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Mystery Humans Spiced Up Ancients' Sex Lives

samzenpus posted about 9 months ago | from the how-you-doing? dept.

Science 238

ananyo writes "New genome sequences from two extinct human relatives suggest that these 'archaic' groups bred with humans and with each other more extensively than was previously known. The ancient genomes, one from a Neanderthal and one from a different archaic human group, the Denisovans, were presented at a meeting at the Royal Society in London. They suggest that interbreeding went on between the members of several ancient human-like groups living in Europe and Asia more than 30,000 years ago, including an as-yet unknown human ancestor from Asia. 'What it begins to suggest is that we're looking at a 'Lord of the Rings'-type world — that there were many hominid populations,' says Mark Thomas, an evolutionary geneticist at University College London who was at the meeting but was not involved in the work."

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Human Relatives (2)

Lodlaiden (2767969) | about 9 months ago | (#45478755)

Are they first or second cousins and are we playing by North or South rules?

Re:Human Relatives (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45478837)

In the beginning, we were all fish. Okay? Swimming around in the water. And then one day a couple of fish had a retard baby, and the retard baby was different, so it got to live. So Retard Fish goes on to make more retard babies, and then one day, a retard baby fish crawled out of the ocean with its...mutant fish hands... and it had butt sex with a squirrel or something and made this. Retard frog-sqirrel, and then *that* had a retard baby which was a... monkey-fish-frog... And then this monkey-fish-frog had butt sex with that monkey, and that monkey had a mutant retard baby that screwed another monkey... and that made you!

So there you go! You're the retarded offspring of five monkeys having butt sex with a fish-squirrel! Congratulations!

Re:Human Relatives (5, Funny)

Lodlaiden (2767969) | about 9 months ago | (#45478933)

Guess I don't need that subscription to ancestry.com anymore. Thanks AC!

Re: Human Relatives (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45478973)

good southpark reference

Re:Human Relatives (2)

davester666 (731373) | about 9 months ago | (#45479091)

Enough about your parents.

Re:Human Relatives (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45479359)

Enough about your parents.

Consider yourself lucky that guy didn't talk about his grandparents !

Re:Human Relatives (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45479443)

Matt Inman, is that you?

Re:Human Relatives (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45479469)

Butt sex doesn't you pregnant. What are they teaching in school these days?

Re:Human Relatives (5, Funny)

jimshatt (1002452) | about 9 months ago | (#45479479)

Butt sex doesn't you pregnant. What are they teaching in school these days?

Not enough English?

Re:Human Relatives (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 9 months ago | (#45479521)

Butt sex doesn't you pregnant.

I accidentally all the babby.

(Training for the meme density record.)

Re:Human Relatives (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45479701)

But sex DOES get you pregnant...

Re:Human Relatives (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45479851)

Pray tell.

Re:Human Relatives (5, Interesting)

rtb61 (674572) | about 9 months ago | (#45478941)

Far more likely the now dominant species were playing by pillage, plunder, rape and enslave rules. Which is why to this day, we still have problems with psychopaths and narcissists, our major contribution to the human genome pool and the main reason for the extinction of others human species, countless human societies and likely at the end of it all, our own. A defective human mutation whose greatest contribution to human society is war, rape and genocide (basically taking the humane out of human, -e self destructive ego).

Re:Human Relatives (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45479003)

This is called "Natural Selection". Unfortunately nature doesn't appear to value politeness - it's all about survival. And it's a sad fact that those willing to rape, pillage, and murder tend to outlive the people they're murdering.

Re:Human Relatives (4, Insightful)

whistlingtony (691548) | about 9 months ago | (#45479127)

That may not be true. Cooperation is just as inborn a trait as assholism. I don't mean to paint a rosy picture, but please consider that most of the people still living on the planet under a tribal/primitive lifestyle are pretty calm and get along pretty well.

Natural selection works for the talkers as well as the fighters. Sometimes in the same individual.

Re:Human Relatives (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45479169)

please consider that most of the people still living on the planet under a tribal/primitive lifestyle are pretty calm and get along pretty well.

Bullshit.
Seriously, if you think that's even remotely true you've obviously never studied Anthropology to any degree, and especially never paid any attention to those particular groups.

As for this article, I'm getting really tired of people acting like this is some kind of startling revelation. It's not.
It IS important evidence which further validates Evolutionary Theory, which predicted this situation all along. In the past we didn't have any evidence for humans co-existing with other species, and that has long been a point the Anti-Evolution crowd has attempted to use to invalidate Evolution.
So hooray for the data, but please, spare us the "shock and surprise" because the only people who should be surprised are the ones who think Evolution says humans are the result of a monkey fucking a fish.

Re:Human Relatives (4, Insightful)

sumdumass (711423) | about 9 months ago | (#45479377)

Actually, the contention was that the separate species was the same species because of the ability to interbreed which at one time the inability was key to denoting a deparate species. The though was same species but different races like we see today.

I don't care to get into an evolution verses creation argument. Just stating the argument as i heard it. I do agree this is no big news or anything novel as the concept has been around a while but not widely accepted. I guess the news to me is the concept of another unknown race or species being involved

Re:Human Relatives (1)

aaaaaaargh! (1150173) | about 9 months ago | (#45479823)

You, on the other hand, write exactly like someone who has studied anthropology (and nothing else). Amazing.

