December 21, 2010

Patrilocal Spanish Neandertals

It's great to see what amounts to an ancient population study of a group of Neandertals.

PNAS doi: 10.1073/pnas.1011553108

Genetic evidence for patrilocal mating behavior among Neandertal groups

Carles Lalueza-Fox et al.

The remains of 12 Neandertal individuals have been found at the El Sidrón site (Asturias, Spain), consisting of six adults, three adolescents, two juveniles, and one infant. Archaeological, paleontological, and geological evidence indicates that these individuals represent all or part of a contemporaneous social group of Neandertals, who died at around the same time and later were buried together as a result of a collapse of an underground karst. We sequenced phylogenetically informative positions of mtDNA hypervariable regions 1 and 2 from each of the remains. Our results show that the 12 individuals stem from three different maternal lineages, accounting for seven, four, and one individual(s), respectively. Using a Y-chromosome assay to confirm the morphological determination of sex for each individual, we found that, although the three adult males carried the same mtDNA lineage, each of the three adult females carried different mtDNA lineages. These findings provide evidence to indicate that Neandertal groups not only were small and characterized by low genetic diversity but also were likely to have practiced patrilocal mating behavior.



  1. The find is from 49,000 years ago and the paper is free access.

  2. Neanderthals lived in little groups, tThey exchanged females with other groups, or kidnapped them, to avoid consanguinity. So do all small nomadic groups, even in our day in Africa.


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