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New Ancient Human Identified

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the welcome-to-the-family dept.

Science 148

krou writes "Working on a finger-bone that was discovered in the Denisova Cave of Siberia's Altai mountains in 2008, Johannes Krause from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and colleagues managed to extract mitochondrial DNA. They compared it to the genetic code of modern humans and other known Neanderthals and discovered a new type of hominin that lived in Central Asia between 48,000 and 30,000 years ago. Professor Chris Stringer, human origins researcher at London's Natural History Museum, said, 'This new DNA work provides an entirely new way of looking at the still poorly-understood evolution of humans in central and eastern Asia.' The last common ancestor of the hominid (dubbed 'X-Woman'), humans and Neanderthals seems to have been about one million years ago."

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On Closer Examination... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31607356)

...it turned out to be Jesse Helm.

Hello? Anybody here? (-1, Troll)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#31607360)

<sound>Crikets.wav</sound>

You can tell this story is going to lead the 5am ET local news tomorrow... what? Nobody cares? Okay... next story please, Mr. Editor.

Re:Hello? Anybody here? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31607412)

<sound>Crikets.wav</sound>

No, that'll never work. You should have used the <audio> tag.

Re:Hello? Anybody here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31607528)

No, that'll never work.

They said the same about slashdot's moderation system and now look at it.

Re:Hello? Anybody here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31607684)

No, that'll never work.

They said the same about slashdot's moderation system and now look at it.

And your point is?

Re:Hello? Anybody here? (4, Insightful)

ultranova (717540) | more than 4 years ago | (#31607456)

You can tell this story is going to lead the 5am ET local news tomorrow... what? Nobody cares? Okay... next story please, Mr. Editor.

This is news for nerds. Science, including anthropology, is of interest to some of the nerds. Therefore, this story belongs here, even if you personally don't happen to find it interesting.

Since you have an UID, you could simply hide science stories in your settings rather than complain.

Re:Hello? Anybody here? (0)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31611564)

Assuming you're one of the parties this is of interest to, let me ask this: of what significance is this find, outside of anthropological circles? Unless it leads us to the missing link, what effect does this knowledge have on the world? What does it change? I suspect that may have been more of what GP's point was.

Oh yeh, hey there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31607364)

Hey Butt-head, this dude's a homo sapiens.

X-Woman (1, Funny)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 4 years ago | (#31607366)

That's the name of my next daughter.

Re:X-Woman (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31607460)

I really hope you only have sons. You know, for her's sake.

Re:X-Woman (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610300)

"Her's"! Ha! That's awesome!

Re:X-Woman (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31608390)

That's the name of my next daughter.

That's the name of the next girl I'm gonna do.

Re:X-Woman (1)

woopate (1550379) | more than 4 years ago | (#31608472)

It's unfortunate that somebody who would name their daughter X-woman likely will never breed. You're SOL. Wait, slashdot. You're par for course.

Re:X-Woman (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 4 years ago | (#31608800)

I chose not to have kids for career reasons (porn industry).

It's pretty amazing (-1, Flamebait)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31607370)

I have a friend who is of Eastern European descent who we always tease about looking like a Neanderthal, maybe there really is something to it. He's got a large jaw, largish head, lots of thick, dense hair. His facial features are relatively flat but with prominent eyebrows. His parents are equally ugly, but they come from Baltimore, so it might just be a result of the environment.

If Eastern Europeans come from a different homo (genus) lineage than homo sapiens, it would make sense that they would have a physical structure and mental capacity that was different from ours.

Re:It's pretty amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31607384)

Dude, something is definitely wrong with you.

Re:It's pretty amazing (4, Insightful)

PakProtector (115173) | more than 4 years ago | (#31607386)

There is only one extant species of Homo, and that's Homo sapiens. People like you are what give Anthropology a bad name. The pressures on the minds of those who lived in Europe have been the same as those on people who lived in Africa have been the same as those who lived in Asia -- outwitting other human beings, and struggling against a hostile universe.

There are plenty of trivial physical differences between the different 'races', and that's just what they are -- trivial. Superficial. Unimportant. My mind is the same as the mind of a child growing up in China is the same as the mind of a woman in Europe.

Re:It's pretty amazing (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31607410)

There are plenty of trivial physical differences between the different 'races', and that's just what they are -- trivial. Superficial. Unimportant. My mind is the same as the mind of a child growing up in China is the same as the mind of a woman in Europe.

