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This is a diary about boobies and weewees.  But before your inner thirteen year-old gets too excited, let me note that all the private parts in question belong to dead people.

When you've cleared that nasty little image from your mind, turn your attention to this: why aren't you a Neanderthal?  That is, why is that Neanderthals, which dominated Europe for half a million years, lost out to old H. sapiens sapiens?  

There have been dozens of theories, but I'm not here to debunk those golden oldies.  In fact, I'm going to ignore most mainstream theory.  Do I not have my own degrees in geology and biology?  Yes!  Have I not spent many summers doing paleontological excavations?  I have!  And where all those digs for dinosaurs and fossil fish that have nothing to do with human ancestors?  Hell yes, but that doesn't stop me from having my own crazy theory.

I think we were sexier than them.

Meet the Family
Neanderthals and modern humans are pretty closely related.  At times over the last century, scientists have even classified Neanderthals as a subspecies of Homo sapiens.  These days the first Europeans are settled in more definitively as a species of their own (H. neanderthalensis).  Despite what Jack Chick and the fine folks of Chick Publications put out in their hilarious little tracts, Neanderthals are known from literally thousands of specimens found across Europe and the Middle East.

Despite their close relationship, if you were to pass a Neanderthal on the street, you'd have a pretty good idea that you'd seen something strange.  Neanderthals were overall bigger than us.  Not necessarily taller (though they were not the squat, slump-shouldered brutes of the movies), but bigger boned and more heavily muscled.  If you've ever looked at the incredibly massive muscles on a gorilla, you'll have some sense of what it would be like to see a Neanderthal's biceps.  Which isn't to say they looked like apes.  Neanderthals were definitely people.  There were a laundry list of different features in their skulls: a heavy brow ridge, a low, flat elongated shape that would been the envy of any Mayan, and a knot of bone at the back of the head that would have looked something like a hair-bun.  Oh, and their brains were slightly bigger than ours.  Neanderthals also had a somewhat pushed out mid-face and a weak to nonexistent chin.  They had big noses, barrel chests, and bowed legs.  You may think your building super looks like a Neanderthal, but chances are the real thing was even uglier.  Probably.

And yet the question remains, why didn't we have nookie with these guys?

Face it, people will shag anything.  If you think ugly is protection against reproduction, you haven't been looking closely enough at the clientele at your local Wal-Mart.  Especially the folks that wander in after midnight.  Ugly reproduces just fine, thanks.

It's not like we didn't have a chance to meet.  Modern humans and Neanderthals interacted in Europe for millennia.  Maybe that period was several thousand years of warfare.  Heck, maybe we made Neanderthal stew.  But there was enough cross-pollination of culture that after the moderns moved in, Neanderthals began to spice up their tool kit (which had been unchanged for a long, long time) with new items very similar to those us H. sapiens types were carrying.  In the Middle East, Neanderthals and modern humans lived practically next door to each other.  Close enough to wander over to a jar of mammoth fat.

Yet studies have found almost no evidence that we cross bred with these guys.  Sure, there have been a few specimens, like the child from Mezmaikaya Cave, that have features of both species, but such events appear to have been very rare, if they happened at all.

So how come?

The Chimpanzee Dilemma

To  find out why ancient man was not tempted by Neanderthal sugar (why why ancient woman didn't fall for these proto-football players), we can look at our surviving relatives.  Yes, chimpanzees, bonobos, and gorillas are a lot more distantly related to us than Neanderthals.  Neanderthals and modern man probably share a common ancestor no more than a million years back.  Us and our ape kin branched off somewhere around six times as long ago.  Still, we're pretty darn close genetically to the other great apes (hey, did you know you were a Great Ape?) and I suspect that there's some sneaky clues about our own past living right here and now.

The Common Chimpanzee (Pan trogolodytes) is an extremely interesting critter.  Not only is they genetically similar to humans, chimps share our fondness for social groups, tools (including inventive uses for leaves, sticks, and stones), for smacking around other chimps of lesser status, and murder.  What they do not share are our sexual habits.

Unlike humans, who copulate at the drop of a hat (and who keep plenty of hats on hand to drop), chimps only mate during the female's estrus, which is signalled by blood engorging the female's posterior.  In other words, when a female chimp is fertile, she signals this by a huge wrinkled red swollen thing that extends off her ass.  The sight of this red shiny mass triggers a switch inside the male chimp's brain.  The chimp which has done the best job of slapping other male chimps into submission runs over, jumps the female chimp, and five seconds later, it's over.  When it's not reproductive time, that big red balloon deflates and disappears, and males go back to the all important smacking.

Chimps do not seem to engage in sex for fun.  That alone shows that, relatives they may be, they are not people.

Only when reproduction is successful does the female chip develop noticeable breasts.  These seem to act as an actual deterrent to males, decreasing their interest in keeping this female around.  Chimps usually give birth to single infants and, like humans, have a lot to teach the little one before it can join in the clan.  So mom will first nurse and then care for her kid for a period of five to seven years.  During this time, she generally has no sex at all.  It's a good thing chimp sex seems to be so unsatisfying.  Otherwise, they might explode from frustration.

One big result of the chimpanzee breeding strategy is a very low reproductive rate.  Chimps live about as long as humans do (to sixty years or more), and females are fertile from about age ten to as late as forty.  But it's a rare female chimp that manages to get more than a couple of kids born, raised, and delivered alive to add to the gene pool.  As a result, it takes almost ideal conditions for chimp populations just to hold their own.  Stress them, and they vanish.  Fast.

Here's the quick summary of chimp reproduction: swollen rear, good.   Breasts or kids, bad.  Reproduction at long intervals.  No sex for fun.

Here's one other interesting sexual tidbit about our Chimpanzee relatives: males have  Even accounting for their difference in body size, they're significantly smaller than that of humans (though twice as big as the one-inchers most gorillas are packing).  So the next time you're feeling inadequate, don't buy yourself a Hummer.  Just visit the zoo and lord your manly appendage over our pitifully endowed ape brothers.

The Crazy Theory
What does the sex life of chimps have to do with the extinction of the Neanderthals?  Maybe everything.

Neanderthals are people, so it's easy to think of them as being pretty well like us.  Big boned, big nosed, ugly versions of us.  But the fossil record is very poor at preserving soft tissue.  Tissue like breasts.  Tissue like a penis.

So here's the theory: humans and Neanderthals did not interbreed because the two species had different reproductive strategies.  Neanderthals, living in a tough environment and small groups, may not have engaged in sex for pleasure.  More than that, they may not have had any of the secondary sexual characteristics that attract human males (read this as Neanderthal chicks were not only ugly, they had no tatas).  Bundled in clothing, humans might have even had trouble telling Neanderthal males from the females.

It's even quite possible that humans and Neaderthals just were not sexually equipped to service each other.  Our sexual gear is bigger than any other primate's by a factor of two.  A human penis might have been too large for a Neanderthal female.  A Neanderthal penis might have looked tiny to a human female (that is, if they could stomach our females with those repulsive things on their chests).

Despite living side by side, despite both being smart, social, tool-making beings, humans and Neaderthals were just sexually incompatible and so did not cross breed.

Evidence?  What do you mean evidence?
The best crazy theories are those that sound good on paper, but have no real evidence to back them up.  I'm about to break the mad scientist's code, because I'm going to give you three bits of data I think support my theory.

  1. Bonobos.  The Common Chimpanzee isn't the only kind of chimp around.  There are actually at least two species (and some studies suggest three or more).  One of these species is Pan paniscus, otherwise known as the Bonobo.  Bonobos are smaller than P. trogolodytes, which is why they've sometimes been called "Pygmy Chimpanzees."  Another big difference between the two: Bonobos love sex.  Bonobos have sex all the time.  Bonobos have sex to say hello, sex to say "what's for supper?," and more sex to say "wow, that was good sex."  Bonobos don't need no damn hat.  The fact that Bonobos and chimps, while being so closely related, have such different sexual habits shows that it's perfectly possible for two closely related primates to have very different sets of sexual behavior.

  2. No Chimpmen.  Okay, avert your eyes if you can't take an icky suggestion.  I know you've got a pretty good constitution to make it this far.  Avert anyway.  Still looking?  Okay, you asked for it.  Depending on whose numbers you trust, humans and chimps share between 95% and 98% of their DNA.  This is at least as close as the relationship between donkeys and horses.  Donkeys and horses can cross-bred to produce infertile mules (and hinnies).  So why are there no chimp-human hybrids trotting around?  I mean, we're talking about a species (and here I mean humans) that will mount a goat when it's randy (we should be grateful that goats are much more distantly related).  A couple of good reasons for this: chimps aren't interested, chimps don't carry the secondary characteristics that would sound men's buzzers, and (perhaps most importantly) a female chimp would likely rip your arms off and beat you over the head with them if you tried.  Neanderthal females would have been homely, disinterested, and strong.  That's a hard trio to overcome.

