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Neanderthal Parties and Oral Sex

I just got back from the Orange Country Freethought Conference in Costa Mesa, California. You might think that I was brushing up on my, ‘how to argue with a creationist’ skill-set but instead I was coming to realize just how sexy my people are!

Thanks to an educational and engaging talk by PZ Myers I learned about recent findings in fossil analysis that shows that people of Asian and European descent have inherited a small amount of their genes (1% to 4%) from Neanderthals! The findings are clearing up a long time debate as to whether our ancestry is solely of African descent but more importantly the findings have cleared up the age old question as to whether or not humans were getting it on with their Neanderthal pals! Bow-chicka-bow-wow.

Well, the data is in and the answer is a resounding, yes! Sometime between 50,000 and 80,000 years ago there were some very sexy cave parties going on somewhere in the Near East. The gene analysis referenced looked at samples from three bones from Neanderthal skeletons that were 38,000 to 45,000 years old and then compared them with the genes of five modern humans and indeed found that genes were passed on from Neanderthal to human but not the other way around. I’m sure we will learn even more as a wider population and a more thorough gene sequence is compared. But now you know, if you are of European descent you probably got a little Neanderthal in ya!

However, the most important and socially relevant point made at the event was from author and associate professor of Sociology, Dr. Phil Zuckerman. Zuckerman was quoted during his talk as saying, “Skepchicks are more likely to receive oral sex.” I will let that sink in a moment.

Yes, it’s something we knew all along and finally the rest of the world is figuring it too. Professor Zuckerman was basically making the argument that secular/atheistic communities have more equality among members and care more about human rights issues. Women are elevated in these types of societies, are more empowered and their sexuality is not considered taboo as in many other cultures or worldviews. Therefore, a Skepchick is more likely to receive oral sex. Thanks Phil for spreading the good word!

And thanks to everyone who came and said hello to me this weekend and especially Joe Nickell who is always charming and enlightening and gave a lovely talk on the Shroud of Turin. All in all, I had a lovely time!

Amy Roth

Amy Davis Roth (aka Surly Amy) is a multimedia artist who resides in Los Angeles, California. She makes Surly-Ramics. She is the fearless leader of Mad Art Lab. Support her on Patreon. Follow her on twitter: @SurlyAmy or on Google+. Tip Jar is here.

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19 Comments

  1. So does that mean that Neanderthal were a Homo sapien subspecies rather than a separate species?

    I’m under the impression that the main delination between species is lack of fecundity.

  2. @Craig: All I have is first year bio as part of my physics degree but we did cover this. Parroting what I remember: species are separated by virtue of the fact that they don’t generally interbreed in nature. You do get occasional cross species breeding and sometimes when you mate two closely related species that never mate in the wild you find that they are able to produce fertile offspring without any problems. You can also get populations where pop A can breed with pop B and pop B can breed with pop C but A and C can’t interbreed. It makes drawing species lines very difficult.

    I have some questions about Dr Zuckermans argument that I think should be answered should anyone want to do some proper research into this important field: Does this hold true for skeptical males? What if we have skeptical man-boobs? Does this mean that I should stop wearing pants? Can I stop wearing pants regardless?

  3. My mind went right to the gutter on this one. Instead of contemplating the triumph of interdisciplinary science that made this discovery possible, all I can think about is whether to call the porno movie “Neanderthal Cave Sex Party” or “Neanderthal Oral Cave Sex Party”, or “Neanderthal Oral Cave Party” (and of course all the sequels – “Neanderthal Oral Cave Sex Party IX”, etc.

    God help me I am depraved.

    \BCT……

  4. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the answer is a ” resounding yes” yet. There’s a bit of overzealous and oversimplified science journalism going on here. There are many other scenarios that might lead to the observed data, and they’re not implausible (e.g. an artifact of human migration patterns.) This is the first full neanderthal that’s been sequenced. We should probably give the scientific community a bit more time to analyze the results before jumping to conclusions. This kind of hypothesis is extremely difficult to confirm with absolute certainty.

  5. Congratulations on all the oral sex.

    Is it wrong, though, that I’m faintly disappointed that the neanderthal orgies and the oral sex of the headline weren’t actually directly connected? I was looking forward to some weird explanation of how we knew that the homo sapiens were going down on the neanderthals.

  6. I also was disappointed to learn that there wasn’t a direct correlation between the two topics in the headline. However, that may be why Neanderthals died out — since they couldn’t articulate as many words as Homo sapiens, perhaps they couldn’t tell their partner what felt good (or bad), which lead to fatal misunderstandings in the bedchamber.

  7. @Craig: Absolutely not. Even if the authors’ hybridization hypothesis is correct, there probably weren’t many instances of interbreeding. The genes they’re observing with this unusual similarity between Europeans and neanderthals are rare exceptions to the crystal clear species tree we observe in all the other genes and the paleontological evidence.

    Also, humans and neanderthals were distinct, isolated breeding populations in different environments for a very, very long time before this hypothesized hybridization occurred. Just because two species successfully hybridize and have gene flow between them does not make them one species. For example, domestic cats and servals are distinct species, despite the fact that hybrids (savannahs) are contributing genes to the domestic cat population.

  8. @Tortorific Sounds like the same problems we have in separating out the difference between languages/dialects.

    @delphi_ote
    Thanks for the info!

    I guess I was thinking of things like sterile mules, hinnys, zorses, zeedonks, etc. – where horses and donkeys and zebras can all produce offspring with each other, but their offspring are almost always sterile because of the different number of chromosomes. I guess it makes sense then if two closely related species have the same number of chromosomes, then fecundity wouldn’t be affected.

  9. I’m inspired to start writing a song;

    If I could catch Skepchicks
    just like I catch fish
    I’d cover the with tartar sauce
    Yeah they make a tasty dish

    Those Skepchicks are quite a scrumptious bunch
    Just like submarine sandwiches
    I’d eat em all for lunch.

    Needs more work.

  10. Has anyone found a more indepth look at the neanderthal study? (I’m not going to ask about an indepth look at skepchick oral sex. Seriously, I’m not.)
    I see in the linked article that they mapped 60% of the neanderthal genome from the bones, and compared those genes with those of five modern humans, but what’s the 1-4% figure supposed to signify, and how can I compare that to the oft quoted figures for the similarity between humans and chimpanzees ?

  11. @aineolach: Yes that was the blogpost I was going to mention. She says contamination with human DNA is a big danger with this type of experiment as there is no way to tell if a human-like sequence has a human-origin (contamination) or not. At least, that’s what I remember it said.

  12. @Craig: Interestingly, there can be gene flow even if fecundity is impacted. Usually, the males are infertile in mammals. But the females are frequently fertile, so they can continue to mate… with either population. This leads to some interesting consequences for the mitochondrial DNA.

    For example, say a human male mated with a neanderthal female. If the males in the first few generations of crosses were infertile, then the mtDNA of the vast majority of the cross would be neanderthal. If this was the case, I think we’d expect to see some residual neanderthal mtDNA in the human population. But have no evidence of this so far.

    If you reverse the sexes in the scenario, though, you would expect human mtDNA to be matched with a small number of neanderthal genes. That is exactly what we observe.

    So maybe this is less about our perverted ancestors victimizing our dull animal cousins to pass the time and more our stronger, better adapted cousins outcompeting the human males for mates. They were, after all, on their home turf.

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