Neanderthaly speaking, according to a report in BBC News, 12 February 2009. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and 454 Life Sciences Corporation, have sequenced approximately 60 percent of the Neanderthal genome using DNA from bones found in the Vindija Cave, Croatia. They were particularly searching for “genes of special interest in recent human evolution, such as FOXP2, which is involved in speech and language.” Human FOXP2 differs from the chimp version of the gene in two places. Neanderthals had the human version, so according to Svante Paabo of the Max Planck Institute, “There is no reason to believe they couldn’t speak like us. But of course there are many other genes involved in speech and language, so there are many more studies to be done.” The scientists also studied a gene named microcephalin-1, which is involved in brain development. There is lot of variation in this gene in humans. Neanderthals had a variation that is now seen in African populations, rather than the variation that is common in present day Europeans. The genome scientists concluded that although Neanderthals and “modern humans” lived side by side for thousands of years they did not interbreed.


Editorial Comment: If you add the fact that Neanderthal skulls had on average 100ml more brain space than the modern humans who now speak about them, then the above result is not surprising. Such gene studies really confirm Neanderthals were fully human and should not even be considered a different species. The fact that they had a gene variation now found only in Africans simply means that the variation was much more widespread and it has died out in Europe – unless any one wants to claim that present day Africans are a different species. In spite of all the claims that Neanderthals were different species than modern humans, whenever any studies were done of specific functions, they find Neanderthals fit into the known human range.

Evidence News, 11 March 2009