Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Another insult bites the dust..

So it seems that we can't use the term "Neanderthal" any more as a slight on someone's intelligence, the reason is somewhat complex but recent genetic research has determined that most of us actually have ancestors who were Neanderthal. To call someone a Neanderthal now is simply a statement of fact rather than an insult.


For many years it has been unclear why this branch of humans died out. The oldest specimens we find are from around 24,000 years ago, but it isn't clear what happened to them. Was it a plague or war or some other environmental factor that drove this apparently hardy species to the cliff edge of existence or was it less dramatic, were they re-integrated with the main Homo-Sapiens line through inter-breeding? This question has had many scientists puzzling for years but according to recent genetic research, we may have an answer. DNA samples from Neanderthal bones have been sequenced and compared with modern human DNA, it would seem that significant interbreeding did indeed take place.

So, it's entirely possible that your great, great, great...(X1000) Granddad coaxed a Neanderthal lady back to his cave one rainy Neolithic afternoon, and we all bear the genetic fingerprints of that encounter; I'll never look at Rugby players the same way again :)

4 comments:

Chairman Bill said...

At least Africans can say they have no Neanderthal in their lineage.

Steve Borthwick said...

CB, yes how ironic! i.e. it's certain African populations who are "pure blood"... that'll get the right wing tea baggers and BNP cretins' blood pressure rising..

G said...

You really should stop looking at Rugby players like that anyway.

Steve Borthwick said...

G, I thought the Neanderthal chap in the picture was the dead spit of S├ębastien Chabal?