Something funny about anthropology


I actually remember being 13. Does that make me special?

All right. I admit this is a diversion. Since I posted the previous post, large white cars have been driving by the house. They have drilled, stainless steel hubcaps and driver side spotlights. I think the men inside are wearing cheap black suits. So it seems like a good idea to put something else up as the first thing people see. Maybe, if I’m dumb enough, they’ll overlook what I wrote a bit ago.

I told my wife that now I’m well into my sixties I’ve become obsessed with sex. She thinks that’s okay. But there’s no telling what turn it will take. Because I’m old and perverse and far less energetic than Tiger Woods. Why I started pondering History/Discovery/Nat-Geo channel documentaries about Neanderthals.

They’re all obsessed with the same thing these days. DNA. Is there any chance Neanderthals disappeared only because they converged with Cro-Magnons? Or did they just die off because they weren’t smart enough to keep up?

Yeah. I keep watching. But all the shows are about DNA, whether you can get it from bones or Neanderthal teeth, and if you get a positive cross pollination result is it contamination? Would early homo sapiens have had incentive to breed with big clumsy Neanderthals, and if so, why and how? Or is any sign of DNA combination, well, contamination? And why do I keep watching these silly shows that always end with the narrator intoning, “It’s a mystery.”

I have some answers. Now that I’m well into my sixties.

You see, those of us who are that old and had virtuous parents did not have a supply of Playboy magazines to raid in Dad’s bottom drawer. Our whole knowledge of female anatomy came from yellowing copies of the National Geographic. Being from a highly educated, thoroughly Episcopalian, and ridiculously naive WASP clan, I discovered that my sainted grandparents had a 30 year collection of the National Geographic magazine stored in the attic. Eureka!

They have breasts on the Amazon River. They have breasts and buttocks in the Ubangi tribe of Africa. And the Neanderthals have all of that and pubic hair too.

There was no sex education in those days. You took it where you could get it. I must concede that my mother was a Mickey Spillane fan, and I learned a lot by borrowing the paperbacks hidden under the towels on the bathroom shelf. (A lot.) Also, we had huge color-plate editions of the masterpieces on display at the Uffizi Gallery, the Louvre, and did I mention the Uffizi Gallery? Who else do you know whose first intense moment of pleasure was watching Hera create the Milky Way, never mind how. (She was naked when she did it if that helps.)

But National Geographic was always the nuts and bolts of female anatomy. The way they really looked. Which was wonderful.

The photographs were great, though mostly black and white. You want more. Which is where the artists’ renditions of cave women came into play. Don’t know who those artists were, but they captured the ultimate attraction of wild women. They don’t know, don’t care, aren’t concerned at all about being stark naked.

As I said. Funny. The anthropologists can wonder all they want. Truth is, of COURSE Cro-Magnons would have mated with Neanderthal women. Everyone from 13 to 18 would have taken the plunge without a second thought. Probably the older guys too.

Solving the question of whether or not there’s Neanderthal DNA in homo sapiens. Of course there is. Have you ever been to a mall? A mall in Kentucky?

Sorry. Cheap joke. I see Neanderthals at the Christiana Mall outside Wilmington, DE, and Cherry Hill, NJ, too.

There’s also this movie. About a guy from my home state.

I rest my case. Do you get the funny? The academics could have saved themselves years of research and hundreds of hours of documentaries. But that would be against their Cro-Magnon nature. They’re so sapiens.

Cars still driving by… If you don’t hear from me in a few days, do NOT call 911. Wouldn’t be good for your health.

P.S. Okay. Since one of my oldest friends insisted, here’s a link to my first erotic experience ever. Full disclosure: I was 11, which makes it 50 years ago almost exactly. Why I indulge a single time in TMI. Meanwhile, my wife is telling me to watch out for descending ladders from helicopters. Just so we’re keeping everything in perspective here.

  1. Tim’s avatar

    I merely chuckled at this post when I first read it. Over the weekend, the missus just so happened to have one of these exact programs dialed up on Netflix. I walked in during a moment where several scientists were breathlessly explaining test results from Europeans that showed Neanderthal DNA. How could this be? HOW?? It was complete with dramatic music as the narrator said, “So he made them run the tests again…and again…and again!” When another, very serious-looking scientist, got on camera to explain that, “We had to be absolutely sure” I thought of this post and laughed heartily.

    When asked what was so funny, I explained this post to her. She laughed, too, and suddenly lost interest in watching the rest of the show. The post really is more funny if you watch one of these programs.

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