When It Comes to Neanderthals, Humans May Be the Borg

The extinction and competition hypotheses for the demise of the Neanderthals, notably suggested by interdisciplinary scientist and author Jared Diamond, hinge on the idea that humans were more advanced than Neanderthals. Commonly claimed are the following: that humans had more communicative abilities, were more efficient hunters, had superior weaponry, ate a broader diet, and had more extensive social networks.

But the archaeological record doesn’t back any of those claims, the authors found.

In 2010, scientists discovered that between one and four percent of the DNA of modern humans living outside of Africa is derived from Neanderthals, providing clear evidence that the two species were interbreeding to some extent tens of thousands of years ago. In January of this year, Benjamin Vernot and Joshua Akey of the University of Washington published a paper in Science that corroborated those results. They found that a fifth of Neanderthals’ genetic code lives on within our species as a whole.

via RealClearScience – When It Comes to Neanderthals, Humans May Be the Borg.

As someone who discovered last year that they were 3% Neanderthal, and given the now very low population estimates for Neanderthals, this strikes me as completely plausible.  Maybe Neanderthals didn’t die out so much as marry into the family.  In other words, we are Neanderthals.  (At least those of us who aren’t from recent African stock are.)

4 thoughts on “When It Comes to Neanderthals, Humans May Be the Borg

  1. I think there is no real basis for the idea that Neanderthals where a different species. They could interbreed with the Africans and it looks like both groups considered each other to be of the same kind, so they actually did. They accepted each other as humans (at least I see no evidence they did not) and that is a message from both sides of our ancestors that we should take serious. On what basis then are we talking here of different species. Doesn’t it make more sense then to consider our species to be a coupld of hundred thounsand years older and just talk about humans? The concept of species is a murky one and we should be careful when we apply it to different kinds of humans.
    Even if there should be any evidence that one group was technologically more advanced than another, such differences could be completely cultural, with no basis in genetic differences at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A lot depends on how you define “species”. They were separated by African humans for hundreds of thousands of years but could still interbreed. I agree that seems like the same species. That said, they definitely had some morphological differences. Maybe sub-species?


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