  3. The pelvic evidence.  Actually, this isn't so much evidence as a solicitation for evidence.  When women give birth, it tends to leave marks on their pelvic bones that are often valuable forensic signs of parentage.  In other words, by looking at the bones, it's sometimes possible to estimate how many children a woman has had.  So here's my pitch: someone with access to Neanderthal remains, take a look and see how many children Neanderthal females were cranking out.  If they followed the "churn out a herd and let nature sort it out" method, their strategy might have been quite like that of modern humans.  If it was the "two in a decade" result, they were likely following something closer to the Chimpanzee route.

Okay, theory over.  The trouble with extinct people is that it's hard to get their bra or condom size.  But if you happen to have access to Neanderthal pelvic bones, or know someone who might, pass along my crazy notion.

Myself, I'm just going to set back and wait for that call from Sweden.

Originally posted to Devil's Tower on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 03:00 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  What got left out... (4.00)
    I managed to post this from a BlackBerry, which should earn me the Golden Thumb Award even if scientific praise eludes me.  Please forgive any odd formatting and typos.

    I didn't get into the "so why then do women have breasts" or "why is our equipment bigger?" or "what in holy heck does any of this have to do with politics?

    But I will, as soon as I hit a real keyboard.

    •  You tease, you (none)
      I'll be waiting.  RrrrrrrRRRRRRRrrrrrrrrRRRRRrrrrrrrr

      "Injustice wears ever the same harsh face wherever it shows itself." - Ralph Ellison

      by KateCrashes on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 04:03:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The boobs theory (4.00)
        A quick version of "why do women have breasts?"

        Of course, all mammals lactate, so the real question is why are we the Dolly Parton species (with apologies to anyone who is more Katherine Ross).  

        The answer could lie in that flashy red display that chimps use.  Chimps tend to scramble around on all fours, which puts that amplified behind at a nearly eye level position.

        Once people started to walk upright (I'd say "erect," but that has another meaning in this context), it became harder to see the swellings that are common among a lot of primates, and possibly a burden for the females trying to get around with all that stuff.  A new visual signal was called for, something above the genital area so it could be seen while strolling through the grasslands, but which gave that visual "good breeder" mark of approval.

        Hence, boobs.  Unlike chimps, humans are sexual all the time, and (like bonobos) this seems to be a part of the social structure, so it was also advantageous to have a signal that was visible any time a couple thought about doing it.

        Then of course, people started wearing clothing.  Which is why women evolved the push-up bra.

        All this explains why men's eyes are constantly drifting "down there."  We can't help it.  We're hard wired to look. Really.

        Of course, Neanderthals also walk, so that might mean female Neanderthals did have large breasts.  However, there's nothing that says the visual cue had to be breasts.  I leave it to your imagination to think of other possible signals.

        TwoTaboos -- Politics and Religion.

        by Mark Sumner on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 04:26:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Hair (4.00)
      seems to be a big factor, visually, and this is true in so many of the species- the males have all the hair (or brightly colored feathers) and relative to the subject, it seems there is and has been an evolution to less and less of it.

      And it's a miracle were able to do so well on a BlackBerry.  Proof you have opposable thumbs.

    •  The post is definitely high quality (none)
      but I would give you a "12" for posting from a Blackberry.

      I would like to see this made into a two hour, computer graphics-enhanced episode on the Discovery Network.  Of course, they would have to run it late at night. . . .

      "It's been headed this way since the World began, when a vicious creature made the jump from Monkey to Man."--Elvis Costello

      by BigOkie on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 05:08:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I am in awe (none)
      Very interesting post - but you did with with your thumbs?  I can't even imagine... here's your award:
      Image Hosted by
      I call it a "Thumbie".
    •  chimp-humans, bonobo-humans, etc. (none)

      You describe chimps as more combative and less sexual; and bonobos as less combative and more sexual.  

      Sounds like humans to me.

      Puritanical humans are more combative and less sexual.

      Yet other human subcultures are more sexual and less combative; the 1960s counterculture being a prime example.

      Empirically we know that cultures with high levels of physical pleasure have low levels of violence, and vice-versa (correlation coefficient of .98); see also James Prescott, Bodily pleasure and the origins of violence, which you can find online easily.  

      Seems to me that these pairings: high violence / low sex; and high sex / low violence, are not coincidental.  They may reflect on genetic heritage passed through from the common ancestry between humans, chimps, and bonobos; present in varying degrees in humans, and expressed culturally.

      So what you have when you're dealing with puritans, e.g. the American Taliban, is the behavioral expression of chimp genes.  

    •  neandertal characteristics (none)

      are still present in humans.  The pronounced brow ridge is a very very common characteristic.  

      What I think may have happened:  There was probably a constant low level of interbreeding between sapiens and neandertals.  The extinction of neandertals could have resulted from any number of circumstances that dropped their reproduction rate below replacement, for example higher susceptibility to certain types of illnesses.  

  •  Fun stuff. (4.00)
    I love this kind of conjecture.

    As for what it has to do with politics, let me guess... some of us are like the bonobos -- horny all the time for the latest political news.

    •  Gee,,,,, (none)
      I was going to say Chimp - George,,,,,yep, that works for me.  There's your political connection.

      "But your flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore"--Prine Pay attention Georgie - 1990+ dead Americans, 100,000+ dead Iraqis, all on your head.

      by Miss Blue on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 03:49:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Drop of a hat? (none)
    Im so horny, Id fuck a catchers mitt!

    "You cannot defend freedom abroad by abandoning it at home."

    by calipygian on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 03:09:03 PM PDT

  •  Absence of Evidence Isn't Evidence of Absence (4.00)
    There are no sheep-men; yet we have clear evidence of interspecies sex between sheep and humans.

    Hey! (hey!) McLeod! (McLeod!)
    Get offa my ewe !!

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 03:18:47 PM PDT

  •  Very interesting (none)
    Cogent and well thought out.  I was amazed to find out an animal on this planet may actually be more horny than us!
    •  I thought it was fiction (none)
      when I read Chromosome 6, so I checked it out. Nope.

      ...learn something new every day...

      by nhwriter on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 03:48:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Look up dolphins (4.00)
      They have quite interesting sexual activities.  Not only do they engage in heavy petting, social intercourse, and the such on a daily basis, but there's also documented instances of homosexual activity.  With the intelligence of dolphins, it's not like your dog humping another male dog thing, it's a physical attraction to the same sex.

      "The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt" ~Bertrand Russell

      by Yuggs on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 04:55:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  lol (none)
    makes the nickname "the chimp" all that more fitting, me thinks.
  •  Questions (none)
    What happens bonobos cross with chimps? Do they cross?

    And with the lovely modern technology of the petrie dish, to you really think no mad scientist has tried to cross humans and chimps in a lab?

    •  huh (none)
      I guess I always assumed that since it hasn't happened yet, it must be impossible, much like time travel.  Different number of chromosomes or something.  So am I wrong?  Is it actually theoretically possible?  I can't believe that.  And ewww.
      •  Chimp v. Human (4.00)
        Chips have one more pair of chromosomes compared to humans, and the difference now appears to be in the range of 4%.

        It's about the difference between horses and donkeys.  It's possible that any cross breeds would be spontaneously aborted, and any that lived would likely be sterile.

        TwoTaboos -- Politics and Religion.

        by Mark Sumner on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 03:48:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Which means ... (none)
          If I'm reading you correctly, a lab cross could, in theory, at least result in a sterile living ... uh ... thing? Like a mule? Or let's say ... a chuman?
          •  A himp? n/t (4.00)

            "You cannot defend freedom abroad by abandoning it at home."

            by calipygian on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 03:56:35 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  it's been discussed (4.00)
            in the stem cell ethics guidelines the national academy put out earlier this year (I'll look for the link if you're interested...)

            Not so much actual cross-breeding, but making "chimeric" animals by mixing chimp (I think) and human cells at the earliest embryonic stages.  

            One issue they took up specifically was, what if someone delivered human neural stem cells to a developing chimp embryo, and got a chimp with a human brain?

          •  Reminds me of Oliver (none)
            There was a creature named Oliver exhibited as a half-human, half-chimp, though testing apparently didn't support the claim:

            Oliver didn't like hanging out with his own alleged species and preferred the company of humans. He walked upright, he sat in chairs. He helped around the house with chores, and eventually he began hitting on the circus owner's wife, which led to his sale in 1976 to a New York lawyer named Michael Miller.

            Oliver also looked different from other chimps; he less hair, a smaller chin, a smaller and rounder cranium, and pointed ears (which neither chimps nor humans normally display). Except for the latter trait, these characteristics gave him a remarkably human appearance relative to normal chimps. He also reportedly had an unusual scent, compatible neither with chimps nor humans.

