This has always been a fascinating topic of study for me, and unfortunately, since my university studies centered around biology of nature somehow I spent very little time on the evolution of humans.
Now personally, I have a lot of Neanderthal DNA. More than probably 90% of the world. That’s easily explained because most of my family comes from the Neander Valley and lived there up until 160+ years ago.
One thing I did learn in college is that the creation of a new species (diverting from the original) is only achieved when the offspring can no longer successfully reproduce with the origin species. Mate a horse with a donkey get an infertile mule. Technically it cannot mate with a horse or a donkey so it is considered a new species or is it? It cannot reproduce.
Anyways back to humans. If Neanderthals and Humans were different species how did they produce viable offspring? How am I, a modern human, carrying Neanderthal DNA? Humans and Neanderthals coexisted at some point in our history not so long ago, roughly 30,000 years.
There were in total 7 different Homo species, with Neadrathals being the closest to us. They were stronger and smarter (larger brains) source, they honored the dead, wore jewelry, had art, and used tools.
If a Human mates with a Neanderthal, and vise versa, which produces viable offspring that can interbreed between the two species shouldn't that make us the same species? Or are we talking about genetic hybrids? Than that would make me a different hybrid of human than let’s say someone without Neanderthal DNA, right?
But I am confused because someone without Neanderthal DNA could reproduce with me just as likely as they could a Neanderthal.
Dogs interbreed with different breeds but they are still a dog. They can breed with a wolf too Hmmm... This is were we see hybrids, sub species, genetic populations, etc. Since Wolf is the origin species of dog why don’t we see any other DNA from outside species in a dog?
Wolfs, dogs, coyotes, and jackals can all reproduce offspring with one another. Yet they are all different species, the result of their offspring is a genetic hybrid wolf dog, coy dog, etc so is it still a wolf? No. Then is it a dog?
So what the hell am I? I am genetically different than 90% of humans on this planet but I can breed with them.
Now I’m really confused. 🤣
Well I have no answers for these questions. Just thinking out loud.
Maybe @higgs can help me better understand.