Friday, May 07, 2010

Mon semblable—mon frère!

Creationists and Aryan supremacists woke up with headaches today, and the blogosphere may have been deprived of an epithet. We have met Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, and he is us.

If White Power types want their children to be more sapiens than neanderthalensis, their choice is now clear: marry an African. O
nly the latter, it turns out, are purebred Homo sapiens sapiens. The rest of us carry Neanderthal material in our genes, no pun intended.

The Neanderthal genome now has been sequenced, an outstanding scientific achievement. Here is the article in Science, and here is a more readable digest for the layperson. The team of researchers who wrote the Science paper conclude:

The analysis of the Neandertal genome shows that they are likely to have had a role in the genetic ancestry of present-day humans outside of Africa, although this role was relatively minor given that only a few percent of the genomes of present-day people outside Africa are derived from Neandertals....We expect that further analyses of the Neandertal genome as well as the genomes of other archaic hominins will generate additional hypotheses and provide further insights into the origins and early history of present-day humans.

The trinomial nomenclature for modern-day humans includes both the species and sub-species name. The word "race," properly used, means "sub-species," so belay those Neanderthal jokes from now on: they are, quite literally, racist. Besides, the joke may be on us.

No comments: