My Inner Neanderthal

Neanderthal Child

Neanderthal Child

Original Image

I Always Suspected…

Looking an various family members, I’d always suspected there was some ‘inner Neanderthal’ at work … ;-)


We have the revelation that, having sequenced the Neanderthal genome, and done a comparison to “modern” DNA from several populations, some of us have 1% to 4% Neanderthal genes. (For some of us, I suspect it’s even higher…)

Family traits? Short legs, “robust” nose (thankfully skipping me…), large wide set eyes, very high grip strength with large hands and coarse fingers, “can’t jump” well and “can’t throw” well (hips have a Neanderthal character), and even a bit of the Neanderthal skull shape. Oh, and a slightly furry character to chest with “significant” hair on arms, legs, etc. Yeah, I can see it…

Look at what makes a European a European, and it looks a lot like the Neanderthal list.

This suggests that Neanderthals bred outside Africa with Homo sapiens, who migrated out of that region about 100,000 years ago. On the basis of the fossil record of human migrations, the team proposes that this took place in the eastern Mediterranean.

Therefore, they say, modern humans from Europe and Asia are closer genetically to Neanderthals than are those from sub-Saharan Africa.

This agrees with the findings of a separate study presented at a conference last month. That study examined 2,000 modern human genomes that showed two interbreedings with Neanderthals: the first about 60,000 years ago, also in the eastern Mediterranean, and then again about 45,000 years ago in eastern Asia (see ‘Neanderthals may have interbred with humans’).

From this link:

We have:

Fossil remains and anatomical reconstructions indicate that the typical Neandertal had a stocky muscular body with short forearms and legs, a large head with bony brow ridges and a brain slightly larger than ours, a jutting face with a large nose, and perhaps reddish hair and fair skin. Neandertals made and used a diverse set of sophisticated tools, controlled fire, organized their living spaces, hunted and fed on game of various sizes, and occasionally made symbolic or ornamental objects.

Other than having rather longer than usual forearms and a somewhat less “jutting” face, that’s pretty much my lineage. Even down to the reddish hair.

Oh, and the large hat size too. All of us take large hats…

But at least now it’s official and I can now recognize my “Inner Neanderthal” without folks asserting that it could never be…

About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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16 Responses to My Inner Neanderthal

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention My Inner Neanderthal: Have you got an Inner Neanderthal? --

  2. RuhRoh says:

    Molto Humoresquo!

  3. vjones says:

    I saw this on some of the science news alerts earlier and was not surprised, but your title (and post) made me smile.

    I used to have a next door neighbour that I secretly called ‘The Neanderthal’ because of physical traits – mostly short legs, long arms, and the way he walked. He was either a laywer or architect – I can’t remember which. Clearly I saw something there!

  4. E.M.Smith says:

    A lot of lawyers look like Neanderthals to me ;-)

    (Sorry, couldn’t resist 8-}

  5. j ferguson says:

    Not all architects. This one was often dismayed by the appeal of the local neanderthals to the women I was less than successfully hustling in the ’60s.

  6. j ferguson says:

    On further reflection, I think they were enchanted by the fire-making. In those distant years, before Piezo igniters and lpg grilles, getting the Weber off to a quick start was vital to the compleat exurban life.

    Doubtless our host is a past master at Weber 101.

  7. j ferguson says:

    But there is this compulsion to paint bull fights on the walls of railroad underpasses.

  8. E.M.Smith says:

    My favorite way to “start the Webber” was large quantities of liquid fuels, fully soaked into the solid fuels. Lately I’ve grown found of a mound of hardwoods on top of twigs and paper for a rapid bed of real coals, then with briquettes on top for longer lasting effect.

    And yeah, “fire making skills” run in the family. People sometimes forget that the key feature of the Smithy is that very large very hot fire kept running all day long… We’ve been fascinated by what you could do with that continuous fire for generations… And, it would seem, more generations than I’d suspected… Makes me wonder if the metal working “Smiths” evolved out of the “fire starter” Smiths of an Ice Age past…

    The ancients would ‘harden wood’ with a fire treatment (and warm it for bending too) so it would be an easy transition from making stone axes with wrappings of bark and thin wood strips as attachments, along with hardened wood spear points; to making metal objects at the same fire to do the same jobs…

    Hmmm… Interesting idea, that. “Smiths” have been tool makers ‘forever’… and using fire to do it. Now I’m wondering just how far back ‘forever’ might really go… Perhaps even heat flaking of stones? ( You can break stones with heating and water) along with the wood working at the fire; that would make it ‘stone age’ at least. The root word for Smith is the same as for “smite” – to hit or hammer things. The ‘hammer stone’ is a common tool of the stone age… and even Neanderthals used stone tools in abundance and fire.

    Probably explains my joy at pounding things with hammers and setting them on fire ;-)

    Ah, the simple pleasures of life…

    (So, would you like that steak tenderized with the meat mallet and then grilled? … The more things change, the more they stay the same… )

    But I don’t paint pictures of bull fights on walls of railroad underpasses. I only do single images of antlered mammals and they are on the “ceiling” where concrete bridges and overpasses meet the supporting foundation ends… Please, we’re much more modern now… (bullfights are so last evolutionary jump…)

  9. vjones says:

    Yeah, we’re reverting to type with a bit of fire-starting here this evening to make the most of what passes for good late spring weather in these parts.