Who the hell ever told you that load of shite? Differences in mental characteristics between races, such as IQ, are well documented. [wikipedia.org]

Re:It's pretty amazing (5, Interesting)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#31607442)

You are correct that there's evidence for there being correlation between mental abilities and race. But that doesn't mean it is at all genetic. Much of it is almost certainly cultural and environmental. For example, if you get less nutrients growing up you likely aren't going to be as smart as someone else who does get enough nutrients. That's because early brain growth is determined in part by how much resources the brain has available. Similarly, certain cultures have games and habits with young children that may encourage certain forms of mental development or practicing certain skills. Moreover, some types of intelligent tests are very culturally based (there are some fascinating cross cultural studies about how people naturally organize things into groups. While in most Western societies we consider organization into functional categories to be ideal and consider people not as bright if they have trouble, in many other societies and even some Western societies, given a set of objects they will try categorize by which groups of objects can be used together. The classic example of this is giving a bunch of tools and a bunch of possible things that the tools can modify. The "correct" Western response is to group into tools and non-tools. But in some cultures they instead group into which are connected to relevant processes). So yes, such correlation does exist, but there's no strong evidence that such correlation actually means much at all.

Re:It's pretty amazing (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 4 years ago | (#31607704)

"For example, if you get less nutrients growing up you likely aren't going to be as smart as someone else who does get enough nutrients."

Whoooo boy let me show you my medical history, then let me show you what I do for a living, and you'll be retracting that statement pretty rapidly, I will guarantee it.

Re:It's pretty amazing (5, Insightful)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 4 years ago | (#31607736)

Uh... credentials mean nothing. Refuting a statement with facts means more.

Re:It's pretty amazing (2, Insightful)

Chakra5 (1417951) | more than 4 years ago | (#31608118)

You may indeed have a valid point to make, but I have to agree this isn't it. Not only is this an appeal to authority [wikipedia.org] , but the actual "authority" isn't even included.

Re:It's pretty amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31608376)

The plural of anecdote is not data. Anyway, present your evidence.

Re:It's pretty amazing (2, Insightful)

zacronos (937891) | more than 4 years ago | (#31609344)

"For example, if you get less nutrients growing up you likely aren't going to be as smart as someone else who does get enough nutrients."

Whoooo boy let me show you my medical history, then let me show you what I do for a living, and you'll be retracting that statement pretty rapidly, I will guarantee it.

So according to you, a single anecdote (which you claimed you could -- but didn't actually -- provide) disproves a general statement that includes the word "likely"? Granted, I wouldn't have phrased it as GP did, but I generally agree with what GP was trying to say.

How about this: "All else being equal, someone who gets less nutrients growing up almost certainly isn't going to be as smart as that same person would have been if they had had enough nutrients at crucial points in their development." If you think you're smart now with very poor nutrition when you were young, I simply posit that it is highly likely you would have been smarter had your nutrition been significantly better.

Re:It's pretty amazing (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31608814)

Much of it is almost certainly cultural and environmental.

Actually, IQ tests conducted in Africa by Africans result in an average score of 65. African Americans score about an 85, due mostly to difference in nutrition in growing up as you point out.

IQ has to heritable to some extent, or we would never have evolved from our ape-like ancestors to be smarter.

Re:It's pretty amazing (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 4 years ago | (#31609570)

Africa? You mean that place where millions of people starve to death every year? Can't imagine there's anything in the environment there that might result in lower IQs.

Re:It's pretty amazing (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31609880)

There are actually large modern cities in Africa, you insensitive clod. In this context, the "environment" is very similar to that in America. Also, Africans raised by whites and Africans raised by blacks have the same lower IQ. All these environmental and developmental factors have been ruled out in various studies and were reported in The Bell Curve almost 20 years ago. But as the authors predicted, most people would rather not talk about it or assume we are all identical and ignore the evidence. Nothing has changed in 20 years.

Re:It's pretty amazing (2, Interesting)

Third Position (1725934) | more than 4 years ago | (#31609944)

Which one is the cause, and which one is the effect?

Forty years ago, millions of people starved to death every year in China too, but the Chinese have a higher average IQ than Europeans. Millions more were also starving to death in India within living memory.

I'm sure nutrition has a role to play in intelligence, but clearly it isn't the defining one.

Re:It's pretty amazing (1)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 4 years ago | (#31609798)

Much of it is almost certainly cultural and environmental.

Actually, IQ tests conducted in Africa by Africans result in an average score of 65. African Americans score about an 85, due mostly to difference in nutrition in growing up as you point out. IQ has to heritable to some extent, or we would never have evolved from our ape-like ancestors to be smarter.

IQ alone is a dangerous measure of intelligence. It is highly susceptible to testing biases, and there is no real understanding or consensus about what it measures. In response to your point, the logical questions to ask are things like "who made those tests" and "what kind of std. deviation did they find". Personally, I find it more likely that the difference in IQ scores between Africans and African Americans is that African Americans are more likely to have received the kind of formal education that prepares them for standardized tests. Also if you want to dip into almost racism, it is not inconceivable that during the hundreds of years in which Africans were taken as slaves that there was some selection of the more intelligent individuals (meaning the ones not taken were possibly less intelligent). This is not a theory that I tend to agree with, but I can see how one could make the argument.

