Roots of Subspecieism
Modern Human Diversity
“Wherever Homo arose, and Africa is at present the most likely continent, he soon dispersed, in a very primitive form, throughout the warm regions of the Old World….If Africa was the cradle of mankind, it was only an indifferent kindergarten. Europe and Asia were our principal schools.” — Carleton Coon, The Origin of Races (Google Books)
Ethnic Europeans significant Neanderthal DNA
Modern Euros uniquely adapted
Chris Stringer, Financial Times, July 2019: “Some Neanderthal DNA… seemingly gave advantages in areas such as… environmental adaptation and were accordingly retained and even accentuated.”
Prof Clive Finlayson, a friend of Chris Stringer and director of the Gibraltar Museum explains (BBC Jan. 2019), “the bulky Neanderthals may not have been as suited as our long-distance running ancestors to chasing herds across the mammoth steppe… [however] they were probably better… at ambush hunting large animals at close quarters from cover.”
Spencer Wells, Journey of Man, (1:02): “The Ice Age was to cut the first Europeans off, eliminating any contact with the outside world. In isolation they developed distinctive traits. Their hair color changed; the shape of their noses changed; even their height. Today, people with European ancestry… look pretty different from our distant ancestors.”
The African Continent
“We do know that African populations derive some small fraction of their DNA, possibly as much as 5%… from archaic lineages that we haven’t discovered… there is some sign of some archaic lineage that’s contributed to some populations. What we don’t know is the identity of that lineage… It could be Naledi?”– Dr. John Hawks, lecture Oct 2017 Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison
According to Harvard professor of genetics David Reich, Africa has “the greatest human diversity in genetics in the world.” Genomics Prof. Sarah Tiskhoff agrees, “when studying African populations… you’re going to see they’re very genetically diverse within and between groups.” (UPenn lecture, Jan. 2020)
As human geneticist Robin McKie notes, “Neanderthal DNA is absent in people of African origins because they remained in our species’s homeland.” (The Guardian, 2018). However, very recent genetics studies suggest some mainly upper Continental Africa tribes like the Yoruba and Fulani might have tiny traces of Neanderthal, up to .3%. This came largely via introgression by back-migrating Euros with Neanderthal DNA. (Science Mag 2020)
Less clear are genetic markers from ghost populations in the Afro-genome. As genetics magazine Helix notes, “The genetics of Africa and a mysterious human population,” 2018: “Current research indicates that between 2-7% of the DNA in some modern African people may come from this unknown archaic human group.”
Svante Pääbo on a possible archaic mix: “I think there’s good reason to think that they mixed with other forms inside of Africa. There’s some indications of that in the genomes of present day Africans.” (UCTV 2018).
His colleague and friend, Pascal Gagneux, Dir. of the Center for Anthropology at UCD-San Diego, conference June 8, 2019 agrees: “They [Africans] do not have that 2% of Neanderthal. They have some other archaic introgression, which is super interesting.”
Òscar Lao, principal investigator at the National Centre for Genome Analysis (CNAG-CRG) Phys.org, 2019: “What has surprised us [on] genetic diversity found in African populations today, the presence… of an extinct archaic African population, with whom anatomically modern humans would have mixed,” he adds. This result indicates that not only were there archaic populations different from the sapiens lineage outside Africa… but that within this continent there were sub-populations with which anatomically modern humans who remained in Africa had offspring.”
The identity of the African admixture is still unconfirmed. But researchers seem to be closing in. Arun Durvasula and Sriram Sankararaman from the University of California in Los Angeles have described the ancestor as a “ghost species” or quite possibly Homo naledi a “small-brained hominin” on the “African plains 250,000 years ago.” (IFL Science)
But there’s another contender: “Homo heidelbergensis was a more advanced hominin living in Africa circa 200,000 years ago and a more probable contestant.”
Lindsay Barone of Cold Harbor Springs Inst. in NY explains (YouTube) that Heidelbergensis, Homo Naledia and Homo sapiens were all roaming around Africa at the same time 300,000 years ago. “About 325,000 years ago there were anatomically modern humans, there were Homo Heidelbergensis, and very soon after that a later species called Homo Naledi.”
