Permalink to Eddie Izzard Is More Neanderthal than Most

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)

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Members have made 35 comments.

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  1. Profile photo of Western Chauvinist Member

    Eddie Izzard Is Funnier than Most. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm….

    • #1
    • February 21, 2013 at 9:31 am
  2. Profile photo of Valiuth Member

    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.

    • #2
    • February 21, 2013 at 9:33 am
  3. Profile photo of Matthew Hennessey Contributor
    Matthew Hennessey Post author
    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. 

    😉

    • #3
    • February 21, 2013 at 9:34 am
  4. Profile photo of Scott Abel Member

    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.

    • #4
    • February 21, 2013 at 9:50 am
  5. Profile photo of Sabrdance Member

    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.”

    • #5
    • February 21, 2013 at 9:59 am
  6. Profile photo of Foxman Inactive
    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

    • #6
    • February 21, 2013 at 10:06 am
  7. Profile photo of Pat in Obamaland Inactive

    That would his explain his connection to the Labour Party.

    • #7
    • February 21, 2013 at 10:21 am
  8. Profile photo of The Mugwump Inactive

    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? 

    • #8
    • February 21, 2013 at 10:23 am
  9. Profile photo of Tom Meyer, Ed. Editor

    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.

    • #9
    • February 21, 2013 at 10:28 am
  10. Profile photo of PHenry Member

    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.

    • #10
    • February 21, 2013 at 10:37 am
  11. Profile photo of Fred Cole Member
    ~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.

    • #11
    • February 21, 2013 at 10:50 am
  12. Profile photo of Matthew Hennessey Contributor
    Matthew Hennessey Post author
    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.

    • #12
    • February 21, 2013 at 10:53 am
  13. Profile photo of Libcon Member

    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

    • #13
    • February 21, 2013 at 10:55 am
  14. Profile photo of Foxman Inactive
    Tom Meyer:… while sapien women did not find neanderthal men very attractive.· 31 minutes ago

    Edited 29 minutes ago

    Alcohol might have fixed this.

    • #14
    • February 21, 2013 at 11:03 am
  15. Profile photo of Tom Meyer, Ed. Editor
    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.

    • #15
    • February 21, 2013 at 11:03 am
  16. Profile photo of The Mugwump Inactive
    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.

    • #16
    • February 21, 2013 at 11:04 am
  17. Profile photo of Foxman Inactive
    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

    • #17
    • February 21, 2013 at 11:14 am
  18. Profile photo of Fred Cole Member
    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?

    • #18
    • February 21, 2013 at 11:24 am
  19. Profile photo of Fred Cole Member
    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.

    • #19
    • February 21, 2013 at 11:26 am
  20. Profile photo of Fricosis Guy Coolidge

    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

    • #20
    • February 21, 2013 at 11:38 am
  21. Profile photo of Matthew Hennessey Contributor
    Matthew Hennessey Post author
    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 · 41 minutes ago

    See comment #3.

    • #21
    • February 21, 2013 at 11:38 am
  22. Profile photo of Foxman Inactive

    I read that the Neanderthal ate meat almost exclusively. The omnivorous Cro-Magnon would have an advantage in that a given area could support more Cro-Magnon than Neanderthal.

    • #22
    • February 21, 2013 at 11:38 am
  23. Profile photo of Tom Meyer, Ed. Editor
    Fred Cole

    And interesting theological question, applied to all other members of the homo genus other than H. sapiens, do they have souls? · 19 minutes ago.

    I’ve always been curious to see that conversation as well. It’s amazing to think that there were once two distinct sentient (sub-) species on the planet. Did Neanderthals have original sin? Were they redeemed through the Resurrection?

    • #23
    • February 21, 2013 at 11:53 am
  24. Profile photo of Fake John/Jane Galt Thatcher

    I thought that the cross breeding was because Neanderthals were good at music. Everybody knows that a woman’s standards go right out the window when a musician is the running. Look at the RocknRoll musicians and tell me you don’t see the Neanderthal genes running strong.

