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16 April 2019

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Philip Fitzpatrick

I don't know whether the gene shows up in Australian Aboriginal populations but if it doesn't then that lends credence to the 15,000 year theory given that the Aborigines arrived in Australia 50-65,000 years ago via either or both Timor and New Guinea.

Chris Overland

I think that it should be apparent by now that the whole notion of "pure bred" races of humans is an enormous intellectual fraud.

There has been so much inter breeding between the various different species of hominid that the idea of a pure line of descent is fanciful in the extreme.

The truth is that we are all related in some way: it is just a question of following our lineage back far enough

This is, of course, not a realistic prospect in reality but it takes no great intellectual effort to imagine how all our different lines of descent must lead back to a tiny handful of small and very, very nervous proto-primates.

How much less complicated human affairs could become if only we could get over our various notions of exceptionalism.

Sadly, we cling tenaciously to our self serving myths and legends that supposedly "prove" how special we are. We will demonise and victimise others based upon such beliefs and even fight and die for them.

I think that a visiting intergalactic anthropologist would regard us as a very strange species of creature, being both exceptionally bright and amazingly stupid at the same time.

Hopefully, research such as that described in this article will help erode the pernicious folly of imagined racial superiority that afflicts so much of the world.

Garry Roche

With regard to Denisovans and Neanderthals, judging from the occipital lump on the back of my skull, (and perhaps my red hair) I myself am home to some Neanderthal genes.

There was a time when calling a person a ‘Neanderthal’ would be considered an insult. Nowadays however more people are aware that many Europeans and Asians have some ‘Neanderthal’ genes in their system, in contrast to Africans who generally have no Denisovan or Neanderthal genes.

In brief, Europeans and Asians did interbreed with Neanderthals and Africans did not.

Ironically if it were the opposite case and it was Africans who had interbred, then some white supremacists have probably claimed to be of ‘purer superior stock’!

Apparently, Tibetans, like many Melanesians, have traces of Denisovan DNA, and this in fact helps them to adapt to living at high altitudes.

What is also interesting is that whereas Andean Highlanders in South America have adapted to high altitudes by having more oxygen-carrying haemoglobin in their blood, Tibetans have adapted by having less haemoglobin in their blood.

Scientists generally believe that the Neanderthal and Denisovan genes survived in Europeans and Asians because these genes were useful health-wise for the climatic and environmental conditions that these populations were living in.

The presence of Denisovan genes in Melanesian peoples is not something to be embarrassed about. It is a simple recognition of the fact that, like Neanderthal genes in Europeans and Asians, these Denisovan genes helped Melanesian ancestors to survive and flourish.

Maybe I could blame my bad teeth on some Neanderthal gene!

Some interesting links:

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2014/07/tibetans-inherited-high-altitude-gene-ancient-human
https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/03/our-mysterious-cousins-denisovans-may-have-mated-modern-humans-recently-15000-years-ago

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