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Neanderthals and Humans: Genome-DNA and Fossils

In the homepage for Human Evolution? Science & Theology a subsection about unresolved scientific questions explains that "although most scientists... have reached a confident consensus about the major questions, there is disagreement about some details," including the shape of an evolutionary family tree.  For example:
• What is the genetic relationship between Homo neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens?  Most scientists agree that Neanderthals are not the ancestors and modern humans, that they were a separate species (or subspecies) having distinctive characteristics, with Neaderthals and modern humans branching off from a common ancestor about 400,000 years ago.  But when their living areas overlapped — for about 10,000 years, beginning around 40,000 years ago — was there any contribution from Neanderthal genes to the human genome?  Currently the data seems insufficient to answer this question with a high degree of confidence. And young-earth scientists dispute all of these dates and relationships because, as in many other areas, the known data seems inconsistent with a young-earth scenario of Recent Ancestors.  For more information about these debates and others, Neanderthals and Humans: Genome-DNA and Fossils. [which is the page you're now reading]

• note:   Three other controversial questions ask, "Which model of evolution-and-migration Single Origin (Out of Africa) or Multiregional is more accurate for modern humans?" and "If small hobbit-like creatures were a separate species (Homo floresiensis), where do they fit into the family tree of modern humans?" and "Did the history of human origins include Human Evolution with Common Descent?"


The rest of this page is rough and incomplete now, but will have more content later.

Here are some things to think about:
Ģ Currently, scientists are reconstructing the genome of Neanderthals, but this is technically challenging because the DNA is from fossils (but only a few) that are old (about 40,000 years) so significant deterioration has occurred.   /   Data about Neanderthal DNA, and its comparison with human DNA, can involve mitochondrial DNA (inherited only from mothers) or nuclear DNA (from both parents).

Until the IOU is fulfilled later, here are two notes-about-names and a few starter pages:

Ģ note: Two pairs of names infer different relationships: Homo neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens are two separate species, while Homo sapiens neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens sapiens are two subspecies of the same species, Homo sapiens.
Ģ Neanderthal is often called Neandertal, and both names are commonly used, but Neandertal is less common: in Google the number of pages (on Feb 11, 2009) was Neanderthal [2.1 million] vs Neandertal [0.7 million], and Neanderthals [805,000] vs Neandertals [105,000].

Many claim that Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens were separate non-interbreeding species, with no Neanderthal DNA in the genomes of modern humans:
Ģ by Ewan Callaway: Neanderthal genome already giving up its secrets & Implications of Neanderthal Genome Project & a links-page of articles from 2008, A Good Year for [research about] Neanderthals
Ģ Human-Neanderthal Hybrid is a Myth
Ģ Nuclear DNA Analysis Proves Neanderthals Were a Different Species (as confirmation of previous analyses of mitochondrial DNA)

Ģ Neanderthal Genome Project by Wikipedia, describes (in a semi-technical way) controversy about analysis of Neanderthal DNA, and the crucial question of interbreeding between Neanderthals and Modern Humans. (8 k)

Ģ Answers in Genesis Preliminary Report (brief) and a comprehensive report on Recovery of Neandertal mtDNA (1998) by Marvin Lubenow, casting doubt on mainstream evaluations of DNA evidence.   { In a young-earth scenario proposing that Adam & Eve are Recent Ancestors of all humans, a major question is how the genetic differences between humans and Neanderthals could arise in a few thousand years since Adam & Eve and, more recently, after the "population bottleneck" at The Flood of Noah:  Was a Neanderthal among the 8 humans on the ark? or did their lineage become extinct due to the global flood? }