            According to Miller, blood tests revealed Oliver had 47 chromosomes -- one more than a human and one less than a chimp. The odd number of chromosomes would also strongly suggest hybridization of some sort. (The claim was later disproved.)  

            Full article

          •  Chimp + human = ... (4.00)
            A Republican!

            *ba doom ching*

            Thank you, thank you, I'll be here all night, try the veal!

          •  It's closer to 3% (none)
            Or so I recall from my human evolution course at Berkeley a few years back.

            However, that 3% is a significant 3%. It governs all kinds of things that are hugely important, from higher brain functions to the nervous system to walking upright. For a chimp-human hybrid to work, there'd need to be massive genetic engineering to take place, and even then it'd be pretty unstable.

            So even though it's the stuff of dreams of mad scientists everywhere, I seriously doubt it to be possible.

            I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

            by eugene on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 06:29:07 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I believe Carl Sagan (none)
              wrote about this idea (I don't recall which book)and suggested such a pregnancy/conception could indeed occur, but would almost certainly result in miscarriage/nonviability (much the way goats and sheep can and do impregnate one another, but it never naturally carries to term).  Still, a disturbing but interesting thought.
        •  Reminds me of (none)
           The book "Almost Adam"  by Petru Popescu. Ever read it?

          War is not an adventure. It is a disease. It is like typhus. - Antoine De Saint-Exupery

          by Margot on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 04:48:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  SusanG (4.00)
      And with the lovely modern technology of the petrie dish, to you really think no mad scientist has tried to cross humans and chimps in a lab?

      It was done and the results became president of the United States.

      There is nothing more stimulating than a case where everything goes against you. -- Sherlock Holmes

      by Carnacki on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 03:58:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Chimp - bonobo hybrids (4.00)
      I have read - cannot find it now - that there have been five chimp bonobo pregnancies. These were in captivity as bonobos live south of Zaire river and chimps to the north and they don't swim - believed to have been separated for 2.5 million years.

      Anyway, as I remember, two pregnancies resulted in miscarrages. Of the three, two were females of which I know nothing about. The one male has been described as less aggressive than typical chimps.

      If someone comes up with a credible reference please forward to me.

  •  bonabos (none)
    One interesting tidbit. They have slightly more female-female action than male-female.

    Biological Exuberance even posits the theory that the evolution of their sign language (they do a lot of signing) may have to do with negotiating sexual position.

    SOCIAL SECURITY: Invented by Democrats yesterday, Protected by Democrats today

    by mollyd on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 03:31:20 PM PDT

  •  Chromosomal rearrangements (4.00)
    The problem with your theory is it doesn't (correct me if I'm wrong) account for the possibility of chromosomal rearrangements as a speciation mechanism.

    See you can get freemartins and mules and such out of crossing donkeys and horses. But you don't get fertile ones. I'm not sure in that particular case, or ina  human-chimp case (much less a human-neanderthal case), but what often happens is chromosomal rearrangements create infertile offspring of an interspecific cross.

    So say typical humans have 46 chromosomes. Perhaps the common ancestor had 46 as well. During the evolution of a species, there can be all sorts of breaks and duplications and rearrangements. When you produce gametes, you line them all up pairwise and they recombine via "crossing over". And this helps ensure that each gamete cell (sperm or egg) gets the haploid compliment (23 chromosomes) so the offspring will end up with 46 again.

    If you try to mate species with different chromosomal arrangements, you will often not end up with fertile offspring if any. They become incompatible at a molecular level.

    So the idea that sexual selection is the primary driver of speciation is a touch, uh, specious. But entertaining nonetheless.

    The dark at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming age.

    by peeder on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 03:37:52 PM PDT

    •  So, what you're saying is... (none)
      Homo Sapiens & Neanderthals might have mated but their offspring could have been infertile resulting in no trace of Neanderthal in the human gene pool?

      There is nothing natural about the abomination of modern factory farming and its attempt to reduce living, feeling beings to machines. -Stephen Walsh, Ph.D.

      by timerigger on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 03:45:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah (none)
        I'm certain they tried to mate. Rape (to revisit a recent topic here) is common in many animal societies, and I'm sure at least a few Neanderthal men would have tried to get it on with early sapiens women when they had the opportunity.

        If the egg took the sperm, the conceptus may well have been rejected by quality control early in pregnancy (there's all sorts of stuff in addition to chromosomal things, like genomic imprinting differences, etc.) or the progeny that survived were shooting blanks.

        The dark at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming age.

        by peeder on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 03:51:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Neanderthal Sapiens and Sapien Sapiens (none)
        They probably did it. However, if the Neanderthal was male and Sapien female, speculation is that the female may have died at birth as the Sapien birth canal is smaller and the Neanderthals had larger heads - yup, they had larger brains.

        There is a theory as to why offspring of male sapiens and female neanderthals would be unlikely but I've had a bit too much wine to remember.

        •  so what? (none)
          Just because the mother dies, doesn't mean the child does.  Childbirth has always been dangerous for the mother.
          •  If she dies with a big headed baby inside of her (none)
            that's stuck in the birth canal, the baby probably dies too - unless they'd figured out how to make scalpels by then ;)

            "Why should we hear about body bags, and deaths . . . I mean, it's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?" - B. Bush

            by The New Politeness on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 10:17:03 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Certainy true for mules / hinnies (4.00)
      Donkeys have 62 pairs of chromosomes.  Horses have 64.  Sterile mules and hinnies come in at 63.

      It's certainly possible that Neanderthals differed in the number of pairs from modern humans, rending any cross infertile and acting as a leaf guard on the genetic pool.

      TwoTaboos -- Politics and Religion.

      by Mark Sumner on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 03:45:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Though speculative (none)
      The common ancestor for H. Sapiens is strongly suggested to be Homo Gigantis, a large powerful Neandertalic looking humanoid.

      Recently reviewed, the case of the 55 different chromosomal features has been challenged.  I saw this on the Science Channel.

      The speculation of a heat cycle for Neandertals is very old, at least 40 years, and was first discussed at the well known Musee de la Homme in France.

      Evidence looks more and more like Neandertal was absorbed.  Notice of certain asiatic and aboriginal peoples having "neandertalic" features was more than simple racial dismissal from haughty English speaking whites.

      The brain issue clinches the absorbtion issue for me.  Braincase size increased a bit, not much, but some, between Cro-Magnon moderns and the current modern humanoids.  Where did it come from?  It likely came from Neandertal.

      What was the most successful form of a hybrid?  I would say female.  It seems the only plausible answer.

      In the rise of an H. Gigantis based hybrid, and we are hybridized from H. Gigantis it seems, it is not only logical but damn probable that that our hybid ancestors copulated with H Neandertal when opportunity presented itself.  Remember, Gigantis and Neandertal both have a common ancestor in H. Erectis, and in the case of Neandethal possibly a very late form of Australopithicene as well.

      In doing so the primary gene for the "out of Africa-primary mother" scheme of things is preserved as the hybrid female would not pass along a different primary gene, as the H. Cro-Magnon-H. Neandertal hybrid would alredy have the "Out of Africa-primary mother" index gene!

      I can't prove the hybrid part and I doubt that anyone can, but I contend that there was great evolutionay pressure on the primates, especially homonids, and this was driven by the great earth upheaval in Africa that created the rift valley, caused a wide and varied variety of humanoid forms that was gradually culled through not only the filters if life; like predation, disease, lack of reproduction opportunity, but by fitness for the climate even like H. Gigantis, who required a cooler climate.

      So, I say, don't worry, be happy, and remember that it took a lot of screwing to get us to where we are today.    

      "same old fears, same old crimes-we haven't changed since ancient times.." "Iron Hand" Dire Straits

      by boilerman10 on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 06:46:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  You are correct (none)
    ...about the male equipment size (for chimps and gorillas, think little finger) but don't the chimps, at least, have us beat for, um, balls?  

    ISTR that chimp testes are MUCH larger than the equivalent human variety, although I forget (from "The Third Chimpanzee," where I read it) what this suggests--something again about different reproductive strategies.

    Rubus Eradicandus Est.

    by Randomfactor on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 03:48:07 PM PDT

    •  yep (none)
      IIRC, the notion is that a female chimp in estrus has multiple partners -- which makes the males work harder to be included in the group (in order to have a shot at passing on their genes).  hence the big testes (in order to generate more semen for more sex).

      [i THINK i recall this from "3rd Chimpanzee," but i'm not exactly sure...]

      what would joe rauh do?

      by nbutter on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 04:16:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  seem to remember the same thing.. (none)
      size of testicles - sperm production - frequency of copulation - tendency toward monogamy - etc...

      I think humans fit neatly in the middle.

    •  How big is yours? (none)
      See Short, R.V. and Balaban, E (eds.) (1994) The Differences Between the Sexes. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Pres for a graphic of size of penises and testicals for humans, chimps, orang-utans, and gorillas. Also reprinted in John Cartwright's Evolution and Humans Behavior 2000 from MIT press on page 223.

