The Way We Are
by Stan Gooch
The following article was commissioned for The Spectator
In April 1999 Professor Trinkaus of Washington University announced that fossil finds in Portugal some 25,000 years old proved conclusively that Neanderthal man and Cro-Magnon man had interbred. That of course had long been obvious to anyone with eyes in his head—‘you can observe Neanderthal at any public gathering’ as Oswald Spengler remarked.
But now it is official. What the scientific establishment had for so long implacably denied is true—we are a hybrid species. We are not simply the descendant of Cro-Magnon man.
But now too we have to accept and face the massive consequences of this situation. Or to put matters more positively, we now have the answers to the central and hitherto inexplicable puzzles of the human condition. We can now for instance understand the nature and source of the unending conflicts which tear human communities apart from Northern Ireland to Bosnia to Indonesia to Nigeria. We can now also understand why we have a universal political structure of diametrically opposed left wing versus right wing views.
But not even that is all.
In 1994 Jean-Marie Chauvet, a pot-holer, stumbled upon the magnificent cave paintings of what is now known as the Chauvet grotto. These 33,000 year old paintings are in every way the equal of the work of the great artists of our present day—Da Vinci, Picasso, Michael Angelo. Robin McKie in his book Ape Man emphasises that Neanderthals had shown no ability to produce art of this quality—but adds, crucially: ‘The problem is that neither had Cro-Magnon.’ Art critic John Berger writes: ‘Art did not begin clumsily or gradually—there was grace from the start.’ So the astonishing Chauvet achievement bursts on us out of the blue from nowhere.
And this remarkable and hitherto inexplicable artistic situation is equally duplicated on all fronts—not merely the artistic. (The situation is in fact almost enough to make one believe in von Däniken.) As Robin McKie emphasises, thus far both Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon had used the same kind of tools in the same kinds of ways for almost two hundred thousand years.
But then from around 35,000 BP there is a sudden explosion in the complexity and style and use of tools throughout the whole world human community—as also of all aspects of culture. Where, asks McKie, did the modern world suddenly spring from and why? He then states, frankly, that he and the scientific community have no explanations to offer.
Yet the answer is in fact not far to seek.
When animal and plant breeders cross widely divergent species of plants and animals a simple miracle occurs. Offspring are produced which have qualities and characteristics possessed by neither parent. This outcome is known as ‘hybrid vigour’. It is precisely what animal and plant breeding is all about.
So is it not then abundantly clear that the crossing of Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon—who had of course evolved as two totally separate species over many millions of years—suddenly, overnight, produced ourselves and our remarkable abilities?
A sobering thought in passing is this. It is virtually certain that the miraculous (or rather standard!) biological event that produced ourselves occurred simply and solely as the by-product of the systematic slaughter and extinction of Neanderthal by Cro-Magnon—and in the process the rape and enslavement of Neanderthal woman.
Yet there is much more still.
When widely divergent species of animal are crossed and subsequently observed in the laboratory the offspring are frequently found to have inherited conflicting sets of instincts, evolved in their parents’ separate evolutionary pasts.
As an actual instance we have the offspring of the cross between a Peach-Faced Lovebird and a Fischer’s Lovebird. The Peach-Faced Lovebird when building its nest carries leaves and strips of bark tucked into its rump feathers. The Fischer’s Lovebird however transports these items in its beak. The hybrid cross is found to possess both sets of instinctive instructions. So the unfortunate offspring tears itself a strip of bark. The Peach-Faced instinct now tells the bird to insert this into its rump feathers, which the youngster does.
But at this point the Fischer’s instinct intervenes and instructs the bird not to let go of the material because it has not yet arrived at the nest site. So the youngster resumes the ready-to-fly position with the bark still in its mouth. But then the Peach-Faced instinct, noting the bark in the mouth, once again intervenes and reminds the bird to place the bark in its rump feathers. This the youngster again attempts to do. But now once more the Fischer’s instinct reminds the bird that it is not yet at the nest site—so the ready-to-fly position is again resumed with the bark still in the youngster’s beak . . .
The see-saw process continues on and on and on—with the young bird exhibiting ever greater confusion and distress.
That is the kind of psychological impasse which is often created when widely divergent animal species are crossed. It is also what occurred when Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon interbred. Now we can understand why our culture has so many established and enduring metaphors, and so many enduring and central storylines, attesting to our ‘double life’: the divided self, the two souls within one breast, the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing, Cain and Abel, Jekyll and Hyde, Faust. This too is why, for example, we long for true, everlasting love on the one hand—yet hanker for promiscuity and one-night stands on the other,
How could two such diametrically opposed instinctive drives exist side-by-side in terms of any normal evolutionary scenario, within any one single species? Oh, but surely we are not governed by instinct to that extent? Oh, but surely we are. The greater part of our social life and culture is centrally governed by ‘fossil behaviours' evolved by our ancestors in the distant past. Desmond Morris in particular has written several books on this subject.
