In Praise of Neanderthals

 

New Study: Some Neanderthal DNA may be protective against severe illness from COVID.

With several state governors (Democratic and Republican) lifting their coronavirus pandemic restrictions and mask mandates, President Biden responded by sharply insulting them. He accused them of “Neanderthal thinking.”

Except maybe it wasn’t the insult he intended.

While the media is giving much attention to Biden’s and his administration’s criticism of those governors, none appears to be given to this study published by the National Academy of Sciences just two days ago. Its title: “A genomic region associated with protection against severe COVID-19 is inherited from Neandertals.” Further:

“We show that a haplotype on chromosome 12, which is associated with a ∼22% reduction in relative risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19 when infected by SARS-CoV-2, is inherited from Neandertals.”

Of course, I turned to my 23andMe report and was greeted by this banner.

I can’t ascertain whether my report shows me as possessing the COVID-protective haplotype. But since I seem to possess more Neanderthal DNA than most other 23andMe customers, especially from Europe, my odds seem good. “This haplotype is present at substantial frequencies in all regions of the world outside Africa. The genomic region where this haplotype occurs encodes proteins that are important during infections with RNA viruses.”

It turns out that Neanderthals – often derisively referred to as “cavemen” – picked up some pretty useful DNA modifications for fighting infectious diseases of their day that are proving somewhat helpful today. They also contributed to the evolvement of humans in some other important ways, too.

“Neanderthals lived in nuclear families. Discoveries of elderly or deformed Neanderthal skeletons suggest that they took care of their sick and those who could not care for themselves. Neanderthals typically lived to be about 30 years old, though some lived longer. It is accepted that Neanderthals buried their dead, though whether or not they left carved bone shards as grave goods is debated.

“It is not known if they had language, though the large size and complex nature of their brains (emphasis added) make it a likely possibility.

“Neanderthals used stone tools similar to the ones used by other early humans, including blades and scrapers made from stone flakes. As time went on, they created tools of greater complexity, utilizing materials like bones and antlers. Evan Hadingham of PBS’s NOVA reported that Neanderthals used a type of glue, and later pitch, to attach stone tips to wooden shafts, creating formidable hunting spears.”

I support the decision of governors to ease restrictions, even mask mandates (some states, like Florida and South Dakota, never imposed them). I even appreciate the very progressive Democratic governor of Pennsylvania lifting travel restrictions. Fans are beginning to attend NHL games again. So, I guess that makes me guilty of Neanderthal thinking.

Guilty as charged. You should be so fortunate.

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  1. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Kelly D Johnston: With several state governors (Democratic and Republican) lifting their coronavirus pandemic restricts and mask mandates, President Biden responded by sharply insulting them. He accused them of “Neanderthal thinking.”

    Wow.

    No wonder they won’t let this idiot do a press conference.

    • #1
  2. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    This could also help explain why Blacks Latinos are more likely to get ill as they don’t have as much of that European Neanderthal DNA.

    • #2
  3. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Enlightening.  A search on “which region has the most Neandertal DNA” returns that it’s East Asia.  That’s interesting too, given how things have panned out in East Asia relative to COVID.  Here’s an NIH article abstract acknowledging that Europeans are much more affected than East Asians (emphasis mine).  Proposed reasons? 1) Differences in social behaviors/customs, 2)More virulent infections in Europe, 3)possibility of corona-resistant gene mutation in East Asians as result of long-term co-evolution of virus and host, and 4) hygiene.

    Of those four reasons, #3 sounds plausibly related to the genetic theory.  Wouldn’t that be something?

    Perhaps it’s also time that modern mxn and womxn dusted off their contempt for the so-called “Dark Ages,” and took another look at old-timer remedies such as Bald’s Eye-Salve:

    Scientists are studying a millennium-old medicinal recipe they say might be able to kill some antibiotic-resistant bacterial structures: onions, garlic, a splash of wine, and some cow bile. The ingredients sound like a house vinaigrette until you get to, well, the cow bile.

    Not so daft, a lot of those old timers.  We could learn a lot.

    Too bad history’s been cancelled.

    • #3
  4. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    She (View Comment):

    old-timer remedies such as Bald’s Eye-Salve:

    Scientists are studying a millennium-old medicinal recipe they say might be able to kill some antibiotic-resistant bacterial structures: onions, garlic, a splash of wine, and some cow bile. The ingredients sound like a house vinaigrette until you get to, well, the cow bile.

    Not so daft, a lot of those old timers. We could learn a lot.

    We have learned a lot from them.  We still use alcohol swabs.

    The wine in that recipe killed bacteria, I’m sure.  The other stuff, not so much.

    • #4
  5. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak
    • #5
  6. Ekosj Member
    Ekosj
    @Ekosj

     Neanderthal thinking is one of the great mysteries of science.   Neanderthals actually had bigger brains than Homo sapiens.  And brains are notoriously expensive to evolve in terms of nutritional requirements.   So they don’t evolve unless they convey a serious evolutionary edge.    But Neanderthals didn’t leave any evidence behind to indicate just what they were using those big brains to do.

