Neanderthals + Cro-Magnon=Children?

Neanderthals have been mentioned in several threads before - here’s a few:
Neanderthals & Fire
Neanderthals in Time
And More
But I don’t think any of those really got off the ground for such an interesting topic.

The August 1999 Discover magazine had an article, “Learning to Love Neanderthals” saying that the Neanderthal’s DNA was different enough that there seemed to be no trace of it in modern DNA. However, central to the article was a set of bones of a child from about 25,000 years ago with both Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon features.

If Cro-Magnon is us, and Neanderthal is not, how could their combined DNA produce a living being?

The article said the bones were found in the Iberian Peninsula an area where the Neanderthals were slow dying off and Cro-Magnon were slow to take over. The implication to me was that the Neanderthals hung on in the area later than they did in other places in the world.

And do we need to consult an OB-GYN here to discover if the Cro-Magnon female could deliver the larger head of the Neanderthal baby?

Oh, I’m gonna keep using these #%@&* codes 'til I get 'em right.

Jois wrote:

Dunno about that, but I do know that a horse and a donkey can breed and produce offspring. That offspring is known as a mule, and is sterile. Maybe that’s the way it worked with Cro-Magnon and Neanderthals. Maybe they were close enough genetically to reproduce, but far enough apart that their offspring wound up sterile. Any geneticists out there?

“Every time you think, you weaken the nation!” --M. Howard (addressing his brother, C. Howard).

[Moderator Hat ON]

Sounds like a General Question to me. Off it goes.

[Moderator Hat OFF]

I think the answer to your question goes much farther back than Neanderthal-Cro Magnon days. Four to five hundred thousand years ago, there were people referred to archaic Homo sapiens. The big question is whether these were only gradational different from late Homo erectus or a new species. I believe the fossil evidence is that there was no distinct break between the two. Could Homo erectus and archaic Homo sapiens have had children? In the next 400 hundred thousand years, these archaic Homo sapiens spread over the world (but probably not N or S America). All of the other archaic Homo sapiens are undifferentiated, only Neanderthals are the put in a sub species. Geographical isolations and glacial conditions probably made certain characteristics more prevalent in one group or the other. But I would suspect that they were all one interbreeding population, at least during the interglacials. One of these isolated groups became what we now call Homo sapiens sapiens or more likely successfully interbred and overbred with the other archaics to become Homo sapiens sapiens. If this is the case, not only could Cro Magnons and Neanderthals interbreed but Homo sapiens sapiens and Homo erectus could interbreed.

This progression from Homo erectus to Homo sapiens sapiens leads me to believe that intelligence must have always been the greatest aphrodisiac. If you can put an edge on a rock and make fire, you are the crown of creation. There is no reason to go any more technological than that. You have the whole planet at your feet. But being more intelligent than required must have made our ancestors more attractive to the opposite sex. Thus, human intelligence is like a peacock’s tail feathers or flashy colors on a fish. No real reason for it except that it got you the guy or the girl. Do this for a few hundred generations and the rest is history (or paleoanthropolgy).

mipsman wrote:

Not at my high school, it wasn’t! :wink:

[Now envisioning Neanderthal women swooning over nerdy Cro-Magnons with their sharp tools and loin cloth protectors.]

“Every time you think, you weaken the nation!” --M. Howard (addressing his brother, C. Howard).

Mipsman-“One of these isolated groups
became what we now call Homo sapiens sapiens or more likely successfully interbred and
overbred with the other archaics to become Homo sapiens sapiens.”

Can you connect this idea with the “Out of Africa” idea, that all modern humans have DNA going back to 100,000-130,000 years ago?

There are better people than I to speak on the mitochondrial DNA mutation. But the analysis that identified Africa as the source of all modern humans because of the amount of diversity was not as absolute as it was made out to be. That type of analysis that they did can identify A solution but not necessarily THE solution. If I recall correctly, that original Out of Africa theory based on DNA is now out of fashion. However, there is enough anthropological evidence to indicate that something happened in Afica. Based on the intrusion of Homo sapiens sapiens into the Near East and their confusing overlap with Neanderthals there, Homo sapiens sapiens probably originated from near that area.

I will leap off a speculative cliff here. As the Sahara dried up, a group of archaic Homo sapiens was reproductively isolated between the desert and the Mediterranean. There, they Homo sapiens sapiensed themselves and spread out along the southern Mediterranean littoral (150,000 years ago). Interacting in the Near East with Neanderthals during one of the previous interglacials, they later struck out across Europe (and probably southern Asia). In Europe, the Neanderthals gradually retreated in front of them until their last stand in Iberia, almost full circle from where the Homo sapiens sapiens (now you can call them Cro-Magnons) started.

The implications here are that the Cro-Magnons were not tall, blue eyed, blonde haired hunks and hunkettes but more likely Moamar Khadaffi’s great great…great uncles and aunts. Actually, I think it was among those that stayed in the ancestral homeland, Berbers and Moors and the Tassili people (I am not sure closely related they are) that they found the highest mitochondrial DNA variations, so maybe there is something to it after all.