Peter Frost (NatGeo) suggests, about 13% of the African genome comes from these archaic “paleo-Africans” who “lacked something modern humans had” putting them at a disadvantage. Frost writes this might explain the “limited capacity for symbolic thinking and social organization.”
Very recent fossil finds suggest “a little-brained shadow lineage was lingering on from a much earlier period,” at the same time Homo sapiens roamed the African plains.
Omer Gokcumen, prof. of biology at the Univ. of Buffalo believes “This unknown human relative could be a species that has been discovered, such as a subspecies of Homo erectus…” (BigThink.com 2018).
Gokumen has done extensive research on the “important mucin protein called MUC7 that is found in saliva.” What they found, “a group of genomes from Sub-Saharan Africa presented a variant of MUC7 that was extremely different to versions observed in all other modern human populations.” This strongly suggested “ancient hominim” introgression into modern Africans. (AncientNews.net, 2017)
Note – Homo erectus spread worldwide over 1 million years ago. Homo ergaster is considered by some to be the African branch of Erectus. Heidelbergensis is believed to have emerged from Ergaster/Erectus. (Smithsonian). Late Heidelbergensis is Homo rhodesiensas.
Dr. Lee Berger, Resident Explorer at National Geographic believes the admixture could be with “primitive… tiny brain” Homo naledi (NatGeo 2015), and adds moderns and archaics lived side-by-side and may even have interbred: “You can imagine how disruptive that might have been.”
The San Bushmen of the Kalahari
The Khoe-San of the Kalahari have separate lineage from other Africans. Spencer Wells (PBS National Geo) has called the bushmen (Khoisan) and the related click-speaking !Kung tribe in Namibia, the last remaining original humans. Wells says that of all the people on earth “the San are direct descendants of our oldest ancestors.”
David Reich agrees, “The Khoe-san are such a genetically distinctive people,” (phys.org).
British Science Journalist (NatGeo, The Atlantic) Ed Yong calls the Khoisan “one of the oldest human groups on the planet.”
Computational biologist Dr. Adam Siepel of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory puts the origins of the Khoisan as far back as 200,000 years ago: [they are] “quite an old population.” Siepel noted in a 2017 lecture that another genetics team, “estimated that a date for the split of the San [from] other African populations might be 260,000 years ago.”
Some such as Dutch science writer R.C. Camphausen have even suggested that these Africans may indeed be the only remaining pure-breed “100 percent Homo sapiens.”
Geneticist Dr. Shi Huang points to a study on SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) from 2010 covered by National Geographic: “All of the Bushmen had a version of the vitamin D receptor that is associated with denser bones and three of them have a variant linked to better sprinting performance. Some of the SNPs grant the carrier the ability to taste bitter plant chemicals…to avoid toxic plants. One of !Gubi’s variants could allow him to break down foreign substances or resist parasites.”
Archaic Introgression in Sub-Saharan Africans?
The Mbuti of Central Africa are also unique. A research paper in 2011, “Genetic Evidence for Archaic Admixture in Africa,” by multiple researchers affiliated with the Univ. of Arizona found:
“Interestingly, the Mbuti represent the only population in our survey that carries the introgressive variant at all three candidate loci… Given that the Mbuti population is known to be relatively isolated from other Pygmy and neighboring non-Pygmy populations, this suggests that central Africa may have been the homeland of a now-extinct archaic form that hybridized with modern humans.”
More from Lee Berger, John Hawks research paper 2017, “Homo naledi and Pleistocene hominins”: “the genomes of Hadza, Sandawe, Biaka, Baka, and San people bear evidence of a small fraction of introgression from highly genetically divergent populations that no longer exist.”
Joshua Akey’s team at Princeton claims to have found .3% Neanderthal DNA in the African population. However, as noted in the Tapei Times, Feb 2020: “It is not known whether all African populations, some of whose roots stretch into the deep past, share this Neanderthal heritage. KhoeSan (bushmen) and Mbuti (central African pygmy) populations, for instance, appear to have split off from other groups more than 100,000 years ago.”
