Tuesday, January 23, 2007

My Managers May Be Neanderthals

I've always suspected that certain managers at my evil global biotech company are part-Neanderthal.

Okay, I'm stereotyping. That's a bad thing. I'm working on the clich̩ assumption that Neanderthals were sort of brutish and lacked good reasoning skills. Picture, if you will, a club-wielding, exceedingly hairy man with a prominent brow ridge, short and slightly bent over, and dressed in bedraggled animal skins, who chooses a mate based on who can be dragged away easiest by their hair. I wouldn't want to be racist (or, I guess, the best term is *species-ist*) about Neanderthals. For all anyone knows, they were tender, loving, hippie types. Just about the only thing known about their culture, as far as I can tell, is that they lived in tight-knit social groups and resisted changing their technology. That's apparently why they died out Рthey didn't adapt to changes in the European climate and didn't cross social groups.

Now imagine if those Neanderthal types were leading a company. Resistant to new ideas from outside their tight-knit group. Not thinking things through in a long-term, rational manner. Dying out because they didn't adapt quickly enough. Yeah, I stick to my original suspicion.

A recent news story suggests that there may, indeed, be real-life Neanderthals working alongside me:


The finding of a skull in a cave in Romania suggests that Cro-Magnon _Homo sapiens_ (early modern humans) may have interbred with Neanderthals (_Homo erectus_), creating a hybrid of the two. HERE is the nitty-gritty research paper. The skull exhibits aspects found on the skulls of both species and dates back 35,000 to 40,000 years ago, to a time when the two species were found together in the same geographic area.

Though their cultures inhabited the same regions, there isn't much evidence that Cro-Magnon and Neanderthals actually mixed culturally or even with warfare, but who knows? Maybe some desperate Cro-Magnon gal drank a little too much fermented ox milk (or whatever the heck they drank), saw a Neanderthal guy from across the field, and thought, "You know, I always wanted to get shagged by Fred Flintstone. Yaba daba doo!"

This isn't a new idea. Back in 1999, the skeleton of a 4-year old boy was found in Portugal, his bones dating back about 24,500 years. HERE is a link to that story. His bone structure suggested he had some Neanderthal ancestry. The interesting thing with that finding is that Neanderthals were thought to have died out by then, so the boy wasn't a "love child" of fermented ox milk, but rather the offspring of generations of hybrids. If so, there's a good chance that the lineage continued onward, perhaps into you and me!

So are some of my managers actually part-Neanderthal, acting on their primitive impulses? Well, let's just say the Cro-Magnon in me isn't interested in mixing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting reconstruction of a Neanderthal child's skull at this link: