[DAY 65] Sapiens and Neanderthals

Keyword of today: interbreeding.

When homo sapiens migrated from Africa to Eurasia hundreds of thousands of years ago, they encountered homo neanderthalensis. As species do, they mated, and since sapiens and neanderthals were similar enough, their eggs fertile; thus, it is scientifically proven that humans today still have DNA passed down from homo neanderthals.

I came across this in Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari, and I got hooked when the author mentioned interbreeding and how people in Eurasia might carry traces that Africans don’t. I am not entirely sure of how to summarize what I watched, or if I understand it correctly, but I do believe this is really cool. The “facts” I encountered today also reminded me of my little knowledge of the world, and it did frustrate me quite a bit to think that I didn’t know this ’til this day.

Another thing about species and homo sapiens: it seems that our skins are different not only because of UVB radiations. According to “Why Europeans And Asians Evolved So Differently”, European diet, dated back to Neolithic Age, contained grains that have too little vitamin D that the body had to adjust to absorb a different source of sunlight: sun radiations. Changes in nutrition left people with adaptation in their body and specifically skin. Thus, groups of people such as Africans or Asians have more melanin in their skins, while European have little. If skin colors were a result of UVB, it would have happened long, long, long time ago because the sun has always been up in Africa (right?) and it is for sure colder in Europe. But that isn’t the case. ISN’T THAT SO COOL?

If you are reading this, please do go watch some videos on the matter. Trust me, it’s really, really cool. The two Youtube videos I recommend are Why Europeans And Asians Evolved So Differently and When We Met Other Human Species. I love the second video because I have always loved the Green brother because they are hella smart and funny.

With a lot of digging and researching, modern human have more understanding of the past. And I admire so much who devote their lives to this field. To see humankind ancestor traces back to a small group of people, I feel more at ease with God’s teaching, “to love thou neighbors.” I knew they are all brothers and sisters, but it has never occurred to me that we are all literally brothers and sisters in this way. And the Neanderthals and Denisovans our cousins. And how we have a little bit of their DNA in us that help us adapt and how without them we might not have survived. It’s mind-blowing to think that our strength shouldn’t be taken for granted, because humans aren’t strong in themselves. They are strong because they cared for other species, or so it seemed throughout our history. How do we care for species around us in the present day?

Published by Thi Le


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