A problematic aspect of the idea of Levantine Neandertals is that the very features that distinguish them from European Neandertals tend to align them with modern humans. For example, the Amud skeleton has stature and limb proportions that set it apart from European Neandertals, but that fall within the range of variability of the Skhul and Qafzeh skeletal remains. Trinkaus (1995) considered the
Near East, including Shanidar and the Levantine samples, to include two forms of hominins: “late archaic” and “modern” forms. He argued that the late archaic forms in the Near Easthave no close connection to European Neandertals, and that similar features reflect mosaicism or generalized archaic morphology in both evolving populations
Journal of Anthropological Sciences Vol. 90 (2012), pp. 1-17
Dynamics of genetic and morphological variability within Neandertals
Summary - Paleogenomics may suggest changes to the way anthropologists have discussed the dynamics and morphological diversity among Neandertals. Genetic comparisons show that later Neandertals had relatively low autosomal genetic variation compared to recent humans. The known mitochondrial sample from Neandertals covers a broader geographic and temporal range, and shows greater diversity. This review addresses how genetic data compare to morphological and archaeological evidence about Neandertal variation and dynamics. Traditional views emphasized the morphological differences between western and eastern Neandertal populations, and between early and later Neandertals. Genomes broadly support these groupings, without resolving the outstanding question of the affinities of specimens from southwest Asia. However, the pattern of genetic variation appears to reject a long, in situ transformation of Neandertal groups over time, suggesting instead a more rapid process of regional dispersal and partial population replacement. Archaeological indicators sample dynamics on a much finer timescale than morphological or genetic evidence, and point to dispersal and turnover among Neandertals on a regional scale. In this way, genetic evidence may provide a bridge between the timescales relevant to morphological and archaeological comparisons. New ways of looking at the morphology of Neandertals may yield a better picture of their interactions and movements.