Friday, May 07, 2010

Neanderthals mated with non-African Humans? What will the racists say?

Semi-cross-posted from Daily Kos...None of this matters to Buddhists, but the implications of this finding, if verified, for racists and conservatives is astounding.

I'm one of those people that considers race to be a social construct; the gene distribution and expression of different people is pretty diffuse amongst ethnic backgrounds as I understand it.  But this article in the NY Times,  reports that researchers have found that non-African Humans "1 percent to 4 percent of the genome of non-Africans today is derived from Neanderthals."

From the article...

Neanderthals mated with some modern humans after all and left their imprint in the human genome, a team of biologists has reported in the first detailed analysis of the Neanderthal genetic sequence.

The biologists, led by Svante Paabo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, have been slowly reconstructing the genome of Neanderthals, the stocky hunters that dominated Europe until 30,000 years ago, by extracting the fragments of DNA that still exist in their fossil bones. Just last year, when the biologists first announced that they had decoded the Neanderthal genome, they reported no significant evidence of interbreeding.

Scientists say they have recovered 60 percent of the genome so far and hope to complete it. By comparing that genome with those of various present day humans, the team concluded that about 1 percent to 4 percent of the genome of non-Africans today is derived from Neanderthals. But the Neanderthal DNA does not seem to have played a great role in human evolution, they said.

Experts believe that the Neanderthal genome sequence will be of extraordinary importance in understanding human evolutionary history since the two species split some 600,000 years ago.

The scientists think this interbreeding happened somewhere in the Middle East between 100,000 and 600,000 years ago, and not in Europe, where the Neanderthals had their "last stand." Now the NY Times article goes on to qualify this somewhat, saying the geneticists are doing really, really hard math, which the archeologists don't quite accept right now, but that bridge will be crossed one way or the other: this interpretation of results could be incorrect right now or it could be right. Although I have not read the results, I do have somewhat of a mathematical background, and so I would not be surprised if the geneticists were right.

But if this pans out this has got to start some racists' and other conservatives folks alarm bells ringing...'cause it kind of means, uh, "White People" as pure representatives of the species homo sapiens as Africans? That Adam and Eve...weren't homo sapiens? That most people on earth are the product of bestiality? That those PETA folks are right, there really isn't much difference us and non-humans? (All we had going for us, more or less, were our genome, now that we found animals making tools...and now this!)

1 comment:

Wiseass Zen said...

As a conservative, I have to ask: What astounding implications are in this for me? What's this got to do with me? Is this supposed to make me decide to run out and support Obama? Am I going to change my views on taxing and government spending? I think you are painting "conservatives" with a broad brush stroke and making assumptions that may not be correct. Course, when a "conservative" makes assumptions, it's called prejudice and stereotyping.