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



In fact, it is shown in the paper that there have been severall hybridisation occurances leaving a mixed matherna heritage showing a mito heritage of several human haplotypes. But these are slightly mutated, so not quite modern human. The latest occurane as indicated by the mutational rate would have been at about 15 ooo years ago. This off cause only based on the samples in the study.

I agree with you about chromosmal numbers, but havng 46 chromosomes is not at all unique for humans.The Apes that we now know of, display other nubers, but there may well have been ( or even may still be) an Ape with the same chromosomal number. As we have the evidence allready also for hybrids between hominids, they would have had the same chromosomal numbers as well.

Even a more distant combination would not be entirely impossible, especially if the chromosomal numbers happen to fit.

Roberto Peron wrote;
I have read and re-read Dr Ketchum's study and her end results that Bigfoot comes from a human mother and unknown hominid father.

What human mother (Homo Sapiens), would want to get knocked up from some "unknown" hominid?

Homo Erectus with an ape maybe? But Homo Sapiens? Don't think it's genetically possible unless the Hominid has the same similar number of chromosomes.


Amongst sensible people like you and dr Meldrum and many others, I feel that there is a climate in the discussion that is leading forward. Myself, I beleive that the answer is even a more complex one, that there is even more than one type of interresting creature of some kind around. Based on my basic knolledge in molecular biology, I cannot find any way in which dr Ketchums study could possibly have been flawed though, then I am excluding the interpretations of the results. I do beleive that the results of the three individuals whose nu DNA was fully sequenced points towards them belonging to the same new species ( the alignment is within these limits) and that this species is a complex hybrid ( the result of severall hybridization occurances) all of which with human female progenitors. The far fetched notion, that I myself is reflecting on, is that there may have been ( may even still be) a much bigger species of Owlmonkeys living in North America. For instance, the owlmonkey Aotus Vociferans happen to show the same number of chromosomes as we have, which I am sure is a pure coinsidence, but would would probaby not outrule the possibility of a reproductive hybrid with humans. These Owlmonkeys are very small, but they have many ways of behavior and features in common with what is reported about Bigfoots.

Roberto Peron's picture

Thank you inventor and you are correct.  Regarding the Ketchum Study as you well know there is much debate over the results.  I have read and re-read Dr Ketchum's study and her end results that Bigfoot comes from a human mother and unknown hominid father.  The jury is still out with me as I'd like to see additional indiependent studies of the same DNA samples she and her team analyzed to see if similar results are obtained or not.  For the time being I conclude with Dr Jeff Meldrum of the Idaho State Univesity who believes Bigfoot is Gigantopithecus blacki or some similar species.  

I once read
7 daughters of eve by Dr skyes. It was a great introduction to DNA and mitro DNA. However I remember he stated at the time 2001
no Neanderthal DNA had ever been found in modern humans, this shows how quickly views can change in subjects such as this.


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