Reviving old cousins

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Reviving old cousins

Postby Gaius Curtius Philo » Tue May 09, 2017 7:07 pm

Salvete omnes!

I don't usually post here much, but I have an ethical question and whould like to see how the bright minds of this collegium reflect on it.

Fossil records show that homo sapiens was not the only hominid to ever live. We have at times lived together with other species like the famous Neanderthal and the Flores Man (a.k.a. 'Hobbits').

As our power to manipulate genes grow there has always been talks of potentially reviving these species. The reasons given for this are many. One I particularly dislike is that some people have some strange idea that we have some form or "responsibility" regarding the extinction of our old cousins and that therefore we have a "moral obligation" to bring them back. I find that to be projection of the highest order (what responsibility do I have for what my ancestors did 30.000 years ago? ).

Other arguments make more sense to me. Some say it would give us a different human perspective on things, given that their brains are different from ours. Others just want to do it because it sounds cool. Here would be the notion of "if we have the power to do so, why not? If we have power to Shape and Create Life why not use it?"

To these I prefer not to argue against but instead to hear your opinion.

Valete,
Philo
"Ignis aurum probat" - Seneca
C. Curtius L. f. Vot. Philo Aurelianus
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Re: Reviving old cousins

Postby Gaius Florius Lupus » Wed May 10, 2017 1:45 pm

Salvete!

Interesting thought!

First of all we have to address the question of "responsibility" and guilt.
It is a consensus since the Enlightenment in the 17th cenrury that guilt is not inherited and not collective. Guilt is always individual. Nobody can be held responsible for crimes that he has not commited himself, but his parents or ancestors. We have therefore no "responsibility" for the extinction of other human species in the past, whatever the cause might have been. It is also not clear, whether it happened due to ths actions of our ancestors of the Homo sapiens species or not.
On the contrary there are indications that Neanderthals were the aggressors in conflicts between both human species. We have found bones of Homo sapiens killed by Neanderthals for cannibalism. We know that only male Neanderthal DNA can be found in the modern human genome indicating that Homo sapiens females wers raped by physically stronger Neanderthals. Neanderthals were also physically too strong and apparently mentally too superior for Homo sapiens to threaten them. This would only have been possible if Homo sapiens attacked in vastly superior numbers perhaps in defense against the Neanderthal aggressions. Therefore most likely the Neanderthals were the bad guys and only lost the conflict because of Homo sapiens higher reproduction rate.

The second issue is the ethical limit of our curiosity. Should we revive these species just to enhance our knowledge?
Since these species are humans, they would have human rights. So we cannot do wirh them, what we would not do with other humans under our current legal system. Denying them these rights, would undermine the whole concept of human rights and open up the way to further eroding its application.
Apart from that I am in favor of more diversity. If we had Neanderthals and Flores or Denuvian Men around, they would certainly think different from us and it would be interesting to exchange ideas and ways of thinking. They could inspire our own society and make us rethink our own concepts.
If they would not just be kept as laboratory pets, I would welcome the resurrection of other human species.

Valete!
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Re: Reviving old cousins

Postby Lucia Horatia Adamas » Thu May 11, 2017 10:47 pm



L. Horatia Adamas C. Curtio Philoni C. Florio Lupo omnibusque S.P.D.

Raptim...

What an interesting thought! For those who have not read or seen Jurassic Park it might be wise to do so as an exercise in what might happen when ancient DNA is reconstituted. There the dinos in the supposed theme park got rather out of hand…

If I remember my anthropology correctly, Neandertals were endowed with bigger muscles and heavier bones than modern humans. A couple of males found in Greece were 6 feet and 5 feet 10 inches tall, respectively, although there is a biological law which tends to produce shorter / smaller individuals of all species in tropical and subtropical areas than in more northern climes. Their skeletons were rather different (at least the diagram in my ancient anthropology text demonstrates some significant differences), and their brains were markedly different, with more stuffing in the back and less in the front. Given what we know about cerebral functioning (and what I remember from some reading years ago), that points to an orientation more toward the past and less toward the future. Too, IIRC, the Neandertal larynx had not yet moved into its current position*, so they were not capable of continuous articulate speech, something which likely applies to the other hominids as well. Thus they might not be very well adapted to sharing their thoughts…especially if they were of the opinion that Cro-Magnons made a tasty meal. That's not quite the way they were portrayed in the "Earth's Children" series by Jean Auel (another good reading choice, although parts of it are definitely not for the young), who performed extensive research in order to write these interesting novels.

