The Caveman and I. And You Too… Or Not.

I recently watched a public television program about Neanderthals. It seems they’ve been upgraded. They apparently had better technology than our own ancestors, including an industrial technique for producing a bonding material for use in affixing spear points to shafts, etc.–the very first industrial-grade technology. They also clearly had the physiology for speech and must have used it to produce all the other clever (i.e. human) things they did.Neanderthalensis

Also, they weren’t really so bad-looking after all. The actors who played them looked different from the actors playing our ancestors. But they looked very human nonetheless. The principal Neanderthal had a rather hooked nose and bore a remarkable resemblance to a contemporary American movie actor. The Cro-Magnon looked like a Knight of the Round Table. His nose was so straight you could have used it to survey a building site.

And then they did a DNA test. 1,000 samples from all parts of the world, to see who had the most Neanderthal genes in the current human population (they’ve known for some time there was hanky-panky going on between us and them). Surprise! Europeans! Specifically, people from Tuscany (3%)…. Tuscany.

The least Neanderthal DNA? (almost none): Sub-Saharan Africans. Then Asians (1%). Well, what a shock. Neanderthals turn out to have bigger brains than us, invented precision tools we couldn’t duplicate till modern times, had an industrial-grade technology, language, funeral rites, used makeup, for petessake…were general all-around smart SOBs. And guess who has the most Neanderthal genes today? White folk!

Sorry about that, you guys in Ghana and Botswana. Just when we had decided to let you into the human race, most of us, we get this new information about Neanderthal genes (the use or purpose of which today in our DNA, if any, is not known). And you Chinese? Nice try. But no cigar.

And now some clever little Harvard type is planning to clone a Neanderthal.  What will we do with her after she’s born? Acknowledge her as a superior life form? Or put her in a cage and sell tickets.

I see a long line of Yuppies clambering to buy a piece of her to inject into their offspring so they can get a leg-up on the other applicants for a place in The Very Best White Pre-School Money Can Buy. Then those children’s offspring do the same…until, one day…the Dream comes true. A master race! Not our race. Not exactly. But close enough.

The program ends with Sir Lancelot making a move on a Neanderthal lass who’s obviously smitten by his fabulous Anglo-Boys_King_Arthur_-_N._C._Wyeth_-_p278Saxon/Tuscan looks. He spots her watching him from behind a tree, just like those lovers in Bollywood films. She ain’t no Guinevere, but she has a certain feral appeal.

And the rest is you-know-what.

About Thomas J. Hubschman

Thomas J. Hubschman is the author of Look at Me Now, My Bess, Song of the Mockingbird, Billy Boy, Father Walther’s Temptation, The Jew’s Wife & Other Stories and three science fiction novels. His work has appeared in New York Press, The Antigonish Review, Eclectica, The Blue Moon Review and many other publications. Two of his short stories were broadcast on the BBC World Service.

Posted on January 30, 2013, in Social Issues and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Now that the Neanderthals have been elevated in stature, and now that it’s the Europeans who got the best genes, perhaps we will stop portraying them as stupid thugs. One can hope.

    Did you know that they are called “Neanderthals” because their first identified remains were found in Neander Valley in Germany. So maybe you and I have an extra helping of Neanderthal genes? As I say, one can hope…

  2. Ah, but I suspect the Tuscan genes are inherited from Goths, Visigoths and Vandals who were looking for warm beaches and easy women. Taking their place in the Fatherland were Franks et al. (viz. Franconia). I have no idea if this is true, just as I have no idea if this PBS program wasn’t just bubbameise, as they say hereabouts. I have come to accept that whatever the Truth is at any given moment, the truth is just the opposite.

    • Would that it were so simple as to be just the opposite, no? There’s the “opposite” of the theory of evolution, which gets us to the “Earth is 6,000 years old” theory.. And the opposite of the Copernican view sounds a lot like the Flat Earth hypothesis.

      I think I’ll stick with uncertainty. Sometimes I call it “mystery,” if it doesn’t sound too religious.

      So no Neanderthal genes, huh?. Maybe it’s time to elevate the Franks. As long as we’re specializing in bubbameise, we can try.

      Thank you. It’s a lift to share your take on Life et al.


  3. The best we’ve been able to do is write a hymntune named after them. Or they were named after the guy who wrote the tune, Joachim Neander, b. 1650, in whose back yard the first of them were discovered.

  4. I like the hymn tune suggestion. Someone should do a symphony now, “The Neanderthal.” Five movements maybe.

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