      Humans have the largest penises, followed by chimps, while gorillas and Orangs have small ones. Chimps have the big balls with the rest of us tied for second.

  •  More Fun Idea than why Dems always lose (none)
    the ideas about the loser tribe I've been hearing for 25+ years:

    the thugs are mean and we are noble,

    the thugs own the media and we don't,

    the thugs are dumb and we are too smart to talk dumb,

    we are noble and selfless and they are not,


    I wonder about the struggle between selfishness and community spirit over the millenia.

    the tribe which was completely selfless would give everything away, and then freeze and starve.

    the tribe composed of selfish greedy sons-of-bitches succeeds at whomping everyone around them and taking everything, then when they have wiped out everyone who works and creates surplus, VS. just whomping and taking, they are too selfish to work together, so if they aren't killing each other for the dwindling supply of functional 300 foot yachts, they are still gonna starve and freeze

    good thing Darwin invented wal-mart and T.V., my head is hurting from all this thinking.


    Grassroots Organizing Should Be for The Community, By The Community - NOT for "Leaders"

    by rmdSeaBos on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 03:55:01 PM PDT

    •  Dude, you didnt mention doin' it with (4.00)
      neanderthals in that post even once. Nor did you bring up the possibility of infertile mule-people. Cant you see that this is the neanderthal sex/mule people thread? Sheesh.

      Reigning Welterweight Female Piefighter since 1998

      by ablington on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 03:58:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  isn't breeding with Thug chicks kind of (none)
        like breeding with neanderthals ????

        noble selfless chromosones mix with the chromosones that let you feel entitled to order people around ...

        hopefully it results in spontaneous abortion.


        Grassroots Organizing Should Be for The Community, By The Community - NOT for "Leaders"

        by rmdSeaBos on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 04:02:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I got that call from Sweden today... (none)
    ...but it was just one of my friends. She can answer your micro-biology questions, should you have any ;)

    Interesting diary. Talk about thinking in the box! That's the kind of multi-tasking that would make Aleister Croley proud.

    It really was an interesting read, though. I didn't know there were different "Chimps." Baeed on what I've seen on TV and read, which isn't much, regarding this compard to you, but is there anyway to know if another creature has "imagination." Tied in with your sex angle, could it be their, the Neanderthals lack of imagination, which definitely ties in with sex, that helped do them in? For instance, is there any indication that Bonobos have more imagination/creativity than standard chimps? I'm not sure how one would measure that, but perhaps they're tied together?

    •  Bonobos have more imagination/creativity (4.00)
         "Whereas chimpanzees use a rich array of strategies to obtain foods--from cracking nuts with stone tools to fishing for ants and termites with sticks--tool use in wild bonobos seems undeveloped. (Captive bonobos use tools skillfully.) Apparently as intelligent as chimpanzees, bonobos have, however, a far more sensitive temperament. During World War II bombing of Hellabrun, Germany, the bonobos in a nearby zoo all died of fright from the noise; the chimpanzees were unaffected."
          "Juvenile bonobos are incurably playful and like to make funny faces, sometimes in long solitary pantomimes and at other times while tickling one another. Bonobos are, however, more controlled in expressing their emotions-- whether it be joy, sorrow, excitement or anger--than are the extroverted chimpanzees."

      Bonobos are also imaginative in play.

      ...learn something new every day...

      by nhwriter on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 04:08:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Fun speculation, but . . . (4.00)
    I think that your initial premise is flawed.  Specifically, a lack of fossil evidence for sapiens X neandertalensis hybrids does not mean that they didn't interbreed.  As long as interbreeding was rarer than within-subspecies breeding and/or neandertalensis features were selected and/or hybrids were unfit (like mules and hinnies being sterile), then any genetic material entering the sapiens lineage from neandertals could have just been diluted and eventually lost.  

    More thoughts:

    Despite what popular culture tells us is now the case, it seems unlikely to me that the evolution of larger penises in humans was driven by active female choice.  I suspect female choice was based much more on other physical characteristics, like height, stature, etc.  I don't deny that penis size might have been driven by something like fertilization success, for example, if females have some mechanism during copulation for increasing the likelihood of fertilization with a given male (such as the oh so ribald but probably bogus "upsuck" hypothesis), then a larger penis might have evolved to counter this strategy.  

    Given that we are equally related to bonobos and chimps, one might wonder if our ancestors were more like bonobos, using sex to cement social bonds, and chimps are the ones who have changed.  Cryptic estrus in humans allows the decoupling (to a certain extent) of sex and reproduction, and permits females (to a certain extent) to choose who she has sex with, and who she lets father her children.  Perhaps that's why men invented religion.

    Cultural taboos might also have played a role in preventing inbreeding, and could have been as potent (or impotent?) as anything having to do with sexual selection.

    Finally, another fun great ape sex evolution tidbit: do you know about relative testes size in humans, chimps, and gorillas?  Gorillas have the smallest, and chimps have the largest.  This is thought to be the case because gorillas control access to females via fighting and agression, whereas male chimps fight each other through their ejaculates.  When a female is in estrus, she mates multiple times with different males, and there is competition among the sperm to get to the egg first.  This has resulted in the evolution of things like seminal coagulating proteins, which keep subsequent males' sperm from getting past the first ejaculate and to the egg.  Humans' testes are intermediate in size between the other two apes, so presumably we historically had some intermediate level of sperm competition.

    evolution is so dirty . . . ;-)

    •  Or potential chromosomal imbalances (none)
      mentioned above could keep them from successfully interbreeding.
    •  The equipment conundrum (4.00)
      Actually, I suspect it was exactly our bonoboish behavior that led to the enlarged gear.  With sex more important as social "glue," there was selection toward those who had plenty of surface area and requisite nerve endings to enjoy all that bumping and grinding.

      If sex is used as a social tool, liking sex becomes a preferential behavior, and having equipment that encouraged enjoyment became an evolutionary advantage.  

      I can't see the "females selected for them" idea because, even as the owner of one, I can tell you, those darn things are ugly.  Even fugly - literally.

      TwoTaboos -- Politics and Religion.

      by Mark Sumner on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 04:14:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  conundrum (4.00)
        Does enlarged equipment translate to increased enjoyment?  Do humans have more nerve endings in the penis/clitoris than chimps or gorillas?  Couldn't greater interest in sex occur simply in the brain, rather than being associated with morphological changes?  To be blunt, the larger size seems to me to be more related to penetration (and sperm delivery to the egg) than to enjoyment.  

        Fugly or not, humans seem to have an understandable fascination with the genitalia of either sex.  Primitive art would suggest this is more than the current cultural whims.  

      •  Oh, no! I disagree (none)
        {oops...I think I said too much...}

        Boethius: Empires fall.

        by Wee Mama on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 06:58:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  i heard that penis size (none)
      is a function of our uprightness.  when our pelvises tipped upright and humans started doing it face to face, a larger penises was needed to reach the target.

      I saw this on a show on?  bravo?  logos?  the history channel?

      Talk doesn't cook rice.

      by sophiebrown on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 04:15:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  noticeable penises (4.00)
      If you stand across a room (or meadow) and look at a caucasian man and woman standing naked next to each other, you can see the size and shape of his genitals outlined against the dark patch of his public hair. It is a noticeable patch of light against dark like the flash of  a white-tailed deer. You can also tell by hers that she doesn't have the same equipment. This may sound perfectly obvious, but the ability to see from afar the sex characteristics of whom you are approaching would lead to a visually wired evolution into the large-genitaled species that we are, possibly including the enlargement of the female breasts for the same reason. Why are we relatively unhairy on the rest of our skin and quite hairy in the public area?

      ...learn something new every day...

      by nhwriter on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 04:21:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Agree. The hybrids walk the earth. (4.00)
      I don't have any degrees in any field that pertains here - but I keep my eyes open.

      I've seen plenty of people in my life with definite, evolved Neanderthal characteristics:  low, sloped brow; Neanderthal musculature, etc.  And they're not just the occasional one-off, either.  It's especially noticable in some south western European populations, and in some Slavic lines as well.

      Eventually, DNA will tell - and I believe it will be conclusively shown that we are a hybrid population.


      Invest in your future - VOTE DIEBOLD!

      by Jaime Frontero on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 04:28:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Leads me to wonder ... (none)
      <snark alert> just what the intellegent designer was doing with all these variations.  If the designer was so intellegent, you'da thought he/she/it woulda picked the best way to go and stuck with it...

      We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time. T.S. Eliot

      by gbussey on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 04:52:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  the problem with mass reproduction (none)
    as a theory is that it seems to be hallmark of agrarian humans, but I don't think it was before.  Hunter-gatherers probably practiced some kinds of birth control and infanticide.  keeping the population low was important for civilization.  I think the population surge occurred after our ancestors "settled down."  