Re:Human Relatives (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45479299)

Rapers, pillagers, and murderers only outcompete others in certain contexts.

There's a reason psychopaths make up less than less than 5% of the individuals in most populations across the world. Too many psychopaths creates selection pressure for individuals which cooperate to defend themselves from psychopaths.

Anyhow, psychopathy is way cooler than that. For one thing, psychopaths are perfectly capable of cooperation. For another, psychopaths are only moderately more likely to be violent in modern society (although a substantial number of violent people are psychopaths, psychopathy is only one element that underlies their violence).

Raping and pillaging is likely related to other innate behaviors, shared by most people. Psychopathy isn't about violence, per se, it's about cheating and taking advantage of others. They're economic opportunists and they're fascinating. Just keep them way from me!

Re:Human Relatives (4, Insightful)

famebait (450028) | about 9 months ago | (#45479717)

Nope, survival is just one means among several.
What evolution is really all about is propagation of DNA.

Traits can rise to prominence or dwindle into nothingness without affecting survival at all, if they affect reproductive success in some other way.

A gene doesn't even have to be reproduced via the same individual to support its own propagation:
In multicellular organisms like ourselves, millions of cells self-sacrifice every day, having offloaded the task of propagating their genes to the other clones in in the same colony (i.e. body). Insect colonies display similar constructs at the level of complex individuals, to the point of the majority of individuals being intrinsically sterile.

Humans and other social animals display social contracts that are much weaker, but which still strongly affect behaviour, and probably for much the same reasons.
If humans were truly as asocial as lone-hunter-type animals, you and I would be out feeding or sleeping, not hanging out here on slashdot trying to impress each other with our insights.

Re:Human Relatives (5, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | about 9 months ago | (#45479043)

So you say we all evolved out of a bunch of managers?

Sorry, but there I draw the line. When Darwin said we evolved outta monkeys, ok. I could dig that. But managers... YOU TAKE THAT BACK RIGHT NOW!

Re:Human Relatives (1)

rtb61 (674572) | about 9 months ago | (#45479149)

No, if you can tell the difference and you obviously don't socially align with them, well, you are just not evolved from them, you to put in bluntly, are just the latest evolution of victims of them. When it comes to them think inbreeding, think royalty and their flunkies, so from inbred royalty did corporate executives evolve (you know literally all those right royal bastards).

Re:Human Relatives (5, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | about 9 months ago | (#45479201)

We also have compassion, cooperation and communication. Those are the "killer features" of human behavior, the things that make us the most adaptable animal species ever. These are such fundamental features of what it means to be human that it's easy to take them for granted.

You mention enslavement, pillage and plunder, and those make my point. Until you have built a society beyond small nomadic hunter-gatherer bands, slavery makes no sense. Pillage and plunder as well are meaningless until your species has at least developed agriculture, and the social ability to band together to attack people who have converted agricultural surplus into property.

But in the end it isn't about being nice, it's about being adaptable. Being nice -- the things that make others want to spend time with us and cooperate with us -- just happens to be the best basic pattern for building a species with maximum behavioral adaptability. But it makes sense that we ALSO retain the ability to be not-nice. From time to time it's useful for survival -- just less than the 100% of the time that social Darwinists would have us believe. There are times when turning on your neighbor at least ensures someone from the neighborhood survives.

It's a tautology: a behaviorally adaptable species manifests many different kinds of behaviors. So it seems plausible that our distant ancestors made both love AND war with the other human species on the planet.

Remember, though: it was a much less populated planet in the Early Paleolithic. Even in the more populated Late Paleolithic period there were fewer people in the whole world than there are in the Portland OR metropolitan area today. There were maybe 3000 in all of Europe. If in all that underpopulated land you happened to meet another band of humans, which would be better for your genetic legacy? Exchanging genes or exchanging attacks? Screwing or stoning?

Re:Human Relatives (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45479335)

A defective human mutation whose greatest contribution to human society is war, rape and genocide (basically taking the humane out of human, -e self destructive ego).

If it survived best, then it wasn't defective.

Re:Human Relatives (3, Interesting)

Derec01 (1668942) | about 9 months ago | (#45479433)

There's no evidence from this story that the other groups weren't equally likely to pillage, plunder, and rape. That's a poignant and tragic idea, but it's less an evidence-based explanation than just wrapping together the idea of the 'noble savage' with some misanthropy. I'm sure you're fun at parties :)

Seriously though, there's other research showing that we do have an instinct towards teamwork, and that we often only become greedy when prompted to think rationally about our own self interest. It could just as well be that we developed that in response to marauding Neanderthals.

Re:Human Relatives (0)

rtb61 (674572) | about 9 months ago | (#45479697)

Whether or not other sub-species of humanity participated in pillage, plunder and rape, is not covered by evidence. However that we, due to the influence of a destructive psychopathic minority were more successful at it is evidenced by their absence and our all too publicly continued practice of it. Reality how ever undesirable is often all to obvious.

Re:Human Relatives (-1, Troll)

CFD339 (795926) | about 9 months ago | (#45479487)

Shit! There were proto-republicans!

Re:Human Relatives (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 9 months ago | (#45478995)

Are they first or second cousins and are we playing by North or South rules?

