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Thread: comparing neanderthal vs.sapiens birth strategy

  1. #1 comparing neanderthal vs.sapiens birth strategy 
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    Since the chief evolutionary challenge has long been to deliver the largest possible brain through the birth canal, with tight compromises (and competing interests between mother, father, and offspring), I'd like to read others' ideas about our ancestors' birth strategies.

    It seems to me that neanderthals got their big brains born by a snout-first strategy, so the extended cranial volume tapered back and tucked into the nape of the neck during birth. Modern humans in contrast birth crown-first so the extra volume often results in newborns with "cone head" moulding. I think the jaw provides evidence of head position during birth: we see the neanderthal jaw uncharacteristically modest for their skeletal robustness. A snout-first birth constrains jaw length. Meanwhile sapiens are free to have long chins, for their chins are tucked down and don't widen the passage at all. Indeed some of us have very long chins and are born almost with the back of the head leading... just the opposite of neanderthal (and all other mammals I can think of).

    If there is some truth to the above, it presents a puzzle to the hypothetical breeding between neanderthals and maybe-compatible hominids that employed a crown-first strategy, because presumably the birth tolerances in any one species would have been (as now) exquisitely narrow. To mix divergent strategies in one generation may not have been survivable for mother, or baby. Perhaps only neanderthal mothers could survive mixed births... so that successful breeding only came of homo sapiens fathers... or the other way around? Would that appear in the DNA evidence? Also, would neanderthal culture be better or worse in cases where adoption and wet-nurse is necessary (because the mother died from childbirth)?


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  3. #2  
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    Europeans have about 4% neanderthal DNA. That would not be possible if only neanderthal woman were able to bear mixed children. Also when you consider that sapiens woman bear different sized babies, I can't see where your tight birth canal theory even warrants any consideration. Also, if you want to talk about any kind of human as having snout births I think you should provide some supporting evidence that this in fact does happen.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong View Post
    If there is some truth to the above, it presents a puzzle to the hypothetical breeding between neanderthals and maybe-compatible hominids that employed a crown-first strategy, because presumably the tolerances in any one species would have been (as now) exquisitely narrow. To mix divergent strategies in one generation may not have been survivable for mother, or baby. Perhaps only neanderthal mothers could survive mixed births... so that successful breeding only came of homo sapiens fathers... or the other way around? Would that appear in the DNA evidence? Also, would neanderthal culture be better or worse in cases where adoption and wet-nurse is necessary (because the mother died from childbirth)?
    Not a single modern human alive today is the product of a single hominid line/population though. Whatever hominids mixed with each other, none of those individual hominid lines/populations exist anymore, only the crosses survive/survived and this had to be the case early on because every human alive today is a mix of multiple hominid lines/populations.

    The eurocentric and afrocentric ideology that is so prevalent, and which stops and destroys proper understanding and thought, really needs to be discarded from thought and mind inorder to understand human evolution and modern human origins. We, homo sapiens, are the product of multiple hominid lines/populations from eurasia and africa. The mix and mixes live on, everything alse has died off.
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  5. #4  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bad Robot View Post
    Europeans have about 4% neanderthal DNA. That would not be possible if only neanderthal woman were able to bear mixed children.
    Does not follow. Moreover there are modern examples of populations owing a genetic input to one sex or the other: look at any formerly isolated nation where foreign troops were stationed - the blue eyed Okinawans owe those genes exclusively to American grandfathers. Or consider modern cattle, the global cow population routinely fertilized by bull sperm selected in Spain. Or any species where the males - not females - typically leave their herds to seek mates elsewhere.

    sapiens woman bear different sized babies, I can't see where your tight birth canal theory even warrants any consideration
    Tell that to the 30% of North American mothers who had c-sections. Tight birth canal isn't my theory.

    Although the neanderthal pelvis differs significantly from modern humans', with the twists and turns a large head must navigate being "more primitive", neanderthal births are thought to be no less difficult than ours. And their brains were actually larger. Presumably, as with moderns, the size, shape, position, and ability to deform, of birth canal and baby's head is exquisitely related... so as to deliver the largest possible brain. I'm proposing that to mix two finely balanced birth strategies will not yield an equally perfect arrangement... the survival rate will be lower. I don't know yet whether sapiens or neanderthal mothers were better equipped for mixed birth. I hope to learn that through this thread.