    Talk doesn't cook rice.

    by sophiebrown on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 04:13:06 PM PDT

    •  "I think"... "I don't think " (none)
         "Hunter-gatherers probably practiced some kinds of birth control and infanticide."
         Huge speculation. You may be right, I'm not arguing, just suggesting you "link" to what makes you "think." Not trying to be nasty, I really want to know about this and discuss it, but speculation is sloppy science.

      ...learn something new every day...

      by nhwriter on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 04:26:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  my source (4.00)
        was a book called Straw Dogs by John Gray, a Professor at the London School of Economics.
        Here is a quote:

        The freedom of hunter-gatherers was bounded by restraint.  Infanticide,geronticide and sexual abstinence limited their numbers.

        Gray is one of those authors who actually describes hunter-gatherers as pretty cool folks, depite the quote.  I recommend his book highly.

        His sources include Marshall Sahlins, Stone Age Economics (NY 1972), Richard Lee and Irven DeVore, Man the Hunter (Chicago 1968)

        Talk doesn't cook rice.

        by sophiebrown on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 04:52:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  sorry, sophiebrown (none)
      I guess I just did it too, with my pubic hair theory.

      ...learn something new every day...

      by nhwriter on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 04:30:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  And certain plants (none)
      were successful?

      The beneficiaries are likely to be...large corporations and development firms. (O'Connor, J. dissenting in Kelo). God bless you, J. O'Connor.

      by xanthe on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 05:17:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  can you explain? nt (none)

        Talk doesn't cook rice.

        by sophiebrown on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 05:19:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's been a long time (none)
          since I've had anthropology classes or read about it - but if a gatherer found a plant that was easier to grow and good to eat - wouldn't that be a plus for that community.  

          Plants have affected history - if the potato famine hadn't struck Ireland, would so many Irish have come to the States?  

          The beneficiaries are likely to be...large corporations and development firms. (O'Connor, J. dissenting in Kelo). God bless you, J. O'Connor.

          by xanthe on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 05:44:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  "Plants have affected history" (4.00)
            "Many people erroneously believe that "primitive people" had no means of controlling the likelihood of pregnancy. Nothing could be further from the truth."

            Once upon a time there was a (now extinct) plant whose seeds were the birth-control of choice for many a classical Greek or Roman woman.

            And this page describes many plants to increase fertility, too. I just thought it was interesting that long before our time the Romans managed to use whatever-it-was right into extinction.

            ...learn something new every day...

            by nhwriter on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 06:56:38 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  It is an interesting paper - (none)
              I'm reading a book now called The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan (interesting name of author, no?)

              It illustrates how plants have wooed mankind to do their bidding and see that the plants survive.  Through taste, feel, usefulness.  The synergy is there.  He writes how the plants evolve to satisfy man's yearning.  And man reciprocates by spreading the plant's seeds since they are stationery.  So the question is:  Who is being domesticated here?  Pollan says they act together.

              The beneficiaries are likely to be...large corporations and development firms. (O'Connor, J. dissenting in Kelo). God bless you, J. O'Connor.

              by xanthe on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 07:11:00 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  that's a heavy thought (none)
                I know several cats scattered among different friends, and some of them actually play fetch, like dogs. They pick up something suitably cat-sized, like a bottle cap, a straw, or something, bring to your general vicinity, drop it, sit down, and wait for you to throw it. I was fascinated by this the first time I saw it and my friend noted that while I was playing "catch" with the cat, you could think of the cat playing "throw" with me. (You don't really get that sense from dogs....)

                People use trees for all sorts of things--shelter, timber, medicines, on and on. But then we go all out trying to save trees from forest fires. Marijuana, peyote, tobacco, etc will never be extinct because there will always be people promoting those plants' continued survival. So which species is getting more out of the bargain? Funny, I'd never thought of any of this before but it makes perfect sense.

    •  Biologic dictum (4.00)
        I think you're correct with that conclusion wrt to mass repro. It came with the advent of farming and the storage of food resources, stable living conditions and the need for labor and expansion of the agrarian enterprise.

        Increasing food supplies always equates to more reproduction for any living species over a given duration of time. Unchanging food supplies makes for stable populations, while declining food supplies create falling populations. This has been proven over and over in experiments.

        There's lots of research and writing on 'hunter-gatherer' societies. They tended to nurse their children longer and with a very physical style of life, females would not become fertile for a couple of years. An expansion in births would have forced an expansion in territory and in many situations, this meant warring on neighboring hunter-gatherers. With American Plains Indians, birth rates were relatively low and territory was generally stable, with territorial skirmishes instead of wars. (However, break-out events like droughts, migrations or, say, the acquisition of horses by the Comanches, can and would change the territorial balance.)

        Modern high birth rates are a function of food but there is a physical reaction to natural disasters where births increase to replace part of the lost population. And there might be other similar triggers.

        Agrarian culture was followed by an exponential increase in reproduction and a burgeoning population unceasing through this time. It gave rise to cities and wars on a scale unseen before and eventually to our present civilization.

        For a view about the negative impact of totalitarian farming on our world and on us, of which the neo-con agenda has more than a passing relationship, check out Daniel Quinn's Ishmael and related works. The main character and teacher in Ishmael is a gorilla who questions what it means to be human and how that presumption may have changed over time.

        Now that we have a better idea of where we emerged in the scheme of time and who we may have evolved from, we still are asking that same question. However, diaries like this are just great fun because our sexuality implies we had a lot of fun getting here, regardless of the horrors we've endured. But it is primarily that sustainable energy - food - got us here; the biologic dictum so many continue to fight still stands: eat, survive, reproduce.


      It's hard to teach a man who is afraid. - Worm

      by walkshills on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 05:39:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  thanks (none)
        I never read ishmael, and I am very interested in learning more about the hunter-gatherers.

        my mind really opened when I learned that the transformation to agragrian societies was not necessarily the transformation from darkness into light that was presented to me in school.

        it was also in agrarian societies where abrahamic monotheistic religions were born.  

        Talk doesn't cook rice.

        by sophiebrown on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 05:50:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  A different interpretation (none)
            Quinn's novel also gives a different twist to the 'Garden of Eden' story, tying in with the newly emerged agrarian culture expanding and attacking for territorial purposes the more pastoral hunter-gatherers, a style of predation we still see today (try Freeport McMoran in Indonesia, for one example among many).

            Monothesitic religions were way down the road, but a coalescing people would develop encompassing stories of their history and how they came to be; mythic legends like Gilgamesh were the first records humans recorded. A mythic sense of past seemingly tied in with the growth of city-states and kingdoms (highest power, so to speak) with the oral history and then written projection into the future were some of the earliest elements of our so-called civilization.

            The name of Quinn's book, no less, comes from one of the two sons of Abraham, so he has a serious consideration about the religious beginnings which are embraced to day.

          It's hard to teach a man who is afraid. - Worm

          by walkshills on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 06:27:15 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Could it be possible.... (none)
    that George Bush is a neanderthal descendant? All signs point to it.


    by michael1104 on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 04:14:42 PM PDT

  •  Saw Bonobos at the San Diego Zoo... (none)
    In about 10 minutes of watching, we must've seen at least 3 acts of copulation each lasting about 15-20 seconds with the one male and two females with him.

    What was even funnier was watching all the parents try to explain to their kids what was going on.

    Bonobos are also one of the few species to copulate in the "missionary position."


    Maryland School of Public Policy Master of Public Policy Candidate

    by magicrusslc on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 04:55:21 PM PDT

  •  Hybrid Dysgenesis? (4.00)
    Another hypothesis to throw on the fire: hybrid dysgenesis.  For those that don't know (which will be about most of you) hybrid dysgenesis a phenomenon which occurs when certain populations of males mate with certain other populations of females.  The children come out all screwed up.  I know of no populations of people with this going on, but other species will have this happen.

    The cause is a genetic partical called transposible element that is silenced in the male but does not exist at all in the female.  Upon mating, this element is no longer silenced in the offspring, and it starts jumping around the genome, causing numerous effects as it does so.  Effects include chromosomal rearrangements and deletion mutations.  In an organism as complex as a human, this trouble would probably be lethal.

    So, the additional hypothesis is that homo sapiens sapiens and neanderthals may have mated from time to time, but they could no produce offspring because of hybrid dysgenesis.

  •  I heard Neanderthal men (4.00)
    didn't have a sense of humor.  So homo sapien women weren't interested.

    As an aside, I enjoyed your speculation but I didn't like that Walmart paragraph.  I don't go to Walmart but being poor often begets a certain look.  Not cool for a Dem to link the two.  btw, I've seen all sorts of people at Nieman Marcus who weren't 10s.

    The beneficiaries are likely to be...large corporations and development firms. (O'Connor, J. dissenting in Kelo). God bless you, J. O'Connor.

    by xanthe on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 05:12:51 PM PDT

    •  Apologies (none)
      And hey, I'm in Wal*mart to see these folks.  I see, therefore, I am.

      I have to look no farther than the mirror to note that women sometimes give a break to men who are far from attractive.  

      TwoTaboos -- Politics and Religion.

      by Mark Sumner on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 05:34:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh but you're (none)
        smart and funny.  That works, doesn't it?

        The beneficiaries are likely to be...large corporations and development firms. (O'Connor, J. dissenting in Kelo). God bless you, J. O'Connor.

        by xanthe on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 05:47:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Wal*Mart shoppers are ever so much more (none)
      attractive than guys at a hamfest or computer swap meet.  Holy God, what a collection of pasty, unappetizing flesh.  And many of them have children in tow.

      -8.38, -7.13   Soapblox/Chicago, for progressive Midwesterners

      by rhubarb on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 05:55:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks (none)
      for speaking up about the walmart crack, and apology noted.  The Valley of Horses series of Jean Auel books about hunter gathers were fiction but i would guess had some good research in them.  In the first thier was a little girl found by neandathal's who of course thought she was some ugly.  Eventually she meets up with her own  people.  The poster above who mentioned low birth rates was spot on, at least when  food was scarce.  Similar to the animal kingdom today.  Fun diary, I had a boyfriend with that kinda brow.  I believe we must of interbred at some point.    I just noticed what that last sentence looked like, he knocked up the woman after me.

      Fasicism is Capitalism + Murder...Upton Sinclair

      by Sophie Blue on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 07:53:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The weather changed. (none)
    They couldn't adapt. In the first approximation, all species are exinct.
  •  I read this while downloading porn. (none)
    I just thought you should know that.  :^)
  •  I am an Ape Man (none)
    Ray Davies and the Kinks said it all:

    I think I'm sophisticated
    'cos I'm living my life like a good homosapien
    But all around me everybody's multiplying
    Till they're walking round like flies man
    So I'm no better than the animals sitting in their cages
    In the zoo man
    'cos compared to the flowers and the birds and the trees
    I am an ape man
    I think I'm so educated and I'm so civilized
    'cos I'm a strict vegetarian
    But with the over-population and inflation and starvation
    And the crazy politicians
    I don't feel safe in this world no more
    I don't want to die in a nuclear war
    I want to sail away to a distant shore and make like an ape man
    I'm an ape man, I'm an ape ape man
    I'm an ape man I'm a king kong man I'm ape ape man
    I'm an ape man
    'cos compared to the sun that sits in the sky
    Compared to the clouds as they roll by
    Compared to the bugs and the spiders and flies
    I am an ape man
    In man's evolution he has created the cities and
    The motor traffic rumble, but give me half a chance
    And I'd be taking off my clothes and living in the jungle
    'cos the only time that I feel at ease
    Is swinging up and down in a coconut tree
    Oh what a life of luxury to be like an ape man
    I'm an ape, I'm an ape ape man, I'm an ape man
    I'm a king kong man, I'm a voo-doo man
    I'm an ape man
    I look out my window, but I can't see the sky
    'cos the air pollution is fogging up my eyes
    I want to get out of this city alive
    And make like an ape man
    Come and love me, be my ape man girl
    And we will be so happy in my ape man world
    I'm an ape man, I'm an ape ape man, I'm an ape man
    I'm a king kong man, I'm a voo-doo man
    I'm an ape man
    I'll be your tarzan, you'll be my jane
    I'll keep you warm and you'll keep me sane
    And we'll sit in the trees and eat bananas all day
    Just like an ape man
    I'm an ape man, I'm an ape ape man, I'm an ape man
    I'm a king kong man, I'm a voo-doo man
    I'm an ape man.
    I don't feel safe in this world no more
    I don't want to die in a nuclear war
    I want to sail away to a distant shore
    And make like an ape man.

    One of my favorites. . . .

    "It's been headed this way since the World began, when a vicious creature made the jump from Monkey to Man."--Elvis Costello

    by BigOkie on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 05:32:34 PM PDT

  •  will genomics help? (none)
    The genomic sequence of neanderthals is likely to be done sooner rather than later: the head of the DOE sequencing facility, the Joint Genome Institute in Walnut Creek, has been promoting this project as a way to get a sequence of a great ape even closer to us than chimp, and there appears to be the possibility of a joint project with the Max Planck Institute run by Svante Paabo.  

    They believe this is quite possible based on the recovery of dna sequence from cave bear remains of approximately the same age and condition as could be found for neanderthal remains.  

    Of course some cautionary notes are sounded, but in fact this may produce significant amounts of neanderthal genomic sequence.

    So make your predictions now that would tend to support or disprove your theory.

  •  Alternative "Theory of Packing Heat" (4.00)

    Let's focus on this...

    1. Neanderthal Females could ward off the strongest, most aggressive of Cro-Magnon Males. Assuming the Cro-Mag could keep it up, she could break it off, any of several ways.

    2. Neanderthal Males would have trouble NOT killing Cro-Magnon Females Assuming interest in the kiddy-porn-ish hairless girls, the strength differential would be off the charts. I get the distinct impression that Neanderthals might have been more routine with their gettin' down, but it would be a full-contact sport in more ways than one -- long in duration, in intensity and despite all conjecture about H.neanderthalensis's wad, with or without packing serious heat, the strength of motion would be comparable to a very, very large full-grown human male tearing into a little girl. Yes, it's a horrible visual...but it conveys the relative strength differential..perhaps by understatement.

    Even if the human female wanted it, or was forced to submit, the act would probably kill her, or render her incapable of reproducing with anyone.  Broken hip bones are bad for that sort of thing. Survivors of the occasion would be lucky to be able to walk ever again, too -- and immobility in the Stone Age was a near-certain death sentence.

    Okay, so what if the Neander female was interested...or curious?

    3. Limited estrus. The big novelty of contemporary Humanity is nonstop estrus. A human female can become pregnant...whenever. Even during menstruation, there is some chance. All other apes can become pregnant only at certain times of the month. It's the exact opposite.

    4. Social Norms. I suspect the very strong, very enthusiastic Neanderthal men keep a tight rein on their women-folk during those few days. Further, the reverse was the case; Neanderthal women would be drawn to the company of the very strong menfolk. Cro-Magnon adults would barely hold their own with Neanderthal prepubescents in strength.

    But let's say girlfriend is still curious. She sees the cleverness, the weaponry and tools of the relatively hairless dudes downstream, and contemplates throwing down with one of them.

    Well, she's got to

    1. Get away from her own attraction to her own guys
    2. Get away from their attraction to her
    3. Their determination that if she's in their band, that they have some assurance that her offspring is theirs...or she can just keep walking.
    4. So, Miss Neander-Thing is making a very big play -- for inclusion in a new group, with a species not quite her own, with rules of conduct and selection that are utterly alien to her.
    5. But she's committed now, so she makes a play.
    6. She doesn't know the language, she finds recourse in the international language of Neander-love.
    7. It scares the hell of the poor guy. He can't do a thing. He thinks the teasing slaps against his ears to be brutally painful, and has blood smears to back his prejudices up.
    8. But say he's real tough, and can hang. He digs strong women. Either that or he's fourteen years old. He walks off sore, she walks off pregnant.
    9. But now she has to run the gauntlet of inclusion into a new, H.sapiens band, one that is not going to see her as the asset that her ex-Neanderthal band did.
    10. In fact, they're probably going to kill her, or drive her off into exile, where any band, Cro-Magnon or Neanderthal, that finds her, with child, is going to have a real problem with her continued existence.

    But never mind all that

    Getting it on is only part of the reproductive process; progeny from the union must be raised to adulthood, as well.

    And that's gonna be a problem, if the hybrid (and mother) are in exile, outlaws from both Neanderthal and Cro-magnon culture, with the bands involved in the tryst being particularly interested in the (preferably bad) fate of the mother and her offspring.

    My guess is that such unions were

    1. Rare
    2. Against the grain of both cultures
    3. Punished when they occurred

    It's only Nero-esque if the city is burning. :)

    by cskendrick on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 05:36:53 PM PDT

    •  Back to the bones (4.00)
      Many Neanderthal specimens (in fact most) reflect a very hard life, including frequent signs of broken and healed bones.  This shows that the Neaderthals had a society that let people hang around to heal.  As to how they got so busted up, it's always been assumed there were out there tangling with the beasties.

      But maybe some of these events were more... recreational.  (Cue up some Klingon sex music from Star Trek)

      TwoTaboos -- Politics and Religion.

      by Mark Sumner on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 05:42:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Extreme Sex (none)
        Would explain the dichotomy of nurturing and violence.

        And would reflect, albeit more obviously, the uncomfortable synergy between violence and pleasure in Homo sapiens sapiens.