You people are ALL WRONG! Homo Sapiens came about in southern Patagonia. The brutish Neanderthals were not human ancestors. It’s all there, in a forgotten college in Argentina!

When talking of species evolution, you have to realize that the population genetics change over time. What we see in the fossil record as distinct categories of species is more of an artifact of the way fossils are formed - distinct points out of a spectrum of change.

Suppose we take three populations of “humans” through time. Let A be “Homo oldus”, B be “Homo neo”, and C be “Homo modernus”. (Shut up, I needed three stupid labels.) Each population exists at a slightly different period in time, so there are some changes between the population groups.

Population A and B are able to interbreed fertily. Population B and C are also able to interbreed fertily. But population A and C are not able. Why? Because the series of changes from A to C are greater than the changes A to B and B to C.

I don’t know the distinctions and actual timelines and such for Homo erectus vs. Neandertal vs. Cro-Magnon (aren’t Cro-Magnon Homo sapiens?).

It is also possible that the distinction is more like described above regarding horses and donkeys. The evolutionary ancestor for Homo Sapiens sapiens had a divergent path, where one close relative was Neandertal. Supposing the speciaton wasn’t entirely completed, but the populations were isolated enough for distinctions to arise, then you have characteristics that appear to have different species, but were in fact interbreedable. Sort of like the “racial” distinctions we have now between whites, blacks, Asians, etc. Those are groups that had enough population separation for distinct characteristics to arise, but not enough isolation to complete the speciation.

Essentially, humanity originated in central Africa, and started to spread. One group moved northward and populated Europe, to be isolated from the rest for a while. A second group spread eastward, to populate Asia, and cross the land bridge into the Americas. A third group remained in Africa, and populated that continent. Groups became isolated after that dispersion, and thus grew the distinct features. Then technological innovation comes along, and groups of humans begin to travel and explore and spread again, and encounter the other humans with distinct characteristics. If instead it had taken a few hundred thousand years longer to start spreading again, perhaps we would have seen speciation similar to chimps vs. bonobos.

Irishman asked

Yes, Cro-Magnon were Homo sapiens, as were Neandertals. The difference is that Cro-Magnon, like us, were Homo sapiens sapiens and Neandertals were Homo sapiens neandertalensis(sp?).

Try our fried pies.

You know, I just threw out that “horse and donkey” thing, but the analogy sort of works.

Obviously, in the not-too-distant past, horses and donkeys had a common ancestor. Then, one population got separated from the other, and they began to diverge into separate species. They have now been reunited just at the brink of complete divergence. [Cue background music:…“Reunited, and it feels so good…”]

Now suppose, a few hundred thousand years hence, some paleontologist tries to reconstruct this whole mess, using only the fossil record. Our hypothetical scientist is gonna find fossils of the common horse/donkey ancestor, as well as fossils of horses, donkeys and mules…scads of mules. Do you envy the paleontologist the task of trying to sort out that evidence? That same type of muddled record is what we are now trying to untangle with respect to human evolution. Good luck to us.

–Love ya. Mean it.

Hope this isn’t too far off the wall:::

Bones and teeth show a north south division:
North, Europeans, Mongoloids (East Asians) and native Americans
South Africans and Australians

Geneticists proposed and east/west division
West: Africa and Europe
East: Far East.

1974:Protein and enzyme links Europeans and Mongoloids.
Differences found for Black Africans much greater indicating had a longer evolutionary history. This camp suggested a split date for Africans and the rest at 100,000 years ago 40,000 for European/Mongoloid split.
1987 study at Berkeley seemed to reinforce the above view.

For mtDNA in the 70’s at Berkeley by Cann & Wilson suggest a 3 percent per million year rate of change: this suggests only small mutational changes had time to build up between major geographical populations or “races” so a common origin is not to far back. They guess the common ancestors of all people lived about 400,000 years ago (the time of the last Homo erectus). This lead Stringer and Gamble give more weight to evolution of modern people was probably a worldwide, multiregional process.

Later research has halved the above estimate. And that Eve came from Africa. Africa showed more diverse mtDNA than any other population.

So this gives the out of Africa 2 a date of 200,000 and dispersal at 100,000 but does not match well with fossil evidence. “The date of the earliest known modern humans in Africa still appears too early to match the mtDNA estimate (since the oldest fossil remains probably date to 130,000 years);” but there is evidence for early modern people in western Asia around 100,000 so “there is evidence of a genetic migration from the African center”.


1. Genetic mutation dating could be off and has been attacked. “Different parts of mtDNA molecule evolve at different rates.”
2. Using chimp data for human projections questioned. When taking into account iffy data gives out of Africa dates from 1million years ago to 100,000. Very shaky.
3. Computer techniques used by Cann and Wilson questioned as non-conclusive.


1. New mtDNA from chimps & human mtDNA suggest 140,00-130,000 years ago with the widest estimates from this data method at a whapping 400,000 to 60,000 although 140,000-130,000 agrees better with the fossil record.

For Nuclear DNA off 5,000 humans Sforza gets the chart below with an out of Africa date of about 100,000.

