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Genetic Research Seeks Contemporary Links To Neanderthals

By James Donahue

At least one genetics researcher is daring to ask the question that has tickled the brains of many a geological archaeologist over the years . . . did modern humans mate with Neanderthals while the two humanoid species shared the planet 40,000 years ago?

Indeed, the thought that thousands of years of cross-breeding might have been the reason the Neanderthals eventually went missing, has certainly crossed this writer’s mind, as we are sure it has the minds of many researchers in the field.

While the image of humans having sex with somewhat crude, hairy, almost ape-like creatures is difficult to accept, our background as a sociologist and long-term news reporter in the field allows us to not only perceive it . . . we are almost sure it happened. After all, humans are being arrested now for having sex with a wide variety of animals. A careful read of the commandments recorded by Moses in the Books of the Law within the Old Testament are filled with thou-shalt-nots involving humans having animal sex . . . so we know it has been going on for several thousands of years.

Professor Svante Paabo, director of genetics at Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology at Leipzig, hs studying the Neanderthal genome from DNA retrieved from fossils. He is drawing comparisons with the genomes of modern humans and chimpanzees, and is tackling the laborious task of attempting to trace the ancestry of all three species.

The fossil record indicates that modern humans and Neanderthals co-existed in Europe for about 12,000 years before the Neanderthals disappeared. Paabo believes he is sure they “had sex” with one another, but he hopes to determine whether they were capable of producing fertile offspring.

Professor Chris Stringer, head of human origins at the Natural History Museum, has noted that while the two humanoid species probably mated and produced children, the children may have been unable to reproduce.

Stringer notes that the phenomenon would be comparable with the result of cross-breeding in other members of the animal kingdom, like lions that breed with tigers, and horses with zebras.

If that genetic road block did not happen in children born to the parents of modern humans and Neanderthals, it would mean that the years of cross-breeding produced a different form of human that evolved to what exists on the planet today.

Archaeologists have noted that the early Neanderthals were much more primitive than their descendants. Before they “died out” some 30,000 years ago, Neanderthals were acting a lot like modern humans. They were giving their dead complex burials, making tools and using pierced beads to make jewelry.

Proving his theory may be difficult for Paabo because of the length of time that has elapsed since the Neanderthals went extinct. All traces of their DNA in modern humans may have become so diluted they are undetectable.

The idea of interbreeding was floated a few years ago by an Austrian team of researchers who uncovered the bones of six humanoids in the Miadec Caves in the Czech Republic that showed Neanderthal features, yet were found with stone and bone tools, ornaments and other artifacts showing aesthetic artful design, something the primitive Neanderthal did not do.

Adding to the puzzle is what happened to yet another species of humanoid, known as the Cro Magnon man, who also co-existed with Neanderthal and modern Homo sapiens. Cro Magnon was believed to have been present on Earth from about 45,000 to 10,000 years ago. Neanderthal man, who was much more successful, was present from 300,000 years to 20,000 years ago. Both of these species eventually disappeared.

Cro Magnon man were as tall was we are, they had a similar brain size, but the skull had no brow ridges. These people were distinguished with a high forehead and a protruding chin. They also had intelligence as they hunted with spears and made tools from flint stone and left art works on cave walls.

Some contemporary anthropologists believe Cro Magnon and Neanderthal humanoids were one and the same species, but that the fossilized bone structures were slightly different, which led to the different classifications.

Of course, another burning and unanswered question to all of this is where did all of these different humanoid species come from?

If Paabo’s research proves that modern humans overcame the Neanderthals through interbreeding, might the same phenomenon have been linked to the disappearance of Cro Magnon humanoids?


While it is interesting to think that modern humans caused the extinction of the species of humanoid that challenged his position on the planet by making love, everything we know about the behavior of our species tells us this probably never happened.


When and if the truth is known, the facts will be that we probably went to war and simply murdered the others into extinction. When you look at the way we behave today in dealing with other nationalities, races and creeds, modern humans have not changed much at all.