All  
Neanderthals were NOT a sub-species of modern humans

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

Print

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

Source:

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

Comments

Could it not be the human brain is becoming more efficient and evolving as we now use them slightly differently. I find it hard to believe a nation of farmers or hunter-gatherers thousands of years ago who where never schooled were more intelligent than school or collage leavers today. I know It depends on your view of intelligents (or potential intelligence see my other comments)

johnblack's picture

Just to clarify the importance of brain size because there is some confusion in this thread. First of all we should compare the brain size of one species and not between different species! Because obviously one factor of the brain size is the body size.

So if we have 2 humans of the same size and one has a smaller brain than the other, then the one with the larger brain has larger capacity and potential for improved intelligence. Plainly, more neurons means more interconnections, larger network and therefore better potential.

And I need to make it clear that I am talking about potential for more intelligence.

Now, if we accept that evolution only is responsible for doubling the size of the brain of humans – which I doubt since natural selection never makes jumps like this, it did happen for a reason and it has shown an explosion in human achievements. Doubling the brain size in one species would always improve intelligence because of the huge difference it will make.

In the last few thousands of years the brain size is decreasing and today it is also proven that the IQ in the past decades has also been decreasing. And as far as scientific research nothing has changed or ‘evolved’ in the way that the brain works. So if our brain becomes smaller without any other major change means that our potential for intelligence is also decreasing.

We do know that natural selection will do modifications (that of course will span hundreds of thousands of years) if a part of the body is not used any more. So an assumption could be that since we don’t use our brain today as much as we used to, the brain size inevitably is going to decrease and thus our intelligence.

Dear Roberto

Equally much a pleasure to discuss with you as well as with GOLDLIONS and others. My additional comment would be that all us humans are hybrids more or less, depending on the definition ( or choice) of classifying species, subspecies or else. This have been proven and generally accepted. With Eucaryotes ( all (earthly and known) organisms except for bacteria and archaics) there is two different types of DNA, one in the cell nucleus and one in the cell organelles called mitocondria. The mitocondria are like small entrapped bacteria inside the cell and are dividing-reproducing partly independingly of the cell reproduction-divitions. The mitos are only inherited from the female side, as well as the rest of the cellinterior is. So when looking only at the mito heritage it can tell you a lot of things, but as well, the infomation is minimal compared to the nu DNA info. As well, there is very good measures to take when securing yourself against contamination, using the code it self works to your benefit in this way. Tip, have a look on dr Melba Ketchums Bigfoot study.

Roberto Peron's picture

Goldlions I appresciate your comments and insights very much as well as those of inventor.  I have actually read and studied about Zana for a while now as well as her son Kwit.  I became aware of these two individuals in connection with some research I was doing on the Almas and Bigfoot.  Ok so there's that word!  "Bigfoot" God forbid.  I will briefly only state that I believe these creatures are real and are some sub-species or modern species of Gigantopithecus blacki that has survived up to the present day. And, no, there is not one standing on every corner as I believe this North American (global in fact) APE to be rare.  Most reports are misidentificaton, in fact, of other animals such as bears.  That said let me move on to the subject at hand.

Paleoanthropologists once held the belief that one species of homoinid lived upon the Earth at one time. As one species sank into extinction another emerged.  But what we have discovered is that the norm seems to have been several species of hominid dwelling on the Earth at relatively the same time, at least, for some period of time.  That being the norm then why not today?  We modern humans, H. sapiens, like to conceive of ourselves as rather "special" and in SOME ways we are.  However, in many more ways we are NOT really that "special."  We thought at one time our specialness was our bipedalism but then we discovered apes and other primates can walk upright as well.  Then we thought that what made us special was our use of tools until Jane Goodall came along and when she informed Leakey that chimps also use tools and even weapons Leakey's response was to tell her that if that was the case then we either have to change the definition of "tools" or what it means to be human.  So, again, we found we aren't really that special and we keep discovering that over and over again.  

My point is what was Zana and her offspring Kwit?  Could it not be possible that they were some offspring of Neandertals or some other undiscovered hominid species that lives today?  This would fit with the norm that different species of hominids coexist for a time.  But then there is that little nail in the pile called DNA and DNA tests have showed both Zana and Kwit are human.  Fine but how do we explain Zana's behavior and appearance?  Could the DNA testing be in error?  People think DNA testing  is without error but this is NOT true.  Contamination of DNA can happen rather easily and that is why the utmost care must be taken when collecting DNA from a living or deceased speciman.  Any slight contamination and the results are ruined and, sadly, such contamination happens more often than not.

So results come out as human but it is not because the specimen was/is human but is due to contamination of the sample by the specimen collector or researcher, typically.  In the case of Zana I think this is exactly what happened and I'd like to see another sequencing of her DNA with the utmost care taken with the sample to see how it comes out.  And the same goes for her son Kwit as well.  But, if that new sequencing comes out with Neandertal or some unknown hominid DNA then that will send the anthropologists into a panic no doubt.  However, I am a firm believer in that science should follow the evidence WHEREVER it may lead no matter what!  That is the only way we will uncover the truth.  Zana didn't look like a modern human woman and her son Kwit did not either.  In fact, both had some very ape-like features or proto-human features.

I've actually seen Dolphin brains and, yes, they are big but the question of whether they are more intelligent than humans is hotly debated.  There are different kinds of intelligence and one of the problems humans have is measuring intelligence by OUR standards even though OUR standards don't apply to other species of creatures.  I could say humans are very intelligent as proven by our amazing technology.  But I could say dolphins are more intelligent as proven by their amazing comprehension abilities, caring for each other, and lack of war and slaughter among their own kind.  So who is more intelligent the human or the dolphin?  And what criteria do we apply to measure intelligence of two distinct species?  

I could not agree with inventor more regarding the comment above, in that, if Dr Sykes had  taken a closer look at possible mutation differences it may have shown when Zana's line began.  And, yes, it would have sent shockwaves through the scientific community.  Such discovery could very well upset the apple cart and we all know what happens then.  The evidence and specimens are nicely boxed up and put in a dusty and dark old closet in some museum with the intention of never seeing the light of day again!  That's provided some wise guy or gal doesn't come nosing around want to know the truth, God forbid!  

Science is fluid especially the science of human origins.  As new evidence is revealed old theories and assumptions are cast away and replaced by new ones.  In Paleoanthropology NOTHING is set in concrete and EVERYTHING is subject to change.  That is very important to keep in mind.  Again, thank you both for your comments and some intelligent conversation.

Peron

 

 

 

 

Also GOLDLIONS, This Haplotype is called sub Saharan African, because it is where it is mainly found today. The Authority of Achademia forbid to say any other thing,than that it also originated in this same place. If dr Sykes have taken a closer look at possible mutational differences, this would possibly also have shown when her mt DNA line began. It would have brought a shock to the scientific society though.

Pages

Next article