Neanderthal Theory - any credibility?



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Sirunus
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05 Jun 2012, 6:48 am

I have an friend who has asperger's who seems to be convinced that he is a throwback to the Neanderthals. This is the site he gave me the link to:

Neanderthal Project

To me, the article came off as slightly racist, implying that we "hybrids" are genetically superior to pure homo sapiens living in sub-Saharan Africa (black people, in other words). In other words, the article seems to suggest that Western civilization owes its success to the Neanderthal genes white people inherited which gave them the edge over black people, and as the article says, "We hybrids dominate the planet, and have outpaced our pure cousins."

The article also makes a very questionable statement:

"If you want to know what a modern human looks like who doesn’t have any Neanderthal DNA, then look at the Sub-Saharan Africans. Everyone else is carrying between 1% and 5% Neanderthal DNA. This is a fact, and you’ll just have to find a way to deal with it. In fact, Europeans appear to be more closely related to Neanderthals in some portions of their genome than they are to modern Sub-Saharan Africans!"

Is it just me, or is this racist? But of course, saying something is racist does not disprove it.

Now, my friend is convinced that it is a proven fact that the Neanderthal genes the Eurasian population inherited are what causes autism and Asperger's. The fact that the Eurasian population have higher rates of autism and have Neanderthal genes makes him believe that he is a homo sapien and Neanderthal hybrid.

So, my question is, is this Neanderthal Theory taken seriously by the scientific community? If it's a fact that autism is caused by Neanderthal genes, wouldn't there be a scientific consensus? If there's any evidence for this theory, please let me know. Has it been more or less proven that Neanderthal genes caused autism and made white people dominate the planet? Or has my friend been smoking something? If it's nonsense, can you link me to any articles or essays destroying the theory?



jonny23
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05 Jun 2012, 7:13 am

I haven't seen any evidence that there is a link to Autism. There is however strong evidence to support many of us carry neanderthal DNA

http://lightyears.blogs.cnn.com/2011/07 ... heres-why/



McAnulty
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05 Jun 2012, 9:16 am

This is definitely not fact, it is a theory. There is no way to prove this. I don't think it's racist either, there are many genetic differences amongst different races, just because until recently we were all split off into our different corners of the world, exposed to different environments and passing down the same genes all the time. In the end we're all still human, but genetic differences amongst people from different places on the planet exist.
I can't find anything disproving this theory, but I can't find any proof that it is true either.



McAnulty
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05 Jun 2012, 9:35 am

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news ... l-dna.html

This article says we didn't breed with neanderthals



jonny23
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05 Jun 2012, 9:49 am

McAnulty wrote:
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/08/080812-neandertal-dna.html

This article says we didn't breed with neanderthals


Same guy, newer article says we did.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 141549.htm

"We can now say that, in all probability, there was gene flow from Neanderthals to modern humans," said the paper's first author, Richard E. (Ed) Green of the University of California, Santa Cruz.



McAnulty
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05 Jun 2012, 10:00 am

You're right. I saw that after!



jonny23
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05 Jun 2012, 10:05 am

McAnulty wrote:
You're right. I saw that after!


One thing they pointed out though is that even if it's true that we have 1% to 4% shared DNA they don't know if it actually has any effect. It's not evident yet if these areas have functional significance.



McAnulty
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05 Jun 2012, 10:07 am

Yeah, the whole autism aspect of this idea is very theoretical.



jonny23
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05 Jun 2012, 11:00 am

McAnulty wrote:
Yeah, the whole autism aspect of this idea is very theoretical.


I agree, I've seen nothing but anecdotal correlations about how they think neanderthals behaved and autistic behavior. It's not impossible that there is a connection but I believe also that there are no facts to support it.



deltafunction
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05 Jun 2012, 11:17 am

What this does not explain for me is why Autism diagnosis is on the rise.

If it were true that neanderthal genes in our DNA cause autism, then would not the reverse be true? The more humans breed with their fellow humans, the more the DNA would get washed out, so to speak. So autism traits would become less noticeable, or less dominant, than so-called "humanistic" traits (if it were true that Neanderthals are responsible for our autism). Since it's been eons since the neanderthals existed, and since our more modern human population is increasing exponentially, it would seem that the cause of autism being neanderthal dna would be unlikely.



jonny23
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05 Jun 2012, 11:29 am

deltafunction wrote:
What this does not explain for me is why Autism diagnosis is on the rise.

