If your heritage is non-African, you are part Neanderthal, according to a new study in the July issue of Molecular Biology and Evolution. Discovery News has been reporting on human/Neanderthal interbreeding for some time now, so this latest research confirms earlier findings.
Damian Labuda of the University of Montreal’s Department of Pediatrics … determined some of the human X chromosome originates from Neanderthals, but only in people of non-African heritage.
“This confirms recent findings suggesting that the two populations interbred,” Labuda was quoted as saying in a press release. His team believes most, if not all, of the interbreeding took place in the Middle East, while modern humans were migrating out of Africa and spreading to other regions.
The ancestors of Neanderthals left Africa about 400,000 to 800,000 years ago. They evolved over the millennia mostly in what are now France, Spain, Germany and Russia. They went extinct, or were simply absorbed into the modern human population, about 30,000 years ago.
Neanderthals possessed the gene for language and had sophisticated music, art and tool craftsmanship skills, so they must have not been all that unattractive to modern humans at the time. …
David Reich, a Harvard Medical School geneticist, added, “Dr. Labuda and his colleagues were the first to identify a genetic variation in non-Africans that was likely to have come from an archaic population. This was done entirely without the Neanderthal genome sequence, but in light of the Neanderthal sequence, it is now clear that they were absolutely right!”
The modern human/Neanderthal combo likely benefitted our species, enabling it to survive in harsh, cold regions that Neanderthals previously had adapted to.
A pet theory I have is that Neanderthals where the “giants in the earth” from Genesis 6:4. The word “giant” makes us think of “tall,” but the word can also mean very strong.
“There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.” – Genesis 6:4
In my view, this sentence, convoluted by history and various translations, explains that breeding with Neanderthal man (the very strong “sons of God”) resulted in new great physical strength for our species.
Neanderthals were stocky, muscular hunters in Europe and western Asia who appeared more than 200,000 years ago. They died out after anatomically modern humans arrived in Europe some 35,000 to 40,000 years ago and spread west into Neanderthal territory. … More than 5,000 years separate the last traces of the Neanderthals from the earliest evidence of modern humans. …
The above is the wrong old view, we now know that there was overlap and breeding.
In research published in Nature in 2014, an analysis of radiocarbon dates from forty Neanderthal sites from Spain to Russia found that the Neanderthals disappeared in Europe between 41,000 and 39,000 years ago with 95% probability. The study also found with the same probability that modern humans and Neanderthals overlapped in Europe for between 2,600 and 5,400 years.
The idea that knowledge of that 5,000 year overlap could be passed on for tens of thousands of years in stories seems very far fetched, but there may also have been early writing that kept the stories and facts alive.
Writing is the physical manifestation of a spoken language. It is thought that human beings developed language c. 35,000 BCE as evidenced by cave paintings from the period of the Cro-Magnon Man (c. 50,000-30,000 BCE) which appear to express concepts concerning daily life. These images suggest a language because, in some instances, they seem to tell a story (say, of a hunting expedition in which specific events occurred) rather than being simply pictures of animals and people. Written language, however, does not emerge until its invention in Sumer, southern Mesopotamia, c. 3500 -3000 BCE. This early writing was called cuneiform and consisted of making specific marks in wet clay with a reed implement.
Was there a written language before the Sumerian cunieiform? It seems likely to me and others have proposted this on linguisting grounds. Some believe there are traces of an early Indo-European language, indeed the earliest by more than a millennium, 1,000 years.
Landsberger’s provocative (1944, rev. 1974) essay addressing these issues was the first to argue on linguistic grounds that the Sumerians were preceded by speakers of an unrelated, and non-Semitic, language. The consensus of opinion among Assyriologists then and now, however, holds that the Sumerians were the original population and points to continuity in the archaeological record to buttress this opinion. Nevertheless, archaeologists have long been aware that continuity says little about the actual nature of an ethnic landscape. Sumerians and Akkadians of the 3rd millennium B.C. shared Mesopotamian culture to such an extent that it has not been possible to distinguish the remains of the one from the other, except through their written records, so there is little reason to be confident that the situation was significantly different a millennium earlier.Those such as Englund (1998: 81), the foremost expert on proto-cuneiform writing, who argue th at the archaic texts of Uruk provide little or no evidence for the presence of the Sumerian language in the 4th millennium are largely ignored or dismissed without careful con sideration and discussion of their arguments. Those who do take issue in print with the concept of a pre-Sumerian population, such as Rubio (1999, 2005), tend to pour scorn on the very idea without proper – in particular, unemotional – discussion of the evidence. It is widely seen as an assault on the integrity, dignity and achievements of the Sumerians to entertain such notions. And yet conservative Assyriologists who have lent their voices in dismissal of the Sumerian Question are inconsistent in their stance. Thus, Michalowski (2005: 178), Rubio (1999: 6), and Edzard (2003: 4) suggest that a number of place names and deity names may well be of non-Sumerian origin, failing to recognize what this implies about the ethnic landscape of Southern Mesopotamia at this early date. Indeed, the major flaw in the standard view (defended vehemently by e.g. Steiner 2005, Wilcke 2005) is the assumption that at the dawn of history Southern Mesopotamia was home to a pristine and pure population of Sumerians and that, if any evidence at all for the presence of the Sumerian language can be discerned in the archaic tablets of Uruk, all arguments for the presence of other languages and ethnic groups are demolished.This flies in the face of all that we know about the ethnic history of Mesopotamia down to the present day. The land has always been a crossroads of civilization and throughout the entire span of recorded history it has been home to a variety of ethnic groups living side by side.Why should it have been different in the 4th millennium?
Proto-Euphratean is a hypothetical unclassified language or languages which was considered by some Assyriologists (for example Samuel Noah Kramer), to be the substratum language of the people that introduced farming into Southern Iraq in the Early Ubaid period (5300-4700 BC). Dyakonov and Ardzinba identified these hypothetical languages with the Samarran culture. Benno Landsberger and other Assyriologists argued that by examining the structure of Sumerian names of occupations, as well as toponyms and hydronyms, one can suggest that there was once an earlier group of people in the region who spoke an entirely different language, often referred to as Proto-Euphratean. Terms for “farmer”, “smith”, “carpenter”, and “date” (as in the fruit), also do not appear to have a Sumerian or Semitic origin.
I could be entirely wrong about the biblical reference to giants being due to our now known interbreeding with Neanderthal man, but I find it interesting to consider.
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