I am impressed that theÂ BBC wrote a fairly technical article about the sequencing of a NeanderthalÂ genome. But I wish I could read the original study to see if it merits the focus on these two points:
- “they say they can find no evidence that this ancient species ever interbred with modern humans”
- ” our evolutionary cousins may well have been able to speak as well as us”
I bet they also didn’t find evidence that Neanderthals had not invented food processors and played chess.
Since Neanderthals lived side by side with modern humans in Europe for many thousands of years, it has been speculated that we may have inherited some Neanderthal DNA in our genome today, thanks to interbreeding.
But Professor Paabo’s team have found no evidence for this.
The lack of evidence that they could not speak is hardly much better.
But the preliminary results suggest that Neanderthals shared these same variations.
“There is no reason to believe they couldn’t speak like us,” said Prof Paabo.
“But of course there are many other genes involved in speech and language, so there are many more studies to be done.”
Seriously though, I wonder how one would distinguish between a gene that we had in common and a gene that had been transfered through interbreeding.