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The Extinction of Neanderthals Based on Evolutionary Forces

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Neanderthals are extinct members of the homo neanderthalensis species (Wong 99). They lived on the European continent about 20,000 to 40,000 years ago. The Neanderthals are very similar looking to humans in their physical appearance. They are even considered to be humans, before we humans came along. When we humans are compared to Neanderthals we are considered to be modern humans. The extinction of Neanderthals could have been caused by many reasons. But scientists believe that the cause of extinction is due to evolutionary forces. There are a few evolutionary forces that may have taken place in the extinction of the Neanderthals. But if we, modern humans, are still alive wouldn’t the species that are similar to us also be alive? This means that the Neanderthals were different from modern humans and evolutionary forces had a role to play. Modern humans and the Neanderthals came from the same linage. Humans did not develop from the Neanderthal. The Neanderthals weren’t studied until a skull was found in Germany (Wong 99). They were classified as a whole different species because of their structural differences. But it turns out that their differences were not so major at all. Compared to the early modern European, Neanderthals had a receding forehead, strong brow ridge, and no chin. The early modern European had steeper forehead, delicate brow ridge, and a chin (Wong 100). The Neanderthals adapted to their environment. An example would be their big bodies that were built as insulation in the severe colds. Although the Neanderthals had a huge skull, their thinking capacity was little to none when compared to the modern humans (Mellars 539). Though this may explain the similarities and differences between the two species none of this explains the extinction of Neanderthals. Population genetics is a widely accepted theory in how the Neanderthals became extinct. Population genetics is said to be the change of the evolutionary forces. The evolutionary forces are random mating, non-random mating, migration, mutation, natural selection, and genetic drift. Some of these forces are said to have a major influence in the extinction of the Neanderthals. Through this experiment it will become clear as to which evolutionary forces cause the disappearance of the Neanderthals. The purpose for the experiment, the Simulation on Neanderthal Population Genetics, was to stimulate the extinction of Neanderthals. The experiment was done using different color golf tees, representing the different alleles and a brown paper bag representing the environment where the population lives. The different evolutionary forces were stimulated by controlling certain factors of the experiment. This experiment would help find the different evolutionary forces that caused extinction. There were nine different stimulations done to represent the different forces. For each stimulation, a certain procedure was taken to collect the tees. After the tees were collected the genotypic and allelic frequencies were calculated. Based off the numbers a conclusion was made as to what contributed to the extinction of the Neanderthals. Macro-evolution is the change in genotypic frequency within a population. Micro evolution is the change in allele frequency overtime. Throughout the experiment genotypic and allelic frequencies were calculated. The genotypic frequency is the frequencies of genotypes in the population or the different types of individuals. The allelic frequency is the frequency of alleles in the genetic population. This number is easily calculated by knowing the total number of individuals and multiplying that by two to get the allele frequency. Random mating is mating between individuals that do not have any preferences. It happens without bound. Non-random mating is mating that is controlled through preferences. Non- random mating comes in two forms. The two forms are assortative and disassortative. Assortative mating is when the individuals mates with someone that is similar to them. Disassortative mating is when the individual prefers to mate with someone different than them. Immigration and emigration is the same thing. They both deal with leaving ones area of dwelling and moving to another for any given reason. Natural selection, which is also an evolutionary force, is the differential survival and the reproduction of individuals as a function of fitness. Genetic drift falls into the category of natural selection. It is the random changes in the frequency of the alleles. The bottleneck effect is an aspect of genetic drift, which is the sudden reduction of population size. The Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium is used to examine “real” populations. The Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium is used to calculate the real populations of random mating, non-random mating, and migration. While using golf tees and a paper bag all the proceeding numbers were calculated.…...

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