Regarding the so called "Nature vs. Nurture" debate, the rough numbers that I remember being thrown around in my Cognitive Psych classes were that before age 5-6 something like 60% of intelligence ability is hereditary while 40% is environmental. As the individual matures, this shifts closer towards 50%/50%. Some very interesting work has been done looking at separated paternal twins raised in different environments. There is clearly a strong genetic component to intelligence, and there is just as clearly a very strong environmental component.

Re:It's pretty amazing (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31609906)

Also if you want to dip into almost racism, it is not inconceivable that during the hundreds of years in which Africans were taken as slaves that there was some selection of the more intelligent individuals (meaning the ones not taken were possibly less intelligent)

Yeah, because slave owners want bright slaves capable of questioning them and organizing resistance. I find it more likely the selection went the other way: for less intelligent and physically stronger individuals.

Re:It's pretty amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31610368)

IQ alone is a dangerous measure of intelligence. It is highly susceptible to testing biases, and there is no real understanding or consensus about what it measures.

LOL! You have to love the liberal mind. Any test capable of distinguishing between the abilities of different races will be dismissed as "biased" when it does exactly that!

Ok, then, let's leave IQ out of it. How do the races differ in terms of academic and economic performance? Social pathologies? And how do those correlate to performance on IQ tests?

If you want to play games, I'll give you the point. Let's say IQ tests don't measure a vague and ill-defined characteristic like intelligence. They still correspond fairly closely to individual's ability to succeed in a technologically advanced western culture. Whether or not you want to call that particular quality "intelligence" or not is merely verbal sleight-of-hand, it doesn't negate the value of IQ tests.

Re:It's pretty amazing (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610364)

I'm not a scientist, but I would figure that, to explain the lower average African score, the cultural underpinnings of the intelligence test outweighs the nutrition of the examinees.

Re:It's pretty amazing (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610548)

Then why would a test created by an African and delivered to Africans in Africa result in a score of 65? What is the cultural problem there?

Re:It's pretty amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31610168)

I'm sure, if you try really hard, you can find all kinds of alternative explanations. Unfortunately, when the same races show the same characteristics all over the world, under all kinds of environments, Occam's razor, as well as the bulk of research on the the matter [news-medical.net] , tells us those characteristics are at least to some degree heritable.

Sorry, but there's been plenty of research done [psychology.uwo.ca] on this topic, and your spew of liberal talking points, have been refuted a dozen times over. Give it up.

Re:It's pretty amazing (1)

gonzo67 (612392) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610484)

And the ONE reference you give is to someone that is been criticized by his peers due to his work being poorly researched. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._Philippe_Rushton [wikipedia.org]

Same as the Bell Curve was refuted by the authors peers (one such example here http://press.princeton.edu/titles/5877.html [princeton.edu] )

Re:It's pretty amazing (0, Offtopic)

BlackCreek (1004083) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610648)

MOD PARENT UP!

Re:It's pretty amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31610770)

You're refutation was itself refuted, quite comprehensively [amazon.com] long, long ago. Try to keep up.

Re:It's pretty amazing (2, Interesting)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#31611646)

You are confusing two separate points. First, no one here has made the claim that intelligence is not genetic. It is clearly partially genetic. The matter at issue is whether or not there's any substantial genetic component to measured differences between intelligence levels in racial groups or whether that is due primarily to cultural and environmental effects. Also, if you are going to cite sources, try not to cite ones which have been as widely discredited ok?

Re:It's pretty amazing (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31607498)

From the linked article:

Most scientists believe there is insufficient data to resolve the contributions of heredity and environment.

Further, races are social constructs. As in "constructed by societies." As in "not based in actual biology." There are more genetic differences among members of any given ethnic group than there are between members of any two ethnic groups. If you ever actually acted on any interest in sociology, much less studied it, you would know this.

All this points to the argument that differences in mental aptitudes displayed in aggregate by various "races" in the U.S. are primarily a cause of each race's traditional socioeconomic status, i.e., how members of each "race" are treated and raised by agents of social control (esp. teachers) determines their evident mental prowess.

Re:It's pretty amazing (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31607926)

Further, races are social constructs. As in "constructed by societies."

Sounds like wishful thinking. If I see a Maori man, I can see he's a Maori. If I see a Chinese woman, I can see she's Chinese.

There are more genetic differences among members of any given ethnic group than there are between members of any two ethnic groups.

That doesn't mean the differences between are nonexistent.

If you ever actually acted on any interest in sociology

... he'd know that it isn't genetics?

Re:It's pretty amazing (1)

daem0n1x (748565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31608772)

How can you classify the child of a Maori man with a Chinese woman?

Re:It's pretty amazing (1)

Schadrach (1042952) | more than 4 years ago | (#31609878)

Race is what race is -- a combination of gross physical traits that let you make some vague underlying assumptions about the broad genetic heritage of an individual. If I took the word "race" out of it, and said that said traits contained a "significant genetic component" does that suddenly change your opinion of the statement?

