When We Met Other Human Species

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  • Published: 10 July 2019
  • We all belong to the only group of hominins on the planet today. But we weren’t always alone. 100,000 years ago, Eurasia was home to other hominin species, some of which we know our ancestors met, and spent some quality time with.

    Thanks to Julio Lacerda and Fabrizio de Rossi from Studio 252mya for their wonderful hominin illustrations. You can find more of their work here: 252mya.com/

    Produced in collaboration with PBS Digital Studios: superiorjanitorial.pro/user/pbsdigitalstudios

    Super special thanks to the following Patreon patrons for helping make Eons possible:
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    References: docs.google.com/document/d/1h8iVAIugVPfxOcCZKeZxtZfa6mNP8V7xMhS_vxmDRl0/edit?usp=sharing
  • Science and Technology Science and Technology

Comments • 5 824

  • PBS Eons
    PBS Eons   3 months back

    Some commenters have pointed out that calling Neanderthals and Denisovans “other hominin species” in this episode breaks the rules of the biological species concept (BSC), which says if two things can interbreed, then they’re the same species. Some paleoanthropologists would agree. They consider both Neanderthals and Denisovans to be subspecies of Homo sapiens, rather than separate species. Other experts would say that Neanderthals have a set of features that make them clearly distinguishable from Homo sapiens, putting them outside the range of variation we include in our species. And we hardly know the Denisovans - like we said in the video, they don’t even have a scientific name yet.


    The incredible thing about this is that we can even think about applying the BSC to fossils at all. The BSC is a species concept based on living organisms, and it’s only been within the last two decades or so that we’ve had the ancient DNA and the technology to test hypotheses about interbreeding in extinct groups. And it’s not the only way to define a species, either, so it will likely be a while (if ever) before anthropologists decide whether we’re a different species, subspecies, or population from the Neanderthals and Denisovans.


    (Darcy Shapiro, PhD, script editor)

    • Rayvn e'Kieron
      Rayvn e'Kieron  8 hours back

      @pauldh62 That's essentially true, as far as I can tell! So resonably, dogs could be considered a subspecies of wolves. But dogs can interbreed with coyotes and jackals as well, which are also considered to be separate species.

    • pauldh62
      pauldh62  9 hours back

      @Warner Losh My limited understanding is that a dog and a wolf are actually one and the same in terms of species. The former, however, has been subject to generations upon generations of selective breeding. The only problem one would have with trying to mate a dog and a wolf out of the laboratory would be preventing the wolf eating the dog -they do.

    • Delphinium Flower
      Delphinium Flower  12 hours back

      @Andrew Howard The key question is, can you breed a Scandinavian with a Pygmy?

    • Doriamo
      Doriamo  21 hours back

      There are interspecies hybrids in nature. Look at Cuora seratta for example that comes from two separate turtle species within two separate genera. The hybrids are fertile too!

    • nunya biznez
      nunya biznez  1 days back

      They were all the same species.   Call them sub species if you wish but all the same species for the reasons you pointed out plus look at dogs.   If you lined up all the different officially recognized breeds of domestic dog and you were not otherwise informed, you would conclude you were looking at a group of various species belonging to the same genus or even family.   A chihuahua next to a great Dane do not look like the same species.   A poodle next to a greyhound next to a bulldog likewise.  Yet they are.  The argument that they are separate species due to a difference in morphology is invalid as cited in my example with dogs.   I use dogs because it is the species we are most familiar with.  I could cite the mollusk Melongina Corona a type of sea snail that varies greatly in appearance and adult size yet can of course interbreed successfully.   I could cite hundreds of species with far more variation than hominins.  So stating that the different hominins are different species due to their difference in morphology is an invalid argument.

  • Shaun Cummings
    Shaun Cummings  1 hours back

    I’m telling my church on you

    • KraggleWulf
      KraggleWulf  2 hours back

      Well I know where my sex drive comes from now.

      • Cal
        Cal  2 hours back

        "Neander-tall"

        • Lindsay Williams
          Lindsay Williams  3 hours back

          What about studying the genes/DNA of indigenous people? I feel like that could show a lot of information

          • victor soto
            victor soto  4 hours back

            So, Native Africans, who never migrated and met others, are the only "true" Homo Sapiens. There is more diversity of DNA in Africa than anywhere else in the world...the more diverse, the genetics, the healthier the body.
            The combination of inbreeding and interbreeding, by western man, has diluted the bloodline of "true" humans.

            • Jose Rodriguez
              Jose Rodriguez  6 hours back

              Is that Mr. Green?

              • Isa_735
                Isa_735  6 hours back

                I freaking love this guy

                • Nick Sklavos
                  Nick Sklavos  7 hours back

                  Very nice and very informative. Thank you very much. Of course there is always the 5% that don’t like to hear scientific facts. What do you do let’s laugh.

                  • Mister WarBeast
                    Mister WarBeast  7 hours back

                    Neanderthals didn't go extinct... we just learned to blend in and not be noticed...

                    • Marty Jansing
                      Marty Jansing  7 hours back

                      homo sapien archaic, homo sapien neanderthals. homo sapien sapien....populations have variations

                      • Rebekah kissel
                        Rebekah kissel  9 hours back

                        Humans just understood how to make fire

                        • flint the kaka harris
                          flint the kaka harris  9 hours back

                          Proof we have nothing in common with Africans.

                          • beth, i guess
                            beth, i guess  12 hours back

                            i love learning about this stuff. it makes me sad knowing that no other hominids are alive anymore... humans are so lonely. id love to have a close relative species :-( i wish i could go back in time to meet some neanderthals or denisovans

                            • jayrozzle
                              jayrozzle  13 hours back

                              Even though I already know none of this is 100% accurate; are you telling the people that descendants from Africa don't have any DNA coming from Neanderthals 😬🤫.. Maybe Darwin was right about evolution.. Just not talking about Africa or its descendants.. Neanderthals are cavemen. Very similar to primates. T

                              • Mr Pickles
                                Mr Pickles  14 hours back

                                1:06 Explains how we have The Hipster breed of hominin today.

                                • Co Si
                                  Co Si  14 hours back

                                  There are not any more because of interbreeding.

                                  • JB
                                    JB  15 hours back

                                    If DNA attributes are derived from longevity of one's life (more intercourse) spreading the DNA. Then are modern humans destined to fail if we only pass along DNA through what monetary means we derive in life presently. In short... if a bunch of rich idiots have greater means in life than genius poor population are we destined for failure as a species?

                                    • Marlon Hernandez
                                      Marlon Hernandez  16 hours back

                                      So we’re all mutants X

                                      • IAMDIMITRI
                                        IAMDIMITRI  16 hours back

                                        We absorbed them

                                        • Erin Young
                                          Erin Young  18 hours back

                                          Why doesn't Steve have a last name?

                                          • Tony Scar
                                            Tony Scar  18 hours back

                                            I think pbs eons is forgetting about the ultimate hide and seek champion. Bigfoot.

                                            • Doriamo
                                              Doriamo  21 hours back

                                              There are interspecies hybrids in nature. Look at Cuora seratta for example that comes from two separate turtle species within two separate genera. The hybrids are fertile too!

                                              • Jeremy X
                                                Jeremy X  22 hours back

                                                You come frome easu

                                                • Al King
                                                  Al King  22 hours back

                                                  They all had man buns back then?

                                                  • Nicolas Licastro
                                                    Nicolas Licastro  23 hours back

                                                    -That looks like a person, i will reproduce with it

                                                    • silver watcher
                                                      silver watcher  24 hours back

                                                      I may have done a DNA thingy and it said I have 5% Neanderthals and I'm 6"2 and come from 7ft grandparents and what not so this midget claim maybe there were giant Neanderthals we just haven't found them. Cause other wise explain a giant with midget Neanderthals 5% DNA family bloodline.

                                                      • Ma n
                                                        Ma n  1 days back

                                                        We were the rat and rabits. heheheh We breed like rabits, f0ked everyone even other humans like Neanderthal. We spread to every part of the earth like rats.

