Thursday, 6 May 2010

Neanderthals, Cannibalism, Interbreeding

I have blogged previously about recent archaeological discoveries which support William Golding's contention in The Inheritors that Homo Sapiens killed and ate Neanderthal man. At the end of the novel, the only surviving Neanderthal is a baby, who is adopted by the Homo Sapiens tribe. There is at least the implication that the Neanderthal will become assimilated, perhaps will even grow up to breed with its distant cousins. Having been confronted with the shock of recognising the murderers as our own ancestors, we are given a second shock: we are descended from both perpetrators and victims, having witnessed one tribe of our ancestors committing genocide against another.

Evidence from DNA analysis claims to identify the extent of this interbreeding. According to newly published research, between 1% and 4% of the DNA of Europeans and Asians has been inherited from Neanderthals. The scientists go on to explain that 'interbreeding between humans [sic] and Neanderthals may nonetheless have been rare. Just two Neanderthal females in a group of around a hundred humans would have been enough to leave such a trace in our genome, provided that was the group that gave rise to all modern humans outside Africa.'


  1. If homo neanderthalis and homo sapiens could interbreed and the progeny proved fertile, isn't that evidence that they were not "distant cousins" but very close cousins, if not actually the same species?

    1. well they interbred but it doesn't mean they were the same species, see when a species leaves from its anchestor's it first has problems interbreeding until it comes impossible. so they mated with us and with luck we had some children that weren't invalids. and the term species really isn't that accurate you could call every living thing the same species or you could call any group of people with slight common difference in their dna a different species.