Odd Skull Boosts Human, Neandertal Interbreeding Theory
Brian Handwerk for National Geographic News
August 2, 2007
A human skull from a Romanian bear cave is shaking up ideas about ancient sex.
The Homo sapiens skull has a distinctive feature previously found only in Neandertals, providing further evidence of interbreeding between the two species, according to a new study. The human cranium was found during World War II mining operations in 1942, in a cave littered with Ice Age cave bear remains. Recently the fossil was radiocarbon dated to 33,000 years ago and thoroughly examined, revealing the controversial anatomical feature. The otherwise human skull has a groove at the base of the back of the skull, just above the neck muscle, that is ubiquitous in Neandertal specimens but has never been seen in the remains of a modern human, argues study leader Erik Trinkaus, an anthropologist at
Writing in the August issue of Current Anthropology, Trinkaus and his colleagues say that the skull supports interpretations of other remains found in
Archaeological evidence shows that humans and Neandertals (often spelled Neanderthals) both lived in
According to Trinkaus, however, the fossil record yields a pretty clear picture of the early humans who first moved out of
But the story of the skull is not so straightforward. Eric Delson, a paleoanthropologist at
"[Individuals] may cross species boundaries in mating, and [in this case] we are defining the two different species by morphology—these are [all] people. People might see each other, for whatever reason, as potential mates ."But the genetic evidence is not in favor of hybridization, and this fossil does not convince me, nor do the several from
So could bigfoot be a product of some interspecies breeding? It is an interesting thought and a possible explanation. Maybe a whole new species evolved from the interspecies breeding and there are still remnants around.