Monday, September 5, 2011

More on Neanderthals

So, I got a response to my last blog post on species hybridization that got me thinking. I was informed that some scientists believe that Neanderthals had a different number of chromosomes. This caused me to do more research. One of the things I discovered is that none of the surviving Neanderthal markers happens to be on the Y chromosome.

Now, normally, when two species with different numbers of chromosomes cross, almost none of the offspring are fertile. For this reason, I'm skeptical of the chromosome number thing. However, it led me to another line of thought. Some cat breeders produce what are called 'exotic' breeds. The best known of these is the Bengal cat. The Bengal cat is an unusual breed. It was created by deliberately crossing two species; the ordinary domestic cat and the Asian spotted cat. Bengal breeders know well that when you breed an F1 litter, only the females are fertile.

Only the females. That would certainly explain why the Neanderthal Y chromosome has gone away. Here, though, I'm going to go out on a speculative fiction limb. As the Neanderthal numbers diminished, so the numbers seeking homo sapiens mates would have increased. If the male offspring of such matings are infertile (and fertility amongst the females potentially compromised), then I can see two scenarios. These are not all of the scenarios, but two plausible situations that could result from having heavily hybridized populations with very limited male fertility.

Scenario #1: Females, aware that their mates are unlikely to produce children, would go outside the marriage to find fertile males. Eventually, they would go outside the tribe. Given many of these females would have preferred (infertile) mates, they would likely seek temporary liaisons, designed entirely to produce a child. They might even inform the male they choose of their reasons, either out of honesty or as part of getting him to cooperate. Likely, they would seduce a male and then abandon him to return to their tribe; possibly after a series of very wild nights. Also, some females might resort to stealing children from other tribes. In some cases, they might leave a stone or a bit of wood in the crib, in order to delay discovery.

Oh, hey! That's what female fairies do in the legends...steal human males for wild one night stands (it's not that much of an exaggeration from 'Well, by the time she was done with him he couldn't get it up for a week' to 'By the time she was done with him he'd aged 100 years'). And rob cradles.

Scenario #2: A heavily hybridized tribe realizes that their males are not fertile. There is some evidence that Neanderthal females routinely, rather than occasionally, hunted and fought alongside their men. The proportion of Neanderthal female skeletons with hunting injuries is very high. If you don't need males to hunt or fight and they can't put babies in you (contrary to what most people believe, I truly doubt that most 'primitive' people didn't understand that penis + vagina + 9 months = baby with traits from both parents), then what use are they. It would not be too much of a stretch for such a tribe to start resorting to male infanticide and then capturing males from other tribes. This might continue long after the fertility-compromised generations, possibly terrifying the surrounding tribes, especially any that were patriarchal.

Oh, hey! We got ourselves some Amazons here.

Of course, there's a flaw here. Both fairies and Amazons are supposed to be extremely beautiful. Well, so was Cleopatra, and the surviving images of her indicate that she was, in repose, rather plain. And not all fairies are beautiful.

Besides. I'm taking stuff and galloping off with it as usual, although I may well use #2 in something. Hrm...