A twenty-year long effort of a Illinois State University Professor of Anthropology is bringing a new understanding of human evolution to the forefront: Neantertals still live --in the DNA of modern Europeans. Dr.Fred Smith will travel to Tubingen Unniversity in Germany to share and advance his Assimilation Model theory, which offers another explanation of how Neandertals interacted with modern Homo Sapiens. Smith's theory, created in the late eighties is gaining a great deal of support, thanks to DNA findings between 2006 and 2010 when a group of researchers mapped most of the Neandertal genome. The theory suggests that instead of simply replacing and outcompeting Neandertals as is commonly believed, modern humans interacted with them. Smith says this interaction lives on today.
"Neandertals and modern Eurasians share somewhere --were talking about living Eurasians-- share between one and for percent of unique genetic material...."
Smith hopes the findings and new support for his model will create a more accurate less biased view of Neantertals than the popular "cave man" image.
"If you just looked at them anatomoically you wouldn't look at them and say, "Gosh! That's something really different from me," you might say, "That's a really interesting individual over there."
Smith says Neandertals share other similarities to modern humans including, burying their dead, antisocial behavior, and a set of genes allowing modern Homo Sapiens to create and use languages. Smith says this the full magnitude of these discoveries could change current understandings of race.
"The Neandertals were the aboringinal European race of Homo Sapiens. What we call modern humans evolved in Africa, were the African variety, and that African variety has now basically taken precendence everywhere. "
Smith says that could mean current scientific and social focus on physical differences that have occured only recently in human history --during the last 10,000 years-- such as differences in skin color, hair texture, and facial features may be misplaced.
A new edition of his book on the origin of modern humans, the Assimilation Model Theory, and recent discoveries supporting it, is due out in 2013.
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