For most of human history, we understood that people are not the same. Different people had different customs, different gods, different material habits and of course, they looked different. When describing the people of a foreign land, writers and storytellers would spend a lot of time describing these differences. Julius Caesar, in his commentaries on the the conquest of Gaul, was at his best describing the looks and dress of the Gauls. It not only made his tale interesting, it made a point. The Gauls were not Romans.
In one of life’s ironies, as the Left is about to impose its belief in the blank slate and extreme egalitarianism on society, science is unearthing contrary evidence on a near daily basis. It’s fair to say we now have a mountain of science supporting the claims made by our side of the great divide, with regards to human diversity. That mountain grows larger with every new bit of evidence from the human sciences. This report about Neanderthals and Denisovans is another big piece of data explaining the diversity of man.
Denny was an inter-species love child.
Her mother was a Neanderthal, but her father was Denisovan, a distinct species of primitive human that also roamed the Eurasian continent 50,000 years ago, scientists reported Wednesday in the journal Nature.
Nicknamed by Oxford University scientists, Denisova 11 — her official name — was at least 13 when she died, for reasons unknown.
“There was earlier evidence of interbreeding between different hominin, or early human, groups,” said lead author Vivian Slon, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
“But this is the first time that we have found a direct, first-generation offspring,” she told AFP.
Denny’s surprising pedigree was unlocked from a bone fragment unearthed in 2012 by Russian archeologists at the Denisova Cave in the Altai Mountains of Siberia.
Analysis of the bone’s DNA left no doubt: the chromosomes were a 50-50 mix of Neanderthal and Denisovan, two distinct species of early humans that split apart between 400,000 to 500,000 years ago.
Advances in the ability to extract DNA from fossils is one of those revolutions in science that does not get enough attention. Agenda driven hucksters like Stephen Jay Gould were able to get away with their schemes mostly because there was a lack of hard evidence to support or contradict theories about early humans. That’s changing as material science and genetic testing gets better and the data accumulates. The political narrative about the origins of man is falling apart, giving way to observable reality about the diversity of man.
“The very fact that we found this individual of mixed Neanderthal and Denisovan origins suggests that they interbred much more often than we thought,” said Slon.
Paabo agreed: “They must have quite commonly had kids together, otherwise we wouldn’t have been this lucky.”
A 40,000 year-old Homo sapiens with a Neanderthal ancestor a few generations back, recently found in Romania, also bolsters this notion.
But the most compelling evidence that inter-species hanky-panky in Late Pleistocene Eurasia may not have been that rare lies in the genes of contemporary humans.
About two percent of DNA in non-Africans across the globe today originate with Neanderthals, earlier studies have shown.
Denisovan remnants are also widespread, though less evenly.
“We find traces of Denisovan DNA — less than one percent — everwhere in Asia and among native Americans,” said Paabo.
“Aboriginal Australians and people in Papua New Guinea have about five percent.”
Taken together, these facts support a novel answer to the hotly debated question of why Neanderthals — which had successfully spread across parts of western and central Europe — disappeared some 40,000 years ago.
Up to now, their mysterious demise has been blamed on disease, climate change, genocide at the hands of Homo sapiens, or some combination of the above.
But what if our species — arriving in waves from Africa — overwhelmed Neanderthals, and perhaps Denisovans, with affection rather than aggression?
A point that Greg Cochran has made is that Neanderthals and Denisovans had evolved some highly useful traits that allowed them to survive in areas inhospitable to African populations. As modern humans spread through Eurasia, they mixed with these earlier populations and picked up some of these genetic advantages.They could also have simply observed things the Neanderthals had learned. The smarter and more clever humans then adapted these acquired skills to then dominate their new environments.
Recent research showing that Neanderthals were not, in fact, knuckle-dragging brutes makes this scenario all the more plausible.
Our genetic cousins executed sophisticated hunting strategies in groups; made fires, tools, clothing and jewellery; and buried their dead with symbolic ornaments.
They painted animal frescos on cave walls at least 64,000 years ago, well before most Homo sapiens arrived in Europe.
Far less is known about Denisovans, but they may have suffered a similar fate.
Paabo established their existence with an incomplete finger bone and two molars dated to some 80,000 years ago.
Among their genetic legacy to some modern humans is a variant of the gene EPAS1 that makes it easier for the body to access oxygen by regulating the production of haemoglobin, according to a 2014 study.
Nearly 90 percent of Tibetans have this precious variant, compared with only nine percent of Han Chinese, the dominant — and predominantly lowland — ethnic group in China.
Some things cannot be acquired through imitation, like the ability to breathe at extremely high altitudes. This may not seem all that important in the grand scheme of things, but if all human attributes are genetic, then it probably means the social diversity we see in humans has a genetic basis as well. If local populations can have local traits, then it goes a long way toward explaining the great diversity in human social organization. Even today, the way Africans prefer to live is different from how Eurasians prefer to live.
Of course, what this new data tells us is that the differences between populations are not uniform. Those modern humans who encountered and mixed with Denisovans have a lot more in common with one another than they do with their ancestors in Africa. The same is true of those populations that mixed with Neanderthals. The mixing of Denisovans and Neanderthals would explain why Asians and Europeans have more in common with one another than either group seems to have with their ancestors in Africa.
None of this argues in favor of any political agenda, but it does argue against the assumptions underlying the neoliberal order. Humans are not interchangeable and the differences we see are genetic and the result of local evolution. It turns out that the Left was sort of right when they said, “Think globally, but act locally.” People are the product of their local environment. The best thing to do, for the sake of global harmony, is to leave people in their local environment, so they can live locally, among their people.