        It's only Nero-esque if the city is burning. :)

        by cskendrick on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 05:46:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Not "nonstop estrus" (4.00)
      In modern humans, it's more like hidden ovulation.  There are estrus-like changes in the human female in the days preceding ovulation: soft, hydrated skin, swollen labia minora, fertile cervical fluid, heightened libido and so on, but everything quite muted in comparison to an ape's estrus.

      Of course we are theoretically likely to copulate on any day, but women can not in fact get pregnant on any but a few days each month--there is simply no telling when.  

      -8.38, -7.13   Soapblox/Chicago, for progressive Midwesterners

      by rhubarb on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 05:51:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  true (4.00)
        We women at work were discussing the physical signs of ovulation. Some people declared none, or only a pain on the ovulating side. Other people described such a strong cycle that they could tell what day of their month it was by the difference. Examples: heightened desire for everything- nicotine, alcohol, sex itself, desire for pregnancy (lasting only a day or two before coming to our senses again!) during fertile times. Also swollen genitals during that time, but changing to breast swelling and abdominal bloating and a tapering off of desire over the next ten to fourteen days. And I think it was a Discovery Channel show that said females are wilder and dress more provocatively during fertile times, without necessarily realizing they are doing it. (And the other side of the coin, when you see us in the giant sweatshirt or other comfy clothes, scowling at you, stay away- don't touch!)
            This whole thread is so apropos of our recent discussions.

        ...learn something new every day...

        by nhwriter on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 07:12:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Personally, I hadn't a clue (4.00)
          as to when I was ovulating until I started trying to conceive.  Since my husband was sterile and we needed to do intrauterine insemination with donor sperm, I started paying attention, because you only have a 12-hour window with that each month.  (More or less)

          I found out that I am more desirous of doing the nasty, feel snappier, crave more things in general, and show some of the physical signs I mentioned.  And also have some cascade bleeding, am poleaxed by pain when the liquor follicul spills into the pelvis, and have a "great" estrogen response, according to my OB-GYN. (So where's my tiara?)

          But even so, it's so subtle.  No guy would see me at that time and slap his buddies into submission, LOL.  

          It occurs to me that I know entirely too much about my reproductive system.  A depressing amount, actually, since the need for donor sperm segued into the need for surgical intervention to unite the halves of my split uterus.  

          Is a bifid uterus a throwback to the tree shrew days, or what?  ;-)

          -8.38, -7.13   Soapblox/Chicago, for progressive Midwesterners

          by rhubarb on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 07:27:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Wonderful thinking (4.00)
    and your comparison of P. troglodytes and P. paniscus dispelled my doubts about how different the sexual evolution of H. sapiens and a Neanderthal could possibly be.

    On the other hand, do not discount the natural pre-Enfamil rhythm of pregnancy, lactational amenorrhea and subsequent pregnancy.  Human babies are meant to nurse anywhere from 2 to 4 or 5 years.  Some say longer (K. Detwiler, e.g.)

    Take it from me, a confirmed milk machine with a toddler, that nursing dampens the libido and delays resumption of ovulation, sometimes for years.  It was never the normal pattern of a mature, sexually active H. sapiens female to have a visit from Aunt Flo more than a few times a year, averaged out.  At least not until we started feeding our babies with rubber teats.  That needs to be considered and factored in.

    Also, I am not totally convinced of the Ashley Montague school of thought, that rounded breasts are primarily a sexual flag, although they do serve that function, too.  I suspect that they may be an adaptation to a large-brained, neurologically immature infant who can not cling and has no fur to cling to.  The mother has to hold it, and it is easier to hold and feed a little dishrag when the breast meets the child halfway.

    If that hypothesis is true, then Neanderthals might well have developed fatty breasts, too.

    Lastly, has it been resolved that European H. sapiens didn't interbreed with the Neanderthals?  I mean, you haven't seen my brother, have you?  He has the supraorbital torus, the occipital bun, the muscles, the bones, and people call him the N-word all the time!  


    -8.38, -7.13   Soapblox/Chicago, for progressive Midwesterners

    by rhubarb on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 05:42:17 PM PDT

  •  i'm an evolutionary biologist... and... (4.00)
    I love your writing and 'conjectures' :).

    but then again, my research was on the evolution of retrotranposable elements in athropods (bless you), so what do i know?

    I like the last bit... I too wonder then about Neanderthal pelvic bones... it might support your theory...

    don't ya just love science!?

    "If you and I think exactly alike, one of us is unnecessary" "at least bleeding heart liberals have one"

    by wclathe on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 05:44:16 PM PDT

    •  Hey, arthropod guy (none)
      Osteoglossiformes fish guy here.  Which means that I can conjecture about humanoid evolution, and know nothing about it, and as a bonus, I also know nothing about your area.

      But if you want to know where Paddlefish come from, I'm your man.

      I heart Polyodon spathula.

      Plus I hunt down dinosaurs when the experts let me sneak into the crew.

      TwoTaboos -- Politics and Religion.

      by Mark Sumner on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 05:55:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  now that is a cool fish (none)
        I almost came to study a closer relative to that thing in my postdoc, cichlids and speciation and transposable elements...

        but ending up doing 'other things'

        and i wish the dinosaur guys and gals would let me go along... this DNA-digger is too much of a klutz i guess.

        Though there was that time I did some really cool and fascinating fossil hunting for Devonian creepy crawlies (that was the scientific name I think).

        "If you and I think exactly alike, one of us is unnecessary" "at least bleeding heart liberals have one"

        by wclathe on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 06:16:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  my anthro prof (none)
      said that Homo sapiens sapientis dealt with the pelvic problem by bearing their young too early- at nine months instead of twelve, because otherwise the heads would be too big, and that that is why our species eveolved to put so much into caring for our helpless young.

      ...learn something new every day...

      by nhwriter on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 07:17:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Your (4.00)
    "no sex for fun" assumption does not apply to rhesus monkeys and other common ancestors of chimps, neanderthals and humans. Bonobos are not the only exception. There's also homosexuality in some of these species. How would you reconcile that with the "no sex for fun" hypothesis?
    •  homosexuality? (none)
      Are you sure about that? It doesn't make any sense to me. I mean, for humans I think it's okay, but for other species of animals and such, it serves no purpose. because their purpose for being here is to stay alive, reproduce, and die. Other species of animals being gay, other than humans, just doesn't make sense to me. And if it IS true, then we should do something to stop them from being homosexuals. Especially if they are on the endangered list. Because if you're gay, and not human with all our science technology involving reproducton even with gay people, then they're wasting their time here and doing harm to their own species. My point is, if you're not human, and not a species of animal that's got plenty of numbers in the population, then we should do all we can to prevent those species of animals from engaging in gay lifestyles. Or they might not be around too much longer. What can I say, I LOVE THE MONKEYS!!! They're my favorite animal. I don't want em to die off because the males suddenly realize the wonders and pleasures of "the penis and the prostate...combined!!".  
      •  How? (none)
        How would you expect to "stop" gay animals from being gay. Much the same way as it is for humans, there are two ways of determining sexuality. 1) the outward physical "equipment" 2) the brain chemistry. If a male Tibetan tiger is wired to find that little sack haging between the legs of another male Tibetan tiger attractive, what're ya gonna do?

        "Murrow had a child. The damn thing went wild." -- Fleetwood Mac
        (-8.63), (-7.03)

        by Perdition on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 07:21:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't know.... (none)
          I'm not smart enough to figure out how to "fix" the problem. And I don't care if a dog is gay, like in South Park. But for an amazingly beautiful and intelligent animal to be gay just seems like such a waste to me. I want to see more of those types of animals, not less because the male likes cock. But at the same time, I do wish that crocs and alligators would all turn gay....those reptiles scare the shit out of me! I'm gettin' paranoid just thinking about them...checkin over my shoulders and shit!
          •  Well, One Theory is that Homosexuality (none)
            is an important part of the evolutionary process in higher animals. The idea is that homosexuality is a very good way to reduce overall sexual tension/competition and that same-sex activity creates stronger social cohesion and a better overall environment for raising young.
  •  If Neanderthals had such big craniums (none)
    They could probably give good head. But seriously folks... I've often thought excellent grist for a science fiction novel would be a (republican) government-run breeding program that crosses chimps and humans (via artificial insemination) to fight wars. Of course they'd be super strong, vicious, and genetically modified to better withstand chemical, nuclear and biological attack. Well you know what'll happen... Things get horribly out of hand and they turn on their evil masters - that would be the republicans. In the end, they take over after winning a battle of wits with the president.
  •  Pretty interesting stuff here.... (none)
    Thanks for posting this theory of yours. I love this "where do we come from" stuff. Its interesting as hell to me. Anyone know of any good books or DVD Documentary's about this subject? I'd like to learn more about it. And anything about the Big Bang theory and evolution all together. That kinda stuff blows my mind when I think of all the possibilities.
  •  Do our ideas of 'beauty' help keep us from (none)
    wanting to have sex with Neanderthals?  I seriously think (our type of) humans have an instinctive aversion to Neanderthals, and even to people with Neanderthal-like features.  What we tend to consider beautiful is often the opposite of Neanderthal. It may have been a useful instinct, that kept us from trying to mix species.  

