January 16, 2007

Another Neanderthal-modern skull?

I posted last September about research and theories on possible interbreeding and conflicts between Neanderthal people and our sort of Homo sapiens sapiens

A Romanian cave has produced a skull that has kept the question open.

The skull was found in Pestera cu Oase - the Cave with Bones - in southwestern Romania, along with other human remains. Radiocarbon dating indicates it is at least 35,000 years old and may be more than 40,000 years old.

The researchers said the skull had the same proportions as a modern human head and lacked the large brow ridge commonly associated with Neanderthals. However, there were also features that are unusual in modern humans, such as frontal flattening, a fairly large bone behind the ear and exceptionally large upper molars, which are seen among Neanderthals and other early hominids.

While you are thinking about Neanderthals, visit Virtually the Ice Age. (At least these Stone Age people are shown wearing sewn garments, not the cartoonish shaggy skins.)

Which reminds me of today's headine in the Pueblo, Colorado, Chieftain: "The Iceman Stayeth." If only.


Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

Turtles all the way down?

Somewhere, if you go back far enough, there is either a Neanderthal or a Neanderthal ancestor in the modern human family tree.

Maybe you have to go back 40,000 years to find one, maybe 200,000 years, a notion reinforced by one of the alternatives to interbreeding, which is a throwback to ancesteral traits that can happen long after a species breaks off.

I admit, it is interesting and caught my eye. But, really, either way I don't think that it changes who we are.

Steve Bodio said...

Andrew-- you don't go back to Neanderthal-- you go back (as you suggest) to common- ancestor "Archaics".

Chas-- Laura Niven, who as you might remember is deep in this, is very dubious. More likely inherited Archaic characters.

Some interesting student stuff "above"!

Chas S. Clifton said...

Steve, as we discussed earlier, the DNA evidence, as currently intepreted, suggests no interbreeding.

But the issue remains as a great whodunit. There all these Neanderthal people: what happened to them?