back to article RUMPY PUMPY: Bone says humans BONED Neanderthals 50,000 years B.C.

Boffins in Germany have extracted the oldest human DNA yet discovered – from a 45,000-year-old thigh bone found in Siberia. And after studying the genetic goop, the researchers have concluded that humans started interbreeding with their Neanderthal cousins about 60,000 years ago. 45,000 year old human bone 'What a slut' A …

  1. Allan George Dyer
    Paris Hilton

    The Neanderthal must have been really drunk...

    One thing is clear, fertile interbreeding is the definition of species so we are the same species as Neanderthals, and we're both human.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. lawndart

      Re: The Neanderthal must have been really drunk...

      The anthropologist Björn Kurtén hypothesized that the Neandertals were attracted to Cro-Magnons/Early Modern Humans because the details of the latter's physiology, such as lack of a heavy brow ridge, made them look like a Neandertal child. This brought out the Neandertals' mothering/nuturing instinct. Any offspring would be hybrids of the two species and have the benefit of hybrid vigour, which probably made them even more attractive, but the very unfortunate disadvantage of being sterile.

      The C-M/EMH may have had to beat them off with a stick, but any kids would have been an evolutionary dead end.

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: The Neanderthal must have been really drunk...

        The C-M/EMH may have had to beat them off with a stick, but any kids would have been an evolutionary dead end.The C-M/EMH may have had to beat them off with a stick, but any kids would have been an evolutionary dead end.

        Excuse me for being thick, as I am posting this before my 3rd quadruple espresso this morning.

        If it was an evolutionary dead-end then why the f*** (yes I meant to use the f*** word) does the white Caucasian and most of Asian population have 2.6 % Neandertal DNA? Did this happen as a result of the fairy dust form of genetic transfer?

        Out of all theories the "Neandertal as first Garry Glitter" theory is frankly one of the most preposterous pieces of rubbish I have ever heard. If anything, it is the opposite, us modern humans being attracted to atavistic treats. We can stare into a fire for half an hour with our mind blank and I am just going to restrain myself from commenting on the effect that chest hair + muscles + 6 pack have on the prettier part of humanity.

      2. M7S
        Joke

        Re: The Neanderthal must have been really drunk... - Paedo Alert!!!!

        "the Neandertals were attracted to Cro-Magnons/Early Modern Humans because the details of the latter's physiology, such as lack of a heavy brow ridge, made them look like a Neandertal child"

        Detectives will be along shortly to seize assorted cave walls for evidence of making indecent psuedo-images of children.

      3. Lars Silver badge

        Re: The Neanderthal must have been really drunk...

        RIP anthropologist Björn Kurtén but one has to remember that he was also a story writer, author and that allows for more "fantasy" in those stories.

        1. lawndart

          Re: The Neanderthal must have been really drunk...

          Kurten passed away long before the sequencing of the Human Genome let alone the Neandertal variant. He was writing about the facts as he understood them (the sterile hybrid was the accepted theory) and threw in a bit of fantasy to explain the interbreeding and a possible reason for the subsequent extinction of the Neandertal line.

          Being able to tell a story does not detract from his ability as an anthropologist, else we might also discount the work of Robert L Forward and Carl Sagan.

          1. tmTM

            Re: The Neanderthal must have been really drunk...

            So why was the offspring of a Neanderthal and a Human sterile again??

          2. Lars Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: The Neanderthal must have been really drunk...

            @lawndart, "Being able to tell a story does not detract from his ability as an anthropologist," That was exactly what my post was about. And I do appreciate him in both respects.

            " Neandertals were attracted to Cro-Magnons/Early Modern Humans because the details of the latter's physiology, such as lack of a heavy brow ridge.....", That part is the fantasy part, and I would assume anybody understands that. (like did Björn Kurtén).

            I can hypothesize that the Neandertals were attracted to Cro-Magnons/Early Modern Humans because they lacked the knowledge of how to produce alcohol. You know the way it went in the Americas later.

            I find my story more fun and more possible.

