View Full Version : Proto-Aurignacian mtDNA is Homo sapiens, not Neaderthal

Jean M
04-24-2015, 05:28 PM
40,000-year-old teeth suggest an ancient culture belonged to humans, not Neanderthals


"From 45,000 up to 40,000 [years], we have several cultures that suddenly appeared in Europe," says University of Bologna researcher Stefano Benazzi, co-author of a paper that appears today in Science. One of those cultures was the Protoaurignacian, which developed in southern Europe around 42,000 years ago. The Aurignacian culture that followed marked a turning point in modern humanity: among other things, it gave us the world's earliest known musical instruments, the earliest known wall art, and potentially the first representation of a human figure. Protoaurignacians themselves are known for making personal ornaments, small stone blades, and other things that are "quite typical of modern humans." But while their artifacts have been left behind, it's hard to conclusively prove that the Protoaurignacians actually were human.

In fact, only three remains have ever been recovered from known Protoaurignacian sites: a fragment of fetal bone from France and two teeth, found in different parts of northern Italy in 1976 and 1992. It was widely expected that they came from humans, Benazzi says, but they couldn't rule out the possibility that Neanderthals had managed to develop a strikingly modern culture. "It would mean that Neanderthals had exactly the same skill as modern humans," says Benazzi, and could weaken the theory that humans had survived by outcompeting them.

In order to test this, Benazzi and his team examined the two tooth samples. First, they checked the enamel of one against a range of newer human teeth. Neanderthal teeth have comparatively thin enamel layers, and even heavily worn down, the Protoaurignacian tooth was closer to human measurements. For the second tooth, they managed to extract mitochondrial DNA, which sits outside a cell's nucleus and is passed down only through the mother. Checked against the DNA of 54 present-day humans, 10 ancient modern humans, and 10 Neanderthals, along with another extinct species of human and a chimpanzee, it fell squarely within the modern human range.

No surprise to me.

J Man
04-24-2015, 10:22 PM
As is expected.

Jean M
04-27-2015, 06:25 PM
For the mtDNA results see http://www.anthrogenica.com/showthread.php?97-Genetic-Genealogy-and-Ancient-DNA-in-the-News&p=80916&viewfull=1#post80916