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Neanderthals nearly went extinct BEFORE contact with modern humans

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posted on Apr, 5 2012 @ 09:07 AM
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DNA analysis shakes up Neandertal theories
(Binghamton University, State University of New York)

A study of mitochondrial DNA sampled by this team has discovered that Neanderthals in Western Europe had nearly died out long before contact with modern humans.

According to their research, Neanderthal DNA older than 50,000 years showed great diversity in genetic variation, as befitting a large population that existed for a long period of time. But samples from DNA less than 50,000 years old showed very little diversity indicating the population had shrunk to a very small number.

The authors of the study suggest that Neanderthals were much more vulnerable to the last Ice Age than previously acknowledged, and that the population had recovered when contact with modern humans occurred.


“The fact that Neandertals in Western Europe were nearly extinct, but then recovered long before they came into contact with modern humans came as a complete surprise to us,” said Dalén, associate professor at the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm. “This indicates that the Neandertals may have been more sensitive to the dramatic climate changes that took place in the last Ice Age than was previously thought.”

Quam concurs and suggests that this discovery calls for a major rethinking of the idea of cold adaptation in Neandertals.

“At the very least, this tells us that without the aid of material culture or technology, there is a limit to our biological adaptation,” Quam said. “It may very well have been the case that the European Neandertal populations were already demographically stressed when modern humans showed up on the scene.”




posted on Apr, 5 2012 @ 09:21 AM
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I was under the impression that there is evidence in our DNA that proves Homo Sapiens mated
with Neanderthals. I also thought there is fossil evidence that they interacted.


edit on 11/27/10 by SpearMint because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 5 2012 @ 09:24 AM
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reply to post by SpearMint
 


That is true but what the OP is saying is that before Neanderthals came into contact with Modern Man they almost became extinct and then started to flourish once again.



posted on Apr, 5 2012 @ 09:27 AM
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Interesting in that homo sapiens almost went extinct about 70,000 years ago.

Something isn't making sense. Maybe this DNA analysis is missing some important details.



posted on Apr, 5 2012 @ 09:33 AM
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Or could this all be some sort of propaganda for an ulterior motive. Who knows?
edit on 5-4-2012 by kimish because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 5 2012 @ 09:33 AM
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reply to post by SpearMint
 


Yes as Rcanem above posted, Neanderthals show a genetic bottleneck around 50,000 years ago according to this study, indicating their population dwindled to a scarce number from which all future generations would be genetically linked to. Much of the earlier genetic variation in the Neanderthal genome had died out, one can imagine entire races of the more Northern Neanderthal tribes didn't survive the Ice Age. But 20,000 years later those that did would come into contact with modern humans, share some genetic material, and then die out entirely.



posted on Apr, 5 2012 @ 09:39 AM
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Originally posted by Blackmarketeer
A study of mitochondrial DNA sampled by this team has discovered that Neanderthals in Western Europe had nearly died out long before contact with modern humans.

Nice catch...S&F on the thread. I'm not really shocked by the findings, when you consider it's only recently that there has been any acknowledgment that modern humans and Neanderthals co-existed for a time. The story is still unfolding, but what does amaze me is that we have the tools to attain that kind of knowledge.



posted on Apr, 5 2012 @ 09:40 AM
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Originally posted by rcanem
reply to post by SpearMint
 


That is true but what the OP is saying is that before Neanderthals came into contact with Modern Man they almost became extinct and then started to flourish once again.


Oh sorry, I missed the recovered part.
Thanks
edit on 11/27/10 by SpearMint because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 5 2012 @ 09:44 AM
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Here is a fascinating source of information about the development of the Human species across the ages. I rather enjoy what is illustrated and mapped out here. It makes us wonder just how much interaction between species there was and how detrimental that interaction became.

