Neanderthals 'not close family' By Paul Rincon The Neanderthals were not close relatives of modern humans and represent a single species quite distinct from our own, scientists say. 3D comparisons of Neanderthal, modern human and other primate skulls confirm theories that the ancient people were a breed apart, the researchers report. Others claim Neanderthals contributed significantly to the modern gene pool. Details of the research are published in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "If we accept that Neanderthals were not the same species, what we're really saying is they did not contribute at all to modern human populations and in particular modern Europeans," co-author Dr Katerina Harvati of New York University, US, told BBC News Online Ancestral contribution Researchers collected data on 15 standard "landmarks", or features, on over 1,000 primate skulls. Computer software transformed this data into 3D coordinates for each skull and superimposed them on each other. Using statistical analysis, they compared differences between modern human and Neanderthal skulls with those found between and within 12 primate species. The results support the view that Neanderthals were indeed a distinct species. However, other researchers view Neanderthals as a sub-species or population of Homo sapiens that passed on genes to modern humans either by evolving into them or by interbreeding with them. Read the rest at BBC http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/3431609.stm Comment: Interbreeding with Neanderthals? This may be evidence of dimly lit stone age pubs (it would take a strong brew to make a hairy chested Neanderthal chick look attractive - and when they get that inebriated, even chimp and gorilla would be getting Cromagnon guys horny). -- Posted by Robert Karl Stonjek.