    I think that very instinct is what the Nazis appealed to when they tried to charicature 'inferior' races as having coarse features and flattened brows.  

    I think when an appeal to those instincts works too well, genocide is likely.  

    That tendency to genocide may be why there are no Neanderthals left.  

    If there WERE Neanderthals left, would we want to give them citizenship and the right to vote?  

    We're all pretty crazy some way or other; some of us just hide it better.

    by david78209 on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 07:37:41 PM PDT

  •  throwing this in (none)
      When a group of women live together or sometimes work can do it also thier cycles all come into synch.  This happened at a place i worked at.  Not the same exact day more like dominos.

    Fasicism is Capitalism + Murder...Upton Sinclair

    by Sophie Blue on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 08:05:26 PM PDT

  •  The most biggest human sex organ..... (none)
    Is the human brain.

    Just saying. But as the saying goes - it's the motion.

  •  wow...awesome post (none)
    monkey love....
  •  Pervert (none)

    Most people are idiots... But don't tell them. It'll spoil all the fun for those of us who aren't.

    by d3n4l1 on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 09:01:02 PM PDT

  •  Scent (none)
    We smell before we think.  Scent is the attractant.  Maybe H.Sapiens didn't care for the smell of Neanderthals, & vice versa.  

    As for breasts & penises,  H.Sapiens  female's aureoles become redder, larger, & more sensitive pre-menstually, so there are signs & signals of fertility, even if her engorged labia are not visible,  & the vaginal discharge changes, which may smell different as well.  Our sense of smell is well developed, & affects us before we know it.  

    H.Sapiens penis engorgement leaves no question about his state of arrousal, & his semen leaves a definite stink on the female he has nailed.

    The future ain't what it used to be. Yogi Bera

    by x on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 09:38:50 PM PDT

  •  interesting... (none)
    how the increased sex activities seem to be possibly connected to sound sensivity, and the ability to die of fright.

    aside from that, seems like bonobos and dolphins are pointing the evolutionary way forward, heh.

    onward and upward!

    weren't whales and dolphins dry land-dwellers at one point, and don't they have bigger proportional brains than we do?

    aquatic bonobo bisexuals, your time will come!

    why? just kos..... *just cause*

    by melo on Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 10:30:11 PM PDT

  •  Autism link (none)
    I read an interesting article that suggested that some characteristics like autism was related to humans with Neanderthal genes . I don't think the theory is given a lot of credence, yet. But in that one, many of the traits we associate with civilization appeared to have been seen in neanderthals first including buildings, music, art, and domestication of animals. One could also argue that today the smart introverted (small number of deeper relationships) breed (which accounts for the attempts at civilization) is held back by the reproductive distraction of the pretty extroverted breed but with considerable intermixing.
  •  chimps have big balls (none)
    OK.  This is a fun topic.  And we're having fun with it.  Let's rock.

    I have spent way, way too much time in the company of biologists...and geologists.  And dear Devilstower, you have left out some of the more interesting facts concerning chimp sex.

    Let me add that I am a female.  I am a female who likes to mate with males.  A female who has mated with a biologist and produced offspring.

    Like so many males, sociobiologists included, you put excessive emphasis on the role of the alpha male in reproduction.  It is true that males of most species compete for sexual access to females.  However, sexual access and reproductive success are not necessarily the same thing.  For example:  

    Elephant seals fight tusk to tusk for the biggest harem.  The elephant seal male that dominates the other males controls the harem in his territory.  However, to mate as an alpha male is not the only reproductive strategy.  Beta males hover at the fringes of the harem.  When the alpha male is busy mating with a female, or fighting with another male, the beta males, called "sneakers", will move in and mate with the females on the fringe of the harem.  When the alpha male notices, he chases the beta male off, but the deed is already done.  As a result, not all of the offspring of the females in the alpha male's harem are the biological offspring of the alpha male.  Sorry guys.  Just because you beat the snot out of all the other guys and get the girl, that doesn't necessarily mean that you get to be the daddy.

    In humans, when DNA testing first became common in determining paternity (in fact, when simple blood immunotype tests became common), the testers were shock...shocked I tell the frequency of social fathers who were not actually the biological father...even though they thought they were.  It is so common that my dear EX husband insisted on DNA tests for our kids to insure he was the father (he is).  He had no reason to doubt my fidelity, but the stats scared the crap out of him.  So...sorry guys, just because you beat the snot out of all the other guys and get the girl, that doesn't necessarily mean that you get to be the daddy.

    Another interesting aspect of human sex is the features which form the basis of female choice in sex partners.  In a biometric/pheromone test, the females were shown pictures of males who had been previously rated according to the testosterone markers in their faces (around the jaw and can generally think of this as an index of "fierce" features.)  In the pheromone part, the females smelled the sweaty t-shirts of the males.  The surprise here is that females choice in males varies with whether she is fertile of not.  When we're ovulating, we prefer men with higher testosterone levels than we prefer at other times in our cycle.  Weird, isn't it?  It seems that we want to have fierce men father the children, but have more cooperative men raise them.  And they say women aren't smart!  Actually, it's just our biological inclination.  Not a good excuse?  Then you can't use the excuse of "it's our nature" when you look at women's front of your wife.  Seriously though, there is an argument that hominid males became more social and cooperative because females chose to mate with more cooperative males who would contribute to the welfare of their offspring, thus female choice was driving evolution.  It seems to be more complex than that. Complex?  Sex?  Ya think?

    Now for chimps.  This is the really, really fun part.  Chimps are really, really potent.  I mean they have astronomical sperm counts.  I googled this to make sure my memory was correct.  I am new at this comment thing, so I will just cut and paste (from an article about articles, so I don't feel guilty)

    "Chimpanzees are reproductively extraordinary among the great apes. They are not strikingly dimorphic for size as are the other two species (Fig 2), but male chimpanzees have enormous scrotal testes, proportionately about 5 and 10 times larger than Pongo and Gorilla, respectively, and a specialized penis more than twice as long as that on the much larger gorilla. Short (1981) has calculated that the testes of an average chimpanzee can sustain sperm production at a level that will produce at least four full-strength ejaculates/day, each containing several times the number of sperm in an average gorilla or orangutan ejaculate." (Robert L. Smith (1984) Human Sperm Competition. in Sperm Competition and the Evolution of Animal Mating Systems pp. 619)

    " the chimpanzee, several males mate frequently with the oestroud females, so that each male has to deposit enough sperm to compete with the presence of sperm from other males. For the chimpanzee, therefore, we hypothesize that selection will favour the male that can deposit the largest number of sperm; thus the volume of spermatogenic tissue and hence the testis size is far greater in the chimpanzee than in the gorilla or orangutan. If this is correct, it implies that primates in which more than one male mates with each oestrous female should have larger testes relative to their body weight than those which single-male breeding systems. We have tested this prediction across a wide range of primates, and the results support the hypothesis. The relative size of testes may, therefore, provide a valuable clue to the breeding system of a primate species." (Harcourt AH, Harvey PH, Larson SG, Short RV (1981) Testis weight body weight and breeding system in primates. Nature 293: pp. 55)

    Ya see, chimp females, when fertile, mate with every male in the troop.  Some say this reduces the chances of the males killing the offspring and maximizes the male's contribution to the infant's care.  The male chimp has no way of knowing who the father of the infant is.  So...sorry guys, just because you beat the snot out of all the other guys and get the girl, that doesn't necessarily mean that you get to be the daddy.

    In the sexy bonobos, the females mate with all the males as well.  In this species also, the males have no clue as to who fathered the offspring.  

    OK OK Enough

    Maybe I am as obsessed with female choice as you are with weewee size.  Go ahead and measure yourself against a chimp.  Just realize that the hairy guy has lots and lots more swimmers.

    Finally, Chimps and humans are not in the same genera.  We are not even in the same family.  We are in the same super-family.  You think that females are choosey about the men we mate with?  I assure you that our immune system is more choosey about whose semen it will let live in our "sugar".  And our eggs are more choosey still.  Our eggs will allow only one HUMAN sperm to penetrate its membrane, it's very, very choosey membrane.  Then  the egg will pass an electrical charge along its surface and close itself so no more sperm get in.    Even then, if some hairy ape's sperm got in the egg, it would spontaneously abort.  BTW, the rate of spontaneous abortion among humans is shockingly high also.  Most occur before the woman even knows she is pregnant.

    My point?  Penetration isn't everything when it comes to reproductive success.

    But then, I'm not a biologist...I only played with one.

    Still, your story is fun.

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