Neanderthals Essay

973 words - 4 pages

Neanderthals:An Underlying Secret                                                                                                6 


Neanderthals:An Underlying Secret 
Jesse J. Matheny 
Saddleback Community College 

Neanderthals:An Underlying Secret                                                                                                6 

When taking a look at our ancestors of the past, Neanderthals being the closest in 
relationship to modern humans,I ask myself the simple question: what was the cause of 
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 After our ancestors interbred, the diseases that 
followed were mainly tapeworm, tuberculosis, stomach ulcers, and types of herpes 
(Houldcroft,2016). With these types of diseases being common in our community, in a hunter 
gatherer community these diseases were fatal. These diseases made the neanderthals slow, not 
being able to catch their food, ultimately leading to food deprivation and extinction.  

Neanderthals:An Underlying Secret                                                                                                6 

A big part of our genetic makeup and natural selection is the ability to adapt to our 
geographical location. Neanderthals of Eurasia adapted to their climate and were able to prosper, 
but human exploration from Africa caused tropical infection amongst the neanderthals causing 
death, not adaption. This belief wouldn’t be similar to Columbus bringing disease to the 
Americas, but rather each small group of neanderthals had their own infectious disasters that 
thinned the group ultimately leading to their demise (Houldcroft, 2016).  
Research believed that disease was introduced through the development of agriculture 
production some 8000 years ago, but through the unraveling of DNA, infectious diseases are 
linked back as far as millions of years ago. While neanderthals lived in small groups ranging 
from 15 to 30 members, this allowed for gene flow to surface transferring bad mutations 
throughout the group with disastrous affects. Ultimately, extinction. With no hard evidence of 
transmission of infectious diseases between humans and neanderthals, many researchers believe 
with the time frame and geographical location, sex was occurring between the individuals. 
The biggest problem with the neanderthals was not being able to adapt to their African 
counterparts like the environment of Europe. Simon Underdown a researcher from Oxford 
Brookes University describes that, “helicobacter pylori, a bacterium that causes stomach ulcers, 
as a prime candidate for a disease that humans passed to neanderthals. Estimated that the 
diseases infected humans in Africa 88 to 116 thousand years ago, and arrived in Europe 52,000 
years ago. Recent evidence shows that neanderthals went extinct 40,000 years ago” (Underdown, 
2016). Another candidate is Herpes Simplex 2, which causes genital herpes. Since humans today 
share anywhere from 2 to 5 percent of neanderthal DNA, the herpes virus has the ability to jump 
from one hominin to another through saliva and genital fluids. 


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