Mapping Human History: Homo family tree and Neanderthal DNA

I’ve been running a summer book club at my university for faculty. It’s a small group of business, education, humanities, and science faculty and we’re going through Mapping Human History by Steve Olson (2002).

We’re in Chapter 4 (Encounters with the Other: Modern Humans and Neandertals in the Middle East) and I know the book is a bit outdated (and I will have some other questions for PS in that regard in a bit). Last week we talked about distinguishing populations (breeds, race, subspecies, species) and the (surprising to many) level of genetic similarity within modern human populations. This week we’re specifically looking at the relationship between modern humans and Neanderthals. I’ve got two questions:

  1. does anybody have (or at least a link to) a good hominid (probably just Homo is fine) family tree that’s fairly up-to-date? I think it’s hard to keep things straight when we’re saying that modern humans are well-mixed and very similar genetically and yet Homo has distinct members. I also think people don’t generally know how many species are in Homo and their relationship, so I’m hoping to find something I can use as a handout.
  2. does anybody know a good place to read about interbreeding between Neanderthals and modern humans? I’m looking for some simple explanations for genetic evidence. The book says, for instance:

And if such mating was common, some of these Neandertal mitochondria should survive in people today. No such DNA has ever been found, nor is it likely ever to be found.


The book to use is David Reich’s Who We are and How did we get here. It have several chapters on Neanderthal Genome.

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Thanks @Patrick, I did purchase Kindle copy of Reich’s book after watching that video but haven’t gotten around to reading it. I guess I better go have a look. :slight_smile:


David Reich’s book is a real breakthrough scientifically in the study of the real history of mankind.

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