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DNA says new human relative roamed widely in Asia - Comments

Blaine McCartney's Avatar Comment 1 by Blaine McCartney

God put that upper molar tooth there to test our faith.

Wed, 22 Dec 2010 23:21:17 UTC | #567656

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 2 by Neodarwinian

Interesting. I will have to think about this a bit.

The religious and many of the people who commented on this article will probable not think about it at all.

Wed, 22 Dec 2010 23:35:22 UTC | #567664

swilliar75's Avatar Comment 3 by swilliar75

I think this is my favorite line from the entire piece - it actually sums up a great deal. I love the controlled chaos that governs science as ideas are put up for debate!

"I am excited about this paper (because) it just throws so much out there for contemplation that is testable," Potts said. "And that's good science."

Wed, 22 Dec 2010 23:44:21 UTC | #567668

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 4 by Steve Zara

I love this kind of stuff. Although I enjoy finding out about ancient civilizations and cultures, I have wished that we could know what was in the minds of our ancestors just just millennia ago, but hundreds of millennia ago. I find it really interesting that there seems to have been interbreeding. I have this silly idea that it might explain my distinctly Neanderthal body shape.

Thu, 23 Dec 2010 02:22:14 UTC | #567713

Carl Sai Baba's Avatar Comment 5 by Carl Sai Baba

It occurs to me that we now have more direct evidence for human evolution than a Christian jury would require to put a man to death.

Thu, 23 Dec 2010 04:06:09 UTC | #567732

-TheCodeCrack-'s Avatar Comment 6 by -TheCodeCrack-

Am I missing something here?

It says they interbred with the ancestors of today's people from Melanesia. If this is true, are we not just talking about a race of human? Isn't it just like a blond-headed white swede woman mating with an indigenous Australian man?

Obviously, by definition, they weren't another species. Maybe then just a race who got close to speciating and gradually developed a very distinct appearance, or better but, very different DNA, thus it's 'kind' of interesting?

I don't get the importance of it. Isn't just a race of human which got bred-out?

Thu, 23 Dec 2010 06:42:36 UTC | #567756

beanson's Avatar Comment 7 by beanson

some species can interbreed

Thu, 23 Dec 2010 07:33:43 UTC | #567764

andersemil's Avatar Comment 8 by andersemil

Comment 6 by -TheCodeCrack-

Neanderthals are evolutionarily a far throw away from your average Swedish woman. They are considered a different species, and yet there is evidence of them interbreeding with non-African Homo Sapien. This is more of the same, I guess. But a very important piece of our evolutionary puzzle.

A quick google on species interbreeding brings up aot this:

http://www.rafonda.com/interbreeding_between_species.html

Thu, 23 Dec 2010 07:40:33 UTC | #567765

-TheCodeCrack-'s Avatar Comment 9 by -TheCodeCrack-

Comment 7 by beanson :

some species can interbreed

Wait, aren't they then members of the same species, if their offspring is capable of reproducing?

Thu, 23 Dec 2010 08:11:38 UTC | #567771

WonderNerd's Avatar Comment 10 by WonderNerd

@ -TheCodeCrack-

Wait, aren't they then members of the same species, if their offspring is capable of reproducing?

Species is a very fluid word, and is difficult to define, due to the knowledge that life shares common ancestry. The most widespread and agreed upon definition of species is a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. So yes, by this definition they are the same species, and also using that logic, Neanderthals would be too. I think the best way to look at it is that there were at least 3 big Homo Sapien subspecies, the Neanderthals, these new Denisovans, and us.

Thu, 23 Dec 2010 08:46:14 UTC | #567780

beanson's Avatar Comment 11 by beanson

Wolves, Coyotes and Dogs can interbreed

We have no Neanderhall DNA

Thu, 23 Dec 2010 10:09:11 UTC | #567793

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 12 by Alan4discussion

Comment 9 by -TheCodeCrack-

Comment 7 by beanson :

some species can interbreed

Wait, aren't they then members of the same species, if their offspring is capable of reproducing?

The definitions are not set in stone. Botanical journals, for example are full of arguments between "lumpers" and "splitters" as to where to draw species boundaries.