Specifically, how does saying something has a "significant genetic component" shared frequently by those who are descended from peoples originally native to certain parts of the world meaningfully different (especially at the depth routinely gone on internet forums) from connecting it to "race"?

it's just not that hard (1)

foog (6321) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610032)

As the child of a Maori man with a Chinese woman! Do you start arguing that pepperoni pizza is a social construct every time someone comes up with a new topping combination?

Re:it's just not that hard (1)

Vancorps (746090) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610568)

Most delicious analogy ever! I could really go for a pizza right now, curse skipping breakfast!

Re:It's pretty amazing (3, Interesting)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 4 years ago | (#31607992)

There are more genetic differences among members of any given ethnic group than there are between members of any two ethnic groups

I'm really quite surprised to hear this. I would never have guessed that ethnically pure members of the Mbundu or San tribes of Africa were less different from the S.E. Asian Lahu tribe (or even Koreans, being as homogenous as they are) than the members of these groups were amongst themselves. Do you have any prrof of this?

Re:It's pretty amazing (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31608130)

Of course, this is not true.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewontin%27s_Fallacy
"Lewontin argued that because the overwhelming majority of human genetic variation (85%) is between individuals within the same population, and about 6–10% is between populations within the same continent, racial classification can only account for between 5–10% of human variation"
"As Edwards showed, even if the probability of misclassifying an individual based on a single locus is as high as 30% (as Lewontin reported in 1972), the misclassification probability based on 10 loci can drop to just a few percent."

What in realty is "-One locus is not enough to racially classify an individual" - as if someone really believed this - has destorted into the the lie of the grand parent.

When looking at a few hundred loci, misscalssification is in the tenth of percenteges.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/01/050128221025.htm
"The study is by far the largest, consisting of 3,636 people who all identified themselves as either white, African-American, East Asian or Hispanic. Of these, only five individuals had DNA that matched an ethnic group different than the box they checked at the beginning of the study. That's an error rate of 0.14 percent."

Re:It's pretty amazing (1)

HBoar (1642149) | more than 4 years ago | (#31608070)

Further, races are social constructs. As in "constructed by societies." As in "not based in actual biology."

OK, that's ridiculous. I'm not arguing that one race is smarter than another or anything like that, but seeing as you can quite easily tell different races apart, there is obviously some biological difference.

Re:It's pretty amazing (4, Informative)

spiralpath (1114695) | more than 4 years ago | (#31609492)

The sheer ignorance of modern anthropology I see on Slashdot is unnerving. So many people on here assume that their enculturated worldview equals science.

Race is a social construct. Phenotypical differences are one axis along which race is constructed, but it is not the only axis, and in some contexts it is not even the most important. As an example, you can also tell the "race" of a person if you talk to them on the phone. This obviously has nothing do with biology.

Although race as a system of scientific categorization started in European thought during the Enlightenment, it has seriously decreased in scientific merit because of genetics. Today, physical anthropologists think in terms of "clines." Unfortunately, because of the impact of European empires and their hegemony, race as a system of categorization persists in various incarnations throughout the world. This system is perpetuated by a wide variety of structural institutions and the uneducated public.

You can tell races apart because you are conditioned to detect certain characteristics which you associate with an arbitrary categorization of people. These arbitrary categorizations gradually accrued social and cultural capital in YOUR culture. This does not mean they are based in any kind of genetic reality.

Re:It's pretty amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31609858)

You sir, are either a lying sack of shit, or a total idiot.

Re:It's pretty amazing (1)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610236)

I think you (maybe we all) are just misinterpreting each other when we say "race". To some race is synonymous with cultural group, to some race simply means a classification based on observable hereditary differences (fair notice, that language is stolen from Wikipedia). That's why race is such a challenging concept to discuss, its very definition is culturally dependent.

The cultural bigotry comes into play when people make the assumption that cultural norms and behavior are somehow directly linked to ancestral grouping. This is just not the case. I think this is the point you are trying to make (flame me if I'm wrong).

Re:It's pretty amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31607796)

Perhaps mentioning of Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers http://www.gladwell.com/outliers/index.html would be the simplist way to show how "well documented" doesn't mean accurate because it might just ignore cultural differences. Such as most Asians growing rice a peasants (in the middle ages) which required constant upkeep and strong basic math skills whereas, European peasants grew crops such as wheat that are MUCH easier to grow and require most of their work during planting and harvest, not much in the middle. This has lead to deep social consequences where we Europeans say "there are people who are good at math and those who aren't" but in Asia they generally assume everyone is good at math, its only a question of working at it. (THIS is a very over simplified version of it, and I'm sure I butchered it compared to how he wrote it) BUT... There is still many reasons like the above that "well documented" differences between races have more to do with society verses genetics.