A research paper issued in July, 2019 by Cindy Santander, Francesco Montinaro & Cristian Capelli, “Searching for archaic contribution in Africa,” cites a new “machine learning method, ArchIE” that found “SubSaharan populations derive 2–19% of their genetic ancestry from an archaic population that diverged before the split between Neanderthals and modern humans.”
The ArchIE method also led to another starling find, that “the archaic ancestry in Yoruba is best explained by admixture with an archaic ghost population more than the possibility of Neanderthal ancestry from back-migration or from admixture with an extant modern human population.”
There is also the mysterious and extremely rare AOO Haplo-type first discovered in an African-American man in South Carolina in 2013. It has since been found in 11 males in a tiny village in western Cameroon. (See Cameroon Research Project, 2017)
Denisovan DNA in modern Asians
East Asians have roughly 5% Denisovan DNA. According to ScienceMag.org: “Denisovans interbred with H. sapiens… present-day human genetic makeup reflects that varied background, as in modern Melanesian populations… 4 to 6% [of DNA is] derived from Denisovans.”
Additionally, many Asians and Melanesians likely have Homo Erectus DNA. According to Phys.org 2019, Erectus lived on in southeast Asia “as recently as 40,000 years ago… coexist[ing] with Homo sapiens.”
Chinese Palaeoanthropologists suggest this introgression could explain Asians’ “facial flatness” (Paleoanthropology.net). The discovery of the Dali skull in China’s Shanxi province has led many paleontologists to conclude [that] “Homo erectus must have shared DNA with Homo sapiens” (NewsWeek 2017).
Wu Xinzhi, a paleontologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) in Beijing is a leading advocate of this view. He asserts, “it’s increasingly clear that many Asian materials cannot fit into the traditional narrative of human evolution” (Scientific American 2016)
Indian Ocean, Australia and Polynesia
Very recent archaeological finds suggest other previously unknown sub-species in islands off the Asian continent, including Homo Florensiensas (Hobbit man).
Australian and New Guinean aboriginal lines can be traced back to archaic humans, 60,000 to 80,000 years ago. Svante Pääbo puts the New Guinean Denisovan percentage at fully 7%. (UCTV 2018). Pääbo and other geneticists believe they “may have [also] mated with a previously-unknown human species.” (SmithsonianMag.com Sep 2016)
“If you’re Australian, there’s a chance that the person you’re sitting next to [Aborigine] is up to 5%, a brand new kind of ancient hominin, that until two years ago, we never even knew existed. You or your neighbor could be part Denisovan.” — Dr. Jonica Newby, interviewing Svante Pääbo (ABC TV, Sep. 2012)
David Reich from Harvard Museum of Natural History lecture, Dec. 3, 2018: “The Denisovan genome matched the New Guineans much more often. This was definitely a real signal… we can estimate that New Guineans and some nearby populations have about 3 to 6% of their DNA derived from Denisovans. Actually quite distant cousins of Denisovans from Siberia separated by about 300k years.”
We are now learning that the Denisovans were an extremely varied species. And they may have lived on to as recently as 15kya in Papua New Guinea. Professor Murray Cox in New Zealand has identified 3 distinct populations of Denisovans.
“They are all very different from Neanderthals – and very different from each other. What we found means that the origins of modern people are far more diverse and complex than any of us had imagined before.” (Microsoft News, Apr 2020)
One branch seems to have admixed with mainland Asians. Another group interbred with Papuans: “the genomes of people from Papua New Guinea may be up to 5 per cent Denisovan…” NewScientist.com April 2020.
One particular population on isolated islands off of India is a complete mystery. Spencer Wells, Insitome Q&A, 2017: “I’d be surprised at this point to see a [DNA mapping] result that would completely turn everything on its head. I mean, maybe the Sentinelese…”
Tibetans: Homo sapiens-Denisovanos?
“Thinking that one race is “superior” to another is like saying that the brown bear is “superior” to the polar bear. The question makes no sense – each species adapts to its local environment. That doesn’t mean that they will flourish as well in each other’s environment though.” — Canadian Libertarian philosopher, YouTube and podcast broadcaster Stefan Molyneux, Twitter Dec. 2018