Ursidae: The Undergraduate Research Journal at the University of Northern Colorado


In this article, a model is used based on a paper by E. O. Wilson et al. (2007) to examine how multilevel selection has affected the evolution of Neandertals. Multilevel selection theory states natural selection occurs in multiple levels of the biological hierarchy. This model has never been applied to a hominid species to date. By synthesizing this research by Wilson et al. and genetic studies by Green et al. (2010) revealing that Neandertals and humans interbred in the Middle East 80,000 years ago, it is shown that multilevel selection may have affected Neandertal evolution. Further, it is argued that group level selection may not have had as drastic an effect on Neandertal evolution as it did on human populations. This article concludes by recommending ways this model may be applied to other species in the human evolutionary tree to help understand how multilevel selection has affected hominids throughout time.

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