Re:It's pretty amazing (2, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31607426)

We aren't talking about modern day humans. The article, which I'll assume you have already read, is about a possible species separate and distinct from homo sapiens and homo neanderthalensis that may have existed in Eastern Europe a long long time ago. The article also discusses the "Hobbit" of Southeast Asia which lived alongside homo sapiens for thousands of years.

If, as the article suggests, there was interbreeding going on, then the genes would be passed along to offspring. Given that long range mobility has only recently become possible, these pockets of special genes would have remained in the same area for a long time, even after the original species disappeared.

But you read the article, so I'm just telling you what you already read and disagree with. Silly me.

Re:It's pretty amazing (2, Interesting)

moteyalpha (1228680) | more than 4 years ago | (#31607468)

That is very strange talk from a Pak Protector.
I saw a very interesting Ted Talk by Elaine Morgan and it seems to me that a single non mutation change in the apes could have fostered any number of branches in the early evolution. I agree that there is no great genetic difference across the planet.
It seems to me that a single change in the ability to control breathing consciously could have been the difference that makes us the human branch. There is no strong linear delimiter that I have seen which would cause speciation from the apes.
It seems that an ape that could escape from others by traveling through deep water to safety or isolation would allow a population to become isolated. It would allow a new dominance similar to the ability to escape predators in trees.
I believe that it might be proved or disproved by the genetic SNP distance of the change which defines the ability to control respiration. If it were the oldest conserved gene, then it would seem that it could be possible.
It also leads to the ability to communicate. Apes have intelligence and hands, but lack effective communication due to the inability to control vocalization ( like birds ).

Re:It's pretty amazing (3, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31607556)

While 115173 is a Pak like the rest of us I doubt he is a Protector because we lack the nutrients. But back to the topic at hand.

Even today Africa has most of the diversity in the human species. I wonder what would happen today if a group of african people became isolated from the rest of us. Diverse genes can lead to powerful selection pressure. I expect that this would have to happen off earth now.

Also I also wonder what would happen to humans generally if we lost the genetic diversity currently banked in Africa. Nothing good I suspect.

Re:It's pretty amazing (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31607596)

Also I also wonder what would happen to humans generally if we lost the genetic diversity currently banked in Africa. Nothing good I suspect.

Less crime?

Come on! Give me a break! (1)

Aku Head (663933) | more than 4 years ago | (#31608202)

It's clearly Bigfoot or Sasquatch or whatever Great Hairy One that your culture accepts unto its beliefs. And I have no knowledge of the Pak and their worlds made of rings.

Re:It's pretty amazing (3, Interesting)

Chakra5 (1417951) | more than 4 years ago | (#31608156)

Apes have intelligence and hands, but lack effective communication due to the inability to control vocalization ( like birds ).

I would say that Apes have quite effective communication as do many creatures...it's just not (as) vocal. Vocal communication may be _more_ effective in many ways, but even a simple house cat does a hell of a lot more than meow if you know what to look for.

Re:It's pretty amazing (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31608214)

even a simple house cat does a hell of a lot more than meow if you know what to look for

You fucking sadistic pervert. If I ever find you I will kick your fucking ass.

That's the sickest joke I have ever heard! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31608248)

I thought I was going to have to call a doctor because I was laughing so hard!

Re:It's pretty amazing (1)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 4 years ago | (#31609532)

Evolution of speech seems to have required changes in several related areas, and this sets a minimum number of favorable mutations that had to have occurred.

      Speech requires specialized centers in the higher brain. It also requires changes in what we normally call the primitive brain, so that speaking stays synced to breathing and swallowing. There are changes to the tongue and soft palate, and given the way all modern languages use some form of modifiers like adjectives or adverbs, there are probably hard wired rules for making speech more sophisticated built into those upper brain speech centers. There may even be changes to the diet, to accomodate teeth that have to also help with speech as well as chew.

        The problem with deriving anything from that point is, one mutation can impact multiple areas of body formation, so until we know more about which genes do specifically what in humans. we don't know enough to make a detailed model of what changes came first, or decide just what the differences were between h. saps and the Neanderthals, or any of those neat interesting questions idle slash-dotters are bringing up.

        I think moteyalpha gets this, and hope at least most of the rest of this thread's posters do - the speculations are answerable in principle, but just because we've mapped the genome doesn't mean we've figured out all the connections. In 20 to 40 years, the truth about at least half the speculations in this whole slashdot thread will be known science.

Re:It's pretty amazing (3, Interesting)

Baki (72515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31608154)

Your reply w.r.t. neanderthals apparently assumes that neanderthals had lower intelligence.

This is not true, or at least not proven. Just google "neanderthal intelligence" and you'll see many references that believe that neanderthals had higher or at least equal intelligence than homo sapiens. Also they interbred with homo sapience (google for "neanderthal interbreeding with humans" for many references to that claim), so "people like you" you were responding to do not have to give anthropology a bad name.

