Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Sex Partners of Our Ancestors!

An interesting speculation about our roots:

Human evolution is looking more tangled than ever. A new genetic study of nearly two thousand people from around the world suggests that some of our ancestors bred with other species of humans, such as Neanderthals, at least twice.

"The researchers suggest the interbreeding happened about 60,000 years ago in the eastern Mediterranean and, more recently, about 45,000 years ago in eastern Asia," Nature News reports from the annual meeting of the American Society of Physical Anthropologists in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

That conclusion is based on a study of over 600 genetic markers, called microsatellites, sequenced in nearly 100 different populations.

This is the bit I found very funny, though:

True, Neanderthals are the likeliest contenders for our ancestors' sexual partners, but they aren't the only ones.

What do you usually call the sexual partner of your grandmother? Your grandfather, right? Sure, she could have had other sexual partners, but the article talks about the ones which left genetic markers.

That means our ancestors, too, you know, not just the sexual partners of our ancestors.

The reason for the funny framing there is that the Neanderthals have had very bad press and nobody really wants to have them among the ancestors. Though I quite like the idea.