                                                        • AlexanderGreat15
                                                          AlexanderGreat15  1 days back

                                                          AND BIG BRAINS!!

                                                          • Natural Heel
                                                            Natural Heel  1 days back

                                                            PBS always keeps it coming

                                                            • Brandyce Wonderland
                                                              Brandyce Wonderland  1 days back

                                                              The only time it was ok to have sex with other species.

                                                              • nunya biznez
                                                                nunya biznez  1 days back

                                                                I would like to point out that Neanderthals and certain other hominins probably did not go extinct.  Their much smaller populations merely got absorbed into the larger Homo sapiens population.  This fits in with the small bits and pieces of their DNA found in our genome.  And how do we know they are in fact hominin DNA sequences in our genome?  Perhaps its our DNA sequences that scientists found in their genome.   I personally think too many scientists jump to conclusions without thinking logically through the evidence.  How do we really know which group gave their DNA to the other.  Most likely there was a lot more DNA swapping going on throughout our prehistory that we do not know about.

                                                                • Logan Hoomana
                                                                  Logan Hoomana  1 days back

                                                                  Imagine how roasted an old school human would get for banging a Neanderthal. I cant even bang 7 without getting shot from my friends

                                                                  • J Diddle
                                                                    J Diddle  1 days back

                                                                    Not at all on topic but someone needs to form an a cappella group called The Harmonins immediately!

                                                                    • EZZY GREZZY
                                                                      EZZY GREZZY  1 days back

                                                                      Gtf you ppl speculate everything about history

                                                                      • Nacho Gallagher
                                                                        Nacho Gallagher  1 days back

                                                                        A fourth subspecies has been recently identified.

                                                                        • Jacinth Gudetti
                                                                          Jacinth Gudetti  1 days back

                                                                          So basically... dwarven people = neanderthal

                                                                          • Neil Dennis
                                                                            Neil Dennis  1 days back

                                                                            Shouldn’t this title end with, “...We Exterminated Them.”

                                                                            • T0nyMc716
                                                                              T0nyMc716  1 days back

                                                                              Why are we the only ones left....lol have you met us??? I'm pretty we just killed them all....or went back to their home planet

                                                                              • Gabriel A. Zorrilla
                                                                                Gabriel A. Zorrilla  1 days back

                                                                                Cima is not pit, is hill.

                                                                                • Ludwig Talbott
                                                                                  Ludwig Talbott  1 days back

                                                                                  Some of you have more neanderthal dna than Elizabeth Warren has Native American dna.

                                                                                  • The Void Looks Pretty
                                                                                    The Void Looks Pretty  1 days back

                                                                                    I hope when they sequenced the Neanderthal DNA, they were like, “Let’s see if it’s like us,” and one guy immediately cut his arm with a scalpel and ran it through the computer.

                                                                                    • Lando Calrissian
                                                                                      Lando Calrissian  2 days back

                                                                                      Glad my ancestors didn’t....yikes.

                                                                                      • Doc Cadvie
                                                                                        Doc Cadvie  2 days back

                                                                                        Also the fossil record shows that all of our ancestors rocked manbuns

                                                                                        • Doc Cadvie
                                                                                          Doc Cadvie  2 days back

                                                                                          They were on the paleo diet BEFORE it was all mainstream

                                                                                      • Buntu Ngcebetsha
                                                                                        Buntu Ngcebetsha  2 days back

                                                                                        Does this mean people of African descent and people of Eurasian and East-Asian descent are different?

                                                                                        • Elijah A
                                                                                          Elijah A  2 days back

                                                                                          Would be cool if there were different types of humans but then there would be some serious racism maybe worse than what happend in our history

                                                                                          • Tshepo Masiea
                                                                                            Tshepo Masiea  2 days back

                                                                                            I think dolphins and canines should come clean about seals.

                                                                                            • Bright Mhango
                                                                                              Bright Mhango  2 days back

                                                                                              One area that interests me as an Africa is, We never left, we never met different climes and elevations... and yet, we are pretty much the same with the far-flung peoples of the world. How can mating with a different species only yield 1% DNA?