Enjoy...

humanorigins.si.edu...



posted on Apr, 5 2012 @ 09:49 AM
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reply to post by poet1b
 


Modern humans (i.e. us) show a genetic bottleneck around 75,000 years ago, scientists have theorized that was due to the Lake Toba super-volcano eruption, which reduced our ancestors to 5,000-10,000 family units. Most modern humans at the time were still in Africa, the near east, India, and throughout the archipelago of Indonesia, which made them particularly vulnerable to that eruption, which blanketed the earth for several years with sun-blocking dust. Neanderthals and Erectus were probably affected to a lesser degree but AFAIK they don't have enough DNA sampling to say.

What this study in the OP does indicate was Neanderthals were reduced to a very small population right around 50,000 years ago. When you take a very large population and reduce it to a very small population, the 'genetic drift', which has been occurring for as long as that population has been around, will be drastically reduced, especially when the surviving population is of one particular race. All the variation in mitochondrial DNA that had been occurring in that population will be wiped out, in favor of the survivors.

Imagine if the human race - Asians, Africans, Celtic, Indian, etc., were wiped out in some disaster, except for a small number of Irish. All future humans from that point forward would in effect be Irish. Eventually some genetic drift would again begin to occur, and you'll have new races that variants of the Irish, but the genetic drift will have been 'reset' at the time of the disaster.



posted on Apr, 5 2012 @ 09:54 AM
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reply to post by Blackmarketeer
 


Very interesting read. Thanks for posting.

Does this then show that Neanderthals were more susceptible to a colder climate than previously thought? My reading of this tends to support that view - that Neanderthals didn't cope as well as you may think.

To Poet1b, the decline in human population around 70'000 years ago was linked to the super volcanic eruption at Tambora in Indonesia. I would have thought this would also have declined numbers of pretty much every animal, including Neanderthals......



posted on Apr, 5 2012 @ 10:02 AM
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Interesting, my own contention is that the Neanderthals were wiped out by the introduction of new diseases from their cousins from the tropics, but enough of them survived to be incorporated into the 'bloodline'. Of course it may have taken 10,000 years to do so



posted on Apr, 5 2012 @ 10:09 AM
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reply to post by Blackmarketeer
 


Yeah, that is how I understand current theory.

I have to wonder why neanderthals weren't wiped out at the same time as homo sapiens, if the Lake Toba super-volcano eruption had such an effect on life on Earth. Wouldn't all species have been fairly equally effected?

I had always assumed that neanderthals went through the same events, and were affected in the same way.

Clearly, it seems to me, that we are missing large parts of this puzzle.



posted on Apr, 5 2012 @ 10:15 AM
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reply to post by poet1b
 


Maybe Neanderthals were hotter to humans than we give them credit for! And you are right, by the way, with Lake Toba.

Hanslune, interesting theory regarding disease and certainly plausible. Is that a hunch or based on something more?



posted on Apr, 5 2012 @ 10:25 AM
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Originally posted by JohnnyCanuck
... that modern humans and Neanderthals co-existed for a time.



Just for clarification, only the groups of humans who left Africa show signs of contact with Neanderthals, and crossbreeding.
Africans dont have any Neanderthal DNA in them, everyone else does.



posted on Apr, 5 2012 @ 11:38 AM
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reply to post by Flavian
 


Just a hunch based on later human experience, ie Europeans vs Americas, and European vs Africa, etc, where disease had a devastating effect



posted on Apr, 5 2012 @ 11:55 AM
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Homo Neandertahlensis was around a lot longer than our high school textbooks allow. There was approximately 50,000 years of interaction before they became extinct....I find that extremely fascinating and enlightening.

Goig rogue for a moment....the judeo-christian texts speak of a race of "nephalim"....and folks...for ages...have thought this to mean angelic offspring....I disagree....

I think what this is describing is the interactions between homo sapien and homo neaderthalensis. I think what we have here is the roots of prejudice....one race feeling it is absolutely superior to another. Disdain, disrespect and an overwhelming sense of "I am better than you"

I am not going to pretend I have data to back this up....it is based on dates and extinction time period....Neanderthals became extinct for a reason....they were murdered out of existence....this may sound ugly but this is a common fact of co-mingling species....one will rise and one will fall.

Great topic though OP....s and f to you




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