Monday, August 25, 2014

Your Average Joe (Neanderthal)

                                         photo: Eric Draper
This headline is a sitting duck: “Neanderthals in Europe Died Out Thousands of Years Earlier Than Some Thought, Study Says” (NYT, 8/20/14). The substance of the piece is rather bland and one wonders why it even received the amount of space it did, considering the fact that the world is on fire. The crux is that Neanderthals were formerly estimated to have disappeared 30,000 years ago and now the estimate has been changed to 40,000. Big fucking deal! “Where’s the beef?” There is one telling paragraph, however, which reads: “A recent analysis of Neanderthal DNA shows that Neanderthals and modern humans not only crossed paths, but also interbred. For non-African people living today, 1 to 4 percent of their genome has Neanderthal origins.” As Warner Wolf used to say, “let’s go to the videotape!” 1-4%? There must be some sort of mistake. If you look around there are still Neanderthals all over Europe including certainly Russia, Southeast Asia and the Americas and many of them occupy positions of enormous influence and power. Vladimir Putin is a major example of a political leader who seems to possess a good many Neanderthal genes. But the newly indicted Governor of Texas, Rick Perry is someone whose genome should be immediately tested. Turning our attention to the Middle East Bashar al-Assad, along with the recently deposed Prime Minister of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki should receive immediate genome testing by the CDC or whoever is responsible for genetic monitoring of international leaders.  Of course, Neanderthals are not only limited to prominent politicians. Neanderthal like behavior is identifiable at all the levels of society. Despite the article in Nature which is the basis for the Times piece, it’s obvious that Neanderthals are everyone.


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