Svante Pääbo at the Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany has released some findings that may well change our view of human evolution. In fact, this finding could prove to be one of the most important finds of this century.
What did he find? That non-African humans have Neanderthal DNA. New Scientist reports:
“Any human whose ancestral group developed outside Africa has a little Neanderthal in them – between 1 and 4 per cent of their genome, Pääbo’s team estimates. In other words, humans and Neanderthals had sex and had hybrid offspring. A small amount of that genetic mingling survives in “non-Africans” today: Neanderthals didn’t live in Africa, which is why sub-Saharan African populations have no trace of Neanderthal DNA.”
What are the implications of such a find?
No one knows exactly, but it certainly could push back the date for the evolutionary separation of Europeans and Asians from Africans. Some have speculated it might account for:
- the physical diversity of Europeans (hair color, eye color, etc.)
- brain adaptions that gave non-Africans certain survival advantages (e.g. higher IQs)
- the ability of non-Africans to survive in colder climates
Steve Sailer notes these Neanderthal genes “probably aren’t neutral or junk genes, which would tend to disappear over the last 1,000 or so generations. They are probably useful genes that give some Darwinian advantage or advantages in some environments.” Speculating on the cold-weather thesis, Sailer notes:
[These genes] might be cold weather adaptations. For instance, one reason slavery faded out quietly in Northern states after the American Revolution was that slaves weren’t all that profitable because their immune systems weren’t attuned to cold weather diseases. As I wrote in VDARE in 2003:
Indeed, as Brandeis historian David Hackett Fischer pointed out in his famous Albion’s Seed, these racial differences had an enormous impact on the history of America. He notes that the cold climate of colonial Massachusetts:
“proved to be exceptionally dangerous to immigrants from tropical Africa, who suffered severely from pulmonary infections in New England winters. Black death rates in colonial Massachusetts were twice as high as whites’ – a pattern very different from Virginia where mortality rates for the two races were not so far apart, and still more different from South Carolina where white death rates were higher than those of blacks. So high was mortality among African immigrants in New England that race slavery was not viable on a large scale, despite many attempts to introduce it. Slavery was not impossible in this region, but the human and material costs were higher than many wished to pay. A labor system which was fundamentally hostile to the Puritan ethos of New England was kept at bay partly by the climate.”
Whatever implications this finding may bring, it will probably underscore the fact that there are significant differences between Africans and non-Africans. The genie is out of the bottle.