Neanderthal Behaviour

My husband thinks I’m a Neanderthal.  I’m pretty sure he’s right.

The first time he brought this up, I shrugged and nodded.  The dictionary definition of neanderthal (uncapitalized) includes descriptors like “primitive, unenlightened barbarian”.  Since I was in the process of licking the steak juice off my plate and had belched audibly a few minutes before, I could hardly argue.

But he wasn’t slamming my table manners, even though I deserved it.  (Did I ever mention that my husband is the most tolerant human being on the face of the earth?  The man deserves a medal for putting up with me.)

Turns out he meant Neanderthal with a capital N.  As in, “an extinct member of the Homo genus known from Pleistocene specimens found in Europe and parts of western and central Asia”, according to Wikipedia.

Neanderthals have been in the news quite a bit lately.  Scientists are beginning to think they (Neanderthals, not scientists) got freaky with so-called “modern man” (homo sapiens) ‘way back when.  Apparently, with the exception of Africans, everybody has at least 1 to 4 percent Neanderthal DNA.  Researchers postulate that it might be a lot more for some of us.  Like me, for instance.

What are a few Neanderthal traits?  Red hair.  Well, yeah.

Heavy bone structure.  When I went in for my baseline bone density exam about 7 years ago, the tech told me I had the hips of a 21-year-old.  So Hubby gets bragging rights for cavorting with a 21-year-old.  Or at least parts thereof.  Which actually sounds pretty creepy when you say it that way.

Particularly strong arms and hands. Um, yeah.  I tore some ligaments in my wrist a few years ago.  After two years of disuse followed by surgery, my grip strength was measured during physio, and it was at the lower end of average… if I was a man.  Off the charts for a woman.  I haven’t had it re-measured since I’ve recovered.  Hmmm.

More evidence:  Hubby and I never share illnesses.  We sleep in the same bed, exchange spit on a regular basis, and don’t make any effort to avoid each other if one of us is sick.  If he gets a cold or a flu, I won’t get it.  And vice versa.  He maintains that this is because he’s “modern man”, and I’m Neanderthal.

And then there’s the whole plate-licking, belching behaviour, along with the fact that I subscribe to the “Knock its horns off, wipe its ass, and chase it once across the grill” method of barbeque.  (Wish I knew where that quote came from).  Although I don’t want to have to apologize to my food when I eat it, I definitely prefer my steaks on the bloody side.

The good news is, Neanderthals weren’t as dumb as we initially thought.  Their brains were as large or larger than homo sapiens, and they probably had language and engaged in social rituals.  Obviously, I didn’t get the “social rituals” part of the DNA, but there’s hope.

The evidence is pretty strong.  So the next time I see the headline “Did Neanderthals have sex with modern man?”, I guess my only correct response is, “Hell, yeah.  Every chance I get.”

Maybe that’s why he puts up with me.

Any Neanderthals swinging in your family tree?

26 thoughts on “Neanderthal Behaviour

  1. Pingback: I’m Such A Snotty Princess | Diane Henders

    • Thank you, Charles! I’m going to file that away in my “Nice things people have said about me” file. “Classy” is a descriptor that’s not often applied to me. 🙂

      And yes, the spelling is my British colonialism sneaking out. The British spelling even makes “faeces” look better. But maybe that’s not a classy observation…


  2. Neanderthals had more fun anyway – you got to whack your mate around like meat, and whack your meat around like, well, more meat. Also, I’m *so* glad to hear you eat your steaks properly! The last person I cooked for from your part of the country (um, your country) took his well done – and here I’d went and whacked some nice steaks and brought them home and everything! So, you guys get down to the DC area and I’ll cook you a proper meal!


    • I’m afraid to start the whole “whacking meat” discussion (’cause you know my mind is much too pure to go there – *snort*).

      But I do humbly apologize for the execrable taste of my countryman. I’ll be happy to make it up to you by devouring as much juicy, rare steak as you care to feed me. I’m just selfless that way. 🙂


  3. Well, in the pre-human traits department, I’ve apparently got a pretty healthy sagittal crest (a great big bony ridge) running all along my skull. Makes balancing things on my head tough, but Wikipedia claims that “A sagittal crest tends to be present on the skulls of adult animals that rely on powerful biting and clenching of their teeth,” and I did tend to bite when I got in fights as a kid…you reap what you sow, I suppose!


  4. I’m kind of blond, Diane, and have a heavy ‘bone’ structure (yes, I’ll go with that – overweight’s too last year!) but I wouldn’t say I was in the Neanderthal category. Sometimes, I don’t think I fit into the human category either, so I can be wrong from time to time!
    Belching after licking the plate is perfectly acceptable behaviour. Belching before’s fine too… always better out than in!
    Great post once again! 😀


    • Thanks, Tom! I really do try to restrain the belching most of the time. But I work from home and spend most of my day alone, so sometimes I get careless and forget that I’m not the only one who lives here.

      Lucky Hubby is a tolerant guy. 🙂


  5. Of course Neanderthals mated with Homo sapiens . . and vice versa. Why would they not? 🙂 They probably BBQed each other from time to time too. 😉

    According to wiki, Neanderthals are either “a subspecies of modern humans (Homo sapiens neanderthalensis)” or “a separate human species (Homo neanderthalensis).”

    Here’s an interesting bit of data accumulation on the red hair-Neanderthal connection:

    Personally, I’d rather be a Neanderthal (among Neanderthals) than a modern human any day. Have you seen what modern humans have done to the world, and to each other? Yikes!


    • Thanks for the comment and link, CM – that’s a very cool blog!

      I definitely hear what you’re saying about the simpler world Neanderthals inhabited. I don’t think I’d want to go back in time and lose all the nice technology that keeps me alive and comfortable today, though. I’d have been dead before I was thirty if I hadn’t had modern antibiotics to treat blood poisoning. And I have an overwhelming fondness for central heating. 🙂


      • Yeah, I guess I’ll begrudgingly agree on those points. 😉 I would’ve been dead several times over by now, had it not been for modern surgery / medicine. And that central heat thing- also a life-saver. lol


  6. Funny…and enlightening. My wife and I are at opposite ends as well. I guess it’s a ‘2 great tastes that tastes great together’ sort-of-thing, sort of like peanut-buter and jelly. I tend to take the neanderthal thing a little less than serious; more a matter of conjecture than unsubstantiated scientific wishful thinking…but this was really entertaining! They are now believed to be so indisticnt that have actually ‘adjusted’ the nomenclature when they refer to them; now they are termed ‘anatomically modern humans’. So much for pointless commentary.I’ve never heard of that type of barbeque put quite so….succinctly! Crude but veeerrrry effective. I shudder to think what may be lurking in my family tree! I haven’t laughed this hard since the decomposing turnips!!!


    • True, but their opportunities for messing up were probably limited to accidentally hurting themselves with stone tools. We have a much wider scope for screwups now. Isn’t technology wonderful? 🙂


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