Are Redheads Descended From Neanderthals?

Source: 120 (CC)

Source: 120 (CC)

In Entangled, Graham Hancock’s debut novel, an essential part of the story involves the so-called “Neanderthal Enigma,” a raging academic debate over what caused Homo neanderthalensis to die out some 35,000 years ago. Hancock’s Neanderthals, called the “Uglies,” play an important role in Entangled. They are depicted as gentle, sensitive, telepathic, creative: They did not make cave paintings but they did use makeup.

Shocking new scientific research suggests that Hancock’s depiction of Neanderthals may be far closer to the truth than even he may have thought. Jennifer Viegas reports for Discovery News via MSNBC:

Neanderthals are often depicted as brutish club wielders, but a new book suggests Neanderthals had a sensitive side, displaying “a deep seated sense of compassion.”

The findings, also published in the journal Time & Mind, are part of a larger study charting how empathy and other related feelings evolved in early humans.

Researchers Penny Spikins, Andy Needham and Holly Rutherford from the University of York Archaeology Department examined archaeological evidence for the way emotions began to emerge in our ancestors six million years ago and then developed through more recent times.

Based on fossils, artifacts and other evidence, the scientists propose a four stage model for the development of human compassion…

[continues at Discovery News via MSNBC]

But that’s not all! Marc Kaufman reports in the Washington Post that there’s a wholesale re-evaluation of how Neanderthals relate to us, saying that

…these often disparaged humans are actually “more like our brothers and sisters than even our cousins.”

and apparently “recent finds suggest quite a few in central Europe were handsome redheads.” So if there’s a ginger in your life…

The Washington Post story is well worth reading if you are interested in the topic — there are many more fascinating items about Neanderthals.

majestic

Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

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36 Comments on "Are Redheads Descended From Neanderthals?"

  1. Liam_McGonagle | Oct 13, 2010 at 10:23 pm |

    Wow. Neaderthal is so exactly opposite of how I imagine Woody Allen. Never met him, but from photos I’ve seen I sincerely doubt he has the kind of eyebrow ridge you could rest a glass of scotch on.

  2. Liam_McGonagle | Oct 13, 2010 at 6:23 pm |

    Wow. Neaderthal is so exactly opposite of how I imagine Woody Allen. Never met him, but from photos I’ve seen I sincerely doubt he has the kind of eyebrow ridge you could rest a glass of scotch on.

  3. Whatever happened to those 10 foot tall redheaded skeletons discovered around various indian burial sites in the 19th century. That’s what i want to know

  4. Whatever happened to those 10 foot tall redheaded skeletons discovered around various indian burial sites in the 19th century. That’s what i want to know

  5. I don’t give much weight to the ideas of Graham Hancock & co, but I find the recent reconceptualization of the Neanderthal race as more akin to homo sapiens as definitely more interesting and provocative than conventional thinking. We are used to conflating evolution with progress; Neanderthals did disappear, but this by no means proves that they were in all ways primitive and dysfunctional by comparison to our own species. If they excelled ways that homo sapiens did not, would we necessarily be able to recognize it? Indeed, the fact of a given species being more cognitively advanced in no way guarantees that they will win out over a less sophisticated, but evolutionary “cheaper” counterpart in the evolutionary arms race.

    The notion of Neanderthal’s being brutish, knuckle-dragging creatures smacks of 19-century thinking, and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if it falls by the scientific wayside in another generation or so. Imagine, though–there are probably alien civilizations out there where different species of intelligent creatures did not die out, but exist side-by-side with their evolutionary cousins, each existing according to its relative strengths and weaknesses. Earth, with one dominant species, might just be the exception, rather than the rule. It’s cool to think about, isn’t it?

  6. I don’t give much weight to the ideas of Graham Hancock & co, but I find the recent reconceptualization of the Neanderthal race as more akin to homo sapiens as definitely more interesting and provocative than conventional thinking. We are used to conflating evolution with progress; Neanderthals did disappear, but this by no means proves that they were in all ways primitive and dysfunctional by comparison to our own species. If they excelled ways that homo sapiens did not, would we necessarily be able to recognize it? Indeed, the fact of a given species being more cognitively advanced in no way guarantees that they will win out over a less sophisticated, but evolutionary “cheaper” counterpart in the evolutionary arms race.

    The notion of Neanderthal’s being brutish, knuckle-dragging creatures smacks of 19-century thinking, and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if it falls by the scientific wayside in another generation or so. Imagine, though–there are probably alien civilizations out there where different species of intelligent creatures did not die out, but exist side-by-side with their evolutionary cousins, each existing according to its relative strengths and weaknesses. Earth, with one dominant species, might just be the exception, rather than the rule. It’s cool to think about, isn’t it?

    • gemmarama | Oct 15, 2010 at 8:36 am |

      this wee old man came into a pub i used to work in and started talking to me because i was reading a dictionary of symbology behind the bar. turns out he was an ex-physics professor and published writer on standing stones. after about an hour’s fascinating chat, i came to ask him “so what do you think really happened?”. he replied that he thought that neanderthals and homo sapiens were descended from different kinds of monkeys, and that unfortunately the meanest monkeys had prevailed. he also believed that there were other people here at one point, who grew so disgusted by homo sapiens behaviour that they left. i asked him where they went; he said simply, “well, elsewhere…”

      a week later a package of books was dropped off in the pub for me. i never saw the man again…

      • Liam_McGonagle | Oct 15, 2010 at 11:30 am |

        That’s interesting. What sort of books were they?