    The hunter-gatherer couldn’t quite manage wooly mammoth steaks or sabre-tooth burgers, but we’ll eat well enough!

  10. Mr Lynn says:

    Many decades ago I had a landlady, a Mrs. Lester, then in her ’80s, whose head shape struck me as distinctly Neandertaloid. So it has long seemed likely to me that Neandertal genes were infused into the Sapiens line.

    BTW, the Germans changed the spelling of the valley where the first Neandert(h)als were found by dropping the ‘h’, which was silent and misleading. So the correct spelling is now ‘Neandertal’.

    Re starting charcoal, my father invented (or copied, but as far as I know he was the first) the best way: a tall tin can, with holes at the bottom (which he made with a ‘churchkey’). Fill it half way with twigs, tinder, paper, or any easily-burnable material, and the rest of the way with charcoal. Light, and wait until the charcoal is glowing red. Then lift the can (= chimney) off with a pair of channel-lock pliers.

    Years later I discovered someone had commercialized this method, mainly by adding a handle and pre-stamped holes at the bottom of the cylinder, no longer a simple food can.

    /Mr Lynn

  11. j ferguson says:

    I found I could use tightly twisted newspaper without fluid and have almost 100% success with a Weber.

    Interestingly, the spherical Weber started life during WW2 as a hydraulic accumulator for larger planes. The employees discovered its utility as a Barbecue. After the war, when demand for its use as an accumulator diminished, they started selling them to the after 5 crowd.

    In the ’70s, Weber put a Lockheed Howard up for sale. This was a converted heavy twin piston engine plane. The price was $15k dry for what looked like a very nice airplane. Why dry?

    It had transatlantic fuel capacity and the cost of “wet” would have been $4,500 more at the time.

    But then that doesn’t have anything to do with knuckle altitude

  12. The Monster says:

    Gee, when I thought of Neanderthals, something entirely different popped up.

  13. P.G. Sharrow says:

    As a “mister monkey arms” that can’t jump or run worth a crap. I find this most amusing. At least I have a “fat head” and am very strong for my size. :-) Also a strong urge to do hand to hand with large animals. 8-]

  14. Doug Jones says:

    Around 1995, one of my standup comedy routines included, “When Cro-magnon man moved north into Europe, they didn’t wipe out the hairy little guys, WE ASSIMILATED THEM. This explains a lot of things, such as why we’re the hairiest people on the planet (scratching chest, back, palm of hand). And now you know why cats won’t descend from trees- it’s ’cause we DID.”

    Three black dudes in the front row almost fell out of their chairs while I doing that schtick. Good times.

  15. E.M.Smith says:

    @Mr Lynn:

    No worries…

    BTW, you are correct about the valley, but the biological terms ought not to change. From:

    we have:

    None of this affects the taxonomic name of the Neandertals. William King proposed the name Homo neanderthalensis in 1864. Since then, opinion has fluctuated as to whether they should be considered Homo sapiens neanderthalensis (a subspecies of Homo sapiens) or a separate species, Homo neanderthalensis. For the first half of the 20th century, they were usually considered a separate species. For the last few decades they have usually been considered a subspecies, but recently Homo neanderthalensis has been gaining in popularity again. In either case, the ‘h’ must remain in the name, because the laws governing biological nomenclature forbid changing the spelling.

    So you can have a common name of Neandertal, or use the botanical name of Neanderthal (and I’d note that both Google and WordPress spell checkers prefer with the “h”…)

    But not to worry, as also noted in that link:

    See also science fiction author Robert Sawyer’s page on the ‘Neanderthal or Neandertal’ question. For my site, I chose the ‘Neandertal’ spelling, while Sawyer makes a good case for the ‘Neanderthal’ usage. As he says, it basically comes down to a matter of choice. (I went with ‘Neandertal’ mainly because Trinkaus and Shipman used it in their excellent book The Neandertals.)

    I tend to swap between them. Using Neanderthal for common usage or if I want a retro feel, and using Neandertal when I want to sound European and a bit more snooty… and sometimes just because I like the way it feels when you say “Neandertal”…

  16. E.M.Smith says:

    @P.G.Sharrow: You meet the nicest people in the Can’t Jump family reunion … and some of the best BBQ with techniques handed down for generations…

    Sidebar: We’re having a minor downpour here in SF Bay Area California. Really typical March weather…. Er, March? Yeah… March… Cold, wet, rain. Not at all like the 80 dry hot of a typical May…

    @The Monster:

    I’m sorry, but that is DEFINITELY a Cro-Magnon! Just look at how long the legs are! And the high forehead! And that skinny little waist with the long space between hip bones and ribs, not Neandertal at all..

    @ Doug Jones:

    Got me chuckling… Especially the cat part ;-) Now I know why my cat won’t come when I call him either… they found a LOT of odd bones in those Neander bone pits… If it moves, we’d eat it, if it doesn’t move, we’d try ;-)

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