Friday, May 07, 2010

Mainstream Science Rediscovers Neandertal (Neanderthal) Man and Surprise : It is us !

Neandertal is a location in Germany and I have been there. The popular spelling Neanderthal is incorrect. But, that is a minor matter. The Neandertal Genome right now is a blockbuster story, as headlined by the New York Times, Signs of Neanderthals Mating With Humans.

But first, let us ask a serious question. What in world is wrong with a good deal of the people in mainstream science, especially those in the humanities-related professions? Is your average alleged "mainstream scientist" just a well-educated but otherwise uncritical and unthinking "yes man" running like a lemming to the sea blindly following whichever theory or professor in authority happens to be in vogue at the moment??

The above question has surfaced again as relates to "new" genetic research findings just published in Science magazine concerning Neandertal Man in A Draft Sequence of the Neandertal Genome. The team of researchers under the direction of Svante Paabo at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, but involving numerous universities throughout the world, relate findings which -- totally contrary to the established faith in mainstream science -- now suggest that Neandertal Man did not just "die out", never to be seen again, but in fact left significant genetic traces in our modern human heritage, as normal logic would have expected. The Abstract to the May 7 publication provides:
"Neandertals, the closest evolutionary relatives of present-day humans, lived in large parts of Europe and western Asia before disappearing 30,000 years ago. We present a draft sequence of the Neandertal genome composed of more than 4 billion nucleotides from three individuals. Comparisons of the Neandertal genome to the genomes of five present-day humans from different parts of the world identify a number of genomic regions that may have been affected by positive selection in ancestral modern humans, including genes involved in metabolism and in cognitive and skeletal development. We show that Neandertals shared more genetic variants with present-day humans in Eurasia than with present-day humans in sub-Saharan Africa, suggesting that gene flow from Neandertals into the ancestors of non-Africans occurred before the divergence of Eurasian groups from each other."
But, in fact, the influence of Neandertals is surely far greater on modern man  than the above abstract suggests, especially for the dawn of modern man in Europe and western Asia.  We need only to examine a National Geographic News article of October 25, 2007 by Brian Handwerk titled Some Neandertals Were Pale Redheads, DNA Suggests, which points to the Neandertal DNA test results of Carles LaLueza-Fox of the University of Barcelona, whose team:
"[F]ound an unknown mutation in a key gene called MC1R.

Also present in modern humans, the gene regulates a protein that guides the production of melanin, which pigments hair and skin and protects from UV rays.

Variations in this gene's sequence limit melanin production in people with pale skin and red hair, although the particular mutation found by the researchers is not known to occur in modern humans.

The team tested the gene in living cells to see what effect the previously unknown variant would have had on the Neandertals who carried it. The test tube experiment showed that the variant suppressed the production of melanin, and thus likely gave the Neandertals who carried it red hair and pale skin."
Handwerk also has an article at National Geographic News on Odd Skull Boosts Human, Neandertal Interbreeding Theory where he writes:
"A human skull from a Romanian bear cave is shaking up ideas about ancient sex.

The Homo sapiens skull has a distinctive feature previously found only in Neandertals, providing further evidence of interbreeding between the two species, according to a new study....

Recently the fossil was radiocarbon dated to 33,000 years ago and thoroughly examined, revealing the controversial anatomical feature.

The otherwise human skull has a groove at the base of the back of the skull, just above the neck muscle, that is ubiquitous in Neandertal specimens but has never been seen in the remains of a modern human, argues study leader Erik Trinkaus, an anthropologist at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri."
Accordingly, there is far more yet to be found as concerns the relationship of Neandertal man to modern humans, especially in Europe and western Asia, you can be sure.

So why have the majority of mainstream scientists and, unforgivably, the mainstream news media, been comfortable with accepting the position that seemed the most illogical, i.e. that the Neanderthals died out without leaving a trace? I presume that this must be either a kind of Rorschach test into the minds of many of those professing to be independent scientists, or it shows that many scientists are merely "followers" and not independently-thinking researchers. Similarly and unfortunately, much of the news media has merely a parrot function.

At LexiLine -- the discussion group on the History of Civilization -- I wrote in the year 2005 as follows in connection with my thoughts on Human Migration and the Rh Blood Protein:
"It is true that the current Neanderthal discussion is vexing. What I myself have seen written about the Neanderthals in past and present writings seems mostly to consist of overly broad conjectures based on very little evidence. I am of the impression that neither laymen, nor the news media, nor even mainstream scientists know enough about this yet. See in this regard also Michael P. Germano and his posting on Neanderthals Again? Has the Media Got It Right?

What is significant is the geographic area in which we have thus far found Neanderthal remains, which largely corresponds to what we would today call Europe. See http://anthro.palomar.edu/homo2/mod_homo_2.htm

A number of years ago, before it became fashionable, I suggested that humans formed from an interbreeding of two primate groups, based upon blood types. See http://www.lexiline.com/lexiline/lexi9.htm, see in this regard also http://www.dadamo.com/wiki/wiki.pl/Related_blood_group_factors_in_animals where it is written:
"In the ABO blood group system, humans and chimpanzees both have A blood group antigens, but the DNA nucleotide sequences are different. The differences are not minor.
Surprisingly, humans and gorillas both have blood group B, and their DNA nucleotide sequences are pretty much identical, with only minor differences."
However, I would imagine that such interbreeding, if it occurred, would have to have taken place before Man arrived in Europe. Indeed, where the territories of gorillas and chimpanzees in Eastern Africa meet is where we find the first evidence of human skulls. How the Neanderthals fit into this picture is still anybody's guess and will ultimately have to be decided by deciphering their human genome, as is being done."
You don't find any mainstream scientists quoting my work because they only quote people they know, whether they be right or wrong, the main thing being that they are considered "authorities" in their field. The "correctness" of the science of such authorities is beside the point.

However, I am at least gratified to read at BBC that one of the people, John Hawks, who I sometimes read for his apparent openness of mind in this field, is quoted at the BBC in Neanderthal genes 'survive in us' as follows:
"John Hawks, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US, told BBC News: "They're us. We're them. ""
At his john hawks weblog Hawks has a longish posting titled "Neandertals Live!" which is well worth reading to consider some of the new fascinating issues beyond the normal news hype.

FTC Complaints Filed Against Facebook Against Policies Which Have Drawn Criticism by Consumer Groups

Douglas MacMillan for Bloomberg at BusinessWeek.com in Facebook Policies Draw Criticism by Consumer Groups (Update2, which Adds FTC comment in seventh paragraph) writes:
"Recent changes at Facebook “violate user expectations, diminish user privacy, and contradict Facebook’s own representations,” said Marc Rotenberg, who runs the Electronic Privacy Information Center, one of 15 groups that complained about Facebook in a filing with the Federal Trade Commission late yesterday."
We agree that Facebook Inc. has greatly overstepped permissibile bounds and that new privacy laws in the United States are essential to counteract a stream of negative privacy developments in social networking.

Read the whole posting by MacMillan here.

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