            One idea, thought, Björn had was that it would be fun if one could have ones fathers, say the last one thousand sitting, side by side, along a table. Then you could walk along and see what made you and you could pass a nice joke down the table and the son would pass it on to his father. Fun.

            Now I had this dream one night.

            It was splendid, the venue with the long table was by a nice lake. The sun was shining, birds singing, the white tablecloths where swaying slightly in the warm wind. There was lots of beer and wine, (the water was in the lake). There was plenty of food, beef and hamburgers, the odd pizza and fruit. Plenty.

            There was hugging and kissing, laughter. Father and sons swimming in the lake together. I haven't seen you for a thousand years, dear father. What heaven did you go to, or hell perhaps, he he.

            But in the morning, as I woke up with a hefty hangover. It was a complete mess, not a drop of medicine in sight, broken chairs, overturned tables, bloody table cloths, broken bottles, some hamburgers and a pizza in the process of drowning in the lake. My head hurt. Some fathers where lying in the damp grass trying to move. All the rest had gone.

            Without trying to stick to any chronological order about what seemed to have happened, there was a father who met with the son who killed him. There was the father who looked at his son said "who the hell are you, a damned foreigner, I cannot understand a word, prick, where is my son. The reason for that problem was probably that the father was a good looking shoe salesman who traveled the world. There was a similar case with the mother who met a foreign army in the woods, not really her fault, of course. There was the father who looked at the son and said "what the hell, I have tried to forget about you for six hundred years, where are my good sons, who the hell has arranged this, computers, my arse. And there was this huge viking who stood up and declared, not my son not my father and went totally bärsärk. I was told he took off to walhalla in order to stay alive. On the other hand there was some happiness too, like the son who found out that the janitor was in fact his father, something he had wished for since a kid.

            I have to stop here or you might not believe I belong to a well educated and clever family. Some things have to stay in Las Vegas, as they say. The joke, not good at all, missunderstod, lost in translation.

            I have had to come to the conclusion that if you wish for something then think first. Pity Einstein did not write any stories.

      4. John Savard Silver badge

        Re: The Neanderthal must have been really drunk...

        If Neanderthal/Cro-Magnon hybrids were always sterile, where did that 2.3 percent Neanderthal DNA in a Cro-Magnon come from?

        Depending on how closely the two species were related, the hybrids may have been sterile some of the time or most of the time, but I don't think scientists know to what extent that may be the case yet.

      5. sniperpaddy

        Re: The Neanderthal must have been really drunk...

        I have one word to rubbish your claim - GINGERS !!!!!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm sorry but you obviously didn't wake up turn over see what I saw last Saturday...

      Damn those beer goggles.

      I was out the door so quick that when she woke up she probably thought she'd been dreaming.

      Now where did I leave my phone?

      1. VinceH
        Pint

        "I was out the door so quick that when she woke up she probably thought she'd been dreaming had a nightmare."

        Have I fixed it for you? :p

      2. Ted Treen
        Megaphone

        Is that you, Boris?

        @ AC of around 4 hrs ago...

        "...Damn those beer goggles... I was out the door so quick that when she woke up she probably thought she'd been dreaming..."

        I didn't realise London's Mayor haunted El Reg...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Paleoanthropologists - the 'C' students of Science

      Re: Migrations out of Africa and the related 'Eve Hypothesis'.

      Given roughly two children surviving to have grandchildren (etc.), and it has to be about two if you think about it, then only about 75% of one's unique genetic code is carried forward, and about 25% is not (from 50%^2). This the Maternal or Paternal Lineage Extinction Ratio (MLER, PLER). The impact is clearly visible in MtDNA and surnames, and it drives speciation. The entire 'Eve Hypothesis' (supposed population bottle-necking, etc.) requires not understanding this simple fact. Eves are inevitable and innumerable.

      Google 'Inevitable Eve' for complete explanation.

      Paleoanthropology is too often unthinking rubbish speculation.

    5. Nigel 11

      Re: The Neanderthal must have been really drunk...

      One thing is clear, fertile interbreeding is the definition of species so we are the same species as Neanderthals, and we're both human.

      I'm completely sympathetic to that view as applied to "human", but it's not a sufficient definition of species (which may need multiple definitions)

      Consider the Ruddy Duck (USA) and the White-headed duck (Europe). They have very different plumage and have not interbred since the Atlantic ocean became wide enough to prevent these ducks from crosing it. That's maybe 50M years. So, they are recognised as two different species, because naturally they can't interbreed.

      But when humans brought Ruddy ducks to Europe, female White-Headed ducks preferred to breed with Ruddy duck males! The hybrids are fertile. So they were once the same species, and no genetic speciation event occurred over the long separation. And if humans hadn't started on a Ruddy duck eradication programme in Europe, soon they'd have still been two distinguishable groups: one Ruddy, one Hybrid, and the European White-headed duck would be extinct.

      Or consider the Herring and Black-Headed gulls. You find both in the UK and they don't interbreed. But travel East, and you'll find that the local herring gulls look slightly diffrent. Keep going, and by the time you arrive in the USA, they look a lot like Black-headed gulls. So one species, that's spread around the globe and is overlapping with itself in the UK. But were a catastrophe to wipe out the gulls everywhere except the UK, then two species? (because they won't naturally interbreed here, the complete opposite situation to the ducks).

      Or consider the wallabies of Northern Australia, which are the "victims" of a virus which is causing them to undergo genetic mutation at an extremely high rate. There are about fifty species. We aren't quite sure because they all look much the same and inhabit the same evolutionary niche. (How the wallabies know which they are is an interesting question.) Whether there are fifty species with no overlap, or whether small subsets of them are still inter-fertile with other small subsets to an extent sufficient to link all into one or a lesser number of species at the present time, again, we don't know.

      1. ToddR

        Re: The Neanderthal must have been really drunk...

        Herring gulls must be at least twice the size of Black headed gulls, you sure youve got this right?

        Lesser black backed gulls similar to Herring Gulls

        1. Nigel 11

          Re: The Neanderthal must have been really drunk...

          Yes, I got the wrong gull. Lesser Black-backed is the other end of the Herring gull "ring species". It's also rather more complex than the simple version I described. Details here

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ring_species

          (As to size, if you think about the range of sizes that dogs come in ... thought experiment, stock an island with Yorkshire Terriers and Irish Wolfhounds but no other dogs, add appropriate prey species, when does one species of dog become two species? )

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The Neanderthal must have been really drunk...

            "stock an island with Yorkshire Terriers and Irish Wolfhounds but no other dogs, add appropriate prey species, when does one species of dog become two species?"

            A friend made the mistake of assuming her large collie dog and small terrier bitch were incompatible by size. How they did it no one knows - but the litter were definitely a cross breed.

      2. bep

        Re: The Neanderthal must have been really drunk...

        Sorry, but it seems to me that nothing you have said alters the fact that Neanderthals and more modern humans had fertile offspring and so were the same species, just as a dachsund and a pitt bull are the same species. If two ducks that could interbreed and have fertile offspring are for some reason regarded as different species then that is a taxonomy problem. I mean, if it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck...

  2. mrjohn

    "And after studying the genetic goop, the researchers have concluded that humans started interbreeding with their Neanderthal cousins about 60,000 years ago."

    and made white people

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Or maybe they made Facebook users?

  3. PleebSmash
    Pint

    "Worst one-night stand EVER"

    "Worst one-night stand EVER" - sez who?

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: "Worst one-night stand EVER"

      A one night stand that founded a people that went to the motherfucking moon. I'd say it was pretty successful.

      1. Khaptain Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: "Worst one-night stand EVER"

        Don't forget the Sky Fairy ! But that leads to confusion as according to the Sky Fairy books we weren't around 50000 years ago.....

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Worst one-night stand EVER"

        "A one night stand that founded a people that went to the motherfucking moon. I'd say it was pretty successful."

        But for that drunken bit of hokey pokey we'd be on Mars now.

        More seriously, I wonder if there were negative behavioural traits that are legacies of our "minority ancestor"?

