certainly appart from the key issue of chromosomal number, there is a limit on how distant two individuals can be and still produce a viable and reproductable offspring. But I also believe that we will have to expand our view on this. Unequal chromosomal numbers mess things up rather more for hybrid offsprings as compared to a slightly greater distance of heritage, I would say.

Roberto Peron's picture

At this point anything is possible inventor.  Ketchum has stated that this creature may share a common ancestor with humans and apes and it evolved alongside apes in its own offshoot.  She has also suggested that the unknown hominid father may have been a giant ground sloth (Megatherium) which are not primates but are classified in the same category with anteaters, smaller sloths, and armadillos.  I fail to see how she came to that possiblity, however.  There could actually be a couple of different species as you suggest  as ome sightings do not exactly match the commonly reported Bigfoot descriptions (ie:  some are reported as having snouts).  I myself see no evidence of it being related to the sloth.

I believe Bigfoot is a primate as it shares many typical primate characteristics.  Foremost, it does not have a tail like a monkey does.  Tails are one thing that distinquish monkeys from apes.  Secondly, it appears that the creature does NOT have claws but has nails much like our own which is another important characteristic of primates.  The creature appears to have hair rather than fur which is yet another characteristic of primates.  Thus, based on pure observation the creature appears to be a primate of some kind.

Normally the creature is described as being bipedal but there are also reports of it being quadrupedal. These reports also note that it has very long arms and when walking on all fours its head and shoulders are higher than its rear end.  This is much how a gorilla walks.  

In terms of alleged videos on YouTube of this creature I just finished debunking one and exposing it as a fake!  Granted there are some real vids of these creatures but the hoaxsters have flooded YouTube with their fakes, unfortunately.  

Finally, I have been able to observe this primate on two occassions with my own eyes.  Everything I observed suggested overwhelmingly that it is an unknown primate.  I saw nothing to suggest that it was a sloth or human being!  We need some serious SCIENCE in this matter so we can determine just what this creature really is and is not.  We need LESS hype and wishful thinking and MORE concrete scientific method employed.  Some may think this creature is a myth but that is exactly what was once thought about the Mountain Gorilla, Bili Ape, and many other rare animals until SCIENCE began to investigate seriously and it was discovered these animals were, in fact, very real and existent.  



VALUED CUSTOMER WROTE ; As to 'what human would want to get knocked up from some unknown hominid" I will state that H. sapiens females are known to have sexually intercoursed with various species of mammal, fish, birds, reptiles, mollusc, and many more.

Nearly spilled my cup of java on my keyboard after reading this.

Not saying bestiality doesn't exist but it is definitely not the norm.

As to 'what human would want to get knocked up from some unknown hominid" I will state that H. sapiens females are known to have sexually intercoursed with various species of mammal, fish, birds, reptiles, mollusc, and many more.

In fact, H. sapiens is hypersexual, and a feature of our species is that we will have sex with any and everything we can, and then masturbate, too.

This has nothing to do with wanting to breed.


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