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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Some experts' opinions on the Neanderthal genome's implications

From Quo magazine (in Spanish). Translated some sentences here:

J.L. Arsuaga, co-Director of Atapuerca archaeological site: These are only some some results and we will have to wait. It is a contribution in some humans of just some 2%, what would not be really relevant.

C. Lalueza Fox, member of the research team of El Sidrón cave: This year we will see published the Thousand Genomes' Project, that aims to sequence a thousand human genomes, and will be interesting to see if the percentage of Neanderthal genes is kept, in which frequency, in which populations.

Jordi Agustí, member of the research team of Dmanisi site: It does not fundamentally invalidates what was believed so far: that they were different or almost different species.

E. Baquedano, member of the research team of Pinilla del Valle site: We will have to admit that Humans and Neanderthals belong to a single species even if they are distinct subspecies.

In the same magazine but a separate interview, anthropologist Erik Trinkaus, defends his theory on admixture in Europe some 40,000 years ago only and is disdainful of the use of aDNA and the comparison of a "pathetic" sample of just 3 Neanderthal individuals with just "five modern humans" (sic, actually it's five modern human populations comprising 12 individuals). He refers us to his 2007 anatomical paper.


Anne Gilbert said...


For my own part, this sequencing of the Neandertal genome pretty well parallels, in certain ways, the way "Neandertal genes" in my Great Medieval Science Fiction Masterpiece With Neandertals, end up in "modern" human gene pools. But I am also not surprised that, already, there are challenges to the Pääbo team's results. There always are, when it comes to Neandertals. It will be interesting to see what comes out of this.

Maju said...

There's always challenge and critique when it comes to science and that is something good.

However I fail to see the validity of most criticisms to this study's conclusions. I find it a very solid one.

The only thing that is left to be done is replicating the research independently.

That doesn't mean I agree with the MC hunches in it but I consider that a separate part: mere fashionable decoration and not the substance.

Another thing is how you interpret its meaning. That's why this gallery of opinions is interesting, because even among "Neanderthal experts" they have so very different opinions.

Anne Gilbert said...

Maju, I happen to think the kind of discussion about this particular new piece of information is very important, and part of the scientific process. So I definitely agree with you there. It's just that this all "just beginning", and a lot of this discussion may lead to even more, and exciting findings of one kind or another. Maybe Pääbo and his people are right. Maybe they're not. At this point, I think you may well be able to say the same about the "critics". All I'm saying is, it's too early to tell yet, about much of anything. The only thing I "interpreted" was the way these findings paralleled my own hunches, which have found their way into my book(s) I don't pretend that is particularly scientific.
Anne G