Thursday, December 11, 2014

Do you have some Neanderthal in you?

Hello everyone,

Here is another blog post from your Lane Library Cataloger, Carl Z.  Today's topic focuses on Neanderthals.  As you know from previous posts, many books come through my department and there is certainly not enough time in a day to read all of them.  Although, I have been known to check out a book from time to time and take it home.  Recently, a book titled Neanderthal Man : in search of lost genomes by Svante Pääbo caught my attention.  This book centers around how Pääbo researched and mapped Neanderthal DNA.  He tells his story of research and discovery in a generally linear (biographical) fashion.  If you, dear reader, are a science major or just love the art and science of research, here is your opportunity to learn how a cutting-edge scientific researcher thinks.  One of the big questions posed in this book was whether modern humans and Neanderthal humans interbred and if modern humans living today contain some Neanderthal genes.  According to the findings, peoples from Europe, China and Papua New Guinea have some Neanderthal genes.  So yes, somewhere back in history, there was interbreeding between these two species of humans.  If you want to find out more about these findings, I strongly urge you read this interesting and engaging book.  It is available at Lane Library.  Call no:  GN285.P33 N42 2014. 

On a somewhat related note, starting in 1980, Jean Auel began writing a series of fiction books.  Her first novel was titled Clan of the Cave Bear and was about a young orphaned girl who was taken in and raised by a group of Neanderthals.  A campy movie by the same title, starring Daryl Hannah, was also produced, but in my opinion, and Auel's, it didn't quite capture the full scope and spirit of her first book.  Auel went on to write five more books in the Earth's Children series for a total of six.  She, in doing research for her fiction, visited significant archaeological sites in France and other parts of Europe and kept abreast of Neanderthal research.  In her fiction, she wrote about Neanderthals and modern humans interbreeding.  Now we know through science that this phenomenon actually did occur.  I found these books to be a real adventure to read, although I must warn our sensitive readers that there is some violence and sexuality in these books.  These novels by Auel are available at the Ripon Public Library.

So Gentleman, if a friend or your significant other calls you a "Neanderthal," that person might ironically be closer to the truth than he or she thinks.  I'll let you chew on that thought for awhile.

I want to wish you a happy holiday season.  Enjoy your break.

Carl Z.


Jean Auel's website:

Clan of the Cave Bear Movie:

TED Talk by Svante Pääbo:

No comments:

Post a Comment