I love science. I’ll read anything. I will maintain stoutly that I did not click on this particular article to find out what sex with a Neanderthal was like. I don’t even speculate about people I know. Far as I’m willing to go in my imaginings is that Neanderthals probably had to tip their heads sideways to kiss in order to avoid eyebrow-ridge abrasion. If they kissed at all.
No, I clicked on the article to find out how anyone has been able to hypothesize about Neanderthal sex. The things people have been able to figure out from the tiniest clues absolutely blow me away.
I mean, it wasn’t too many years ago someone found a molar tooth and a finger bone and discovered a whole new kind of human, the Denisovans. And since then they’ve found a bone fragment–a fragment–that they’ve confidently identified as belonging to a young girl with a Neanderthal mother and Denisovan father. (They named her Denny, but her real name was NeAnn. She was a Pisces and liked flute music and long walks on the beach.)
The article was specifically referring to sex between Neanderthals and modern humans, however, and doggone if they didn’t conclude they did kiss. Because a scientist found a microbe calcified in Neanderthal tooth crud and recognized it as a modern human oral bacterium. The two species of human wouldn’t have been expected to be freighting the same mouth bugs, so she ran some numbers and carried the one and determined the Neanderthal and modern versions of the little bugger drifted apart not all that long ago. If they’d both started with the same bacterium it would have happened much earlier, so she concluded there had definitely been mouth-on-mouth action.
So, were Neanderthals promiscuous? One would fervently hope the answer could be found in cave paintings. And one would be right, inasmuch as stenciled hand paintings have revealed the artists’ Digit Ratios. The what-now?
And this is why I read articles like these. You get sent down all these rabbit holes. I didn’t even know Digit Ratios were a thing, but evidently people have drawn all sorts of conclusions from the ratio of the lengths of a person’s index and ring fingers. The Neanderthals’ lower ratio corresponds with less allegiance to monogamy, shall we say. So now I’m looking up Digit Ratio. Mine is relatively high. I don’t know what Dave’s is–and now I kinda want to–because we can’t straighten out his ring finger. (But I do have a mallet.)
Digit ratio turns out to be a reflection of the available hormones the person was exposed to in the womb, with consequences all down the line. For instance, various digit ratios have been used to predict prostate cancer, aggression, masculinized handwriting, empathy, lesbianism, video game addiction, fear of spiders, and susceptibility to that Sarah McLachlan song about the arms of the angel. Digit-ratio studies have also been done on mice and pheasants.
All right. I dunno. I was starting to lose interest until I read that digit ratio also correlated to anogenital distance (AGD), the distance between the center of your anus and your vagina and/or scrotum. I will be damned. There is such a thing as Taint Research! It’s not a field I ever thought to explore, except at a layman’s level, but I’m not about to poo-poo it. I’d think all the fun would be in the actual measuring process, with diminishing returns thereafter. However, Taint Science has given the world stunning sentences such as the following:
“Women who had high levels of phthalates in their urine during pregnancy gave birth to sons who were ten times more likely to have shorter than expected AGDs.”
Well! I do not know my anogenital distance, offhand, and have no plans to find out, at my age. The only thing I know for certain is that neither my ring or my index finger is quite long enough to be able to play Schumann’s Toccata. I blame my Mom.