Apart from that, it is not proven that each current human race must have the same average intelligence. On the contrary, there are indications that this is not the case.

Ideologically motivated people can give anthrolopogy a bad name. This goes in both directions.

Re:It's pretty amazing (1)

zorro-z (1423959) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610378)

More to the point, the genetic differences between human beings of all racial groups are incredibly insignificant. According to a Wikipedia article on the subject, there is an average 0.1% difference between any two randomly-selected human beings, with a maximum difference of 8% between racial groups. This has led to a conclusion that race is largely insignificant at a genetic level. Race is, more than anything else, a social construct.

To paraphrase psychologist Harry Stack Sullivan's One Genus Theory, any randomly-selected human being has far more in common w/any other randomly-selected human being than w/anything else on the planet.

Re:It's pretty amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31607438)

His parents are equally ugly, but they come from Baltimore, so it might just be a result of the environment.

H.P. Lovecraft, is that you?

BAG is clueless on this one. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31607450)

The term Caucasian came about became some German thought the prettiest white people came from the Caucasus region in Eastern Europe.

Considering how nationalistic Germans are, that guy must have felt quite strongly about it to pick some foreign group to be the role models of physical beauty.

The Internet has confirmed his wisdom... all the beautiful big boobed babes with charming accents come from the Slavic countries. Search for yourself and see.

I don't know... (3, Interesting)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 4 years ago | (#31608114)

The term Caucasian came about became some German thought the prettiest white people came from the Caucasus region in Eastern Europe.

Considering how nationalistic Germans are, that guy must have felt quite strongly about it to pick some foreign group to be the role models of physical beauty.

The Internet has confirmed his wisdom... all the beautiful big boobed babes with charming accents come from the Slavic countries. Search for yourself and see.

Based on my extensive... erm... research in Internet porn, I have to wonder, if Johann Friedrich Blumenbach were alive today, would we end up calling it the Bohemian race? I mean, Silvia Saint, Angelina Crow, etc.

Pretty much because, yes, his opinion of races seems to have had mostly to do with how pretty he found their women. E.g., he started with the blacks being pretty much sub-human and justified it then by cherry-picking skulls and a good dose of phrenology (an opinion that would influence pseudo-scientific racism to this day.) Then he made an 180 degree turns when he met a black woman beautiful enough to fall in love with (in his own words.) He then proceeded to "prove" by the same anatomical analysis methods as before that verily they're every bit as smart and talented and everything as the Caucasians.

Could be worse, though. We could have a classification made by a gay dude with a foot fetish, for example :p

Re:BAG is clueless on this one. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31609776)

Considering how nationalistic Germans are

I believe the correct word would be "were".

Nationalistic Germans have all but died out (for nation and leader) by 1945, and the few that might have escaped, were prevented from breeding by extensive re-education.

Re:It's pretty amazing (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31607454)

Highly unlikely. More likely a case of convergent evolution if anything at all.

By the way, how do we know that Neanderthals had those features? They might have had based on the shape of their skulls, but that's all guesses and extrapolations, since no-one has seen a live one.

Re:It's pretty amazing (1)

wall0159 (881759) | more than 4 years ago | (#31608368)

What makes you think that homo neanderthalensis were less intelligent than homo sapiens?

Oh, and haven't you heard the expression: beauty is in the eye of the beholder?
(you sound like quite an ugly person to me)

Re:It's pretty amazing (2, Informative)

corbettw (214229) | more than 4 years ago | (#31609658)

Does his head have an occipital bun? Do his ribs flare out at the waist? Are his hips set back further than yours? Do his legs bow outward? No? Then he doesn't look like a neanderthal, he just looks like a guy with lots of testosterone. Doesn't sound like someone I'd want to tease all the time.

Summary is slightly optimistic. (5, Informative)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#31607396)

Yes, they definitely extracted mitochondrial DNA (that's DNA that isn't in the nucleus but is rather in the mitochondria and is only passed down by your mother). Yes, the DNA looks different enough that they're pretty sure this isn't any form of contamination from modern samples (always a worry when doing this sort of thing). However, it is far from clear that this DNA is belonged to another species. There are multiple possible other explanations which could make this not another species. The details are a bit technical, but anthropologist John Hawks has a piece on his blog laying out the basic issues- http://johnhawks.net/weblog/reviews/neandertals/neandertal_dna/denisova-krause-2010.html [johnhawks.net] . A slightly more lay-oriented piece by Carl Zimmer (the writer for Science Times and author of the very excellent book Parasite Rex) is also worth reading: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/loom/2010/03/24/the-x-womans-fingerbone/ [discovermagazine.com] . The bottom line is that concluding that this is a new species is as of yet very premature.

