WASHINGTON - A study of the skulls of Neanderthals,
comparing them to early and modern
humans, concludes that that ancient group is
unlikely to have been the ancestor of people
Scientists have long debated whether modern people
are related to Neanderthals, the squat,
powerful hunters who dominated Europe for 100,000
years before dying out on the arrival of
The new study, led by anthropologist Katerina
Harvati of New York University, measured 15
standard landmarks on the face and skull of
Neanderthals, early modern humans, current
humans as well as other primate species.
The study found that the differences measured
between humans and Neanderthals were
significantly greater than those found between
subspecies of any single group, indicating
Neanderthals were not a subspecies if humans. In
addition, the difference was as great or
greater than that found between closely related
primate species, such as humans, gorillas
While Harvati says the analysis "cannot completely
rule out" a relationship between humans
and Neanderthals, it strongly suggests they are
Her report comes just four months after
anthropologist Erik Trinkaus of Washington
University in St. Louis reported the discovery of a
jawbone in a cave in Romania that may
be evidence of the earliest modern humans in Europe.
The jawbone, dated at 34,000 to 36,000 years ago
when humans overlapped with Neanderthals,
has characteristics similar to other early modern
humans, but also certain features that
indicate a possible Neanderthal connection, the
researchers said. That suggests the
possibility of interbreeding with Neanderthals.
Last March, Richard G. Klein of Stanford University,
reported that while studies of DNA
indicate that Neanderthals and humans had a common
ancestor, there is no evidence that the
two ever mixed in substantial numbers, which means
that when the Neanderthals died out, so
did their genes.
But a study published in 2002 suggested that the
genes of people today carry vestiges of
genes of Neanderthals and other extinct branches of
the human family.
That report by population biologist Alan R.
Templeton of Washington University in St.
Louis suggests there were at least two distinct
human migrations out of Africa, the first
between 420,000 and 840,000 years ago and the second
between 80,000 and 150,000 years ago.
According to Templeton, the most recent migration,
and perhaps both, were not "replacement
events." Rather, he said DNA evidence shows evidence
Back to What's New?
Back to Newspaper & Magazine Articles
this website are reprinted and sometimes edited to fit the standards of
this website under the Fair Use Doctrine of International Copyright Law
as educational material without benefit of financial gain.
This proviso is applicable
throughout the entire Bigfoot