Safe to say they weren't geeks - they were getting some.

Our Ancestors Porked Some Pigs and We're .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45478779)

the result! Humans are chimp-pig hybrids [phys.org]

Goddam perverts! Get offa my lawn!

"human-like" (2)

NettiWelho (1147351) | about 9 months ago | (#45478797)

They suggest that interbreeding went on between the members of several ancient human-like groups living in Europe and Asia more than 30,000 years ago

So were the offspring of these 'human-like' beings capable of reproduction? If they were, wouldn't they be just "human"?

Re:"human-like" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45478877)

So politically correct. You should apply to work in the Obama White House.

Re:"human-like" (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45478905)

Not exactly
The basic definition of a species is a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring (this does get a bit more complex but we'll go with it for now)

The way things work is like this.

Say you have a bird population, the population gets split in to 3 semi-isolated groups, one in Africa, one in Europe one in Asia.

So over thousands of years Africa and Europe can interbreed, so you can call them the same species, or maybe a sub-species.
Lets say Africa and Asia can still interbreed, so they too could be called the same species or at least sub-species.

But the differences between Europe and Asia have become too great to produce viable offspring. So now Europe and Asia aren't the same species anymore they've grown too far apart, however both are close enough related to Africa to breed with them. This is very similar to what they are describing with the human ancestry tree.

Of course they are using genetic and skeletal differences to describe different branches.

Re:"human-like" (5, Informative)

icebike (68054) | about 9 months ago | (#45479187)

Did you read the same article I did?

This article described interbreeding between several (at least 3) different sub-specie. They were obviously close enough to interbreed and produce viable offspring.

That's not that uncommon with closely related species. And these were closely related back at that time. Evidence of the survives in the Gene pool today.

Look, this was only 30,000 years ago. Some fragments of oral history extend back that far (although time gets pretty muddled in oral history).

This isn't the first scientific study that showed homo sapiens and neanderthal may have interbred. One wonders about whether this knowledge was passed down in legend and incorporated in ancient texts [kingjamesbibleonline.org] .

Re:"human-like" (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 9 months ago | (#45479395)

I thunk he took the " lord of the rings" comparison as ring species which he explained.

Re:"human-like" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45479523)

Did you read the same article I did?

This article described interbreeding between several (at least 3) different sub-specie. They were obviously close enough to interbreed and produce viable offspring.

One of the groups was local to Asia, the other was local to Europe, and then there was our ancestors spread over most of the planet. How much do you think the group local to Asia interbred with the group local to Europe?

Re:"human-like" (2)

icebike (68054) | about 9 months ago | (#45479557)

Apparently they interbred quite a bit and continued for thousands of years.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-25020958 [bbc.co.uk]

People roamed in those times, as settled farming hadn't come around yet.

Re:"human-like" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45479837)

What the aid of alien space craft? Or by travling? Your choice.

Re:"human-like" (1, Interesting)

myowntrueself (607117) | about 9 months ago | (#45479587)

Lots and lots of things can interbreed and produce viable offspring, from what we call different species. The concept of species is poorly defined and the capability to interbreed and produce viable offspring is poorly understood. Its quite possible that evolution is far less of a directed, acyclic graph than would be good for computational genomics and evolutionary biology.

General graphs are a lot harder to deal with computationally than trees so theres a tendency to try to simplify a lot of things to tree like structures just to make it easier to deal with. Problem is that the reality may not be as directed as that and may have cycles, which really fucks up the algorithms.

So we have a world where many biologists are in denial and just stick their fingers in their ears and go "LALALALALAAA I cannot hear you LALALALAAA" when people start wondering about the potential for viable hybrids to occur in nature.

Re:"human-like" (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 9 months ago | (#45479683)

So we have a world where many biologists are in denial and just stick their fingers in their ears and go "LALALALALAAA I cannot hear you LALALALAAA" when people start wondering about the potential for viable hybrids to occur in nature.

Um, biologists have been aware of the fuzziness of species boundaries for a very long time. It's non-biologists who remember the archaic "mate and produce fertile offspring" definition of "species" from high school science class who make comments like OP's.

Re:"human-like" (1)

myowntrueself (607117) | about 9 months ago | (#45479741)

So we have a world where many biologists are in denial and just stick their fingers in their ears and go "LALALALALAAA I cannot hear you LALALALAAA" when people start wondering about the potential for viable hybrids to occur in nature.

Um, biologists have been aware of the fuzziness of species boundaries for a very long time. It's non-biologists who remember the archaic "mate and produce fertile offspring" definition of "species" from high school science class who make comments like OP's.

Never the less they still use the concept of species.

Christians will even point at the confusion around species and go "HA see? Where do species come from?? Must be GOD!"

Darwins 'origin of the species' is mis-named, it wasn't about origin of species and contains no useful ideas about how species come to be.

The whole idea of species is just unhelpful and the referent of the term probably doesn't even exist.

Re:"human-like" (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 9 months ago | (#45480015)

The whole idea of species is just unhelpful and the referent of the term probably doesn't even exist.
The idea is very helpfull. If it was'n we had abandoned it and found a better taxonomy.

At some point you have to make a cut ... or how do you want to distinguish a lion from a tiger?

