Nonhuman primate hybridization and the taxonomic status of Neanderthals



The present study examines the taxonomic status of Middle Paleolithic Neanderthals by comparing their observed minimum genetic divergence from Upper Paleolithic modern humans in Europe with that observed between macaque species from Sulawesi that are known to hybridize and fully intergrade in the wild. The genetic divergence, and differentiation between Neanderthals and Upper Paleolithic modern humans, as indicated by pairwise minimum genetic distances and FST values calculated from the estimated minimum genetic relationship (R) matrix derived from craniometric data, are significantly greater than those observed both between hybridizing and noninterbreeding Sulawesi macaque species, suggesting that mate recognition and the possibility of gene flow between Neanderthals and Upper Paleolithic modern humans might have been greatly reduced. These results support a species-level taxonomic distinction for the Neanderthals as suggested by proponents of the replacement model. Furthermore, assumptions regarding the monophyletic origin of modern humans from outside Europe are likely valid. Am J Phys Anthropol 115:157–166, 2001. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.