modern_human_neanderthal.jpg

Eddie Izzard Is More Neanderthal than Most

From BBC News:

While using comedian Eddie Izzard’s DNA to trace the migration of his ancestors out of Africa and into Europe, geneticist Dr Jim Wilson has discovered that Izzard is 2.8% Neanderthal. This means he has more Neanderthal genes than most people.

In 2010 scientists made a discovery that all human populations that spread out of Africa have a small amount of Neanderthal DNA in them.

I find this stuff fascinating, but let’s be honest—we’re probably talking about non-consensual relations here, right? Do we really think there were secret love affairs between homo sapiens ladies and Neanderthal men? 

Then again, maybe there were some charmers out there.

“Can you keep a secret? I’ve been seeing a new guy. His name is Blerg. He’s a Neanderthal.”

“Get out! What’s he like?”

“Well, he’s got a pronounced brow ridge and he basically just grunts, but he’s in good shape and he’s got a really great sense of humor.”

“You’re not doing anything with him, are you? Are you!?!”

“I’m sneaking out of the cave and meeting him tonight at Mastodon Point.”

“Well, I think it’s romantic, but be careful, if dad finds out, he’ll feed you to the saber-toothed tigers.” 

Seriously, though, does anyone have any insight on this? Is the Neanderthal DNA that we find in the modern human genome a product of intermarriage or sexual violence? My guess is the latter.

Photo: © Neanderthal Museum (Mettmann, Germany)

  1. Western Chauvinist

    Eddie Izzard Is Funnier than Most.  Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm….

  2. Valiuth

    From the stand point of DNA there is no difference between rape and cosensual sex. Also what makes you think the male had to be neanderthal. It could be the other way around.

  3. Matthew Hennessey
    C
    Valiuth: Also what makes you think the male had to be neanderthal. It could be the other way around. · 0 minutes ago

    Of course it could be the other way around. It’s actually very possible. I just couldn’t find a picture of a homo sapiens male and a Neanderthal female looking dreamily into each other’s eyes. 

    ;)

  4. EstoniaKat

    Izzard is coming to Tallinn next month. I’ve got front and center tixs, that I bought months ago. I wonder if he’s going to work it into his new tour.

  5. Sabrdance

    My recollection is that most of our common knowledge about Neanderthals is wrong -they weren’t hunched, they weren’t dumb, they probably had language, et cetera.  What you get for having an archeologist who can’t recognize the signs of age and arthritis in a skeleton.

    So if Neanderthals were not grumbling cavemen, I don’t find their intermarrying with the surrounding peoples -homo sapiens or otherwise -that hard to believe.  Eventually, they were simply absorbed into the large stock of humanity, just like the dozens of tribes of Gaul were absorbed into “French” and the dozen tribes of Angle-land were absorbed into “English.”

  6. Foxman
    Sabrdance: My recollection is that most of our common knowledge about Neanderthals is wrong -they weren’t hunched, they weren’t dumb, they probably had language, et cetera.  What you get for having an archeologist who can’t recognize the signs of age and arthritis in a skeleton.

    So if Neanderthals were not grumbling cavemen, I don’t find their intermarrying with the surrounding peoples -homo sapiens or otherwise -that hard to believe.  Eventually, they were simply absorbed into the large stock of humanity, just like the dozens of tribes of Gaul were absorbed into “French” and the dozen tribes of Angle-land were absorbed into “English.” · 1 minute ago

    I read something about their throats being different which would not enable them to make many “Human” sounds.

    We could have the makings of Geico commercial here

  7. Pat in Obamaland

    That would his explain his connection to the Labour Party.

  8. The Mugwump

    People marry and have children with people of other races all the time.  Why would it be any different for a union between a Neanderthal and a modern homo sapien? 

  9. Tom Meyer

    There’s an excellent novel on the subject by a paleontologist called Dance of the Tiger.  It’s hypothesis was (slight spoiler alert):

    Neanderthals and sapiens interbred fairly regularly after coming into contact.  However, neanderthal women found sapien men particularly attractive, while sapien women did not find neanderthal men very attractive.  (For an analogy, think of how caucausian men often find East Asian women particularly attractive, but how (relatively) rarely caucasuian women find East Asian men alluring in general.)