    • #6
  7. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    old-timer remedies such as Bald’s Eye-Salve:

    Scientists are studying a millennium-old medicinal recipe they say might be able to kill some antibiotic-resistant bacterial structures: onions, garlic, a splash of wine, and some cow bile. The ingredients sound like a house vinaigrette until you get to, well, the cow bile.

    Not so daft, a lot of those old timers. We could learn a lot.

    We have learned a lot from them. We still use alcohol swabs.

    The wine in that recipe killed bacteria, I’m sure. The other stuff, not so much.

    Maybe sort of like the active/inactive ingredient recapitulation that we see on many modern medicines?  Although, surely, the action of human bile WRT bactericide seem to be pretty well known.  (No, I’m not a doctor.  Nor do I play one on TV.  I’m just Googling furiously.  LOL.)

    Ditto, on all fronts, garlic.  (Yeah, I fast-forwarded to the conclusion.  The math, not to mention the Science! in the rest of it gives me a rash. For which I don’t know the cure, althought Great-Granny’s maid, Maudie Nichols would probably have offered dock leaves.)

    And (crimenutely) even onions! No wonder I like them so much.  It’s not of interest to me, but I did note the linked reference in the article to “Testosterone in Males as Enhanced by Onion.”  No idea what that’s about. Crikey.

    • #7
  8. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Kelly D Johnston: With several state governors (Democratic and Republican) lifting their coronavirus pandemic restricts and mask mandates, President Biden responded by sharply insulting them. He accused them of “Neanderthal thinking.”

    Wow.

    No wonder they won’t let this idiot do a press conference.

    I sure am happy about the “return to civility”…

    • #8
  9. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Kozak (View Comment):

    This could also help explain why Blacks Latinos are more likely to get ill as they don’t have as much of that European Neanderthal DNA.

    That might be a real thing. Different racial groups do have different levels of disease resistance. 

    • #9
  10. DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) Coolidge
    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!)
    @DonG

    Do you remember a few weeks ago, when Joe Biden promised to fire anyone in the White House that insulted others? 

    • #10
  11. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) (View Comment):

    Do you remember a few weeks ago, when Joe Biden promised to fire anyone in the White House that insulted others?

    Safe to say that he has forgotten that promise.  Try an easy one; like what he had for breakfast this morning.

    • #11
  12. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    She (View Comment):

    Enlightening. A search on “which region has the most Neandertal DNA” returns that it’s East Asia. That’s interesting too, given how things have panned out in East Asia relative to COVID. Here’s an NIH article abstract acknowledging that Europeans are much more affected than East Asians (emphasis mine). Proposed reasons? 1) Differences in social behaviors/customs, 2)More virulent infections in Europe, 3)possibility of corona-resistant gene mutation in East Asians as result of long-term co-evolution of virus and host, and 4) hygiene.

    Of those four reasons, #3 sounds plausibly related to the genetic theory. Wouldn’t that be something?

    Perhaps it’s also time that modern mxn and womxn dusted off their contempt for the so-called “Dark Ages,” and took another look at old-timer remedies such as Bald’s Eye-Salve:

    Scientists are studying a millennium-old medicinal recipe they say might be able to kill some antibiotic-resistant bacterial structures: onions, garlic, a splash of wine, and some cow bile. The ingredients sound like a house vinaigrette until you get to, well, the cow bile.

    Not so daft, a lot of those old timers. We could learn a lot.

    Too bad history’s been cancelled.

    Some people take Ox Bile supplements for indigestion.

    • #12
  13. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    old-timer remedies such as Bald’s Eye-Salve:

    Scientists are studying a millennium-old medicinal recipe they say might be able to kill some antibiotic-resistant bacterial structures: onions, garlic, a splash of wine, and some cow bile. The ingredients sound like a house vinaigrette until you get to, well, the cow bile.

    Not so daft, a lot of those old timers. We could learn a lot.

    We have learned a lot from them. We still use alcohol swabs.

    The wine in that recipe killed bacteria, I’m sure. The other stuff, not so much.

    Garlic and onion have antimicrobial properties.

    I was joking with my husband that there’s as much scientific support for garlic necklaces as there are for universal mask wearing.

    • #13
  14. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Stina (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    old-timer remedies such as Bald’s Eye-Salve:

    Scientists are studying a millennium-old medicinal recipe they say might be able to kill some antibiotic-resistant bacterial structures: onions, garlic, a splash of wine, and some cow bile. The ingredients sound like a house vinaigrette until you get to, well, the cow bile.

    Not so daft, a lot of those old timers. We could learn a lot.

    We have learned a lot from them. We still use alcohol swabs.

    The wine in that recipe killed bacteria, I’m sure. The other stuff, not so much.

    Garlic and onion have antimicrobial properties.

    I was joking with my husband that there’s as much scientific support for garlic necklaces as there are for universal mask wearing.

    Is this a subtle put-down of garlic necklaces?