        1. Ted Treen
          Boffin

          Re: "Worst one-night stand EVER"

          @Ledswinger

          "I wonder if there were negative behavioural traits that are legacies of our 'minority ancestor'"

          Of course:- How else d'you account for John Prescott or Gordon Brown?

          1. Ole Juul

            Re: "Worst one-night stand EVER"

            I like bedroom furniture as much as the next guy, but I hope I'm not related to a night stand.

  4. Flatpackhamster

    Which begs the question

    If Homo Neanderthalis and Homo Sapiens are capable of breeding and producing viable offspring who can go on to have children of their own, are they actually two separate species?

    1. Martin Taylor 1

      Re: Which begs the question

      As I understand it, the species name is Homo Sapiens, of which we are the sub-species Homo Sapiens Sapiens. The neanderthals were the sub-species Homo Sapiens Neanderthalis. Nothing problematic about different sub-species interbreeding - was probably good fun for those concerned :-)

      1. DocJames
        Headmaster

        Re: Which begs the question

        Can we have some appropriate Linnean binomialism please; ie Homo sapiens

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Which begs the question

        I call 'Rule 34' here. Where are the vids of hot neander-teen action? Pics or it didn't happen.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Which begs the question

      The entire theory from the beginning begs the question.

      Thus is the problem.

  5. Vociferous

    Pääbo.

    It's not much remembered now, and certainly Pääbo himself don't talk about it any more, but his original claim to fame was that he in the 1980's "proved" that modern humans and neanderthals didn't interbreed. That study, published in Nature, is the sole reason Neanderthals were ever considered a separate species to begin with, rather than a geographical race of ordinary humans. It's also the basis for the "blitzkrieg" theory, that modern humans violently wiped out the Neanderthals.

    Now, when it's known that Neanderthals interbred with modern humans, and didn't go extinct but instead merged with the new african immigrants, Pääbo is eating his cake and having it too: he still pretends that modern humans and Neanderthals were different species, AND he's publishing studies supporting that they interbred.

    If we ignore Pääbo's early junk, the evidence suggests that the Neanderthals were a geographical race of Homo sapiens, which merged with more recent immigrants from Africa to form the current Europeans. Further east, the recent immigrants from Africa merged with other archaic races to produce the Asians, with the only remaining archaic non-african race being the aboriginals of Japan and Australia/New Guinea.

    No blitzkrieg, no extinction, no speciation, just humans doing their thing like they always have.

    1. Filippo Silver badge

      Re: Pääbo.

      Well, the two things are not completely exclusive. The definition of species as "can't interbreed" kinda breaks down a bit over very long time scales. When a species splits into two, it takes a very long time, during which things are not so clear. You can have some time during which two groups can interbreed, some time during which they can mate and usually produce fertile offspring, and some time during which they can mate and usually produce infertile offspring, before they get to the point where they definitely can't interbreed - and each of these stages can last hundreds of generations, and they may not even progress at the same rate across geographically distinct areas.

      1. Allan George Dyer

        Re: Pääbo.

        At this point, taxonomists should be getting a little embarrassed, shuffling their feet and admitting their discipline is not entirely scientific. Instead, they become ever more strident about how the divisions should be made.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Pääbo.

          As someone once said "It's better to have ideas than beliefs, you can change an idea ", I imagine he knows a lot more now, and has seen a lot more specimens than when he made the original claims.

          1. Ken 16
            Devil

            Rufus said that

            but it wasn't the best quote from the film, though possibly one of the cleanest...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Rufus said that

              "A thirteenth disciple named Rufus?"

        2. Vociferous

          Re: Pääbo.

          "taxonomists should be getting a little embarrassed"

          The only thing they should be embarrassed about is that they've ceded the field of human evolution to people like Pääbo, who isn't a taxonomist and pretty obviously have no clue what a biological or phylogenetic species is.

          1. Allan George Dyer

            Re: Pääbo.

            @Vociferous - "Pääbo, who isn't a taxonomist"

            Sorry, I assumed he was. Do you have a guide on identifying taxonomists? ;-)

        3. cortland

          Re: Pääbo.

          Taxing their btains, as it were.

      2. JeffyPoooh
        Pint

        Re: Pääbo.