    The upshot was that pure-bred Neanderthal populations plummeted rapidly, as so many of their women had hybrid children and so few of their men were able to, uh…return the favor.  In the novel, the process was accelerated by the fact that the hybrids were generally sterile (which we now know to be untrue).

    Pure speculation, but reasonably plausible (unlike the Earth’s Children series).  Also, a darn good story.

  10. PHenry

    Seems to me that most women prefer the neanderthal types even to this day.  Of course once they have them they hope to convert them to homo sapien, while complaining bitterly how neanderthal they are.

  11. Fred Cole
    ~Paules: People marry and have children with people of other races all the time.  Why would it be any different for a union between a Neanderthal and a modern homo sapien?  · 19 minutes ago

    Because Neanderthals are a different species.  

  12. Matthew Hennessey
    C
    PHenry: Seems to me that most women prefer the neanderthal types even to this day.  Of course once they have them they hope to convert them to homo sapien, while complaining bitterly how neanderthal they are. · 13 minutes ago

    HA! Very astute.

  13. Libcon

    Who knows? Who cares? But I would like to know why it seems you think it was violence on the part if the Neanderthals and not the humans

  14. Foxman
    Tom Meyer:… while sapien women did not find neanderthal men very attractive.· 31 minutes ago

    Edited 29 minutes ago

    Alcohol might have fixed this.

  15. Tom Meyer
    Fred Cole

    ~Paules: People marry and have children with people of other races all the time.  Why would it be any different for a union between a Neanderthal and a modern homo sapien?  · 19 minutes ago

    Because Neanderthals are a different species.

    That’s controversial: there’s been a long standing debate as to whether they’re a separate species or merely a sub-species (of course, these definitions are pretty plastic themselves).

    In light of the recent genetic evidence, my money would be on sub-species.

  16. The Mugwump
    Fred Cole

    ~Paules: People marry and have children with people of other races all the time.  Why would it be any different for a union between a Neanderthal and a modern homo sapien?  · 19 minutes ago

    Because Neanderthals are a different species.   · 9 minutes ago

    If Neaderthals were a different species they couldn’t have fertile children with a homo sapien partner.  Same species, different race.

  17. Foxman
    William Forester: Who knows? Who cares? But I would like to know why it seems you think it was violence on the part if the Neanderthals and not the humans · 9 minutes ago

    My guess is that both groups were pretty violent

  18. Fred Cole
    Tom Meyer

    Fred Cole

    ~Paules: People marry and have children with people of other races all the time.  Why would it be any different for a union between a Neanderthal and a modern homo sapien?  · 19 minutes ago

    Because Neanderthals are a different species.

    That’s controversial: there’s been a long standing debate as to whether they’re a separate species or merely a sub-species (of course, these definitions are pretty plastic themselves).

    In light of the recent genetic evidence, my money would be on sub-species. · 11 minutes ago

    They’re either Homo neanderthalensis or Homo sapiens neanderthalensis.  If its the former, they’re a different species.  If its the latter they’re a subspecies.

    Paules has a point about fertile offspring, so do you about plasticity of definitions.

    I still like to think of them as a different species.

    In which case, does inter-species, um, partying count as bestiality?

    And interesting theological question, applied to all other members of the homo genus other than H. sapiens, do they have souls?

  19. Fred Cole
    Foxman

    William Forester: Who knows? Who cares? But I would like to know why it seems you think it was violence on the part if the Neanderthals and not the humans · 9 minutes ago

    My guess is that both groups were pretty violent · 11 minutes ago

    Yeah.  Also, one of the two ain’t here anymore.

    And there’s fossil evidence of neanderthals meeting violent ends.

  20. Fricosis Guy

    To give you an idea of how fine interspecies differences can be: tiglons apparently are completely infertile, while ligers can barely be bred (or mated back to lions).

    ~Paules

    Fred Cole

    ~Paules: People marry and have children with people of other races all the time.  Why would it be any different for a union between a Neanderthal and a modern homo sapien?  · 19 minutes ago

    Because Neanderthals are a different species.   · 9 minutes ago

    If Neaderthals were a different species they couldn’t have fertile children with a homo sapien partner.  Same species, different race. · 23 minutes ago