Here's the intro to the contest, riffing off the bewildering soap opera of claims about the relationship between modern humans and Neanderthals, followed by the question, for a free copy of The Nature of Nature , tell us: Do you think we understand the human-Neanderthal relationship better than we did twenty-five years ago? In what ways? The responses here went down a range of paths, only some being on topic, perhaps due to the specificity of the question. Two book prizes are awarded,
I would say the Neanderthal and Denisovan genomes have changed the understanding of the Human-Hominid relationship. It appears humans interbred with them, and that some human populations have relics of this meeting in their genome. That some, but not all humans have these genes supports proposed migration patterns.
That sounds more like science than soap opera. We don’t know much but we can reasonably conclude these things. Also, he tried hard to keep the discussion on track, which is important for all of us. Co-winner is kairosfocus at 19,
The reasons for all the different diverse and contrary views you highlight –
In this version of the very long-running human evolution soap opera (Ewen Callaway, Nature News, 9 May 2011), we didn't kill the Neanderthals; they died before we got there. (Episode 4440). In a different episode, they were our squeezes and in-laws – which is probably why we killed them. Anyway, they weren't as stupid as they pretended, either.
. . . is quite obvious: we were not there, we have no reliable and generally accepted record form those who were there, and the evidence we do have is probably still far too fragmentary to produce a truly trustworthy and reliable account. Thus, our state of — let’s be honest — confusion.
So, if “understanding” is taken to hinge on credible, reliable, accurate knowledge — so that a misunderstanding is not properly an understanding — we do not properly understand the Neanderthals today, we did not truly understand them a quarter century ago, and we most likely will not properly understand them in another twenty or thirty years.
Pessimistic fellow that ;) – but he makes good points. Both of you need to be in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org, to make arrangements to have the prize mailed to your home. No matter what position you take on controversies around design, you will find someone in there you agree with.
Denyse O'Leary is co-author of The Spiritual Brain.