Identification of hybridization in the nasal cavity of baboon hybrids, Papio anubis x P. cynocephalus, as an analogue for Neanderthal and Anatomically Modern Human hybrids
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This study developed an informative model of a nasal cavity of a Neanderthal and Anatomically Modern Human (AMH) hybrid based on the morphological measurements and nonmetric features of nonhuman primate hybrids. This study examined morphometric measurements and nonmetric traits of the interior nasal cavity of two species of baboons (olive and yellow) and their first generation hybrids to determine how hybridization affects the internal anatomy of the nasal cavity. The nasal cavity was chosen because the nasal cavities of Neanderthals and AMH are recognized as uniquely different in size and shape. This study found that functionally different regions within the baboon nasal cavity are altered in size and shape in response to hybridization. Changes in size and shape due to hybridization occurred in three regions, at the rhinion, choana, and mid-nasopharynx. In regions of more complex physiological function, the mid-bony cavity and the posterior nasopharynx, no size or shape response was observed, except a wider lateral recess. Males and females responded differently to hybridization; males showed heterosis and females showed heterosis in most areas, though dysgenesis in the inferior meatus. The opposing male and female trends may contribute to the greater sexual dimorphism observed in hybrids compared to parental taxa. This study found that frequencies of nonmetric traits in the baboon hybrid nasal cavity were no different from frequencies in parental taxa, nor were regional frequency differences observed because anterior and posterior nonmetric traits occurred at the same frequency. However, males expressed a significantly higher frequency of nonmetric traits than females. Assuming Neanderthal and AMH hybrid nasal cavities follow the trends observed in the baboon hybrid model, the Neanderthal and AMH hybrid nasal cavity would have a different shape and larger size at the rhinion, choana, and mid-nasopharynx, while the mid-bony cavity and posterior nasopharynx remained unchanged compared to parental taxa. However, because Neanderthals and AMH have been diverged for a longer time period, the traits of the nasal cavity may be very different in parental taxa due to adaptations to local conditions, which may result in hybrids with traits from one parent or the other. Further, an analysis of different hybridization scenarios between Neanderthals and AMH, based on observed hybridization in baboons and paleoanthropological evidence, suggests rapid gene swamping of the Neanderthal population by AMH during hybridization, as other authors have also concluded.