        @Filippo - you are exactly correct.

        In general: Drawing a sharp lines into what is actually a continuous spectrum leads directly and inevitably to paradoxes and logical dead-ends. First thing to look for when confronted with problems like this.

        1. Nigel 11

          Re: Pääbo.

          Sometimes, nature draws a sharp line very quickly.

          There are virii that cause chromosomal abnormalities which result in offspring with one more or less chromosomes than their parents (the same genes, but repackaged).

          If only one such mutant child existed at any time, it would never find a mate to create fertile progeny with. That's because any such offspring would have an odd number of chromosomes, and the process for creating another generation would require something-and-a-half chromosomes from each parent, which can't happen.

          But an active retroviral plague creates many compatibly mutated offspring in a single generation, and if they are able to identify each other and continue to breed, that's a new species born -- with the sharpest of dividing lines between it and its parents, in a single generation.

          This is happening today with Australian Wallabies. Me, I want to know how such a virus evolved!

      3. Vociferous

        Re: Pääbo.

        "The definition of species as "can't interbreed" kinda breaks down a bit over very long time scales."

        Pääbo's original article used mitochondrial DNA to prove that there never were any interbreeding between neanderthals and the recent african arrivals. That was the basis for considering them separate species. It was wrong. There is no ifs, buts or maybe's about it: the study was wrong, they did interbreed.

    2. cray74

      Re: Pääbo.

      "That study, published in Nature, is the sole reason Neanderthals were ever considered a separate species to begin with, rather than a geographical race of ordinary humans."

      Such ordinary humans that it was barely possible for homo sapiens sapiens (HSS) to crossbreed with them. There's evidence of high levels of hybrid male infertility and that many Neanderthal genes were purged from the hybrid genome in a couple dozen generations.

      "It's also the basis for the "blitzkrieg" theory, that modern humans violently wiped out the Neanderthals."

      No Neanderthal mitochondrial DNA has been found in our genome. If we got along well with Neanderthals, why didn't we bring Neanderthal girls home to meet mom and dad? Or is the issue that Neanderthals and HSS were sufficiently different species that Neanderthal women couldn't have hybrids?

      1. Allan George Dyer

        Re: Pääbo.

        @cray74... You're arguing that the hybrid males were mostly infertile, and we didn't interbreed with the Neanderthal girls; so, tell me, where did that small percentage of Neanderthal DNA come from?

        On the other hand, if you remember i) that the estimate for the most recent common ancestor of all today's humans is only a few thousand years ago ii) there is no mixing of mitochondrial DNA, then you'll realise that we'll all have either Neanderthal mitochondrial DNA or we'll all have homo sapiens sapiens mitochondrial DNA, and, by chance, it's the second alternative.

        Also, we're talking about small wandering groups occasionally meeting, so a small disaster, say an avalanche, could have wiped out an "interesting lineage" (meaning one that would overturn accepted theories and cause endless academic discussions today), without any need to invoke a "blitzkrieg" theory.

        1. cray74

          Re: Pääbo.

          @Allan George Dyer: "You're arguing that the hybrid males were mostly infertile,"

          I'm reporting that point, not arguing. I didn't do the original research on negative selection of Neanderthal DNA in homo sapiens sapiens and what it implies for male hybrid sterility, I'm quoting it after Googling it. And it seems Vociferous is about to prove my points wrong. :)

          "and we didn't interbreed with the Neanderthal girls;"

          I didn't say that. I reported that, to date, no trace of Neanderthal mitochondrial DNA has been found in modern human cells. There are multiple possible explanations for that, including bad DNA analysis.

          "On the other hand, if you remember i) that the estimate for the most recent common ancestor of all today's humans is only a few thousand years ago ii) there is no mixing of mitochondrial DNA, then you'll realise that we'll all have either Neanderthal mitochondrial DNA or we'll all have homo sapiens sapiens mitochondrial DNA, and, by chance, it's the second alternative."

