“You Are A Neanderthal!”

Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton

One of the old insults we used was saying someone was a Neanderthal, especially in their thinking. To my surprise an old friend called recently and told me that, if it explained anything, his DNA test revealed he is 2% Neanderthal. After laughing for quite a while and harassing him about his find, I turned to the internet to see what on earth it meant.

Apparently a large number of DNA analyses, particularly in Northern Europe, are showing this same percentage of Neanderthal genes. I didn’t explore how scientists can distinguish them from the others. Instead I followed the inevitable time gobbling adventure into the history of human beings. I left more confused than I began, knowing that I would have to devote an amount of serious attention, as opposed to web cruising, to really understand the issue. And I had other things to do.

Looking back at the analysis of my DNA, I saw that I had no Neanderthal genes. I have no idea if that is beneficial or not. At any rate I can defend myself if anyone accuses me of having the brains of a Neanderthal. I don’t.

26 thoughts on ““You Are A Neanderthal!”

  1. I have no idea where my DNA comes from, but where I live now, in the East of England, almost everyone who has their DNA tested is told they are ‘mostly Viking’.
    Considering that this area was conquered by the Danes, and then occupied by them for hundreds of years until the Norman Invasion, that is hardly surprising.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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      1. Yes, I understand that. My matenal family’s surname was Pallenberg, which originated from Sweden. They shortened it to Pallen just before WW1, because of anti-German feeling and the name sounding like a German one to English people.

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  2. DNA testing seems to be part science and part guesswork to me, and despite actively researching both mine and my wife’s family history for thirty years I’ve always ignored it, even when asked for my test results by potential relatives on Ancestry etc.

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  3. It never seemed desirable to me to send some of my genetic material to somebody and never know if it could be used for something I don’t want or know about, so I just figure I came from all over the place and am what I am. I’m into Spiritualist stuff so believe that if I need to talk to an ancestor, I can always check in with their spirit and see what they have to say about it all!

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    1. I hear you about the risks. Probably I wouldn’t do it now, but I did it in the first flush of availability. I hadn’t thought about Spiritualist practices since my study of Yeats and didn’t know they still were alive and well.

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      1. My interest in the Spiritualists came from my teacher, Steve Hermann, the most mild-mannered and well-mannered young gentleman, and I originally ran into him twenty or so years back. It seems to me that they are a cut above others who are involved in some of the mediumship practices, because there is an actual religion involved and a set of ethics that is not universal elsewhere. I am taking a class with Steve soon that involves a real in-depth investigation of all the fraud and naughtiness practiced over the years by those purporting to be mediums, as well as us being practicing not frauds. I enjoy it!

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  4. I had my DNA analysed but I only have a partial picture as I know no male relatives (there being no father named on my original birth certificate) so can’t send off any male relatives’ sample along with mine. I seem to contain a fair proportion of Ashkenazi but no Neanderthal – unless on my unknown father’s side.
    I read about this though, and it appears that the earlier belief that neanderthals didn’t co-exist with homo sapiens was wrong. DNA and other evidence was found relatively recently, not only that the time frame for both species crossed, but that interbreeding took place.
    Fascinating stuff.

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    1. I am 28% Ashkenazi. A friend was recently able to identify his late unknown grandfather through some kind of research another person had done. His mother had no father on her certificate either. He got to see photos of the man who looked uncannily like my friend.

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  5. I certainly remember referring to others as Neanderthals. This is quite interesting, although I’m not sure I’d want to know one way or the other if it is in my DNA.

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