If it were true that neanderthal genes in our DNA cause autism, then would not the reverse be true? The more humans breed with their fellow humans, the more the DNA would get washed out, so to speak. So autism traits would become less noticeable, or less dominant, than so-called "humanistic" traits (if it were true that Neanderthals are responsible for our autism). Since it's been eons since the neanderthals existed, and since our more modern human population is increasing exponentially, it would seem that the cause of autism being neanderthal dna would be unlikely.


I know that some argue that the rise is because of better diagnosis and not an actual increase in autism
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46892046/ns ... 84zTsX4KU0

Also sense many people carry the DNA it is passed down and not "washed out"



deltafunction
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05 Jun 2012, 11:36 am

jonny23 wrote:
deltafunction wrote:
What this does not explain for me is why Autism diagnosis is on the rise.

If it were true that neanderthal genes in our DNA cause autism, then would not the reverse be true? The more humans breed with their fellow humans, the more the DNA would get washed out, so to speak. So autism traits would become less noticeable, or less dominant, than so-called "humanistic" traits (if it were true that Neanderthals are responsible for our autism). Since it's been eons since the neanderthals existed, and since our more modern human population is increasing exponentially, it would seem that the cause of autism being neanderthal dna would be unlikely.


I know that some argue that the rise is because of better diagnosis and not an actual increase in autism

Also sense many people carry the DNA it is passed down and not "washed out"


I agree about the diagnosis thing, though for the argument I was thinking if it were not true, as many people believe it would be on the rise.

But I'm still not convinced. I mean neanderthals were around what, 38,000 years ago? Would we not have already been a melting pot for those genes? And if so, why wouldn't everyone have it?

But one could argue that we were not a melting pot, take for example groups of people living in different regions of the globe than neanderthals. Well, how come there are autistics diagnosed in all cultures?

Anyways, something to think about. It's hard to argue against or for a theory with no sounds proof.



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05 Jun 2012, 11:42 am

I've noticed a lot of people try to prove or dismiss theories about autism causes in a black and white manner. "I did this and my kid was fine, so this doesn't cause autism." "Some people have these genes and they're fine, so those don't cause autism." It's pretty widely accepted that there is a large number of causes and interactions that lead to some people having it while others don't. The gene thing wouldn't explain the rise on it's own, (if there really is a rise, I don't even know, I've heard great debates on both sides), but that's because genes are only a piece of the puzzle. They've linked autism to tons of genes, but also all kinds of random things like prenatal vitamins, where people live, fevers during pregnancy, parental age and on, and on, and on. This theory wouldn't explain it because there is no one single cause.



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05 Jun 2012, 11:56 am

Well, there must be some truth to the environmental factor, as for some identical twins, one has autism and the other is NT. But I find it hard to believe that some physical substance could change the way so many of us think. I'm not saying it's not true, it's just hard to believe that it could also produce very beautiful results, as some autistic minds have contributed to society (take all the famous people who were speculated to have had autism). An environmental cause would suggest that this way of thinking is wrong.

Also, honestly, I think it's just another way to scare pregnant soon-to-be mothers, as we are already fond of doing, or add to the list of nonos for over-protective parents.

In my opinion, it would make more sense if an environmental impact was more in terms of social experiences in the developmental years. For example, did one have negative feedback when socializing, and so retreated even more, or did one have more positive feedback? Did the child have a meltdown at a young age because of socialization, or did they have no reason to meltdown?

Anyways, it would make more sense to me if the genes were what caused autism. Maybe they are recessive instead of dominant, so that would explain why it doesn't show up in all people with the genes. But since NTs can have autistic traits and still not qualify for a diagnosis, I believe that the answer is more complicated, and perhaps is a combination of different genes causing different traits that make up an autism diagnosis.



jonny23
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05 Jun 2012, 12:04 pm

deltafunction wrote:
But I find it hard to believe that some physical substance could change the way so many of us think.


Look up Toxoplasmosis



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