Biologists use 3 or 4 "definitions" to define species at the same tim, because they lack the idea for a better schema: like morphology, fertility of crossbreeds, do they crossbreed in nature (Tigers and Lions don't, but Horses and Mules do). Crossbreeds of Horse and Mule are nearly always sterile, crossbreeds of Tiger and Lion are sometimes fertile.

If you find better ways to set up a taxonomy of all living things, go ahead :D I guess most will be greatful.

Re: "human-like" (1)

staalmannen (1705340) | about 9 months ago | (#45479031)

obviously since the evidence of their existence was found in our genomes

This only makes sense. (2)

Wycliffe (116160) | about 9 months ago | (#45478805)

Groups probably were naturally isolated for long periods of time by geography and as intelligence increased so did the
ability to travel more and go into other enviroments. Once we became a "global" population all similiar species were
eventually assimilated.

Re:This only makes sense. (1)

jovius (974690) | about 9 months ago | (#45479255)

Traveling doesn't require much intelligence, basically it's just walking unless one happens to end up floating on a piece of wood. It's more about hunger. The basic needs drive innovation. Energy returned of energy invested has to be kept low (no use in running after the pray for days), which leads to more effective methods.

Re:This only makes sense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45479889)

So you are saying that as intelligence made it possible to have extra energy after getting food that made it possible to use the extra energy to travel?

Re:This only makes sense. (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 9 months ago | (#45480033)

no use in running after the pray for days
Erm ... that is exactly how humans hunt.
They run after the prey until the prey collapses to overheating and exhaustion. (Most animals have no long term way to get rid of excess heat, like sweating humans. Also unlike humans they mostly use "100%" of their muscle mass, while a human muscle only uses ca. 40% of its fibres and the others are relaxing. When fibres get tired the others take over ... nearly no animalà can do that. That means they overtime exhaust their muscles completely)

Hobbits (1)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | about 9 months ago | (#45478821)

Lord of the Rings? Didn't we already hear [slashdot.org] about these?

Re:Hobbits (1)

Macgrrl (762836) | about 9 months ago | (#45478899)

At 158cm and 90+kg, I'm more Hobbit than Elf.

Re:Hobbits (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45479111)

Holy Cow!
With those stats even Smaug would be sore!

Nice to see (4, Funny)

hduff (570443) | about 9 months ago | (#45478833)

Nice to see that we came by our propensity to fornicate with anything in a natural manner.

Re:Nice to see (2)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 9 months ago | (#45479019)

Apparently the ancients developed colleges before the wheel

Re:Nice to see (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 9 months ago | (#45479057)

Well, I don't know about frat houses, but they sure invented the booze.

Was this before or after (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45478839)

the appearance of the obelisk?

Might explain fantasy literature? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45478851)

We seem to have evolved in a world with many hominid species.

We have evolved mechanisms to reason about them. which nowadays are of little use.

So we read Lord of the RIngs instead, to use these parts of out genetic heritage.

-- hendrik

I wonder... (4, Funny)

TheloniousToady (3343045) | about 9 months ago | (#45478853)

...if any sheep genomes were found?

Re:I wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45478951)

[ deep scottish accent ]: Don't you try be funny.

Re:I wonder... (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 9 months ago | (#45479193)

...if any sheep genomes were found?

N.a.a.a.a, not a ch.a.a.a.a.a.nce

Re:I wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45479455)

If they tested in Wales they would have been shocked to find human dna

No No No (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45478869)

yet unknown human ancestor

It was Gaius Baltar.

Re: No No No (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45479987)

I am disappointed with the Slashdot community for coming up with a BSG reference this late in the comments feed. I'd not think Gaius Baltar but a half descendant of the 13th colony of cylons :-D

What's a "different archaic human group"? (2)

g01d4 (888748) | about 9 months ago | (#45478879)

Is it similar to different races? In light of the recently (too lazy to look it up) revised unification of what were once thought to be different human ancestor species, could the whole interbreeding thing simply be the first signs of larger scale population migrations?

Re:What's a "different archaic human group"? (5, Interesting)

Will.Woodhull (1038600) | about 9 months ago | (#45479415)

From the "Anthropology in a Nutshell" lectures:

Something that is often overlooked is that before the adoption of sewage systems, most groups of people had a strong incentive to move around a lot. And since it was not very pleasant to move into an area the neighbors had just vacated, groups tended to move into those areas where no other group had gone before. At least, not for a long time.

That meant they would cross paths with distant groups fairly frequently. When that happens, there are two things that can occur: either the groups fight, or they party. Fighting is hard work and often painful. Partying can be a lot of fun, and moves the genes around.

Probably everyone on slashdot knows somebody who has moved to get away from the sh*tty mess they made of the old place. It is an old gene thing that still expresses among the less evolved.

Re:What's a "different archaic human group"? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45479793)

It is an old gene thing that still expresses among the less evolved.

I would consider the genes that are still expressed to be some of the most evolved...

Human-like? (4, Insightful)

Tough Love (215404) | about 9 months ago | (#45478883)

In my book, if you can breed with it, it's human. Maybe anthropologists are special.

Re:Human-like? (5, Funny)

dyingtolive (1393037) | about 9 months ago | (#45478915)

I am offended that you would declare so many Slashdotters to be something other than human.

Re:Human-like? (1)

PPH (736903) | about 9 months ago | (#45478993)

In my book, if you can breed with it, it's human.

