Interbreeding of Neanderthals & Modern humans

Thomas G. Lammers lammers at UWOSH.EDU
Wed Oct 20 10:08:43 CDT 2004

At 09:55 AM 10/20/04, Robin Leech wrote:
>We have to be very careful about the concusions drawn from the observation
>that 2 species of Homo have the same pest species, in this case Pediculus

Though I am out of my depth here in discussing human evolution, I would not
be surprised if all individuals assigned to genus Homo would be fully or
partially interfertile, or at most, would form a sort of "ring-species"
through time, e.g., H. erectus could interbreed with Neanderthal, and
Neanderthal with modern H. sapiens, but H. erectus could not interbreed
with modern H. sapiens.

It seems to me that for reproductive isolation to have occurred, there
would have to be some long period of geographic or ecological or behavioral
isolation, or some sort of chromosomal repatterning or other internal
block.  I don't follow it closely, but as I understand it, the fossil
record would seem to suggest that populations of Homo (and Australopithecus
for that matter) have never experienced that kind of long term
isolation.  As I understand it, there are not many sequence differences in
human and chimp/gorilla DNA, which would maybe suggest there hasn't been
much chromosomal repatterning in the human lineage.

I think a lot of our problem in this area is that our adherence to
cladistic methodology colors our perception of evolution.  I have always
felt that the methodology, while useful for creating inferences on which
classifications might be based, does a very poor job of reflecting what we
know about evolution at the population level.

Thomas G. Lammers, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor and Curator of the Herbarium (OSH)
Department of Biology and Microbiology
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Oshkosh, Wisconsin 54901-8640 USA

e-mail:       lammers at
phone:      920-424-1002
fax:           920-424-1101

Plant systematics; classification, nomenclature, evolution, and
biogeography of the Campanulaceae s. lat.

"Today's mighty oak is yesterday's nut that stood his ground."
                                                               -- Anonymous

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