Genealogy / Genetics

Our cousins the Neanderthals


I just listened to a really interesting Podcast from Scientific America.  It was about the Neanderthals.  It was fascinating to me.  I guess we have learned so much about the people in the last few years do to our ability to sequence their genes which was done just last year.  We now know that the Neanderthal was not a sub set of Homo Sapiens but rather broke off from a common ancestor as early as a million years ago.  Neanderthals left Africa much earlier than our ancestors.  The were there about 600,000 years ago while our ancestors left only about 60,000 years ago.  Neanderthals and our ancestors could not intermix in that they could not produced children together. Who knows if under certain circumstances they had sex although they probably were not that attactrive to each other.  Neaderthals lived until about 30,000 years ago. They probably went extent because of changes in weather (ice age stuff) and perhaps competition with  our ancestors who were in the more southern parts of Europe and Asia at the time.  While the Neanderthals had brains as large or even larger than ours,  and their tools (technologogy) was not as sufficicated as ours.  For instance, our ancestors had niddles and could sow clothes together while the Neaderthals could only fasen clothing together.  They probably had some form of language.  It is interesting to imagine what would have happened if they had survived.  Would we have lived side by side with them?  Would parts of the world be dominated by Neanderthals?  Or would they have eventually driven us to extentsion?
And a final thought, it is pretty clear that intelligent life as represented by Homo Sapiens is not unique to just us.

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