Can’t draw this well but here goes:

Rootstock feed is Africans I and a second overall grouping which are all others;

Second group has GROUP 1: Caucasoids II and a double group of Northeast Asians III and Amerindians IV

And GROUP II: Southeast Asians V & Pacific Islanders VI and another (single no less) group of Australians VI and New Guineans VII.

The above comes close to the earlier above-mentioned 1974 estimate for an out of Africa of 100,000.


“Genetic data provide an independent source of information and largely favor an Out of Africa 2 interpretation; the calibration is critical in differentiating between the original dispersal out of Africa of Homo erectus and much later exodus of early modern people. The larger genetic diversity between Africans is certainly suggestive of a relatively greater antiquity for African differentiation, while the overall low level globally of genetic diversity in humans (in both mtDNA and nuclear DNA ) favors a recent origin, most probably within the last 150,000 years.” Current favor goes to out of Africa 2.

Personally I think there is a lot of holes for lack of data for the Far East, Australia, China & etc.


May be one of the MB doc’s can fill this one in. I’ve always wondered if this was a quick end to Neanderthal.


For everyone just about except poor Neanderthal. He had it but its use was sporadic. He probably did not have the mental horsepower even with his big brain to do much creative with it - like fixed hearths and heating.

Chart for post above:

While I am thinking this over:

Some book I’ve been reading (hit and run) over the past week or two said that if a Cro Magnon (cleaned up and dressed in modern togs) sat next to you on the train you’d get up and move to another car. If a Neanderthal (cleaned up and dressed in modern togs) sat next you on the train you’d get up and move to another train.

Forgive me for sharing but it does make me LOL.


What the f*ck?!?!?! :confused: :confused: :confused: :confused:

With magic, you can turn a frog into a prince. With science, you can turn a frog into a Ph.D, and you still have the frog you started with.

Sorry for the slime above but QUOTE did not preserve the spacing so I tried periods but that did not preserve the spacing well either.

Interesting on the different take on Neanderthal and moderns. My reading suggests that if Neanderthal dressed up you would not notice any differences. The biggest thing would be a hat to cover the brow ridge. But then without a hat if you saw him you might just let it pass as a modern with exaggerated features.

The structural difference was manly in bone thickness and muscle size. The bone difference was with the legs and arms being a bit proportionally shorter than moderns but again someone would have to point out the guy as odd and cause you really scrutinize him for total differences to make a judgement. Many moderns have more muscle mass than Neanderthal. Neanderthal had a little slouch but some moderns also have it and in some cases more than Neanderthal.

Trouts1, thanks for the topical info and summary. When the data talks about African diversity, does this mean in one population or over the entire continent? Bantu vs Bushmen vs Berber or variations inside each group? If you had Homo erectus from England to Java, wouldn’t there be archaic Homo sapiens over at least that much area? Did they go the way of the Neanderthals?

Jois, I read a similar article that puts our ancestors in a more modern perspective. It said that Homo erectus probably had the intelligence of a five year old. I have no idea how they could determine that but thought it was an interesting analogy.


Stringer & Gamble devote much of their book justifying their view that Neanderthal was not developed.

Roughly it’s:

  1. No slick use of fire. No hearths.
  2. No art.
  3. No fixed dwellings.
  4. No features to sites like a permanent grouping of rocks to sit around.
  5. No music.
  6. Shaky proof for any real consistent ritual burials or plain burials.
  7. Very basic tools over long periods were you’d expect better differentiation.
  8. Larynx not well places for rich language.
  9. Poor use of tools for dressing animals if at all.

There are a number of other things but I can’t think of them. Neanderthal just did not get it together well. Looks like retention, generalization and transfer of experience was not done well by Neanderthal.

The reason is unknown but the track he left suggests he was not just very well developed mentally. He was a strong force and could deal well with provisioning himself if game was around. I sort of think he was just pushed to the south on the last Ice Age and when things opened up again the competition from moderns coming from the south and was more than Neanderthal could compete with. Not that he was fighting/warring with moderns just out classed into oblivion (guessing). For example: When Neanderthal and Moderns are found together it seems like Moderns chose the better living sites. No fight for possession here just a bogus choice (again guessing).

I’m not sure about, “African diversity”. There are bunches of groups in Africa developing together and some independently and differently. Even for Homo erectus who is commonly thought to be the first to leave Africa 1 million years ago has been found outside of Africa 1.6 million years ago. There are even some finds in Pakistan of 2 million years old. 1.8 million years old finds in Java. I really don’t have a clue.

For sapiens the brain case is a big distinction. The earliest being archaic and sometimes called Homo heidelbergensis. My guess is they all probably crossed paths, archaic Homo sapiens, Homo sapiens and erectus. Some think these developed into a branch Neanderthal. ??

One thing that caught my attention was the inside of the brain case for Neanderthal. If I remember right its smooth where ours is ridged. I’ve never heard of an explanation of why this might be an advantage. It sounds silly but I all I could think of was

  1. The brain itself, for Neanderthal, may not have been so big (has a bit case though) and 2. pushing to get bigger causing ridges over time. Could the ridges be and advantage for holding the brain steady when moving or running? I don’t know but I’ve heard this mentioned but have never heard anyone expand on what this might be about.
    [Jois: I apologize for the interrupt]