My guess is that our cousins from the Newman Valley had a very different biochemistry from that of modern humans possibly including proportionally more androgen and less estrogen than we have.

Do we really want to bring back folk who are bigger and stronger than we are, but not as bright, and who cannot talk--especially if they think we taste good?

*The current location of the larynx allows two things: continuous articulate speech, and the possibility of choking to death. Apparently the latter was much less important than the former, so the movement of the larynx in the course of evolution was much more beneficial than its remaining in its original site.



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Re: Reviving old cousins

Postby Gaius Florius Lupus » Fri May 12, 2017 9:34 am

Salve Horatia Adamas!

I am not quite sure that your image of the Neanderthal represents the current state of scientific research. If I remember correctly, it was disproved that Neanderthal had a reduced capacity of sleech. Furthermore we know that their brains were really significantly bigger. The logical consequence is that they were far more intelligent than we as Homo sapiens, although a major part of their increased brain capacity seems to have been used for better sight including night vision.
Some scientists concluded early that thekr stone tools were inferior to those of Homo sapiens, but this was also disproved. Their species was simply older. So their first tools were more primitive. But those Neanderthals who lived contemporary with Homo sapiens had the same or even more sophistiicated tools.
However if you have newer data regarding Neanderthal's capabilities that contradict my description, please let us know. A lot of advances have been made recently in what we know about our cousins.

Therefore we would probably not bring back a primitive caveman, but a kind of Einstein with the body of Arnold Schwarzenegger. This carries a danger too, but can also be a chance, since thee Neanderthals would be members of our society. Either way it would be very interesting to see how the interactions between Homo sapiens and Neanderthal would be.

Optime vale!
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Re: Reviving old cousins

Postby Lucia Horatia Adamas » Fri May 12, 2017 10:40 pm



L. Horatia Adamas C. Florio Lupo C. Curtio Philoni omnibusque S.P.D.

Hope that this will go through. I am unable to post to the Latin collegium, receiving instead notices that I am forbidden.

To avoid wasted effort, I shall mention only a few matters: elephants have bigger brains than people do, too, mainly because their bodies are larger. Likely Neandertals needed a larger brain because they had bigger muscles and bones. Did some checking, and their speech and other Neandertal capabilities are uncertain, though they now have better evidence of that possibility, though the discovery of a human-like hyoid does not guarantee fluid speech; one article noted that pigs have a similar hyoid. The lowering of the larynx is essential; it seems that that had occurred, but neither is a certain indication of speech.

More if I can post, but gotta write a final exam first.

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Re: Reviving old cousins

Postby Gaius Florius Lupus » Sat May 13, 2017 11:09 am

The thread has taken a turn from an ethical question to a question of natural philosophy. And this is exactly how philosophy works.
The Stoics distinguished between three branches of philosophy:
  1. Ethics
  2. Logic
  3. Natural Philosophy (today rebranded as "Science"
We are therefore still dealing with a philosophical topic here. We started from ethics, but we will need answers from natural philosophy first.
Natural philosophy uses inductive reasoning, i.e. we go from separate instances to general principles. Hereby we use the scientific method.
It is important to realize that different from deductive reasoning whose conclusions are always certain, the conclusions of inductive reasoning are never certain, but deal with probabilities. We can strengthen a hypothesis with arguments so it becomes a cogent conclusion, but we will never fully prove it.

In our case we have now to answer the question whether Neanderthals were able to speak like Homo sapiens or had a rather limited vocal ability that did not allow for continuous speech.

For this purpose I would like to quote from a recent study (from 2013) on which my assessment was based.
http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/ ... 00397/full
In sum, the evidence points to modern speech capacities in the common ancestor of Neandertals and modern humans. The auditory specializations for speech on the modern bandwidth are present, the morphology of the larynx looks modern, and air sacs have been replaced by a finely controlled pulmonic airstream mechanism for vocalization. In addition, the gene that is known to be involved in the fine motor control necessary for speech, FOXP2, has its modern form (although possibly not all of its modern regulatory environment). Interestingly, all these changes occurred in the transition from Homo erectus to Homo heidelbergensis, the common ancestor to both Neandertals and modern humans. We suggest therefore that this common ancestor was an articulate mammal.

There is also a related article on BBC:
http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-25465102

The question is now, whether or not there are more recent findings that contradict the conclusion above.

Valete!
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