If you can't, eat it.

Re:Human-like? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45479001)

Anthropologists ... devolve.

runs while ducking....

no, pokes head back around corner, takes a stand:

Put the relilgious fervour of science in your pocket for 10 seconds and go read Genesis chapter 6, first few verses. Rather lines up with these sceintific discoveries now, doesn't it?

Re:Human-like? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45479041)

Anthropologists ... devolve.

runs while ducking....

no, pokes head back around corner, takes a stand:

Put the relilgious fervour of science in your pocket for 10 seconds and go read Genesis chapter 6, first few verses. Rather lines up with these sceintific discoveries now, doesn't it?

Done that. Clearly you haven't - seems that's the definition of Christian (only one book but haven't read it). The bullshit in chapter 1 is contradicted by the bullshit in chapter 2. But don't let me stop you from cherry-picking.

Re:Human-like? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45479133)

Not necessarily. Like many people, you ascribe the word "contradiction" to two or more accounts that don't precisely line up.

Take the parable of the 3 blind men and the elephant to heart.
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_men_and_an_elephant

All three blind men are correct, and also incorrect in their accounts of what the elephant is like. Their accounts appear to conflict, but really do not. Chapter 1 is one account. Chapter 2 is another account. Both are given. It is possible for both to be correct, and the apparent contradiction comes from your own subjective biases, and lack of over-reaching infrmation about the event. (The reader is also a blind man, relying nearly exclusively on the recorded accounts to determine "truth".)

The primary failure of people when reading the bible is to take it too literally, and to take such incongruities as signs of contradiction.

I am by no means a biblical apologist. (I am agnostic.) However, I don't like it when people try to apply hard axioms to subjective accounts, and wave around the sharp knife of logical exclusion when reading a religious text.

Religious texts are not mathematical proofs, nor naked logical statements. You can't employ the contradiction rules on them like you can on the latter. The latter conveys all information and truth about the statement, in the statement itself. the former does not. That is why you cannot apply the rule to invalidate to statement whe dealing with the former.

Religious texts do not (usually) convey literal truths. They convey subjective one instead.

Re:Human-like? (1)

righteousness (3421867) | about 9 months ago | (#45479497)

Isn't the Bible supposed to be the Word of God? So it's not the same as with the 3 blind men. If it is the Word of God, then the Bible should present only one point of view i.e. from God, and there should not be different accounts in different chapters.

Re:Human-like? (2)

Lucky_Norseman (682487) | about 9 months ago | (#45480013)

If you are questioning the Bible then you already assume that it is the work of men.
Even if it is not the literal Word of God it can still have value as a source of the knowledge and beliefs of the men who wrote it long ago. And they will naturally have different viewpoints since it is not the work of one singular author, but written by many at different times.

Re:Human-like? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45479907)

In my book, if you can breed with it, it's human. Maybe anthropologists are special.

They might be, have you ever tried to breed with one?

mystery humans still spice up sex lives (2)

Nyder (754090) | about 9 months ago | (#45478925)

thanks to craigslist, mystery humans still spice up my sex life.

(just kidding, I'm too fat to get laid)

Re:mystery humans still spice up sex lives (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 9 months ago | (#45479211)

uh, that was no hominid. Sorry, no refunds.

Now *this* is a story... (1)

FuzzNugget (2840687) | about 9 months ago | (#45478967)

...that warrants the what-is-this-doing-on-Slashdot response. As if any of us are qualified to comment on the topic...

Re:Now *this* is a story... (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 9 months ago | (#45479223)

the what-is-this-doing-on-Slashdot response

It gives geeks hope of companionship.

Captain Jack Harkness! (1)

Chas (5144) | about 9 months ago | (#45479025)

So basically, ancient humans and hominids would shag anything that moved eh?

Why does that sound familiar?

We keep dancing around it (1, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | about 9 months ago | (#45479093)

Please do not misunderstand. I have done much soul searching on the subject and I'm quite settled into the fact that I'm not racist. I recognize we have all manner of mixing among humanity that that a "pure human" is extremely rare. So let's dispose of that nonsense.

What I'm getting at is that the only "pure human" seems to be the black African human. Everyone else is kind of based on that but also mixed with something else, or as suggested, mixed with several possible somethings else. So while I agree we're all "human" can we yet admit that we're not all fully the same species? I know it's forbidden, often career ending to bring up such notions, but without recognition of reality as it is presented to us, we can make no serious scientific progress in our understanding of things.

I admit and recognize that if we admit to differences among us, we then get into uglier topics such as "who is better" and things like that. True. But don't we already dance around that reality as well? We readily support positive reputations among groups. "Better at sports" or "better at math" and so on right? And where money is applied, those details never escape reality which can otherwise never be openly admitted. Betting of all types whether it is sports gambling, insurance and commodities markets all take certain factors into account that, in other areas of life would result in a political sh!tstorm.

Forced inconsistencies of understanding, of teaching, of speaking and of thinking make this mildly autistic boy uncomfortable because his take on reality doesn't fit with politics. It helps me to understand what it must feel like to be in an unpopular group in certain political historic times and places. I can't yet play a "minority card" to defend myself and must instead feel shame for my 'affliction' which doesn't help. But wouldn't it be nice if we could grow up about certain things? Then perhaps we can ALL make some serious progress.