Evolution is divergent. It is only when intermediates have been rubbed out by competition or species are widely geographically separated, that speciation is clear cut. There can simply be a diminishing level of fertility in "hybrid" offspring with time, as evolutionary branches go their separate ways.

Thu, 23 Dec 2010 10:46:18 UTC | #567809

Vaal's Avatar Comment 13 by Vaal

Fascinating! The bush of human evolution becomes denser and richer with every new find. How unsatisfactory and puerile is the Biblical explanation of our origins. In fact, it was the derisive and risible Adam and Eve story that was my personal inspiration to seek out the true story of our ancient origins, and how much more satisfying, interesting and rewarding is the real map of our common ancestry.

One wonders how our ancient ancestors would consider that many of their more enlightened descendants refuse to believe that they even existed? How many thousands of generations, how many stories that will never be told of the struggle of humanity through the rigours of the ice-ages, the great treks from Africa, the setbacks, the trials, cultures and untold human adventures spanning hundreds of thousands of years, an age almost incomprehensible to most of us.

How sad and tragic that many modern humans cast away such a majestic and breathtaking narrative in favour of a fatuous origin myth spawned in ignorance, and shamefully, taught in nescience. It does Homo sapiens no credit at all.

Thu, 23 Dec 2010 10:50:48 UTC | #567812

sunbeamforjeebus's Avatar Comment 14 by sunbeamforjeebus

This is a fascinating discovery.Along with the recent discovery of Homo'Hobbit',this just goes to prove that Homo Sapiens was just another branch of the humanoid tree that flourished,whilst others did not.Who knows how many more branches there are to be discovered? To me it just proves that we are nothing special.

Thu, 23 Dec 2010 10:59:54 UTC | #567815

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Comment 15 by Bernard Hurley

Comment 10 by WonderNerd :

@ -TheCodeCrack-

Wait, aren't they then members of the same species, if their offspring is capable of reproducing?

Species is a very fluid word, and is difficult to define, due to the knowledge that life shares common ancestry. The most widespread and agreed upon definition of species is a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. So yes, by this definition they are the same species, and also using that logic, Neanderthals would be too.

One problem with this definition is that it doesn't allow you to differentiate between species in a unique way. If you take the phenomenon of a ring species, then you can have populations: A, B, C, D, E, F, say where members of A can interbreed with members of B, members of B with C etc. but members of F cannot interbreed with members of A. It then becomes problematical how to divide the whole population into distinct species using the definition.

I take notions like "species" as a useful concept that works most of the time, for instance, no one would say I belong to the same species as a zebra, but is a bit "fuzzy" at the edges.

One reason why the notion of species is useful is that populations become extinct. A thought-experiment:

Imagine a race of aliens that had secretly cloned every single mammal on earth and kept the clone in cryogenic storage on their planet. Then on that planet it would be possible to trace a sequence of inter-breeding populations between my clone and that of a zebra.

One final thought. While evolution by natural selection accounts for the origin of species, it also has the consequence that there will be a certain fuzziness about the concept. There is no (reasonable) way to account for this fuzziness from a creationist viewpoint.

Thu, 23 Dec 2010 11:33:00 UTC | #567823

louis14's Avatar Comment 16 by louis14

11 Beanson

"Wolves, Coyotes and Dogs can interbreed. We have no Neanderhall DNA"

The first statement is true, but the second is untrue: (http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18869-neanderthal-genome-reveals-interbreeding-with-humans.html)

What point are you trying to make?

Thu, 23 Dec 2010 11:40:45 UTC | #567829

AsylumWarden's Avatar Comment 17 by AsylumWarden

Like this article. Saw a new article on elephant evolution as well yesterday - two days and two more rocks to add to the mountain of evolutionary evidence.

Found it quite a shame though, that on the same page I saw this (human evolution) article, another news story was from a survey that said nearly 1 in 3 Brits still believe they have a guardian angel watching over them.

Thu, 23 Dec 2010 11:47:05 UTC | #567832

foundationist's Avatar Comment 18 by foundationist

Fascinating stuff. Just like Steve Zara I always find myself wondering about how these people lived, what they thought and felt. Did they create art? Make music? And if so, what kind of instruments did they use? Idle speculations, since most of this questions are probably going to remai unresolved, but a nice area for a stroll of the imagination.