Very briefly here, my own proposals in respect of Neanderthal life (based on a study of these matters over some forty years) are that Neanderthal society was matriarchal and completely promiscuous, led by women and driven by sex—exactly as is the case with the recently discovered bonobos pygmy chimpanzees of Africa. Life was communal (we can interject the word 'commune-ism' here).
Neanderthal evolved originally in bush or jungle conditions, hence his shortness (classic Neanderthal males in particular were a mere average 5' 4'' in height) and was also near-sighted as appropriate to this environment. And importantly, predominantly left-handed (for reasons too complex to summarise here).
Cro-Magnon certainly evolved on the open plains, hence his tallness. (Average height of Cro-Magnon males was originally calculated to be 6' 0''—though the more accepted figure today is 5' 10''.) He developed pair-bonding and lived with one partner for life, on a defined small piece of territory adjacent with other similar pairs. (Thus the gibbon communities of today are actually the perfect model for suburbia.) He was appropriately long-sighted, and right-handed.
The above statements are to an extent a matter for debate. What follows is not—and is readily testable in respect of the items listed. Some of these items have in fact already been formally investigated and confirmed. My own research supports the remainder. It is quite clear that the left wing and the Labour Party represent our Neanderthal side, while the right wing and the Conservative Party represent our Cro-Magnon ancestry. And so if Labour MPs and members (I stress members) of the Labour Party were compared with Conservative MPs and members of the Conservative Party then the former would show:
A greater incidence of the big toe being shorter than the second toe. (All Neanderthal fossil feet and fossil footprints have the big toe shorter than the second toe. All Cro-Magnon fossil feet and fossil footprints show the big toe longer than the second toe.)
Greater incidence of the so-called simian line in the palm of the hand. (The simian line is a single division across the centre of the palm, which all apes have but most humans do not. The norm for humans is two lines—the so-called head and heart lines.)
A larger cerebellum.
Greater incidence of the pyknic body type and a lower incidence of the athletic body type.
A higher incidence of left-handedness.
A lower incidence of male pattern baldness.
Greater incidence of prominent eyebrows (including eyebrows which meet in the middle) and brow ridges.
A greater number of offspring (i.e. higher fertility).
Higher incidence of clinical neurosis and a lower incidence of clinical psychosis.
Higher incidence of short-sightedness and a lower incidence of long-sightedness.
Better night vision.
Greater susceptibility to hypnosis.
Greater proportion of sleeping time spent in dreaming time.
Higher incidence of 'drop-out' behaviours (sleeping rough, alcoholism, unemployment, drug addiction, etc.).
Shorter average height.
Lower average IQ.
These same differences would also be shown when members of religious organisations were compared with members of scientific institutions; when southern Europeans were compared with northern Europeans; when eastern Europeans were compared with western Europeans; when Welsh were compared with English; when Northern Ireland Catholics were compared with Northern Ireland Protestants; when members of the Untouchable caste were compared with members of the Brahmin caste; when short individuals were compared with tall individuals.
As said, a number of these intercorrelations have already been confirmed by large-scale formal surveys. Thus left-handed men show far less baldness than right-handed men. Drop-outs sleeping rough on American streets also show far less baldness. Jews in every European country show more short-sightedness than non-Jews. Northern Europeans are taller than southern Europeans—and so on. How does (or could) orthodoxy account for these findings? Orthodoxy has no answers.
As already stated, conflict within human societies (as opposed to conflict between nations purely over disputed territory) can be very well understood in terms of our dual human ancestry—and cannot in fact be genuinely understood in any other. From Northern Ireland to Nigeria, though the labels given to the conflicts concerned differ, what we see on closer inspection is one group defending and seeking to impose a more Neanderthal life-style versus another defending and seeking to impose a more Cro-Magnon life-style.
The French Revolution, the Russian Revolution and the Taleban movement were/are Neanderthal driven. The Nazi movement, the Ku Klux Klan and Serbian ethnic cleansing were/are Cro-Magnon driven.
Look at John Hume standing next to David Trimble in Northern Ireland and you will see ‘Neanderthal’ standing next to ‘Cro-Magnon’. The quotation marks are of course crucial. If David Trimble were purely Cro-Magnon he would not be short-sighted. If John Hume were purely Neanderthal he would not be as tall as David Trimble.
We are all simultaneously and permanently both.
That situation, as we have briefly seen, is at once our greatest blessing—and our greatest curse.
Stan Gooch, 2000