    Obviously I can't provide fossil evidence of neanderthal head orientation during birth. If you accept that hominid heads will always take the path of least circumference, and then look at a neanderthal skull... bearing in mind their babies have disproportionately small faces.... if you can't see it then use a ruler!

    Quote Originally Posted by gonzales56
    Not a single modern human alive today is the product of a single hominid line/population though...
    Yer kinda beating a corpse. I'm investigating how populations interbred; you're arguing that they interbred. Move forward please.
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    The following Nova series is a great program about neanderthals. If you can ever watch it, it will change most of what you think you know about neanderthals. It's one of the better Nova presentations I've seen.

    NOVA | Decoding Neanderthals video 53 minutes
    Last edited by Bad Robot; June 26th, 2013 at 06:05 PM.
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    Looks like a dramatic reenactment featuring impolite societies. I want NOVA to do one about how neanderthals reacted to the relatively huge cocks of sapiens men.
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    Pong, there is a known y chromosome lineage, that is alive today, whos most recent common ancestor with others is, at a minimum, over 300,000+ years ago. What this most likely means is that some neandertal man, or the son of that neandertal man, at some point in time was large, in charge and having his way with a population outside his own.

    As more and more modern dna is obtained and sequenced, more answers will be known but, as of now, it is clear that breedings occurred and the offspring thrived from both male and female neandertals.
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    Quote Originally Posted by gonzales56 View Post
    Pong, there is a known y chromosome lineage, that is alive today, whos most recent common ancestor with others is, at a minimum, over 300,000+ years ago. What this most likely means is that some neandertal man, or the son of that neandertal man, at some point in time was large, in charge and having his way with a population outside his own.
    So, neanderthal man +1.

    I want to place a bet based on supposed mating, birth, and childrearing scenarios, and then watch the chromosomal scoreboard fill up. Problem is, I don't know enough about sexual and cultural differences between these populations to guess either way. What this thread is for.
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    What if the child's genes determine which way their heads will come out? Maybe the same Neanderthal mother might bear one child snout first and another child crown first?



    Another possibility is that only those mixed children lucky enough to have small chins were born to Neanderthal mothers. While only those mixed children lucky enough to have properly shaped crowns were born to Sapiens mothers.

    The thing about mixed reproduction is you can get either parent's genes.

    That said.... I find it hard to believe that Sapiens males would have wanted to breed with neanderthal females.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    What if the child's genes determine which way their heads will come out? Maybe the same Neanderthal mother might bear one child snout first and another child crown first?



    Another possibility is that only those mixed children lucky enough to have small chins were born to Neanderthal mothers. While only those mixed children lucky enough to have properly shaped crowns were born to Sapiens mothers.

    The thing about mixed reproduction is you can get either parent's genes.
    I reckoned 1st generation babies would have blended traits, at least concerning the general shape of their skeletons. But you might be right. One who knows more about genetics could answer our question.

    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    I find it hard to believe that Sapiens males would have wanted to breed with neanderthal females.
    Maybe those obese mamma statuettes served to make real girls seem pretty in contrast (I take the brutal view that they were trade tokens, but that's another topic). Seriously, attraction is unnecessary given a lifestyle of huddling together for warmth in a cramped hole. You could scarcely have a wet dream without somebody getting pregnant.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    What if the child's genes determine which way their heads will come out? Maybe the same Neanderthal mother might bear one child snout first and another child crown first?



    Another possibility is that only those mixed children lucky enough to have small chins were born to Neanderthal mothers. While only those mixed children lucky enough to have properly shaped crowns were born to Sapiens mothers.

    The thing about mixed reproduction is you can get either parent's genes.

    That said.... I find it hard to believe that Sapiens males would have wanted to breed with neanderthal females.
    You could have a point if they really looked like these pictures of female neanderthals.

