back to article Last living NEANDERTHALS discovered in JERSEY – boffins

Archaeologists have rediscovered the lost home of the last Neanderthals on the south coast of Jersey, which shows evidence of the last cavemen to live in Northwest Europe. Neanderthal display in museum A team investigating an existing site at La Cotte de St Brelade cave on the southeastern coast of the island stumbled across …

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Anonymous Coward

Taxes killed Neanderthals?

Aahhhh... so now we now the reason for Neanderthal extinction : Too much taxes !

The last survivors struggling to survive with their hoards of mammoth ivory safely tusked in Jersey trusts?

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Happy

...NEANDERTHALS discovered... on JERSEY SHORE...

No shit?

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Re: ...NEANDERTHALS discovered... on JERSEY SHORE...

Please. Such pompous stereotyping is impuning the Neanderthals, and I'm not having it!

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Re: ...NEANDERTHALS discovered... on JERSEY SHORE...

The Jersey Shore is extinct ?

"Cavemen probably went extinct after the Channel Islands"

Bummer.

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But, according to DNA we have evolved from Neanderthals too, didn't we?

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Sorry but no, they were a seperate species, interbreeding did happen though.

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Holmes

@fandom - 18/10/13 10:42

There are those who haven't done too much evolving...

Are you listening, Mr Prescott & Mr Balls?

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Re: @fandom - 18/10/13 10:42

...and then there are those who evolved directly from reptiles into an entirely separate, cold-blooded, species; the most prominent examples being Mr Cameron and Me Osborne.

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Happy

@Richard 81 18/10/13 11:27

Wouldn't disagree with you there, old lad: I wasn't being partisan - although I wouldn't say your two examples have themselves done a whole load of evolving away from reptiles...

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Stop

Interbreeding and species

> they were a seperate species, interbreeding did happen though

This is oxymoronic. To a good first approximation, the definition of a species divide is that (fertile) interbreeding does not occur across the boundary. This is usually due either to biological features of the organisms, or geographical distribution. If H. neanderthalensis and H. sapiens shared a habitat and interbred to produce fertile offspring, then by definition they weren't separate species.

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People with origins outside Africa have about 4% DNA in common with Neanderthals. Whether this is down to shared common ancestry or hybridisation is not known.

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People share 96% (or so) of DNA with bonobos, so everybody shares more with Neanderthals. I think what is meant that around 1 - 4% of DNA of people outside of Africa has similarities with Neanderthals which people in Africa lack. Several recent studies claim that the similarities stem from a shared ancestor, rather than hybridization. The alternative is that the similarities stem from a mixture of both.

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Anonymous Coward

they were a seperate species, interbreeding did happen though

The definition of a species is pretty much that it can't interbreed with a different species and produce fertile offspring.

They were different races, most likely:

homo sapiens sapiens (self-labelled)

homo sapiens *neanderthalensis

Given what is happening to the remaining primate groups on this planet, it's pretty clear what happened to the Neanderthals. We need to rename our species; something with "destructive" rather than "intelligent" in it should do nicely.

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Re: Interbreeding and species

This is oxymoronic. To a good first approximation, the definition of a species divide is that (fertile) interbreeding does not occur across the boundary.

If all things were nice and neat and tidy, then that would be a good definition of a species, however inter-species breeding is not uncommon, and whilst most interspecific hybrids are infertile, some individuals are not, which can lead to a new hybrid species. For example, ligers (lion/tiger) and tiglons (tiger/lion) are largely infertile, but certain individuals are not and have reproduced.

Besides which, there is a good argument for saying this it is intra-specific hybridization between H. sapiens sapiens and H. sapiens neanderthalis, both being sub species of H. sapiens.

Even if they are not sub species, interspecific hybrids forming new species is not unknown either - the Red Wolf may be (opinions differ) a coyote/grey wolf hybrid.

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Homo sapiens sapiens

ribosome, sapiens would be better translated as “rational” or “wise” rather than “intelligent”. As far as the renaming goes, “destructive” comes from Latin, so H. sapiens destructivus would be a possibility; but if it came to a vote, I’d go with H. sapiens edax instead.

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And what did that interbreeding give us?

Us. (Well Western Europeans anyway).

Whereas modern humans has more African roots, the mixing in of some Neanderthal likely gave much of the distinctiveness of Europeans.

For a modern day reenactment, you might have a look at NZ where there has been very few racial stigmas and European and Maori cross polination have been happening for a long while.

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Anonymous Coward

I heard we share 50% of our DNA with grass.

As I'm not an academic and I'm also lazy, check out the wikipedia entry on Neandertals.

The "interbreeding" thing was mentioned there and that surprised me too - I also thought lack of interbreeding was a good approximation of species difference. Then I saw the facial reconstruction and it turns out they're human ;)

I also understand that the DNA differences which distinguish races are smaller than the DNA differences within a race. I'm not sure this % DNA comparison is turning out to be that useful.