For a simple example of the kind of progress I mean, let's look at food. If we're not all exactly the same species, the surely we must all recognize that not all foods are good for all of us. We have some acknowledgement that some people handle alcohol better than others, some tend to have more obesity than others or that one type of food or another tend to result in a higher incident of problems here or there or even certain types of 'intolerance' here and there. And once we accept we're not quite homogenized, we can make serious progress on human health.

Damnit, we're all human. But we have differences. Failure to recognize them fully leads to more harm than good, I feel, in all sorts of ways for every one of us. And if it turns out there is a more perfect human-blend out there, I'm prepared to accept that as a reality even if I'm not a member of that group. I don't expect to be. I know I'm not the strongest anyone, not the smartest anyone, not quite the best at anything. But without a greater understanding of what factors into potential as a human, how can any of us best make use of what we have if we constantly deny that we're different? We're literally holding everyone back in this "common core" view of humanity that just doesn't really work or help anyone.

Re:We keep dancing around it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45479183)

The problem is that human laziness easily turns generality into stereotype, and from there into bigotry and prejudice, and injustice. Yes, people very obviously have different chemistry inside them and different environmental contributors that make us each different from every other person there is, was or will be. However, focusing on those differences outside of relevant, limited specialties like cancer testing, is proven to lead to things like CIA double-tap drone strikes and other such murder/genocide.

Re:We keep dancing around it (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45479257)

What I'm getting at is that the only "pure human" seems to be the black African human. Everyone else is

There are larger genetic differences between different groups of the same "race", than between individuals of "different race".

Is that clearer for you? No? Black vs. white could be more similar than two similarly looking east asian people, or two similarly looking white people.

And ffs, there is NO SUCH THING AS "PURE HUMAN". Never was. Never will be. Just as there is no "pure monkey" or "pure snail". The entire theory of evolution completely contradicts such ridicules notions.

Re:We keep dancing around it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45479379)

>There are larger genetic differences between different groups of the same "race", than between individuals of "different race".

How was this supposed common-knowledge measured? What differences? Could you give examples to illustrate this point? I've heard it expressed at least a dozen times on the internet and I'm not sure what relevance it has.

>Black vs. white could be more similar than two similarly looking east asian people, or two similarly looking white people.

>could

This suggests it isn't always true, so why say it at all?
 

Re:We keep dancing around it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45479387)

Wait a moment, did sub-Sahara Africans interbreed with something? No? Then they _are_ pure humans. And the others (me including) are different species, or sub-species at least. Unless we change the definition of pure human to some complex mix with archaic "animals". :) BTW, it depends how we look at it, probably they were in fact more advanced.

Second, about the distance, research I've seen last year showed that if we feed clustering software with different genetic material then it first separates blacks and whites, then asians. I don't know where did you get that Asians are more diverse group then the rest of the population. More over Africans themselves are more diverse group as whites ancestors were only a small group which left somewhere 100-70k years ago. But it was genetically (near)isolated for much longer. Remember at that time there was no UN, no continent wide trading, no railroads. Everyone was sitting within their tribe land.

Re:We keep dancing around it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45479461)

Sub-saharans interbred with archaic populations, possibly Homo Erectus.
Genetic studies;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archaic_human_admixture_with_modern_Homo_sapiens#Unknown_Sub-Saharan_African_hominin

Homo erectus;
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/cb/Homo_erectus_new.JPG/192px-Homo_erectus_new.JPG

Re:We keep dancing around it (1)

Derec01 (1668942) | about 9 months ago | (#45479503)

You're not getting the point. There is no intellectually defensible definition for "pure" humans. None. Every lineage we are a part of are clouds of clouds of data points in a multi-dimensional space of genetic traits. Maybe you find a cluster somewhere. Fine. Look deeper and that cluster is composed of many mini clusters of tribes that interwove, separated for a while, and interwove again. Were those separate species? Why not? At any point time you choose, there will be divergence going forward AND backward.

Any line you draw around a given grouping is an arbitrary definition based on some time or distance scale you decide is appropriate. The reason you might choose that scale to divide things could have some explanatory power for a specific trait, but that's it. No more, no less.

Re:We keep dancing around it (3, Interesting)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about 9 months ago | (#45479795)

Wait a moment, did sub-Sahara Africans interbreed with something? No? Then they _are_ pure humans. And the others (me including) are different species, or sub-species at least. Unless we change the definition of pure human to some complex mix with archaic "animals". :) BTW, it depends how we look at it, probably they were in fact more advanced.

Second, about the distance, research I've seen last year showed that if we feed clustering software with different genetic material then it first separates blacks and whites, then asians. I don't know where did you get that Asians are more diverse group then the rest of the population. More over Africans themselves are more diverse group as whites ancestors were only a small group which left somewhere 100-70k years ago. But it was genetically (near)isolated for much longer. Remember at that time there was no UN, no continent wide trading, no railroads. Everyone was sitting within their tribe land.

