Neanderthals ‘had sex’ with modern man
From an article in the Times
Modern humans and Neanderthals had sex across the species barrier, according to a leading geneticist who is overseeing a project to compare their genomes.
Professor Svante Paabo, director of genetics at the renowned Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, will shortly publish his analysis of the entire Neanderthal genome, using DNA retrieved from fossils. He aims to compare it with the genomes of modern humans and chimpanzees to work out the ancestry of all three species.
I can’t say I’m surprised to see this. Later (transitional) Neanderthals picked up modern human traits like chins and more complex burial rituals, and a few sets of remains do look hybrid. If you look at the more recent reconstructions such as ‘Wilma’ (from Nat geo), they don’t look massively different to modern humans.
In addition to this there are numerous DNA studies that suggest a low level on Neanderthal contribution to Europeans (5% or less seems the norm) even though Neanderthal mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosomes are absent.
There are a few more, but you get the point.
From looking at the difference between Mesolithic and modern Europeans mt DNA, I know that it would be easy to lose a small minority contributor through drift, and it’s unlikely that (as a group being exterminated) male Neanderthals would have made any kind of traceable contribution, as females may be absorbed from lower status groups, but males usually aren’t.
Theres also a vid which mentions the subject by Prof Paabo on the subject on Youtube. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.