        • gemmarama | Oct 15, 2010 at 4:27 pm |

          there was a book about warhol, as an american friend of his had apparently hung about at the factory back in the day and we had talked about that… there was also “uriel’s machine”, by two masons who investigated the science behind tales of the flood, a copy of the book of enoch, and another book i can’t remember the name of, which was a slightly wacko tome about the possibility of aliens having founded our more sophisticated ancient civilisations…

          mostly stuff i have mixed feelings about to this day, but fascinating nonetheless.

          • Are you serious because i had an ongoing thought about aliens coming to earth in the close past and developing are society. I would like to know what the name of that book is.

          • possibly Chariots of the Gods…Erich Van Daniken…he followed up with a couple more…written in the late 70s or early 80s. Hypothesized that alien visitation heavily influenced human culture and science. I think he read to much into a few faint symbols left carved into stone…

            …but then I remember theres an African tribe in the boonies that can hand draw a starmap passed down from generations…with a specific planetary body included that can’t be seen with the naked eye. How the hell they know the celestial location of a star system and the number of planetary bodies orbiting that star is beyond me…so who knows? Van Daniken and others could be right. I’ll keep my mind open and consider all things possible until something proves otherwise.

          • Stone Clark | Dec 29, 2010 at 10:19 am |

            Sumerians

      • which symbology dictionary? was it by any chance blue and red cover with white text…can’t remember the name for the life of me…and can’t find it on the shelves…got it somewhere but I moved the shelves and changed the order. I ask only only cause I picked mine up in London and I’m very fond of it…good reference work.

  7. Neanderthals did not die out. Republicans are direct decendent.

  8. Neanderthals did not die out. Republicans are direct decendent.

    • actually, neanderthals would be more like the democrats, republicans would be more like cro-magnon.

      the ideas from Hancock’s debut novel, about Neanderthal Enigma, are 100% from Stan Gooch. It seems that most of Gooch research about neanderthals have been proved by science.

      sad, people use gooch´s research but don´t give him credit.

  9. Word Eater | Oct 15, 2010 at 4:29 am |

    When I read the title, my first response was, “No, but your mom is.”

    Thanks, I’m here all week.

  10. Word Eater | Oct 15, 2010 at 12:29 am |

    When I read the title, my first response was, “No, but your mom is.”

    Thanks, I’m here all week.

  11. gemmarama | Oct 15, 2010 at 12:36 pm |

    this wee old man came into a pub i used to work in and started talking to me because i was reading a dictionary of symbology behind the bar. turns out he was an ex-physics professor and published writer on standing stones. after about an hour’s fascinating chat, i came to ask him “so what do you think really happened?”. he replied that he thought that neanderthals and homo sapiens were descended from different kinds of monkeys, and that unfortunately the meanest monkeys had prevailed. he also believed that there were other people here at one point, who grew so disgusted by homo sapiens behaviour that they left. i asked him where they went; he said simply, “well, elsewhere…”

    a week later a package of books was dropped off in the pub for me. i never saw the man again…

  12. Anonymous | Oct 15, 2010 at 3:30 pm |

    That’s interesting. What sort of books were they?

  13. yea this would would work for us if we related to them at all. we are aliens landed here on comets causing them extinction and replicating them we are to advanced and cold to be anything like these animal men

  14. yea this would would work for us if we related to them at all. we are aliens landed here on comets causing them extinction and replicating them we are to advanced and cold to be anything like these animal men

  15. gemmarama | Oct 15, 2010 at 8:27 pm |

    there was a book about warhol, as an american friend of his had apparently hung about at the factory back in the day and we had talked about that… there was also “uriel’s machine”, by two masons who investigated the science behind tales of the flood, a copy of the book of enoch, and another book i can’t remember the name of, which was a slightly wacko tome about the possibility of aliens having founded our more sophisticated ancient civilisations…

    mostly stuff i have mixed feelings about to this day, but fascinating nonetheless.

  16. actually, neanderthals would be more like the democrats, republicans would be more like cro-magnon.

    the ideas from Hancock’s debut novel, about Neanderthal Enigma, are 100% from Stan Gooch. It seems that most of Gooch research about neanderthals have been proved by science.

    sad, people use gooch´s research but don´t give him credit.

  17. Monkeydata | Oct 21, 2010 at 7:26 pm |

    Looking at that image of carrot top make me wanna hurl!

  18. Blonde and blue eyes is.

  19. Blonde and blue eyes is.

  20. Are you serious because i had an ongoing thought about aliens coming to earth in the close past and developing are society. I would like to know what the name of that book is.

  21. which symbology dictionary? was it by any chance blue and red cover with white text…can’t remember the name for the life of me…and can’t find it on the shelves…got it somewhere but I moved the shelves and changed the order. I ask only only cause I picked mine up in London and I’m very fond of it…good reference work.

  22. possibly Chariots of the Gods…Erich Van Daniken…he followed up with a couple more…written in the late 70s or early 80s. Hypothesized that alien visitation heavily influenced human culture and science. I think he read to much into a few faint symbols left carved into stone…

    …but then I remember theres an African tribe in the boonies that can hand draw a starmap passed down from generations…with a specific planetary body included that can’t be seen with the naked eye. How the hell they know the celestial location of a star system and the number of planetary bodies orbiting that star is beyond me…so who knows? Van Daniken and others could be right. I’ll keep my mind open and consider all things possible until something proves otherwise.

  23. Stone Clark | Dec 29, 2010 at 2:19 pm |

    Sumerians

  24. Red headed kings walk amongst you.

  25. Red headed kings walk amongst you.

Comments are closed.