@TheCodeCrack:

What makes the fuzzyness of the concept species even more fuzzy, is the fact that it often happens that closely related species who are genetically still compatible and capable of producing viable offspring simply won't interbreed because their sexual communication differs too much. A mismatch in the mating seasons is a simple example, and variations in habits and appearance can also effectively prevent interbreeding. From what I know from Neanderthals, I probably wouldn't go for them. But you can see that such barriers are by no means unbridgeable. When the cichlid species in Lake Victoria were going extinct one by one, biologists found a number of fish that seemed to be the result of crossbreeding between species. When the poor fish couldn't find a mating partner of their own species, some of them lowered their standards.

Thu, 23 Dec 2010 12:03:56 UTC | #567841

SaganTheCat's Avatar Comment 19 by SaganTheCat

Comment 17 by AsylumWarden :

Like this article. Saw a new article on elephant evolution as well yesterday - two days and two more rocks to add to the mountain of evolutionary evidence. Found it quite a shame though, that on the same page I saw this (human evolution) article, another news story was from a survey that said nearly 1 in 3 Brits still believe they have a guardian angel watching over them.

http://newsthump.com/2010/12/23/guardian-angels-useless-against-a-solid-punch-finds-new-study/

Thu, 23 Dec 2010 12:48:00 UTC | #567860

AsylumWarden's Avatar Comment 20 by AsylumWarden

Cheers! Nice antidote!

Kinda reminds me of the great prayer experiment actually.

Thu, 23 Dec 2010 14:10:02 UTC | #567887

jafditchdoctor's Avatar Comment 21 by jafditchdoctor

Blockquote

It seems implausible that this journey took a detour through southern Siberia without leaving a genetic legacy in other Eurasian populations

Blockquote

The contact between two populations of homo required to leave such a legacy could easily have been detoured with the seasonal barrier of fluctuating climates. A nomadic population from a colder climate would migrate south and north with recession of cooler weather as would a population from the warmer climate. Chance meetings would then be more rare.

A tall blond-headed white swede woman mating with an indigenous Australian man?

Comical.

Thu, 23 Dec 2010 16:23:22 UTC | #567953

jafditchdoctor's Avatar Comment 22 by jafditchdoctor

Ok, You take a six month leave and RD's site changes completely, How the hell do you quote?

Thu, 23 Dec 2010 16:24:15 UTC | #567955

jafditchdoctor's Avatar Comment 23 by jafditchdoctor

Comment 10 by WonderNerd :

@ -TheCodeCrack-

Wait, aren't they then members of the same species, if their offspring is capable of reproducing?

Species is a very fluid word, I think the best way to look at it is that there were at least 3 big Homo Sapien subspecies, the Neanderthals, these new Denisovans, and us.

Right, it's important also, I think, to recognise that 30'000 years is little time to genetically isolate yourself completely from another branch of homo, though that 30'000 years per population would really amount to 60 if that isolation were complete.

And I think that I got that quote thing now.

Thu, 23 Dec 2010 16:31:00 UTC | #567960

hoverfrog's Avatar Comment 24 by hoverfrog

You know what the cretinists will say though: "How can you tell this from a finger bone and a tooth? Clearly evolutionists are wishful thinking fantasists." As if the evidence just lies there for 50,000 years undisturbed.

Anyway I think that this discovery is fascinating. I'd love to see a revised "family tree" once the evidence is more thoroughly collated and understood. It takes a fancy graphic nowadays for me to understand anything. ;)

Thu, 23 Dec 2010 16:57:30 UTC | #567984

AntonioMAndre's Avatar Comment 25 by AntonioMAndre

Well, well, well. The more interesting is the necessary inference that ancestors of melanesians once lived in north Asia. Then again, probably all ancestors of human populations in south China, SEAsians and further South once lived far North.

Thu, 23 Dec 2010 18:49:51 UTC | #568056

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Comment 26 by Bernard Hurley

A tooth with a number on it. If that's not proof of divine design I don't know what is!

Fri, 24 Dec 2010 03:26:53 UTC | #568266