    neanderthal female - Bing Images

    But then who knows for sure what they looked like? I've read that sapiens out numbered the neanderthals 10 to 1 and if that's so all those good looking sapien women must have looked very good the neanderthal men.
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    Are we talking about a French whore type Homo sapien compared to a monogamous Neanderthal, a loose, promiscuous Neanderthal and a monogamous Homo sapien or just your average, everyday variety of both species?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by gonzales56 View Post
    Pong, there is a known y chromosome lineage, that is alive today, whos most recent common ancestor with others is, at a minimum, over 300,000+ years ago. What this most likely means is that some neandertal man, or the son of that neandertal man, at some point in time was large, in charge and having his way with a population outside his own.
    So, neanderthal man +1.I want to place a bet based on supposed mating, birth, and childrearing scenarios, and then watch the chromosomal scoreboard fill up. Problem is, I don't know enough about sexual and cultural differences between these populations to guess either way. What this thread is for.
    The hominid ancestors of ours that neandertals bred to in order to create us swifly became extinct. Our neandertal ancestors lived on much longer than them but, they too became extinct. What we had was a population of mixed hominids (Us, modern humans) living with and around one of our hominid ancestors (the Neandertals) for thousands and thousands of years. The cultural differences could not have been that different between Us, atleast not at first or over many thousands of years.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong View Post
    I don't know enough about sexual and cultural differences between these populations
    Quote Originally Posted by gonzales56 View Post
    The cultural differences could not have been that different between Us, atleast not at first or over many thousands of years.
    Let's investigate this anyway.

    We have some clues about how each species regarded life and death: We know that sapiens were cannibals - the evidence thus far shows cannibalism was practically universal. Meanwhile though neanderthals were thuggish fighters, their remains show zero evidence of cannibalism. We also know neanderthals - not sapiens - buried their dead with care. Apparently neanderthals remained emotionally attached to the corpses of their loved ones. Assuming that sapiens also loved as much, one wonders how they squared love with eating grandma's forearm or dropping her carcass down a ravine. I speculate they had already developed a concept of spirit - such that a "person" was something more than and apart from the physical body... the body being a kind of vessel you could dispose of. This idea of spirit would compliment the more sophisticated social interactions sapiens must have had, with their larger groups and diverse use of resources. When identity extends beyond the body, you can have interesting hierarchies and duties within a group. Since neanderthals lived in relatively small, isolated family groups (comparable to Inuit) they needn't tackle long term arrangements, like "what's going to happen to my land and my children after I die".

    OK if the above is true, we can make some guesses about sapiens-neanderthal relations including family relations, that affect breeding:

    1) Neanderthals were easily duped and swindled by their socially savvy neigbours. For example a homo sapiens freeloader might contrive to go into a neanderthal man's hut, wherein he knows the bored daughters are. On the other hand, a sapiens woman might have more freedom of partners than her neanderthal husband(s) know.

    2) Neanderthals were probably horrified by sapiens cannibalism. This would make them view (in their worldview) intermarriage as a death sentence. If neanderthals had any folklore at all, their greatest tales must have been of boogeyman cannibals who live beyond the forest. This creates a dynamic where sapiens may court neanderthals, but the latter generally run away. A man of any species is less inclined to fear any female, so this showstopper doesn't apply to sapiens women joining neanderthal households.

    3) Sapiens probably valued the physical practicality of neanderthal companions. A neanderthal hunter would be an unique asset, as would a neanderthal wife for her handiwork (like, who else can craft a flute, or darn a blanket entirely with her own hair?)... but the social naivety of these people would lock them into "blue collar" status in the hierarchy. If much of the breeding occurs via harems, them it's doubtful neanderthal men would be getting much.

    4) Mothers often died shortly after childbirth, so wetnursing would be at least as common as among chimpanzees. In this case the adopting mother sacrifices her fertility so long as she's nursing another woman's baby. I can't say for sure which species in a mixed group would usually get this role, but presumably it would go to down-to-earth neanderthals if sapiens women had smarter ambitions. As a reproductive strategy, having another species rear your offspring is total pwnage. And if it renders them infertile at the same time, it's genocidal.


    I should add to (4) that neanderthal children grew significantly faster than sapiens children, and probably reached sexual maturity years earlier. This means that neanderthal women produced more - or richer - milk. It applies to (4) because nursing sapiens are less able to feed neanderthal or mixed babies. Also neanderthals would have fully developed breasts when they are really children psychologically by modern or contemporary sapiens standards. And a hairy broad-shouldered neanderthal might still be an immature mama's boy in years.


    Judging by modern comments, physical attraction in either species is dominated by gracility of females. Gracility is a sapiens trait, so: gracile sapiens females are sexy, robust neanderthal females are ugly; gracile sapiens males are alright, and robust neanderthal males are alright. Is that it? I'm curious to know how modern women like the tall statures and prominent dinks of sapiens vs. the rugged build of neanderthals. I think it fair to guess one sex of one species would be most attractive to all, in the same way pre-colonial people worldwide regarded relatively paler skin and taller stature as noble.
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