The definition of species and subspecies has been fluid, and to some extent still seems to be a subject of debate. Google defines them like this:

species [ sp sheez ]
taxonomic group: a subdivision of a genus considered as a basic biological classification and containing individuals that resemble one another and may interbreed
organisms in species: the organisms belonging to a species
humankind: human beings or the human race
Synonyms: group, class, type, kind, genus, sort, variety, order

subspecies [ súb spsheez ]
plant or animal category: a category used to classify plants and animals whose populations are distinct, e.g. in distribution, appearance, or feeding habits, but can still interbreed
Synonyms: category, strain, genus, sort, class

Subspecies can interbreed and produce viable offspring. That means that modern human 'races' vaguely qualify as subspecies at best. Furthermore, according to this definition can be argued that Neanderthals were a human subspecies if we define 'human' as species Homo Sapiens. Neanderthals differed mildly in appearance, feeding habits and for a time, distribution but could still indisputably interbreed with modern humans and produce viable offspring (since some modern humans carry Neanderthal DNA). Now H. Neanderthalensis arrived in Europe 400.000 years before modern humans emerged in Africa about 200.000 years ago. Does that make Neanderthals more _pure_ humans than modern humans? Did Europeans and Asians become _purer_ humans than Africans by interbreeding with H. Neanderthalensis? IMHO the answer is no, it's more the case that the whole concept of some group of people being _pure_ humans is a steaming pile of BS.

Caveats: It is still debated whether H. Neanderthalis was a subspecies of Homo Sapiens or a species of the genus Homo, i.e whether it we should call it H. Sapiens Neanderthalis or H. Neanderthalis. Secondly recent discoveries have completely blown apart our previous picture of the entire genus Homo.

Re:We keep dancing around it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45479445)

"Black vs. white could be more similar than two similarly looking east asian people, or two similarly looking white people."

This is simply false.
You have been - possibly deliberatly - misled, and this 2003 paper explains how (your statement is true for individual locus, but becomes false when taking in to account more than 1 at the time);
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Genetic_Diversity:_Lewontin's_Fallacy
"Edwards argued that while Lewontin's statements on variability are correct when examining the frequency of different alleles (variants of a particular gene) at an individual locus (the location of a particular gene) between individuals, it is nonetheless possible to classify individuals into different racial groups with an accuracy that approaches 100 percent when one takes into account the frequency of the alleles at several loci at the same time."

In reality the situation is quite the opposite, for example a white parent to a mulatto/half black child generally has a lesser genetic distance to other whites than to their own child.
See for example this graph of genetic distances;
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-coXTdbSnct4/Tv7zmjJOcJI/AAAAAAAAAyU/wzvPhnxgRv4/s1600/race2.jpg
This is also visually obvious.

The genetic distance between populations is a very real problem when for example trying to find compatible donors to race-mixed recipients.
http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1993074,00.html
"Bone Marrow Transplants: When Race Is an Issue"

And no, this does not mean that slavery should be reinstated or anything else regaring human worth - only that you and many others have been misled.

Re:We keep dancing around it (1)

washort (6555) | about 9 months ago | (#45479467)

There are larger genetic differences between different groups of the same "race", than between individuals of "different race".

This is called "Lewontin's fallacy" [blogspot.com] and has been debunked far and wide.

Re:We keep dancing around it (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 9 months ago | (#45479713)

This is called "Lewontin's fallacy" and has been debunked far and wide.

Calling something a fallacy does not make it fallacious, nor does claiming it has been debunked constitute a debunking. I recommend you follow the links from the Hsu article and learn some more about what is still a very active debate.

Re:We keep dancing around it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45480029)

There are larger genetic differences between different groups of the same "race", than between individuals of "different race".

This is plain wrong. As much as it's all nice and cozy to believe, it's false.

From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] : From In the 2007 paper "Genetic Similarities Within and Between Human Populations",[21] Witherspoon et al. attempt to answer the question, "How often is a pair of individuals from one population genetically more dissimilar than two individuals chosen from two different populations?". The answer depends on the number of polymorphisms used to define that dissimilarity, and the populations being compared. When they analysed three geographically distinct populations (European, African and East Asian) and measured genetic similarity over many thousands of loci, the answer to their question was "never".

Re:We keep dancing around it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45479397)

There is one more thing here. Admitting the difference we can compensate some through training, humans are very flexible, comparing with other animals. The other way is interbreeding again. ;)

Re:We keep dancing around it (1)

Derec01 (1668942) | about 9 months ago | (#45479453)

I'm only going to address one point; namely, your underlying thought seems to be that recognizing racial differences will allow us to "help" people more, or treat people more appropriately.

That is not what would happen.

The reality is that the customized "solutions" for different races would have as many errors as our initial assumptions, yet be equally capable of propagating injustice in the name of "science". At the very best, and it will never be the best because knowledge is imperfect, we could predict the statistical likelihood of certain things for certain groups of people. But those likelihoods are essentially meaningless applied to one individual because an individual is not a statistical sampling.

We treat everyone according to common principles not because it works best for everyone, but to remind ourselves that everyone diverges from the mean and we must always consider how THAT PERSON is different, rather than assuming what they need based on an equally flawed idea of what "species" of human they are.

Re:We keep dancing around it (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 9 months ago | (#45480025)

"Science is unfair"? Is that what you're trying to say? I agree. But so too is the idea that it is fair to take away from one to give to another. If you agree with that, they you probably also agree that more white people are needed in the NBA and that we should lower the goal so that everyone can dunk equally. Additonally, we need more black physicians and lawyers and architects. We should lower the requirements for those professions so that we can better accomodate equality. (fun fact, we already do that to some degree today... lower test scores can work for some people but not others.) I don't expect you to agree with the latter, so I have to wonder if you truly believe what you're saying in the former.