    • #24
    • February 22, 2013 at 3:38 am
  25. Profile photo of Z in MT Member

    The newer stuff I have seen, granted mostly popular news and PBS documentaries, is that scientists are starting to lean toward Neanderthals being a sub-species. In all likelihood Neanderthals are more similar to their human sapien counterparts then we are to our human sapien (and Neanderthal) ancestors. 

    Look at dogs. If Chihuahuas and St. Bernards can be the same species, why not Neanderthals and Humans?

    • #25
    • February 22, 2013 at 6:14 am
  26. Profile photo of Fred Cole Member
    Valiuth
    ~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? · 11 hours ago

    Really the genetic difference between you and a neanderthal is far greater than between you and an Asian or African person. So it is quite different. in a sense. Neanderthals are not just another race but really another species. · 8 hours ago

    Yeah. I meant to mention this before. “Race” as we understand it is a social construct, not a scientific one.

    There aren’t “races,” there are haplogroups. Certain haplogroups are native to certain general locations, but they’re local divisions of the same h. sapien and not anything close to our concept of “race.”

    And we intermix haplogroups all the time.

    • #26
    • February 22, 2013 at 6:30 am
  27. Profile photo of Fred Cole Member
    Tom Meyer
    Fred Cole

    And interesting theological question, applied to all other members of the homo genus other than H. sapiens, do they have souls? · 19 minutes ago.

    I’ve always been curious to see that conversation as well. It’s amazing to think that there were once two distinct sentient (sub-) species on the planet. Did Neanderthals have original sin? Were they redeemed through the Resurrection? · 18 hours ago

    There are theological and even creationist answers to these things.

    Evolutionary Creationism also accepts the geologic and biologic records, and makes its creationist distinction in that there were a literal Adam and Eve who were simply the first spiritually aware humans, though they came into being in the same way as all early humans.

    For what its worth, that’s the kind of creationism I can live with. I mean, I don’t agree with it, but I can get along with it.

    • #27
    • February 22, 2013 at 6:34 am
  28. Profile photo of Tom Meyer, Ed. Editor
    Fred Cole

    For what its worth, that’s the kind of creationism I can live with. I mean, I don’t agree with it, but I can get along with it.

    Same here; they’re claims are either non-scientific or non-falsifiable.

    (They’re in error about Catholicism, though: belief in a historical Adam & Eve is required — without the Fall, there’s no need for a Redeemer — so they’re properly Evolutionary Creationists by this rubric.)

    Still, the potential problem is that sentience/spiritual awareness may have emerged independently in neanderthals and sapiens. To my knowledge, what we associate with genuine humanity — art, burial of the dead, etc. — didn’t emerge until after these lineages split. That potentially messes with theology.

    • #28
    • February 22, 2013 at 7:53 am
  29. Profile photo of Valiuth Member
    ~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? · 11 hours ago

    Really the genetic difference between you and a neanderthal is far greater than between you and an Asian or African person. So it is quite different. in a sense. Neanderthals are not just another race but really another species. 

    • #29
    • February 22, 2013 at 10:02 am
  30. Profile photo of Valiuth Member
    Fred Cole

    Yeah. I meant to mention this before. “Race” as we understand it is a social construct, not a scientific one.

    There aren’t “races,” there are haplogroups. Certain haplogroups are native to certain general locations, but they’re local divisions of the same h. sapien and not anything close to our concept of “race.”

    And we intermix haplogroups all the time. · 3 hours ago

    Haplogroups do correlate with canonical races/ethnicities, but certainly “races” as defined by the questions on the US census are just nonsense. Perhaps the best way to think of the relation between human races is by thinking of dog breeds, though humans are far more heterogeneous than dogs who acquire their characteristic traits do to inbreeding. Humans aren’t very inbred for the most part (except maybe European Royal families). In fact I would wager that humans are probably out breeding more now then ever (what with the ease of travel).

    • #30
    • February 22, 2013 at 10:11 am
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