word-poem://Neanderthal

The original Neaderthal was probably a man

Synopsis, Sleeping with the Enemy by Elizabeth Kolbert,
New Yorker, August 15 & 22, 2011 

There is no evidence that Neaderthals ever caused the extinction of any species, whereas for modern humans, we do it very well.

Moas—giant flightless birds—populated New Zealand before the arrival of the Maori. Giant marsupials once browsed Australia and varied megafauna used to inhabit North America. A zebralike animal known as a quagga was hunted to extinction in the 1800s. Before modern humans “replaced” the Neanderthals, they had sex with them. Their bad luck was us.

There were times when one despaired, Pääbo said. We tried to make this result go away. There were bones from the La Brea tar pits and fossilized insects preserved in amber. A new round of transgenic mice had just been born and was being raised under sterile conditions in the basement. Pääbo ‘s colleagues remained skeptical. They urged him to forget about shriveled corpses. As far as can be determined, most of it is junk.

With old bones, you never really know what you’re going to get. Clearly all of these remains could not be explained by stories of disoriented Cossacks or rachitic spelunkers. Yet, Neanderthals are not totally extinct—they live on a bit in us. On some occasions, they buried their dead.

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