By Natural Philosopher Mike Prestwood
Timeline Story

Neanderthal-Sapien LCA

Neanderthal-Sapien LCA

From Year 0 (BCE/CE): -440000
Post Date: 05/05/2024

NSLCA: The Neanderthal-Sapien Last Common Ancestor was likely Homo heidelbergensis or Homo antecessor.

Analysis: Before the discovery of Homo antecessor in the 1990s, Homo heidelbergensis was considered the primary candidate for the NSLCA due to its chronological and morphological position in the human lineage. The discovery of Homo antecessor, with its more modern-looking facial features, has intensified debates around the NSLCA’s identity. Recent scholarly speculation, influenced by the anatomical closeness of antecessor to modern humans and the larger brain of heidelbergensis, suggests a potential hybrid scenario where the NSLCA could represent a mix of traits from descendants of antecessor and contemporaneous heidelbergensis. This hybrid theory, while speculative, aligns with genetic evidence of interbreeding among Homo species.

Homo heidelbergensis first appeared in Africa around 770,000 to 650,000 years ago, while Homo antecessor emerged in Spain about 1.2 million years ago. If Homo antecessor is confirmed as our direct ancestor, this would imply that modern human features such as a flatter face and protruding nose may have evolved much earlier than previously thought, potentially as early as 1.2 million years ago. This scenario would also suggest complex migratory and evolutionary dynamics, possibly involving a back-migration of antecessor or its descendants into Africa, where the NSLCA would have emerged. This area remains a hotbed of research as new fossil discoveries continue to reshape our understanding of early human history.

 

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May 26, 2024 Edition
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