Re:Summary is slightly optimistic. (3, Interesting)

Michael Woodhams (112247) | more than 4 years ago | (#31607606)

I enjoyed the John Hawks analysis, and I agree that a mitochondrial sequence from a single bone is much less data than I'd like before concluding the existence of a new species.

However, I don't agree with his main argument. Yes, the Neandertal population might have a 1 million year old divergence in their mitochondrial DNA, but that can't explain why the modern human/Neandertal divergence is only about half that. Under this hypothesis, the modern human diversity lies within the Neandertal.

For this to work, basically a Neandertal has to wander from Europe into Africa, *and* she must be a maternal-line ancestor of Mitochondrial Eve. (Alternatively modern humans evolve in Europe from Neandertals, migrate to Africa and die out in Europe, only to return later. Basically this is the same scenario except for the subspecies of the African immigrant.)

Re:Summary is slightly optimistic. (4, Informative)

DavidD_CA (750156) | more than 4 years ago | (#31607688)

The summary doesn't say anything about this being a new species. The word "species" doesn't even appear.

And in the article, the first use of the word "species" says this:

However, for now, the researchers have steered away from describing the specimen as a new species.

And this:

Other experts agreed that while the Siberian specimen may be a new species, this has yet to be shown.

I'm all for shooting down /. summaries and sensational headlines, but this appears to be right on.

Huh? (2, Funny)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#31607408)

Is Professor Xavier being politically correct nowadays? Being 48,000 years old is a cool super power but she's dead so I fail to see how she could help fellow mutants.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31607484)

Is Professor Xavier being politically correct nowadays? Being 48,000 years old is a cool super power but she's dead so I fail to see how she could help fellow mutants.

Not really. If they were really politically correct, they would have dubbed her "X-lady."

Re:Huh? (0, Offtopic)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 4 years ago | (#31607654)

Is Professor Xavier being politically correct nowadays? Being 48,000 years old is a cool super power but she's dead so I fail to see how she could help fellow mutants.

Not really. If they were really politically correct, they would have dubbed her "X-lady."

That's X-Rady, you insensitive clod.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31610404)

That's X-Person. These days, the politically correct don't assume gender, when they only know the physical sex of a dead body.

Preference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31607414)

Frankly, I'm more partial to ancient new humans. I used to dig the ancient ancient humans, but y'know, not a very lively bunch.

Sleeper (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31607434)

If only they had this persons nose. They could recreate the whole person then. Not much you can do with half a finger.

(and if he had eaten organic rice he would still be alive now).

Re:Sleeper (1)

rattaroaz (1491445) | more than 4 years ago | (#31607496)

If only they had this persons nose. They could recreate the whole person then. Not much you can do with half a finger.

Don't be too cynical. It may give us some insight into the origin of the term "giving someone the finger."

Re:Sleeper (4, Funny)

jamesh (87723) | more than 4 years ago | (#31607608)

Not much you can do with half a finger.

You have far too little imagination.

Re:Sleeper (1)

Dupple (1016592) | more than 4 years ago | (#31607640)

See 'Carry on Screaming'

Re:Sleeper (2, Funny)

esme (17526) | more than 4 years ago | (#31608794)

Not much you can do with half a finger.

Wendy's would beg to differ.

Want to know what he looked like? (1, Funny)

Chees0rz (1194661) | more than 4 years ago | (#31607644)

Take a picture, load it into photoshop, content aware fill, and BAM sneak peak into the past.

MOD PARENT UP (1)

SteveFoerster (136027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610332)

Hey humorless moderator, I thought that was actually pretty funny. Just because you don't get the joke doesn't mean it's overrated.

where are the tin-foil-hats? (4, Interesting)

tloh (451585) | more than 4 years ago | (#31607770)

It's kinda late and I'm a bit brain-dead at the moment. But the first thing that came to my mind was...... The Abominable Snow Man. What are the chances that this ends up being the smoking gun for that oh-so-elusive cryptoid that has had people arguing about hairy wild apemen since time forgotten? Personally, I think it'll realistically end up being a case of contamination or something else mondan. But with the odd chance that this turns out to be scientifically investigatable, we can hang on to the slim hope that there are other samples out there waiting to be found.

Re:where are the tin-foil-hats? (3, Informative)

Sique (173459) | more than 4 years ago | (#31607870)

The team was actually pondering that this may be a case of contamination. But -- which mitochondrial DNA contamination will yield a result that shows a divergence that is larger than Homo sapiens sapiens vs. Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, but not large enough for Homo sapiens sapiens vs. Pan troglodytes?

PS: The Neanderthal is a narrow valley between the towns of Erkrath and Mettman, called so in memoriam of the Calvinist church teacher and hymn writer Joachim Neander [wikipedia.org] . I wonder what he would have to say about a human subspecies indirectly named for him.

