Can humans be divided ito subspecies?
Likewise when you talk about subspecies of finches with different kinds of beaks, the one kind can actually do things which the other cannot; no such division exists amongst humans.
I've been looking into Svante Pääbo recently and he says that sapiens and neanderthalensis could inter-breed and produce fertile young despite being different species.
Scientists have discovered the remains of a group of Neanderthals in northern Spain who were butchered and eaten by a group of local cannibals, according to research presented at the Royal Society in London.
A cache of bones which had clearly been cracked open using tools has been analysed in a painstaking study over the past 13 years.
First discovered deep inside the El Sidron cave system in 1994, the bones had been preserved for 51,000 years and have now been analysed using modern-day CSI forensic techniques.
According to reports in the Sunday Times, Carles Lalueza-Fox of the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Barcelona told the Society the slaughtered group included three children aged from two to nine, three teenagers and six adults.
“They appear to have been killed and eaten, with their bones and skulls split open to extract the marrow, tongue and brains,” he said.
“All had been butchered. It must have been a big feast.”
Dr Lalueza-Fox said the bone pile likely washed through a sinkhole from a rocky shelter above, eventually settling in the small alcove of the cave system where they were found.
This meant they were kept in a condition unlike almost any other Neanderthal remains, and proved a perfect snapshot of a single, deadly clash, likely between two local gangs.
The tools found at the site of the slaughter came from a few kilometres away, Dr Lalueza-Fox said, suggesting their fellow early human attackers were probably also their neighbours.
Finally, scientists proposed a theory for the motive behind the attack – and a simple one at that.
Unlike the earliest anatomically modern humans, who coped with periods of food shortage by joining forces in large, efficient groups, Neanderthals tended to gather in small family gangs of around 10-12.
When times were tough in winter, this meant they had to resort to extreme measures.
Dr Lalueza-Fox said: “I would guess they were killed in winter when food was short. There is no evidence of any fire so they were eaten raw immediately and every bit of meat was consumed. They even cut around the mandibles of the jaw to extract the tongues.”
I should think, gunga, that most people of delicate Christian sensibilities will find that post quite distasteful.
Pharyngula Evolution, development, and random biological ejaculations from a godless liberal
Neandertals were monsters!
by PZ Myers
Danny Vendramini is a man with a vision…but absolutely no knowledge or competence. He has invented out of whole cloth a bizarre hypothesis that Neandertals were super-predators who hunted modern humans for food and sex. To support this weird contention, he builds up a tissue thin set of speculations, all biased towards this idea that Neandertals were giant, hairy brutes who looked like bipedal chimpanzees, and that were intent on raping and eating people.
If it sounds like the plot for a cheesy SyFy channel horror movie, you shouldn’t be surprised: Vendramini is not a scientist, but he is a “theatre director, TV producer and award-winning film director and scriptwriter“. He has no training in comparative anatomy, ecology, or evolutionary biology, and it shows.
He has written a book titled Them+Us. Here’s the promotional video. Prepare to simultaneously laugh and stand aghast at the abuse of science.
I’m just going to take apart one claim out of this mass of nonsense. He commissioned “one of the world’s foremost digital sculptors”, Arturo Balseiro, to reconstruct a Neandertal skull to meet his requirements. Poor Balseiro! He’s not going to be well regarded in scientific circles after selling out this badly.
One of his hilarious claims is that all other reconstructions have been biased because they’ve been done to make Neandertals look human — but, don’t you know, Neandertals are primates, so they should be made to look like other primates.
Contemplate that last sentence. Humans are apparently not primates, and the analog for reconstruction should not be modern humans, their closest relative, separated by a mere 100,000 years, but a random gemisch of miscellaneous apes and monkeys, separated from Neandertal for over 6 million years.
To support this unlikely comparison, he superimposes a Neandertal skull on the profile of a chimpanzee, and declares that they fit perfectly.
There are a few problems with this reconstruction. To get the slope of the skull’s face to align with that of the chimpanzee, he has completely ignored the position of the foramen magnum, at the base of the skull. In the image to the right, the Neandertal’s spine would be erupting out the front of his trachea. Note also the little details, like this orientation requiring that the chimp’s ears be yanked down to be coming out of his neck, and how the chimp’s neck has to be mostly filled with the bowl of the occiput. It doesn’t fit. It doesn’t fit at all.
You can also look at a chimpanzee skull and compare it to that of a Neandertal (strangely, an obvious comparison that he doesn’t bother to make on his web page). They don’t look anything alike, except in the general sense that they’re both apes.
But ignore all that!a TV producer knows better.
The Neandertal skull above is actually the La Ferrassie specimen, the very same individual Vendramini uses to reconstruct his version of a Neandertal. And here it is, in all its ridiculous creature-feature glory.
After all that complaining about how those scientists impose their human biases on all the other Neandertal reconstructions, Vendramini just decides on the basis of no evidence at all that they had to have been as hairy as a gorilla, with cat’s eyes because they hunted at night.
It’s all ludicrous, pseudo-scientific bullshit.
Rob Gargett ("Subversive Archaeologist" notes that if you place the skulls of a human, a lion, and a Neanderthal together, the two which have anything in common are those of the lion and the Neanderthal: