Yep. Ain't science grand? The view that Neanderthals were absorbed into the human population is a minority view, though, and losing ground. Certainly humans and Neanderthals were very close genetically, but there just isn't the hard evidence to support a merging of the two lines.
You miss the subtle point. This is simply not a matter of holding one theory and then discarding it when another theory better suits what's known. This is the matter of holding several mutually exclusive theories to all be possible even though all are based on the evidence.
Which is, as noted earlier a way of saying "We don't know how it happened, but we're damn certain that it must have".
FYI the current mutually exclusive theoires I refer to are commonly called
a) the Out of Africa hypothesis
b) Diregional (aka Multi-regioonal) hypothesis.
"Where do the genes of the Europeans come from? A good, but trivial, answer is: From Africa, like everybody else's genes. Paleontologists agree that the long-term human ancestors, a million years ago or so, dwelt in Africa. There is disagreement,
however, about what happened after archaic presapiens humans (Homo erectus) spread over much of the Old World. The anatomically archaic populations of Europe, Northeastern Asia, and Southeastern Asia may have gradually evolved into the modern Homo sapiens sapiens populations inhabiting, respectively, Western Eurasia, East Asia, and Australia; this is the multiregional theory of human evolution (1). On the contrary, the Out-of-Africa theory regards all modern populations as descended from an anatomically modern group that dispersed from Africa less than 200,000 years ago and replaced archaic populations (2). "http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/98/1/22
"One of the great controversies of archaeology surrounds the origins of Homo sapiens sapiens. One group of scholars believes that Homo erectus populations throughout the world evolved independently, first into early Homo sapiens, then into fully modern humans. Thus, the modern geographic populations (races) of the world would have been separated for a long time, perhaps a million years. Most experts take a diametrically opposite view. They hypothesize that Homo sapiens sapiens evolved in Africa sometime between 200,000 and 100,000 years ago, then spread to other parts of the Old World. Under this model, modern geographic populations are less than 100,000 years old.
2These two models represent extremes
, which pit advocates of anatomical continuity against those who believe there was population replacement. Each model is based on the minute study of human fossil remains, but the replacement theory also relies on studies of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA)."http://www.bartleby.com/67/24.html
I have but two books on this, one from each school. One offers a rather telling admission...
"The current controversy is largely a reflection of different scientific philosophies, linked to ideas about race through their treatment of variation. But there is more to it. Even if they have no conscious social agenda, scientists are bound by the same preconceptions as everyone else - their social, religious, and educational backgrounds influence their choices of theories and, perhaps more important, their philosophies of science. Karl Popper noted more than once that it doesn't matter where hypotheses come from, only whether they explain the evidence they are based on, wether they are subject to disproof, and whether they can hold up to enthusiastic attempts to disprove them. This philosophy forms the basis of deductive science. But hypothesis do come from somewhere, often the underlying assumptions of society. Moreover, not only the differences in sources of ideas, but also different premises scientists have held about evolution, human nature, God, and how science should
be done, have always underscored the controversies about human evolution."
Wolpoff, M & Caspari, R, (1997) "Race and Human Evolution: A Fatal Attraction", p12.