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Say, “I’m sorry, Uncle Neanderthal”

Hey, remember back when we were in school, when there was absolutely, positively only one species of human? I mean, not counting those hairy Neanderthals that we absolutely, positively didn’t have sex with?

Welp, thanks to modern genetic testing, we’re now up to twenty different species of hominin — that’s a monkeybeast genetically closer to modern humans than modern apes. Looks to me like they’re analyzing old specimens and finding one after the other is sufficiently different to warrant being called a new species.

Godnose where that’s going. Did the others die out? Did our direct ancestors kill them off? Did they interbreed until their genes were indistinguishable? Or do differences in modern humans persist somehow? Those questions are so potentially unacceptable to 2015 sensibilities that I don’t expect to hear clear answers any time soon.

Oh, and ummm…grandma definitely screwed a Neanderthal. Sorry.

Phun phact — do you have your ten foot pole ready to hand? — everybody on earth has some Neanderthal DNA, except sub-Saharan Africans. Even Australian aborigenes, who split off from (probably) Asia freakishly early. I’ve read from 2.5% to 4% of our DNA is caveman.

I had kind of fallen in love with the Neanderthals years ago, long before anyone admitted they were ancestors. I’m sure we’ve done them a great wrong. They wore clothes, used tools, expertly butchered large animals. Played music (flute music!). I mean, what are the chances of a manbeast that sophisticated developing in parallel and being unrelated to modern humans except through a distant ancestor?

But the fact that got to me — when they excavated some burials, they found a layer of pollen on top of Neanderthal skeletons. Meaning they buried their dead covered in flowers. That’s too awesome.

February 12, 2015 — 9:44 pm
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