    • #14
  15. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Isn’t it funny that Neanderthals has brains 20-25% bigger than modern man?

    • #15
  16. Goldgeller Member
    Goldgeller
    @Goldgeller

    It weird because Biden is trying to say he never said he’d lock the country down but then gets mad at governors opening the country up. It’s remarkably inconsistent. I really don’t think they had a plan for covid. I think they are actually just winging it.

    • #16
  17. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) (View Comment):

    Do you remember a few weeks ago, when Joe Biden promised to fire anyone in the White House that insulted others?

    Safe to say that he has forgotten that promise. Try an easy one; like what he had for breakfast this morning.

    No, no. He’s even less likely to remember that.  The short-term memory is the first to go…

    • #17
  18. Nanocelt TheContrarian Member
    Nanocelt TheContrarian
    @NanoceltTheContrarian

    With several state governors (Democratic and Republican) lifting their coronavirus pandemic restrictions and mask mandates, President Biden responded by sharply insulting them. He accused them of “Neanderthal thinking.”

    At least the governors are thinking. I’ll take Neandertal thinking over no thinking at all. Joe Biden rarely, if ever, engages his brain (compromised as it is) before engaging his mouth. Which is the reason, I believe, his handlers limit his press conferences. He can’t even read a teleprompter any longer. 

    • #18
  19. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Nanocelt TheContrarian (View Comment):

    With several state governors (Democratic and Republican) lifting their coronavirus pandemic restrictions and mask mandates, President Biden responded by sharply insulting them. He accused them of “Neanderthal thinking.”

    At least the governors are thinking. I’ll take Neandertal thinking over no thinking at all. Joe Biden rarely, if ever, engages his brain (compromised as it is) before engaging his mouth. Which is the reason, I believe, his handlers limit his press conferences. He can’t even read a teleprompter any longer.

    Yesterday he offered to take questions and they cut the feed.

    • #19
  20. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Nanocelt TheContrarian (View Comment):

    With several state governors (Democratic and Republican) lifting their coronavirus pandemic restrictions and mask mandates, President Biden responded by sharply insulting them. He accused them of “Neanderthal thinking.”

    At least the governors are thinking. I’ll take Neandertal thinking over no thinking at all. Joe Biden rarely, if ever, engages his brain (compromised as it is) before engaging his mouth. Which is the reason, I believe, his handlers limit his press conferences. He can’t even read a teleprompter any longer.

    Yesterday he offered to take questions and they cut the feed.

    Yeah, I saw that.  I never did hear an explanation for the abrupt halt.  Obviously, it was because he’s a doddering old fool who would terrify the country if they allowed him to attempt to answer questions.

    Of course the press doesn’t question it; you won’t hear any inquiries from the resident idiot Jim Acosta.  They just love Biden to death….

    • #20
  21. Ansonia Member
    Ansonia
    @Ansonia

    Ekosj (View Comment):

    Neanderthal thinking is one of the great mysteries of science. Neanderthals actually had bigger brains than Homo sapiens. And brains are notoriously expensive to evolve in terms of nutritional requirements. So they don’t evolve unless they convey a serious evolutionary edge. But Neanderthals didn’t leave any evidence behind to indicate just what they were using those big brains to do.

    Art.
    Watch “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” for a look at their 32,000 year old work. The drawings took my breath away. Cave of Forgotten Dreams is a documentary by that Werner Herzog, the man whose more recent one was reviewed on Ricochet.

    The documentary is on a cave containing Neanderthal drawings discovered in the 1990’s. I don’t know how those drawings compare to earlier discoveries of Neanderthal work discussed in G.K. Chesterton’s book: The Everlasting Man.

    Renting Herzog’s film on Amazon Prime will only cost you $3.99, I think.

    • #21
  22. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Ansonia (View Comment):

    Ekosj (View Comment):

    Neanderthal thinking is one of the great mysteries of science. Neanderthals actually had bigger brains than Homo sapiens. And brains are notoriously expensive to evolve in terms of nutritional requirements. So they don’t evolve unless they convey a serious evolutionary edge. But Neanderthals didn’t leave any evidence behind to indicate just what they were using those big brains to do.

    Art.
    Watch “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” for a look at their 32,000 year old work. The drawings took my breath away. Cave of Forgotten Dreams is a documentary by that Werner Herzog, the man whose more recent one was reviewed on Ricochet.

    The documentary is on a cave containing Neanderthal drawings discovered in the 1990’s. I don’t know how it compares to earlier discoveries of their work discussed in G.K. Chesterton’s book: The Everlasting Man.

    Renting Herzog’s film on Amazon Prime will only cost you $3.99, I think.

    Yes, they used fire, made stone blades and rope, buried their dead, wove fabric, created ornamentation, invented glue, made flutes, and were artists.  And yet anthropologists wonder if they could talk.

    • #22
  23. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Isn’t it funny that Neanderthals has brains 20-25% bigger than modern man?

    No wonder I’m so smart.  And all this time, when somebody called me a Neanderthal, I thought it was an insult! 

    • #23