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@Charles Manning Re: And what did that interbreeding give us?

It's nothing to do with pollen. What happens is .... well ....... Consider the birds and the bees; ..... oh..., you did.

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Re: And what did that interbreeding give us?

Not sure about that one , mr Manning...

The african continent, with it's occupants missing the Neanderthal genes, is decidedly non-peaceful and rather rife with various forms of agression, and has been as long as recorded history can prove.

Hell, the slave trade is practically an african invention, since it has proven to be more profitable to sell off your captured prizes, than to go through the trouble to domesticating them yourself. This has been the way since the egyptians. The Arabs and later the europeans simply jumped onto an existing wagon that was already rolling..

as far as maori are concerned.. Last time I checked the tribes in any area of that part of the world were quite accomplished, if not outright vicious, at warfare..

H. Sap. Sap was already agressive before they ever met their Neabderthal cousins. It's what made them successful in taking over the world as a species to begin with. What interbreeding *could* have accomplished is a rapid adaption to the rather frigid environment up north, since Neanderthals were ultimately perfectly adapted to the climate of the clacial period.

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Pint

Re: Interbreeding and species

"...the definition of a species..."

It's perfectly obvious that the definition of a species, when applied to the real world both past and present, leads to a very fuzzy boundary. New species are slowly created over vast periods of time, leading to an ill-defined fuzzy middle.

One endless source of non-value-added debate are the circumstances where people argue about precisely where to draw a sharp line on a fuzzy spectrum. It's a source of many apparent paradoxical mysteries (sic). Worse, hundreds of millions of man-years of lukewarm thought have been wasted on this same mistake.

If people would just understand this futility, and learn to openly accept that continuums are commonplace, then they could spend less time arguing about stupid arbitrary and demonstrably poor definitions and more time (for example) developing my goldamn flying car.

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bep

Usefulness

I'm not sure your argument support the usefulness of the term 'race' either. It's now just sounds like an attempt to use a non-scientific term to replace a scientific term that is becoming increasingly hazy.

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Go

Re the definition of a species

Fuzzy boundaries; true. When I learned zoology, this gentleman told us that a species is whatever a good taxonomist says it is :-)

If one accepts the shared heritage of H. sapiens and H. neanderthalensis (and I do), then they must have a common ancestor. This seems such an obvious observation that it's hardly worth making, except when you consider that amongst the immediate children of that common ancestor, a real living pair of siblings, there was one who went on to be the ancestor of us, and his/her brother/sister went on to be the ancestor of neanderthals. The same argument goes for humans and gorillas, or goldfish and goldfinches. Weird, innit?

(I am indebted to Prof. Richard Dawkins for this insight).

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"Sorry but no, they were a seperate species, interbreeding did happen though."

One could call it kissing cousins, from a species perspective.

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Re: @fandom - 18/10/13 10:42

"...and then there are those who evolved directly from reptiles into an entirely separate, cold-blooded, species; the most prominent examples being Mr Cameron and Me Osborne."

You missed the species.

Those who evolved directly from reptiles into an entirely separate, cold-blooded species are called politicians.

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Re: Interbreeding and species

"To a good first approximation, the definition of a species divide is that (fertile) interbreeding does not occur across the boundary."

True, but sub-species can interbreed.

Which really makes an interesting question: At what point of divergence from the common ancestor could Pan and Homo no longer interbreed? It's so uneven a process, it poses an interesting question from a genetics point of view.

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"People share 96% (or so) of DNA with bonobos, so everybody shares more with Neanderthals. I think what is meant that around 1 - 4% of DNA of people outside of Africa has similarities with Neanderthals which people in Africa lack. Several recent studies claim that the similarities stem from a shared ancestor, rather than hybridization. The alternative is that the similarities stem from a mixture of both."

As I recall, the molecular geneticists are still trying to piece that puzzle together.

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Re: they were a seperate species, interbreeding did happen though

"They were different races, most likely:

homo sapiens sapiens (self-labelled)

homo sapiens *neanderthalensis"

Want to see taxonomists get into a bar fight? Ask them if it's Pan Sapiens or Homo Troglodytes. The fur will, figuratively, fly!

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"I also understand that the DNA differences which distinguish races are smaller than the DNA differences within a race. I'm not sure this % DNA comparison is turning out to be that useful."

True enough, it's more of a popular press thing.

Science tends to look more at what parts are different in what way, as well as how many parts of what chromosome is different/missing/additional, etc.

But, off the top of my head, I think that in common with grasses, we have a bit more than 50%. Many cellular mechanisms are the same across all species.

There are only so many ways to work with ATP, as one example. Or utilize sugar for food. Or maintain cellular respiration.

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Re: And what did that interbreeding give us?

"The african continent, with it's occupants missing the Neanderthal genes, is decidedly non-peaceful and rather rife with various forms of agression, and has been as long as recorded history can prove."

