Teddy Wayne is the author of the novel “Kapitoil.” In the Times today, he writes this bit about Neanderthals' mating patterns, and just how much eating flames the loins, even from the beginning of time.
Neanderthals mated with some modern humans after all and left their imprint
in the human genome, a team of biologists has reported in the first detailed
analysis of the Neanderthal genetic sequence. — The Times, May 6
A Neanderthal and human at a berry tree somewhere in Western Europe, 60,000 B.C.
NEANDERTHAL Gather here often?
HUMAN No. (looks around) I’m just waiting for my friend.
N. Friend hunter or gatherer?
H. A gatherer. But we’re planning to go somewhere else and —
N. Great, me use fire to send signal to my hunter-friend to come.
H. That’s O.K., we won’t be here long.
A pause as they eat berries.
N. So ... what your sign?
H. My sign?
N. Cave sign. What you draw on cave wall to indicate it yours?
H. A picture of a bird soaring as the dawn’s light —
N. Me have drawing of me killing animal, then second drawing of me eating animal-flesh with fire. You like animal-flesh?
H. I eat only berries.
N. Last mate also eat only berry. It cause problem when we eat outside-of-cave. One reason why we not mate now.
H. That’s too bad.
N. Also she say she has many issue from time before this she still need to deal with. She say it not me, it her.
H. Well, my friend should have been here by now, so maybe I’ll go look for her ...
N. Difficult to walk over main field when sun at this point. Everyone trying to walk at same time. Me walk with you to find her. She at Tree Near Fast River? Or Tree Near Slow River?
H. I think we just need some alone time —
N. Me scoop you drink. You take with dirt or without?
H. I’m not thirsty.
N. You into stone tool? Me into stone tool.
H. Not really.
N. Oh ... Me ask you from point of view of gatherer: what you think about new action of “Neanderthal-scaping”? You like Neanderthal with no hair or Neanderthal with all hair?
H. No hair.
N. Me have stone tool in cave that can make me with no hair. Maybe you help me?
H. I really have to get going.
N. Wait. This seem crazy, but me feel connection to you, like connection of mammoth to spear, or of fish to spear, or of wood stick to point of spear. It hard to meet fertile gatherer because me spend all my time hunting or sleeping inside-of-cave. Can me fire-signal you?
H. You know what, tell me where your cave is, and I’ll fire-signal you.
N. O.K.! Me give you my stone.
He hands her a stone inscribed with his cave’s information. She leaves.
N. Fire-signal you in time soon after this!
Another human approaches the berry tree and eats some.
N. Me eat only berry, too.