How Neanderthal Are You?

Filed in Archive, Blog by on December 27, 2014 1 Comment


The DNA of all homo sapiens (you) includes one to four percent Neanderthal DNA. In his recent book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari quotes research from 2010 that proved modern humans interbred with Neanderthals.

Prior to these findings, many scientists doubted that homo sapiens and Neanderthal could have successfully mated because they are two different species of humans.

This explains a lot.

And raises the question: how Neanderthal are you? Perhaps you are a suave, sophisticated “one percenter” or a fun-loving bogan “four percenter”?

Unfortunately, it is not yet possible to run down to a chemist store for a DNA testing kit. And, no, those signs that people hold up at the cricket that say “4” are not designed to indicate their percentage of Neanderthal DNA. Although further research is pending on this phenomenon.

For the status-anxious who like to hold up their esteemed ancestry, the inescapable leveller of shared Neanderthal DNA might be unwelcome. How would they rationalise this: “Oh yes, but I’m sure my ancestors were socially aware Neanderthals who were in their leadership group”?

For others it might become part of their plea to a judge that their sentence should be reduced because their four-percent Neanderthal DNA made them do it. Juries might have to undergo DNA tests as part of their selection process in case they have too much or too little empathy for the accused.

In the absence of easy access to DNA testing, I would suggest that if you have worn a pair of ugg boots to work, then you are likely to be a four percenter.

Other suggestions of behaviour that indicate four-percent Neanderthal DNA are welcome.


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  1. Alex King says:

    Case 1 Does the use of fire, in the modern context the BBQ, indicate a greater affinity to being a homo sapien, compared the Neanderthal’s predilection for eating vegetables. So can I posit that the trendy salad eating hipster is really a Neanderthal, that and the beard is really the confirmation.

    Case 2 – Every beard wearing AFL player can be considered a Neanderthal, unless DNA proved otherwise

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