Re:where are the tin-foil-hats? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31610416)

PS: The Neanderthal is a narrow valley between the towns of Erkrath and Mettman, called so in memoriam of the Calvinist church teacher and hymn writer Joachim Neander [wikipedia.org] . I wonder what he would have to say about a human subspecies indirectly named for him.

I doubt he would get too upset about it, being a Calvinist he'd probably believe it was predetermined anyway.;)

Re:where are the tin-foil-hats? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31611158)

It's kinda late and I'm a bit brain-dead at the moment. But the first thing that came to my mind was...... The Abominable Snow Man. What are the chances that this ends up being the smoking gun for that oh-so-elusive cryptoid that has had people arguing about hairy wild apemen since time forgotten? Personally, I think it'll realistically end up being a case of contamination or something else mondan. But with the odd chance that this turns out to be scientifically investigatable, we can hang on to the slim hope that there are other samples out there waiting to be found.

Not a Yeti but another group is a good candidate. They are called Almas among other names. Oddly enough the description fits the divergence nicely. They were described as tall and very hairy. The point being there's no evidence that Neanderthals were extremely hairy and were probably closer to humans in the amount of hair they had. Alma type people were described from Eastern Europe nearly to the Pacific Ocean. If this group survived up to even a few thousand years ago they could be the source of the stories. Remember the date given for Hobbit extinction is based strictly on the most recent bones. They have no extinction date in truth because there are far too few bones to set a date. Stories matching their description by locals stop in the mid 1800s so it's possible they survived until very recent times. The same could be true of Almas and this bone could possibly be evidence of Almas. This would bring the number hominids surviving until recent time to four. Three of the four seem to have gone extinct in the last 30,000 years. Climate could be a factor but the most likely cause would be humans. The locals in Flores even talk of burning to death the last Hobbits because they stole food and possibly young children. There's even stories about a group of hairy humans being massacred during the Russian civil war so the last of the Almas could have been wiped out in the early part of the last century. None of this is based on particularly extreme speculation. It's more extreme to think it purely coincidence that the locals on Flores described people that looked exactly like hobbits dying out in the 1800s. It points to a likely survival until recent times. The evidence for Almas is very thin at this point and amounts to a single finger bone but it's still intriguing and the old stories at the very least should be taken more seriously.

LIES LIES LIES (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31608064)

We all know that we did not evolve, we where created by God.
Damn Scientist and their lies, they should start reading the bible to see the truth!

SPOILER WARNING (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 4 years ago | (#31608112)

The New Ancient Human was identified as:




Cowboy Neal

Wait...what? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31608138)

I am seriously wonder how the holly rollers will feel about this. God created us in his image but if there are 4 sub-species then which one was the first? He had to try 4 times? But God is perfect!!! Wait...what?

Re:Wait...what? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31608604)

Duh, anything that exists beyond about 4,000 years ago is just a cunning fake put there by god to test your faith. And anything that's in the bible, is less than 4,000 years old and can be disproven through science is just an analogy. And remember, the bible is a rule book for how you live your life that you absolutely must obey. Except for the bits you don't like, those bits are just a guideline and don't necessarily apply to the modern world except where other people ignore them, in which case they're heathens and will burn in hell. Pretty straightforward stuff, really.

Re:Wait...what? (2, Funny)

jamesh (87723) | more than 4 years ago | (#31608828)

Maybe God created Neanderthal Man in His image, and we went and wiped them all out. That would explain why he's pissed off all the time with all the wrath and stuff.

Migration routes (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 4 years ago | (#31608514)

Eventually we may find that man originated in Asia and migrated to Africa.

Is it a nigger? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31608686)

n/c

Possibly a dumb question, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31608792)

e know that at least some of the various hominid species could interbreed, yes?
And that the various multiple different branches of hominid species are far from a linear progression to homo sapiens, right?

So I was wondering (and I really don't know enough about biology to know for certain, but I'm hoping a kind slashdotter will post) how could we tell if there were any other hominids alive today? Ones which were not homo sapiens sapiens, but one of the closer off shoots, which could interbreed?

Please note, I'm not talking about bigfoot or something. I mean one that, for all intents and purposes looks human. But isn't genetically the same type of hominid as another human?

Did the cave have a stargate in it? (2, Funny)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31609264)

Did the cave have a stargate in it?

Think of the possibilities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31609464)

One of the better /. posts I have read in quite awhile. And I did not have to be subjected Microsoft hate-talk being interjected. (Just an observation). No seriously, excellent, excellent post and responses with great links
Shows some possibilites of more genetic diversity in us that perhaps originally thought. Great food for thought

Um... (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610194)

I'm no genius, but wouldn't that mark it as a Asiatic variant of H. erectus? Like Neandertals, there's no reason to assume that this hominid was anything other than another scion of the H. erectus migrations throughout Eurasia.

Backward dates (1)

Darnocobra (787444) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610658)

Am I the only one who thinks it is strange to list the older age first? It seems unnatural.
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