          I agree with you to the point that, "there's no mixing of mitochondrial DNA," since it only comes down through the mother's line. However, you could very easily have both female Neanderthals and female humans giving birth to hybrids, and since the populations overlapped for tens of thousands of years the expectation is both combinations (male homo sapiens sapiens - female neanderthal, female homo sapiens sapiens - male neanderthal) seem likely to have been tried many times.

          In other words, a point failure like an avalanche is unlikely to wipe out all hybrids descending from neanderthal females. There should be hybrids descended from neanderthal females, but they haven't been found yet by mitochondrial DNA evidence.

          1. Allan George Dyer

            Re: Pääbo.

            @cray74 - You did say, "why didn't we bring Neanderthal girls home to meet mom and dad?", which I took to be a way of saying "we didn't interbreed with the Neanderthal girls", was I wrong? What did you mean?

            Yes, I was wrong about the mitochondrial DNA… I was confusing the date of MRCA (about 3000 years) and the matrilineal most recent common ancestor (mitochondrial Eve, about 100,000 years).

            I'm not sure how the statistics play out… I wasn't suggesting that a single avalanche would destroy all Neanderthal mitochondrial DNA descendants in a single event, but that the total hominid population at the time was small, split into related groups, and random events in small samples easily give extreme results. How often do you roll three avalanches on three dice, or two avalanches and a mammoth stampede? I'd like more evidence before saying the "blitzkrieg" scenario is the most likely.

            So, another possibility, as you hint, there could still be living groups with Neanderthal mitochondrial DNA that haven't been sampled by a passing geneticist. Ah, Vociferous seems to be proving us both wrong :-)

      2. Vociferous

        Re: Pääbo.

        "No Neanderthal mitochondrial DNA has been found in our genome"

        That is false. By carrying out an extremely tendentious analysis, Pääbo concluded that mitochondrial DNA from Neanderthals clustered outside a small selection of analogous mitochondrial DNA sequences from contemporary humans. Quite apart from the fact that the method of analysis he used had never been used before and has never been used again, it turns out that more dense sampling of current humans collapses the node separating neanderthals from current humans. This despite the fact that 50 000 years of interbreeding and coalescence separates current humans from the Neanderthals.

        Pääbo's study was simply bad.

        1. cray74

          Re: Pääbo.

          "Pääbo's study was simply bad."

          Alright, you've shown poor math on the part of dear Paabo. Now show some neanderthal mitochondrial DNA. :)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pääbo.

      Science is self-correcting. Nice, but it logically implies that, at any point in time, much of it is wrong and is pending correction. Including science that is Peer reviewed, journal published, and widely accepted. Some fields are worse than others. Medical Science, dietary advice, and paleoanthropology are all infested with yet-to-corrected errors.

      Look up 'Trouble at the Lab' on The Economist.

      What do you call science that is actually wrong? "Science"

  6. Zog_but_not_the_first
    Happy

    I bet it was that "Jack-the-Lad" Neanderthal type, throwing the bone up into the air and humming some proto-Straussian ditty.

    1. Cipher

      " I bet it was that "Jack-the-Lad" Neanderthal type, throwing the bone up into the air and humming some proto-Straussian ditty."

      Rather a member of Clan Troggs singing "Wild Thing... IThink I Love You..."

  7. Christoph

    If humans and Neanderthals were around in the same place at the same time, and were mutually fertile, surely the onus of proof should be on those making the unlikely claim that they didn't interbreed!

    1. Grikath

      Actually, no... It's easy to use hindsight to reverse history, but it's taken over 100 years, and some really big advances in science, especially regarding the molecular sciences and dating techniques to get from isolated finds that proved there were actually predececcors to us modern humans ( which in and of itself was a bit of a shock, and is still not believed in some mental backwaters of humanity ) to the point where we can reasonably accurately tell who bonked who. And shows us that (modern) humanity went through some really tight squeezes regarding extinction that do not show up in the fossil record, but do in our genetic record.

      1. Alister Silver badge

        some really big advances in science, especially regarding the molecular sciences and dating techniques

        I'm sorry, I read the above passage and was still in the rumpy-pumpy mindset, and wondered for a moment what dating techniques the Neanderthals had developed to pull a Cro-Magnon...

