Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Study Shows Neanderthals Were Not Our Ancestors

Date:
January 27, 2004
Source:
New York University
Summary:
In the most recent and mathematically rigorous study to date determining whether Neanderthals contributed to the evolution of modern humans, a team of anthropologists examining the skulls of modern humans and Neanderthals as well as 11 existing species of non-human primates found strong evidence that Neanderthals differ so greatly from Homo sapiens as to constitute a different species.

Scientists used 3D geometric morphometric techniques to superimpose the configuations of 15 landmarks measured on skulls of different species in order to measure the degree of variation between them. Pictured are a Neanderthal landmark configuration (red) superimposed over a modern human one (green). The data used included Neanderthal fossils, Upper Paleolithic European modern human fossils, and recent human populations, as well as data from living African apes and Old World Monkeys. Over 1000 skulls were included. (New York University)

In the most recent and mathematically rigorous study to date determining whether Neanderthals contributed to the evolution of modern humans, a team of anthropologists examining the skulls of modern humans and Neanderthals as well as 11 existing species of non-human primates found strong evidence that Neanderthals differ so greatly from Homo sapiens as to constitute a different species.

The findings could potentially put to rest the decades-long debate between proponents of the regional continuity model of human origins, which maintains that Neanderthals are a subspecies of Homo sapiens which contributed significantly to the evolution of modern Europeans, and the single-origin model, which views Neanderthals as a separate, distinct species. The research will be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The scientists, led by Katerina Harvati of New York University, used a new technique known as geometric morphometrics to measure the degree of variation between and amongst living primate species, represented by over 1000 specimens. The scientists measured 15 standard craniofacial landmarks on each of the skulls and used 3-D analysis to superimpose each one in order to measure their shape differences, irrespective of size. Random samples were chosen from each species and the differences between them were calculated 10,000 times, in order to simulate the sampling effects of the fossil record. . The data used included Neanderthal fossils , Upper Paleolithic European modern human fossils, and recent human populations, as well as data from living African apes and Old World Monkeys.

"Our motivation was to devise a quantitative method to determine what degree of difference justified classifying specimens as different species," said Harvati. "The only way we could effectively do this was to examine the skeletal morphology of living species today and come up with models. From these data, we were able to determine how much variation living primate species generally accommodate, as well as measure how different two primate species that are closely related can be."

The study found that the differences measured between modern humans and Neanderthals were significantly greater than those found between subspecies or populations of the other species studied. The data also showed that the difference between Neanderthals and modern humans was as great or greater than that found between closely related primate species.

Among the species of existing primates included in the study were gorillas and chimpanzees, which are known to be the closest relatives to humans, as well as mandrills, macaques and baboons, who represent a greater degree of geographic and ecological diversity. As a result, Harvati's team's study constitutes the most extensive inter- and intra-species comparison of primate evolution ever recorded.

"What the data give us is a robust analysis of a widely representative sample of primates, and provides the most concrete evidence to date that Neanderthals are indeed a separate species within the genus Homo," Harvati added.

###

The PNAS paper, entitled "Neanderthal taxonomy reconsidered: Implications of 3D primate models of intra- and interspecific differences," was co-authored by Stephen R. Frost of New York College of Osteopathic Medicine at the New York Institute of Technology and Kieran P. McNulty of Baylor University, and will be available on their website the week of January 26-30, 2004.

Katerina Harvati is an assistant professor of anthropology at New York University, specializing in human evolution, Neanderthals and modern human origins. She conducts fieldwork in her native Greece. She earned a bachelors degree from Columbia University and a Ph.D. from the City University of New York Graduate Center. The studies were funded by grants from the National Science Foundation, L. S. B. Leakey, Wenner-Gren and Onassis Founadion, the American Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian Institution and the New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by New York University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

New York University. "New Study Shows Neanderthals Were Not Our Ancestors." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 January 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/01/040127085316.htm>.
New York University. (2004, January 27). New Study Shows Neanderthals Were Not Our Ancestors. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/01/040127085316.htm
New York University. "New Study Shows Neanderthals Were Not Our Ancestors." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/01/040127085316.htm (accessed April 25, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Friday, April 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Pictures of Ship That Sank in 1888

New Pictures of Ship That Sank in 1888

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) — Federal researchers have released new images of the City of Chester, a steamship that sank in San Francisco Bay in 1888. Researchers recently found the shipwreck while mapping shipping routes. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mich. Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth

Mich. Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth

Newsy (Apr. 20, 2014) — A 9-year-old Michigan boy was exploring a creek when he came across a 10,000-year-old tooth from a prehistoric mastodon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Couple Finds Love Letters From WWI In Attic

Couple Finds Love Letters From WWI In Attic

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) — A couple found love letters from World War I in their attic. They were able to deliver them to relatives of the writer of those letters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Erotic Art Offers Glimpse of China's 'lost' Sexual Philosophy

Erotic Art Offers Glimpse of China's 'lost' Sexual Philosophy

AFP (Apr. 16, 2014) — Explicit Chinese art works dating back centuries go on display in Hong Kong, revealing China's ancient relationship with sex. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins