In Plain Sight, Our Neanderthal Ancestors

Left brain-right brain, intuitive-intellectual, patriarchy-matriarchy, make love-not war; is there a reason humankind seems so bi-polar? Maybe there is and the answer might be surprising.  Of all the racially bigoted stereotypes that have made their way into public consciousness, none are more incorrect and odious than those attributed to the ancient race of humans called Neanderthal. The use of the phrase ‘race of humans’ is deliberate. If people all over today’s world carry at least two per cent or more Neanderthal DNA in their genes, then Neanderthals were not our ‘cousins’, nor were they ‘a branch of the human tree’ - they were our early ancestors.  If we carry their genes, they did not disappear. Their stay on earth was a lot longer than ours has been so far, and they did not become extinct. They became us.

Neanderthal stereotyped (Fotolia)

Neanderthal stereotyped (Fotolia)

Removing the Grunt

Neanderthals were not Alley-Oop, cartoon-like, ignorant, dumb, hairy creatures who walked heavily and carried big sticks. They made jewelry and specialized tools. They buried their dead with dignity, conducting funerals with flowers and memorabilia, just as we do today. They believed in an afterlife. They used makeup similar to what is found in every medicine cabinet in the so-called civilized world of today, but theirs was made of ocher and other natural pigments. They produced art which evidenced ‘symbolic thinking’ - the critical thought patterns needed to form a religious world-view.  They did not grunt at each other. Modern studies done on Neanderthal remains prove they had vocal cords physically capable of speech patterns sufficient to produce and understand language. They probably had voices that were similar to people today who speak in raspy, high-pitched tones. Jon Mooallem, writing in the January 11, 2017 edition of the New York Times, went so far as to say they may have sounded a bit like Julia Childs.


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