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Blimey, the world of evolutionary biology gets more interesting by the day.
abby and rex 2
lil_shepherd
First of all we learn that Homo sapiens seems to have a very small percentage of Neandertal genes, meaning the two species - or sub-species mated and produced viable offspring.

Now we learn that there may have been yet another species of Homo that migrated out of Africa before either the Neandertals or ourselves.

And the strange fossils of the Burgess Shale (the so-called Cambrian Explosion)turn out to represent widespread and long-lasting species that were still going strong in the Ordovician.

Jerry Coyne has the stories over at Why Evolution is True

http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/

PZ Myers discusses the Neandertal data at length and in detail.

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/05/neandertal.php

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Some of the right-wing media is still stuck in the Middle Paleolithic. Then again, even homo sapiens neanderthalensis cared for their sick and aging. Perhaps the "third wave" is the RW strain. lol

"First of all we learn that Homo sapiens seems to have a very small percentage of Neandertal genes..."

...which just goes to back up what I've been saying about Matt Smith's eyebrows...

I think it all goes to illustrate how very little we actually know about such an interesting period of our history. I've long been impatient with the dogmatic pronouncements of some of the palaeontologists about what we know when a lot of it is extrapolated from half a brain pan and two thirds of a femur... (I've always wondered whether half an Australian aboriginal brain pan and two thirds of a Japanese femur would be classified as the same species by some of the guys involved).

As for mating with Neandertals? Never doubted it. A species that will shag its domestic food animals on a reasonably regular basis is not going to be put off by a stocky build and a big nose... It's fascinating that a) there was offspring and b) that offspring was viable (assuming this research is replicated, of course!)

And the fourth migration just seems logical. If there is a chance to expand territory or range any animal will do so. (And while it doesn't actually argue directly against the Multi-regional hypothesis it certainly has implications that must cast further doubt on it.)

But, hell, yeah! Fascinating times.

The really astonishing thing is ability to gene-sequence such ancient and degraded DNA. That is awesome.

Wait till you see what they have down the road.

They're now talking about "inferential DNA".

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