The above are various reconstructions of Neanderthals (men, women, children). Notice they look very human. Notice they don’t look like apes as some artists portray them with excessive amounts of body hair and very large browridges. Any one of the reconstructions above if alive today could pass in modern society unnoticed and, in fact, I know people who look very much like some of the above reconstructions! Keeping this in mind let me get to my point……………..
Back in 2010 it was announced following the successful Neanderthal genome sequence that modern humans outside of Africa carry up to 4% Neanderthal in their genes today. Then in 2014 two studies announced that 20% of the Neanderthal genome lives on in modern humans! Now researchers want to find out just how much sex Neanderthals and Homo sapiens (modern humans) had and they plan on doing it from digging up dirt in caves where Neanderthals were known to once dwell since Neanderthal DNA is hard to come by. Others are wanting to test greater numbers of modern humans to see how much Neanderthal DNA they might have in them and hopefully that test population will be a significant number (as in a few thousand rather than in a few hundred). The basic assumption would be the more Neanderthal DNA some people have in them then that means the more sex Neanderthals and modern humans had together (interbreeding).
Here’s my thinking (as some of you already know). I don’t believe Neanderthals ever went extinct because I think they interbred with modern humans (Homo sapiens) to varying degrees in varying places. Instead of going extinct Neanderthals were absorbed into the modern human genome! They were replaced by H. sapiens/Neanderthal hybrids, in other words.
It would not surprise me in the least if some of the test subjects turned out to show more Neanderthal DNA than 4%! Much more in fact!! In fact I’d expect this to be so judging for the strong Neanderthal features I see in some modern humans today walking among us. I personally believe DNA testing a large number of modern people (especially those with obvious Neanderthal morphology) is the key to understanding just how much modern humans and Neanderthals interbred. And, frankly, I expect it was a lot! This mating produced hybrids and that is what we ALL are today, in my opinion. We didn’t evolve from anything! We are the products of interbreeding between different “breeds” of ancient human ancestors. WE are ALL HYBRIDS! Evolution has not been one of macro-evolution but of MICRO-evolution.
Now a word about reconstructions……
Many artistic reconstructions of ancient human ancestors are constructed so they resemble offspring of apes (apelike) and that’s to support the THEORY that modern humans evolved from a shared common ancestor with apes long, long ago which may or may NOT be so. The reconstructions I’ve present in the above mosaic portrays Neanderthals as more human-like and less ape-like and, frankly, I think these reconstructions are likely more accurate than the ape-like ones presented by some artists. The same can be said of Homo erectus, Homo heidelbergenesis, Cro-magnon (archaic modern humans) and any other ancient human ancestor. We can slant our reconstructions to make them look more ape-like OR we can make them look more human-like and I think with most of our ancient human ancestors from H. erectus on they looked far more human-like than many want to admit! That is, unless, there was some back-breeding (retrobreeding) going on and there was. For example, I believe the reason we find later H. erectus more archaic than earlier H. erectus is due to retrobreeding. Like I said, we are all hybrids…mixtures of all of our ancient human ancestors or, to put it another way, mixtures of all the various human “breeds” that once roamed this planet Earth!