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I have read about hybrid speciation: "speciation where hybridization between two different species leads to a new species, reproductively isolated from the parent species". I wanted to know if it would be possible for two members of the homo genus to come together, create a hybrid species, and having that species/subspecies reproduce isolated from the parent species, given these parameters for a potential story:

  • A Homo sapiens and other member of the Homo genus (like a Neanderthal) come together to produce and child. Other members of both human species follow suit.
  • The union leads to hybrids that can be considered a new species/subspecies of the Homo genus. These hybrids separate and reproduce
  • The hybrids continue to live on a produce more of their new species. This species continues to exists as Neanderthals die out and competes directly with homo sapiens, forming their own society that continues into this alternate-worlds version of the modern day
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    $\begingroup$ (1) It is Homo sapiens, with an uppercase H and an ess at the end. Sapiens means "wise" in Latin; the plural is sapientes. Names of genera are written with an initial capital. Species names are usually italicized. (2) Europeans and Asians have Neanderthal DNA; sub-saharan Africans have between none and very little Neanderthal DNA; the admixture happened somewhere in the Near East or (more likely) in Europe. (3) The amount is small but not trivial. (4) Asians even have some admixture from a third subspecies, usually called Denisovans. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Aug 6 '20 at 18:50
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    $\begingroup$ You have just defined all non-African people with the parameters of your question, it happened more or less just as you've describe it, but we didn't get enough geographic isolation for long enough for true speciation (no longer able to breed back into the original African stock) to develop, conceivably could have happened if transport technology had developed slower leaving those who'd previously found their way to the Americas over the land bridge isolated from Europe & Africa for longer than they were. $\endgroup$ – Pelinore Aug 6 '20 at 19:51
  • $\begingroup$ It can't happen that way now though as there are no other closely related hominid 'species' left, unless you want to involve Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Orangutans or Gibbons of course? $\endgroup$ – Pelinore Aug 6 '20 at 20:11
  • $\begingroup$ Which would be problematic, as the chromosome mismatch means any first generation offspring are liable to be mules so it ends there with them. $\endgroup$ – Pelinore Aug 6 '20 at 20:17
  • $\begingroup$ This is of course possible. The interesting point is that we're not even sure what other groups belong within our own species, or within our genus. In not for Linnaeus, one could make the case for chimps belonging to Homo (and there's speculation that sterile offspring of humans and chimps could be possible, if rare). Neanderthals likely were our own species... visual difference within a species can be quite stark (tigers and lions, for instance). $\endgroup$ – John O Aug 6 '20 at 20:53
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It's more accurate to say that it happened.

The human species, at least, most of the human species contain trivial amounts of DNA believed to have come from Neanderthals. This means that at some point there were individuals who were the result of a mixed set of parents and successfully bred back into the Homo sapiens gene pool. Thus, hypothetically anyway, it's possible for a tribe to form out of purely mixed individuals and if they managed to eschew contact from any other humans for all this time, they might very be considered a separate species of the Homo genus.

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    $\begingroup$ (1) It is Homo sapiens, with an uppercase H and an ess at the end. Sapiens means "wise" in Latin; the plural is sapientes. Names of genera are written with an initial capital. Species names are usually italicized. (2) Sub-saharan Africans have between none and very little Neanderthal DNA; the admixture happened somewhere in the Near East or (more likely) in Europe. (3) The amount is small but not trivial. (4) Asians even have some admixture from a third subspecies, usually called Denisovans. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Aug 6 '20 at 18:49
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP I feel like every time I write something in Latin I get it wrong on this site and you're the one to correct, so from now on I'll give you a carte blanche to edit my answers. Also, yes, I'm aware that sub-saharans have no Neanderthal DNA, that's why I included the 'most of the human species' modifier. $\endgroup$ – Halfthawed Aug 6 '20 at 18:54
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    $\begingroup$ Done (and upvoted). (Species names are not ncessarily Latin; they are Latin-ish. Quite often they contain Latin words, or Greek words more or less Latinized; but is also often that they are meaningless in the classical languages.) $\endgroup$ – AlexP Aug 6 '20 at 18:56
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    $\begingroup$ I find it hilarious that you responded to his critique of your Latin with French. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Aug 6 '20 at 19:40
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    $\begingroup$ @Halfthawed Recent studies indicate sub-Saharan Africans actually do have Neanderthal DNA too, just not as much as people from Eurasia. sciencemag.org/news/2020/01/… $\endgroup$ – user2352714 Aug 7 '20 at 1:31
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Interbreeding:

The interbreeding part is no issue, as it happenned in our own history anyway. From some research, it seems possible that modern humans last interbred with Denisovans as recently as 15 000 years ago.

From DNA evidence, after moving out from sub-Saharan Africa, Homo sapiens interbred with Homo neanderthalensis in (most likely) Europe or possibly the near/middle east as well as with Homo denisova in Asia. Colonising Europeans later interbred somewhat with Africans leading to small amounts of Neanderthal DNA in African populations as well.

Hybrid "Species"

This would only really happen if the hybrids were isolated from other population groups and evolved seperately from that point on, e.g. a small mixed group of H. sapiens and H. neanderthalensis or a few hybrids tossed out of their birth tribes for being "freaks" crossed a land bridge (or series of them) that later sank, or crossed into a valley that somehow got isolated from the surroundings. After that point, they have no further contact with other populations for say 20k years, developing seperately.

Eventually, they come in contact with modern humans and ...

So, could be done, with a few lucky/unlucky coincidences.

Actually, I suppose you could argue that Europeans/Asians are actually such a hybrid species, even though with a higher percentage H. sapiens versus H. neanderthalensis in their make-up, while Africans represent "pure" H. sapiens

References

  1. Lu Chen, et.al. Identifying and Interpreting Apparent Neanderthal Ancestry in African Individuals, Cell, January 30, 2020, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2020.01.012

  2. Leslie Nemo, Discover Magazine: https://www.discovermagazine.com/planet-earth/everyone-has-neanderthal-dna-in-their-genome-new-genetic-analysis-shows

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