The truth is out on one of the most debated questions in anthroplogy: Did humans mate with their prehistoric cousin, the Neanderthal?
According to a new report from the acclaimed journal Science the answer is a resounding YES!
Neanderthals never truly went extinct, they live on within us, for part of us is them. According to lead researcher Svante Paabo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, "It's certainly an indication of what went on socially when Neanderthal and modern humans met."
Bottom line: We have met the Neandertahal and he, or she, is us. The irrefutable evidence is in DNA recovered from ancient human bones. That's a summary of the science part of the story. Here is the personal part. My story:
At long last I understand the ancestry of the copious volumes of body hair I still sprout. Now I know why I feel a need to sleep with the window open even in winter, why I awake at the very crack of dawn, why I get restless when I can not trek in the woods, why I like to shelter in desert caves, why I chose to sleep under stars when I camp in the mountains and why I feel kindship with the wolf and owl and all things wild. And now I know why I have failed mastering technical computer skills, text messaging and most modern electronic high-speed devices. Neanderthals did not need to. We hunted. We gathered, and on occasion we mated with our trim and sexier cousins; modern humans. The study went on to state that there is some cave man biology in most of us: Between 1% and 4 % of genes in people from European and Asian background trace back to Neanderthal. One day soon when commercial gene testing firms figure out how to measure the exact percentage of Neanderthal DNA locked in my genes I'm betting I''ll be at least 4%
. And then at long last I will have my final explanation for functioning at times like an old scratchy long playing 33 record in an iPod world. As for the picture, yes that's really me, in my hippy days in the woods of Goddard College in the hills of Vermont - at the time when my nearly prehistoric never ending love affair with nature's way blossomed and hair still grew on top of my head.