The delicate distinction of Neanderthal hybrids

It was the sequencing of the genome of Neanderthal man, in the 2000s, which made it possible to confirm that his species had indeed hybridized with ours, Homo sapiens, revealing a complex history of interbreeding between the two human lineages over the past hundred thousand years.

The width of the orbits is among the traits hybridized between Neanderthal and Sapiens

Previously, skeletons in Romania and Portugal (see map below) suggested a mixture but were not unanimous: criticism focused on characters that were too uncertain or on the fact that it was young adults still growing. It even took until 2015 for the first Neanderthal hybrid fossil to finally be officially recognized!

Today, an American and South African team think they are able to identify with certainty the faces of mestizos after comparing a small number of skulls and developing benchmarks and measurements to characterize hybrid traits, such as the width orbits. Steven E. Churchill, Department of Evolutionary Anthropology, Duke University, Duham (USA) and Clés de Kamryn, Center for Exploring the Human Journey, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa ) were interested in “the midfacial morphology of Neanderthal-modern human interbreeding”an article published in the journal MDPI Biology. “Of particular interest is the nature of the demographic interactions between the Neanderthals of Ice Age Europe and Western Asia and the modern humans who eventually replaced them.” explain the authors.

Leave a Comment