Re: Modern Neanderthals?

Daniel D Scripture (
20 Oct 1996 02:32:10 GMT

In article <>,
D K Murray <> wrote:
>Is the argument for H.N. not swimming against the taxonomic tide a
>bit? There is a serious argument circulating that chimps should be
>genus Homo, not Pan (based mainly on genetic evidence, although their
>intellectual and linguistic potential is intriguing). There are other
>areas where species formerly regarded as separate are now seen as
>possibly not (eg. various gulls).
>Don Johanson seemed to think that a Neanderthal, or even an Erectus,
>dressed in a modern suit might just about pass muster on the subway
>(although as what I cannot recall), and whether we biologically could
>or socially would interbreed is hard to determine. Should a judicious
>application of Occam's razor not result in the designation of the
>fewest species neccessary for our naming system to be useful to us?
>If the recent finds in Australia are what some claim them to be, does
>this cause problems for the H.N. view? What on earth was Twin Peaks all about?
>Best wishes D.
>PS thanks for the prompt and polite reply, if you can answer the last
>question, the others should be pure dead easy, as they say in Dundee.

_Twin Peaks_ was about incest, but the producers chickened out toward
the end of the show, and went for silly mysticism to try to resolve
what the show had created.

Now, on to the easy questions ;-).

First, in reference to someone else's comments, has our understanding
of the human genome arrived at the point where it is possible to tell
if a divergent subspecies has rejoined the main gene pool, which is
how I understood the implication of the post? (not my field, and my
education was well along before DNA was even discovered, not to
mention mitachondrial DNA) So the question is straight, not

Second, and again, this may reflect ignorance on my part, but is it
possible that h.s.s. still carries the genes that, if expressed, given
an environment in which they are selectively favored, would amount to being a
Neandertal? This question is prompted by the general impression that
so much DNA is shared among all animals, and even a lot with plants.
That is, that all species possess an enormous wealth of genetic
material, on which evolution works, but what is going on is what
genetic material is selected to be _expressed_, as opposed to eliminated.

And third, and this is more whimsical, and is prompted by a number of
posts in this thread, just how many people reading this thread think
that they have some clearly identifiable Neandertal feature?

Since I've asked a personal question, I'm bound to answer first:

I have a very obvious occipital bun, or at least obvious when my hair
is cut short. My hat size is the largest standard (American) hat
size, since the Neandertal (?) conformation of the whole back of my
skull extends its length so much. My head is so big that with one
standard size larger, I wouldn't have been draftable way back when.
I can't even really wear hats, because if I get one big enough to fit
over the bun, which is necessary since the back of my skull slopes so
much down to the bun,
it looks so big that it looks strange, since I am
not, otherwise, all that big--6 feet, medium to heavy build.
I have enormously strong forearms, and consequently, a strong
precision grip. I have had to learn as I grew up not to break things
designed for ordinary human use--faucets, stuck jar lids, etc. I've
broken glass jars by twisting stuck lids, for instance, and created
geysers by turning off a faucet. My ring finger is the largest standard
size. My wrists are larger than most people. My older
brother has, I suppose, very heavy bones--he can't float at all. I've
watched him--he simply sinks, right to the bottom. I can float,
barely, if I keep enough air in my lungs. I used to tease my swimming
teacher this way--and all swimming teachers believe everyone can
float. I could sink at will. None of the features I've mentioned
are especially noticiable to the casual observer.
I pass in a suit, although Johanson was not the first to
make this quip--it was made early in the century, I forget by whom.
I do have a normal h.s.s. forehead, and jaw, although not an
especially pronounced one. Ethnic ancestry English, Scots,

Dan Scriptue
UC Santa Cruz