Erm, pre-colonization, the African continent was far more peaceful than all of Europe in any time period you care to name. It wasn't until post-colonization that things got screwed up.

Don't confuse tribal warfare with what Europe repeatedly experienced.

One only ponders the many, many, many, many wars throughout Europe. Eight crusades, a few of which seemed to never make it to the intended destination...

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Hate to tell you, but latest research proved Neanderthal DNA is found in every human outside of the sub-Sahara. But don't dispair, research also shows Neanderthals had larger craniums.

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Totally misleading

I thought there was going to be a study of the *reality* show 'Jersey Shore' - which would explain quite a few things, I hoped.

Not the case unfortunately, I'll have to wait to see where the snooki originated from the History Channel or some such.

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Re: Totally misleading

Took me a while to figure out too. Once I got past the "people with one eyebrow interbreeding" (lot of that down the shore) it made sense.

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the most intresting question remains...

Did we breed with them to the point of extiction or did we eat them........

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Anonymous Coward

Re: the most intresting question remains...

I think we ate them. Our ancestors were too politically correct to say "Get laid, young lady, unless you want to become extinct".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: the most intresting question remains...

If you look at the basic math, genetic diversity within any population is relentlessly extinguished at a rate of about 25% per generation. This is the Maternal or Paternal Lineage Extinction Ratio (MLER/PLER). It applies to DNA, mtDNA, surnames, etc.

Each child carries one-half of your DNA. Two kids is roughly the long term average. 50% odds with two leads to 25% of your unique DNA being lost. Same thing with Mom's mtDNA and two sons. Same thing with Dad's surname and two daughters.

Obviously this is exactly what drives the creation of races and species.

Unfortunately for the missing-the-basics paleoanthropologists, MLER is a simpler and better explanation for what they see as "population bottle-necking" associated with (for example) their Eve Hypothesis.

Lot's of details here: http://inevitableeve.blogspot.com

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bep

Re: the most intresting question remains...

But if the DNA keeps getting re-introduced to the mix by, basically, shagging your relatives, which is likely in small populations, does this not complicate matters just a little?

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Joke

If these boffins are from Guernsey

Then you can just discount this as more inter-island rivalry

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If these boffins are from Guernsey

If they were from Guernsey the claim would be that Neanderthals are still alive in Jersey.

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Headmaster

"Caveman" <> "Neanderthal"

Even though the article implies that all "cavemen" were Neanderthals, this imprecise, old-fashioned term also applies to Cro-Magnons (H. sapiens) and even certain boorish folk today.

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Re: "Caveman" <> "Neanderthal"

No, no. I saw a TV special that showed Cro-Magnons as oppressive, dimensional sliding being bent on conquering all other homo-species.

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Happy

Re: "Caveman" <> "Neanderthal"

And here was I, wondering if anyone had made that reference, or if I'd have to add something myself, too late for anyone to see.

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Stop

Headline.

"Last living NEANDERTHALS found" - or not.

They didn't find any living Neanderthals.

Stop doing this.

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Re: Headline.

"...didn't find any living Neanderthals..."

Then they weren't looking in the right place. See my earlier comments re Messrs Prescott & Balls - to which could be added the name McCluskey

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Atavistic regression?

For a moment there I though this was going to be about Jimmy Savile's Friday club and Haut de la Garenne.

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Coat

They remains are in surprisingly good nick judging by the photo.

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Extinct?

Are we sure that they have become extinct on Jersey, or maybe they swam over to Guernsey and forgot how to get back.

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Boffin

changes to stay the same...

As someone pointed out, we have sequenced the DNA and they are not H.sapiens...

The most remarkable thing is not that we share DNA, but how *similar* they are to us and they went extinct...

We like to think we out competed them, but I suspect that is an assertion...

No disrespect to Sir David A, we are still evolving, just the selection landscape is flatter... at least in the west. Read the statistics from C. Africa, there is plenty of evolutionary pressure there...;-(

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WTF?

"Last living NEANDERTHALS discovered in JERSEY – boffins"

So the Commentards referring to "Jersey Shore" are most likely from the US...and have no clue about where the piece is ACTUALLY talking about.

And besides...they are really in Washington, D.C.

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Headmaster

Re: "Last living NEANDERTHALS discovered in JERSEY – boffins"

Not only that, it appears that the neanderthals were also boffins, which begs the question as to why they died out in the first place.

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Happy

Re: "Last living NEANDERTHALS discovered in JERSEY – boffins"

Yes, my fellow countrymen often miss that whole 'new' thing. I'm not sure why, but they don't seem to grasp that many of the place names in the North East are v2 of places in Europe. You'd think the 'new' would be a dead giveaway...

To be fair though, I did my graduate studies in New Jersey, and at first glance of the title I thought 'no shit there are living Neanderthals there. How is this a discovery, everyone knows that'.

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