Re: Modern Neanderthals?
Sat, 19 Oct 1996 16:04:09 -0400

C. Marc Wagner @ UCS wrote:
> Yousuf Khan wrote:
> > Not if neanderthals weren't a separate species. I personally find the whole
> > concept of classifying Neanderthals as a separate species as a racist
> > concept. Scientists who are so disgusted by what they see that they can't
> > stand to classify them in the same category as "us" (whoever "us" may be at
> > the time).
> :
> > I can guarantee you that in the next 100 years that some anthropologists of
> > that time will be sitting around discussing how racist we were for
> > considering Neanderthal features as even remotely significant. Of course,
> > by then they will have their own set of prejudices to overcome.
> How did racism get into this discussion? The cornerstone of the
> distinction between similar species is in the inability to interbreed.
> All known Hominids living today are capable of interbreeding and thus
> are of the same species -- H.s.s. -- and we are of a species with a
> remarkably broad range of variability -- which we call "race" and which
> some use as an excuse to make urselves feel somehow puperior to those
> who are different..
> Speciation is NOT racism! The debate, it seems to me, is whether or not
> Neaderthals were a subspecies (H.sapiens neanderthalensis) and thus
> capable of interbreeding with H.s.s. which co-existed with it. Or
> whether Neaderthals were really Homo neaderthalensis, a separate but
> related species, which COULD NOT interbreed with H.s.s..
> While the "jury" is still out on this (based upon this thread, anyway),
> it is my understanding, from reading this newsgroup over the last
> several months, that the overlap of H.s.s. and Neaderthals was great
> enough that we should have seen some evidence of common features among
> the remains that we have if indeed interbreeding were possible.

When I was just a boy at school there was this physics teacher
who was so Neanderthalish in appearance that it was the first thing you
noticed: we almost expected him to show up in class in animal skins.
He was of medium height, but very stocky in build (we were told he was
an ex Oxbridge rugby man), with brow ridges that stood out from his
forehead, not much chin, and an odd way of standing and walking (could
have been rugby injuries). A rather fearsome sight, taken all in all,
but clean shaven and with a normal hairstyle. He was a very good
teacher, and after he did his bit and left us germs to do our practical
experiments, if the weather was good he would open the lab windows and
sit on a sill, one leg in and the other out, and play Bach rather well
on the violin for his, and our, entertainment.
I'm quite willing to accept this as evidence of Neanderthal
traits surviving into modern European h.s.s. stock, but were there not
skeletal remains discovered in Palestine in the 50s or early 60s that
provided evidence of h.s.s and h.s.n interbreeding? Or do I have to
track down the physics teacher, sacrifice him, and have someone
knowledgeable study his skellington to give a verdict on his s.s or s.n