        1. Tel Starr

          'dating techniques the Neanderthals had developed to pull a Cro-Magnon...'

          rubbingstickstogether.com

        2. Grikath
          Joke

          dating techniques, @Alister

          Welllll... to be honest.. Us poor lab-bound nerds had to do some significant and thorough research into "dating techniques" to come up with the notion that this could be something other than a temporal reference frame... ;)

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "[...] wondered for a moment what dating techniques the Neanderthals had developed to pull a Cro-Magnon..."

          Even our relatively recent ancestors have had quite short lives. It is our industrial society's need for an educated work force that has enforced the dependent status of "children" into their late teens.

          The era under discussion would have been one of hunter gathers. In order to survive - with a possible death in their twenties - then fertility would need to occur much earlier too. Opportunistic mating would have been open to young teenagers driven by hormones - and possibly not yet constrained by organised social custom.

          Bronisław Malinowski studied the people of the Trobriand Islands. One thing that surprised him was the sexual freedom given to youngsters - yet there were serious taboos governing adults' social relationships.

  8. Chris Miller

    It's intriguing to speculate

    The last known Neanderthal site (on Gibraltar) is 'only' 20-25,000 years old - and these almost certainly weren't the very last Neanderthals, just the most recent we know of. It's not much of a stretch to speculate on 'what if Neanderthals had survived until the present day' - how would this have affected our approach to race, treatment of other species etc?

    1. Yugguy

      Re: It's intriguing to speculate

      'what if Neanderthals had survived until the present day'

      Have a walk round any city centre these days and study the denizens- there's no "if" about it.

      If anything we seem to be DEvolving into either massively obese or witheringly stunted.

    2. Robert Helpmann??
      Childcatcher

      Re: It's intriguing to speculate

      how would [Neanderthals surviving until the present day] have affected our approach to race, treatment of other species etc?

      A worthy question, one which is addressed by Harry Turtledove in A Different Flesh, although Homo erectus, not Homo neanderthalis, were used in the story.

      1. Matt Piechota

        Re: It's intriguing to speculate

        "A worthy question, one which is addressed by Harry Turtledove in A Different Flesh, although Homo erectus, not Homo neanderthalis, were used in the story."

        Also in "Anonymous Rex" by Eric Garcia, but in that case dinosaurs have evolved into roughly human shapes.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anonymous_Rex_%28novel%29

        And: ugh, I've read more Turtledove books than I'd like to admit. The author has some intriguing ideas but his writing leaves something to be desired.

    3. umacf24

      Re: It's intriguing to speculate

      That speculation was carried out quite efficiently in one of my favourite childhood books: Stig of the Dump by Clive King

    4. fajensen Silver badge

      Re: It's intriguing to speculate

      The last known Neanderthal site

      That would be pr0nhub? ;-)

      The fine thing about the internet is "Rule 42" which - especially now, with someone directly mentioning inter-species-bonking - ensures that there will be MANY Neanderthal porn sites - which will be well known to Google.

      Tap..tap...tap.. aand ... Yes, Indeed there is, Sir! Perhaps this cannot be unseen, but .... we won't now until we try (all of it).

    5. Anonymous Blowhard

      Re: It's intriguing to speculate

      'what if Neanderthals had survived until the present day'?

      UKIP wouldn't want them to come here and Daily Mail readers would blame them for everything if they did.

      The current government regards inter-species sex as "extreme porn" so this article is probably illegal.

  9. WereWoof
    Childcatcher

    It just goes to show that some people with sh*g anything,

  10. tojb
    Paris Hilton

    With blonde hair and hem-hem generous figure then you are ahead of the game, brow-ridge shmrow-ridge.

  11. Rustident Spaceniak
    Windows

    So - modern humans were interbreeding with Neanderthals in 70k AD - and before that?

    Who else may they have boned before? Various early human species among each other? Maybe those faraway love-ins laid the foundation for our tales of strange creatures, like elves, dwarves, and giants, meeting (and loving, or fighting) humans in some far, faraway past? Mind, no matter how old a fairy tale, the action alway plays "long ago".

