Friday, October 06, 2017

New Neanderthal genome proves ancestry

The LA Times reports:
Modern humans are a little more Neanderthal than we thought.

A highly detailed genetic analysis of a Neanderthal woman who lived about 52,000 years ago suggests that our extinct evolutionary cousins still influence our risk of having a heart attack, developing an eating disorder and suffering from schizophrenia. ...

Anthropologists believe that the ancestors of modern humans encountered Neanderthals tens of thousands of years ago, soon after they migrated out of Africa. That would explain why modern people of African descent have little to no Neanderthal DNA. ...

The second genome “adds to mounting evidence that Neanderthal ancestry influences disease risk in present-day humans, particularly with respect to neurological, psychiatric, immunological and dermatological” traits, according to the new study led by Svante Pääbo and Kay Prüfer of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany and colleagues. (Pääbo and Prüfer led the 2013 Nature study as well.)

Experts in evolutionary genetics say the endurance of Neanderthal DNA in modern humans makes it important to take a long view of acquired traits. ...

“Neanderthals had been living outside of Africa for hundreds of thousands of years,” said Vanderbilt evolutionary geneticist Tony Capra, who was not involved in the current study. “As our closer human ancestors moved into those environments, it’s possible that interbreeding with Neanderthals gave ancestral humans benefits.”

In a 2009 genetic analysis, Pääbo and colleagues found scant evidence of interbreeding between Homo sapiens and Neanderthals. But as new samples yielded themselves to ever-more-complete analysis, evidence of mating between members of the two distinct peoples has grown.

Such interbreeding gave our human ancestors access to genes that were already adapted to an environment filled with new and unfamiliar challenges, Capra said.
In spite of this genetic evidence, these articles continue to refer to ancient Africans as "ancestors of modern humans", while Neanderthals are called "our extinct evolutionary cousins".

No, the DNA proves that Neanderthals were ancestors to modern Europeans and Asians, and did not go extinct. Furthermore, it seems likely that Neanderthal DNA contributed to positive human traits that helped our ancestors survive in Europe and Asia.

Svante Pääbo is some sort of weirdo Swedish bisexual, and his political-social biases prevent him from drawing the obvious conclusions.

Compare to this Chicago research paper from a century ago:
The Superiority of the Mulatto

American Journal of Sociology
Volume 23, Number 1 (July, 1917)
pages 83-106

E. B. Reuter (1880-1946)

Perhaps the most significant fact regarding the Negro people in America is the degree to which the race has undergone differen- tiation during the period of contact with European civilization. From the low and relatively uniform state of West African culture there has come to be a degree of cultural heterogeneity not else- where observable among a primitive people. While the bulk of the race in America is as yet not many steps removed from the African standards, there has nevertheless arisen a considerable middle class, which conforms in most essential respects to the conventional middle-class standards of American people, as well as a small intellectual group, some members of which have succeeded in coming within measurable distance of the best models of European culture. Within the racial group in America at the present time there are represented the antipodal degrees of human culture: at the one extreme are the standards of West Africa; at the other, those of Western Europe.

A study of the more advanced groups shows a great preponderance of individuals of mixed blood and a dearth, almost an entire absence, of Negroes of pure blood. In the numerous lists of exceptional Negroes, published from time to time by Negroes as well as by white students of race matters, there is a regular recurrence of a few names; the various lists are virtually repetitions. The dozen or score of men everywhere mentioned as having attained some degree of eminence are, in all but one or two cases, men of more Caucasian than Negro blood. In a recently published compilation of one hundred and thirty-nine of the supposedly best-known American Negroes there are not more than four men of pure Negro blood, and one of these, at least, owes his prominence to the fact of his black skin and African features rather than to any demonstrated native superiority. Of the twelve Negroes on whom the degree of doctor of philosophy has been conferred by reputable American universities, eleven at least were men of mixed blood. Among the professional classes of the race the mulattoes outclass the black Negroes perhaps ten to one, and the ratio is yet higher if only men of real attainments be considered. In medicine the ratio is probably fifteen to one, in literature3 the ratio is somewhat higher, on the stage it is probably thirteen to one, in music the ratio is at least twelve to one. In art no American Negro of full blood has so far found a place among the successful. In politics, the ministry, and other occupations in which success is in no way conditioned by education or ability the proportion of mulattoes to black Negroes is somewhat less, though still high. In politics the ratio is at least seven to one, and even in the ministry it is not less than five to one. The successful business men of the race are in nearly all cases men of a bi-racial ancestry. Among the successful men in every field of human effort which Negroes have entered there is the same disproportion between the numbers of pure- and mixed-blood individuals…

Stated in another way, the chances of any child of mixed blood, chosen at random from the general mulatto population, later reaching a degree of distinction that would entitle him to be ranked as eminent is fifteen times as great as would be the chances of a full-blood black child similarly chosen. ...

The Negroes recognized the superiority of their masters and attributed that superiority, as did the white man himself, to the fact of his race and color. They accepted their inferior status as a consequence of their inferiority. No Negro questioned the superior ability of the white, and probably there is no Negro today who does not subconsciously believe the white man superior. Certainly the assumption is less questioned among them than among the whites.

The mulattoes, when they appeared upon the scene, simply took over the prevailing way of thinking. They accepted the white man as superior, recognized the Negro as inferior, and looked upon themselves as an intermediate type. The white man treated them as inferior; the Negroes treated them as superior. They looked up to the white and down on the black. ...

The desire on the part of the Negroes, owing in part to the prestige enjoyed by the mulattoes, results in the condition of almost every superior man among the black Negroes marrying a mulatto wife. The superior mulatto men rarely ever marry into the black group. ...

Further analysis of the facts shows the tendency of the men to select wives of the same or a lighter color. It is quite the exception to find a man married to a woman of a color darker than his own. ...

In the American mulatto the evolution of a superior race may be seen in process.
It is paywalled, but you can get the whole paper on

There have been major migrations of Africans into Asia and Europe about 50k years ago, and yet this DNA evidence shows that none of them have survived, except by interbreeding with Neanderthals.

Update: The London Telegraph reports:
Struggling to get a tan? Blame your Neanderthal ancestors ...

A raft of new papers published in the journals Science and the American Journal of Human Genetics has shed light on just how many traits we owe to our Neanderthal ancestors.

Scientists also now think that differences in hair colour, mood and whether someone will smoke or have an eating disorder could all be related to inter-breeding, after comparing ancient DNA to 112,000 British people who took part in the UK Biobank study.

The Biobank includes genetic data along with information on many traits related to physical appearance, diet, sun exposure, behaviour, and disease and helps scientists pick apart which traits came from Neanderthals.

Dr Janet Kelso, of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, in Germany, said: “We can now show that it is skin tone, and the ease with which one tans, as well as hair color that are affected.”

When modern humans arrived in Eurasia about 100,000 years ago, Neanderthals had already lived there for thousands of years and would have been well adapted to lower and more variable levels of sunlight than the new human arrivals from Africa were accustomed to.

"Skin and hair color, circadian rhythms and mood are all influenced by light exposure," added Dr Kelso.

"Sun exposure may have shaped Neandertal phenotypes and that gene flow into modern humans continues to contribute to variation in these traits today."
In other words, 50k years ago, black Africans left Africa and mated with lighter-skinned Neanderthals to produce genetically superior offspring. There is debate about what were the advantages of these ancient mulattoes, and one new paper argues that they survived because they had better winter coats made from animal furs.

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