Equality is a tricky problem because reality does not respect our idealism. Physics doesn't Women in combat? Sure, men and women can fly drones equally, but can they carry the same gear? The same distance in the same amount of time? Not usually and not with their sexual health intact. Excuse me for going to sexual equality for the moment because it's far easier to draw obvious examples of truth.

You seem to be implying that I seek to group people into four convenient groups. I don't. I abhor the notion. I hate it so much that I think the government needs to cease any and all race based questions and special considerations immediately. Let fairness and nature go where it leads. But we should be allowed to know and to discuss things. Looking at my once +5 Interesting now down to +1 Interesting, it would seem that we are not yet allowed to discuss and objectify.

You can suggest that we diverge from a mean and it wouldn't be inaccurate to say so, but then there are trends which can be losely tied to genetic factors among many others which place people from the beginning above or below the mean.

There are many factors, but to simply ignore one or two of them because they are politically incorrect [excuse me: "clashes with idealism"] to talk about them is to wilfully deny applicable data.

Re:We keep dancing around it (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 9 months ago | (#45479585)

I have done much soul searching on the subject and I'm quite settled into the fact that I'm not racist.

If you had to think about it that hard, had to "settle into" it, and still feel you have to mention it...

What I'm getting at is that the only "pure human" seems to be the black African human.

Which black African humans are you referring to, exactly? Modern black Africans are just as distantly related to Mitochondrial Eve as the rest of us.

Everyone else is kind of based on that but also mixed with something else, or as suggested, mixed with several possible somethings else.

Where did these something elses come from?

Re:We keep dancing around it (3, Interesting)

Sabriel (134364) | about 9 months ago | (#45479607)

A very insightful post, except for one line (so I found it quite odd that you started from/with it):

What I'm getting at is that the only "pure human" seems to be the black African human.

Nope. Not even them. The trap, which from reading the rest of your post you do recognise, is that the adjective "pure" is subjective, arbitrary and inapplicable - but we try to apply it anyway, arising from a desire to have life's infinite complexities fit into a set of simple, easily-understood boxes, preferably ones with dials and locks.

What I'm getting at is that humanity is a variable, not a constant.

More precisely, but not actually precisely, from an interactive ongoing perspective over time it's an evolving, um, multi-nodal continuum that... ah, cue Doctor Who excerpt: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vY_Ry8J_jdw [youtube.com]

Or to paraphrase the Tao Te Ching: "The human that can be spoken of is not the constant human".

Re:We keep dancing around it (1)

Sabriel (134364) | about 9 months ago | (#45479637)

(indeed, even my use of the phrase "not even them" is wrong, because "even" implies they are closer to pure, when there is no "closer" because there is no "pure")

Re:We keep dancing around it (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 9 months ago | (#45479929)

And yet there is genetic code we all share and code that exists everywhere but with the more originals. I didn't quite mean to draw lines except to say that "these are homosapiens, and these are homosapiens+something(s) else." I wouldn't say they are just as distant. And it's true to say that some black African people are varied as well. But how much variation should be considered or counted? I find it much more convenient to identify what they don't have as a means ot identifying. And that was more or less what I was getting at.

Re:We keep dancing around it (1)

u38cg (607297) | about 9 months ago | (#45479951)

Yes, there are differences. But the way to think of it is this (using some made up numbers to illustrate the point). White people run at around 8.5 m/s. Black people run at around 8.7 m/s. But 95% of white people can run between 6.5 and 9.5m/s, and 95% of black people can run at between 6.6 and 9.7m/s. So if you've got a person running at 8m/s, you can't say anything about his race, and if you've got his race, you can't really say anything about how fast he runs. Yes, you can predict that Olympic sprinters will probably be black, but what have we learnt of use that we can apply to a particular individual? Not much.

Where are more jokes to be found? (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | about 9 months ago | (#45479769)

Hmm, I wonder what kind of memes this might spawn.

"Hot prehistoric Asiain Girls"

or some highly inapropriate LotR-fanfic..

Extinct? (2)

PhilHibbs (4537) | about 9 months ago | (#45479855)

If they have living descendants, then surely they didn't go extinct.

Names and types, classification is arbitrary (2)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 9 months ago | (#45479967)

Don't get me wrong, especially don't consider me a racist :D

I think the names for e.g. Neanderthals and Denisovans and the distinction between them is pretty arbitrary.

Lets look from an hobbyist or layman point of view on the phisiognomy and body on an australian aboriginee, a south american indian a chinese an african Ashanti or Bushman.

Now as we know they live all pretty isolated in a certain region of the world. E.g south america and australia.

Now lets assume one of them was completely extingued 10.000 years ago. And in that area only west european whites would live now.

If we would look at the bones of such extingued "species" we easy would assume they are a different species.

Sure, *I know* that classifying stuff by bones and teeth and age / aera they lived would in this case show many "similarities" while in the actual classification the "distinction" is in the foreground.

However I allready saw "living Neanderthals" ... people with a strange skull and thick ridges over the eyes, flat nose and with a strong build.

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