Re: _the neandertal enigma_ questions

JamShreeve (
19 Sep 1995 10:14:05 -0400


Good questions. I'll try to answer some and maybe somebody else can
address others.

1. sexual dimorphism in Neandertals. Sexual dimorphism isn't all that
easy to determine unless you have a great number of skeletons that can be
averaged out. That said, most investigators believe there was greater
sexual dimorphism in Neandertals than in modern humans. A Neandertal
female, however, was still a much more robust individual than any modern
female. Olga Soffer uses this to bolster her argument that they were
fully capable of provisioning themselves and their offspring without a lot
of help from males.

2. what Wilson meant by the future "not involving human bodies anymore:"
Beats me. I asked him what he meant when he said it, but he just sort of
shrugged and looked away. As you can tell from the book, it was a strange

3. infant mortality in primates: I'm sure there are studies of this for
various species but you'd have to look around. I know that Goodall
reported high infant mortality for the chimps at Gombe, something like
25-30% mortality in the first year of life.

4. DNA studies: Unfortunately more subjects won't solve the problem.
They already have enough samples so that more won't change things
statistically, the same way that a Gallup poll that samples a few thousand
people pretty much does reflect the sentiments of the whole population.
The problem with the origianl mtDNA work was the method of comparing the
samples, not their number.

5. I'm ignorant about fossilized sound. What is it?

6. ASL. There may be skeptics, but the people I've read/talked to treat
ASL as a fully developed language. See Steve Pinkar's excellent book,
"The Language Instinct."

Hope this helps a little. I'm glad the book is being read by informed and
interested people like you. James Shreeve