Monday, May 10, 2010

So the word is out. No matter how sophisticated we might think we are, most of us really, are Neanderthals.

What this means for the GEICO commercials, one can only guess, but for the rest of us, the new genome revelation that proves humans (except for those in Africa) mated with Neanderthals) is supposed to be startling. It's supposed to change the way we think.

My first question, is there anyone out there who has a real clear idea on the difference between ancient humans and ancient Neanderthals and why the fact they mated is so exciting?

Second. Is there any one besides me who is not surprised that similar but not exact primates figured out a way to have sex?

And third. Does this require that we come up with a new pejorative to describe men with big muscles, no brains, and a full speed ahead sex drive? Will referring to someone as a Neanderthal immediately become politically incorrect? (outside Massachusetts, that is, where I'm guessing that it's ALREADY politically incorrect).

HALLIE: Well, uh, if Neanderthals came first, and then Humans...where did we all think the Humans came from? Fish? Feels like all that right brain/left brain nonsense that's supposed to be so fascinating. So what?

JAN: I loved that right brain/left brain stuff!

RHYS: No, I think all the fuss is because Neanderthals were a separate species of humanoid who existed at the same time as Homo sapiens. Bigger, flatter skull I believe, very caveman in appearance. No one knows why they died out, but maybe what this latest discovery now suggests is that they simply assimilated. After all, we have all those examples in the cartoons of cavemen hitting women with their clubs and then dragging them off. They had to have come from some cave painting, didn't they?

My big question about evolution has always been... if we and the great apes branched at some time and we started to evolve into humans, why have they stayed swinging through the trees and making whooping noises. I mean,for Pete's sake,they should have gotten as far as making fire by now, shouldn't they?

RO: I'm not surprised, didn't Jean Auel write about this 20 years ago in Clan of the Cave Bear? Rhys, I think it means that we were the lousy swingers and had to figure some other way to get around.

JAN: Yes, if I remember correctly there was even a sex scene between woman and out-of-clan no-goodnick who may or may not have been a Neanderthal. Maybe that's why I'm not so surprised about this inter-mating revelation. History imitating art??

HANK: Okay, Im undereducated. I thought Neanderthals were along the evolution road somewhere, and then some other kinds of homo sapiens and then all kinds of evolution. And voila, eventually, us. Even though there are some "humans" who I swear have devolved into what we mean by "neanderthal" now.

Digressions: I never read Clan of the Cave Bear.

I don't understand the GEICO commercials.

JAN: I used to love the whole GEICO series where the cave men are insulted by the stereotypes about cavemen, but I agree as they progressed, they became more abstract and dependent on having seen earlier commercials.

Supposedly, there's some speculation that Neanderthals may be the source of the pale skin/red headed coloring in humans. Any pale skinned or red-headed readers out there who want to claim bragging rights or disagree?


  1. I have an ex-husband and two sons who have the neanderthal brow - it juts out above their eyebrows. The sons, I am happy to report, are EXTREMELY handsome despite the brow. (Can't tell I'm a proud mom, can you?) It was interesting to watch the brow emerge as they matured and grew man bones.

    I liked the Jean Auel books at the time and was always curious about how much might have been true.


  2. HI Edith,
    I only read one of the Jean Auel books, but loved it!!

    I can never figure out if the brow is supposed to be Neanderthal-specific or applies to all cavemen -- which I assume includes the ancient humans.

    So hard to keep this all straight. But I have no doubt your sons are handsome.


  3. I have a red-haired daughter and two delightful red-haired granddaughters who are the smartest kids in their class, so perhaps the Neanderthals died out because they were smarter than homo-sapiens and so the latter tried to exterminate them?

  4. Yay, Protruberant superorbital ridges! I once dated a guy who had them. I never noticed them until he pointed them out.

  5. Rhys,
    Maybe they never actually died out, maybe they were just so darn good looking and smart that once they made contact, all the ancient humans wanted to mate with them.

    And what we have now come from mixed-origin cave people.

  6. Those Protruberant superorbital ridges Hallie wrote about? They're especially attractive when one eyebrow grows over the top it like a mini carpet runner made out of bristles. :)

  7. The unibrow?? Rebbie??

    My husband, who suffers from normal eyebrows, sort of admires the unibrow.