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Erroneous assumption

    People are still, in the comments, working on the old assumption that neanderthals were stupid. But the default assumption of good old boy racists was that black people were inferior, and it turns out they are the ones without neanderthal. DNA.

  13. Osgard Leach

    To be un-smutty, is there not a theory that these genes are a shared inheritance from a common ancestor and not inter-breeding at all?

    Though truly if we could find any evidence of brewing, or even distilling technology prior to 60,000 BP the balance of evidence would swing powerfully back towards the shagging.

    1. Grikath

      ummm nope... The most compelling reason is that the evidence so far points to mixing *after* the exodus from the african continent. Before that the particular Neanderthal genes were not present in our genetic makeup. (Points to lack of those specific genes in the genetic makeup of the part of humanity that stayed in africa, and developed their own specific and unique mutations.)

      A Theory is all good and nice, but if it ignores basic facts....

  14. Dave Bell

    Some people have strange ideas...

    One concept that comes up in studies of human ancestry is exogamy, and it's at the root of all sorts of stories about travelling salesmen and such. There's a tendency to see strangers as sexually desirable. And that feeds into a lot of rather ugly male thinking about protecting women and what men are "entitled" to do.

    There are also assumptions that women are somehow asexual, and shocked discoveries that they aren't.

    And the lack of mitochondrial DNA only proves that it hasn't been found yet, and suggests that maybe somebody didn't have any daughters live to breeding age.

    We don't know enough. We can make guesses based on different human cultures, not just groups such as the Bushmen of the Kalahari—would their society be unchanged if we moved them to prehistoric Europe—but much of this can only be a guess. What would some far-future archaeologist make of a modern sex toy. "It's a ritual object"?

    Well, if you want a suggestive analogy, there are one or two stories amongst Star Trek fans concerning well-muscled young men costumed as Next Generation Klingons. And how the way green body-paint can rub off reveals certain late-night activities. There are even very bawdy songs.

    That's modern humans for you, and maybe modern contraception, but be careful about gender assumptions in who shags whom.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Some people have strange ideas...

      "And how the way green body-paint can rub off reveals certain late-night activities. "

      I once gave a fancy dress party with a theme of characters from fairy tales. My costume was a wolf costume with very furry trousers, arms, long tail, and shamanistic head gear. A neighbour brought his new young lodger - who was dressed as Red Riding Hood. This party was a non-swinging group of friends - so it was most amusing later in the evening when she propositioned me. Bemused I offered her a shoulder to cry on - it transpired she had just broken up with a boyfriend.

      Always wondered what had been her motivation. The plot of the fairy tale? An exaggerated attraction to hairy men? This was before the internet.

  15. John Savard Silver badge

    Blaming the Women

    The slutty side of human nature?

    What with Neanderthals looking like brutish animals to Cro-Magnons, and with primitive people generally being hostile and suspicious towards anyone not part of their tribe, I doubt that most interspecies matings were consensual.

    Instead, more likely it's the fault of males of both groups, getting into wars with tribes of the other species, and carrying off women as booty. There's nothing slutty about being an innocent victim of rape.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Blaming the Women

      "What with Neanderthals looking like brutish animals to Cro-Magnons"

      What evidence do you have for that? None whatsoever. For all you know, Mr. Neanderthal hunter looked like a strong, rugged provider who knew his way around to Miss Cro-Magnon. The lack of Neanderthal genes in our mitochondria suggests that the relationships were this way round.

      As for "primitive people being generally hostile and suspicious", that's bunk too. Find me a tribe of "primitive people" who haven't had an unpleasant encounter with illegal loggers, poachers, land thieves or just general bad hats, and find out what their attitude is to strangers, and I might start to believe you. But (as our lecturers pointed out when I was learning this stuff all those years ago) most of those "primitive tribes" are no such thing; they are people who have been pushed into marginal territory by pressure from aggressive invaders, and that's why they treat strangers with suspicion. When the human population of Europe was well under a million, things would have been rather different. When Columbus et al "discovered" the Caribbean, they found some locals who were hostile and some who were very friendly. Guess which ones they enslaved and exterminated.

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