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Stark: Moods? Smoking? Blame it on our knuckle-dragging gene

FARGO -- Modern science marches on with new discoveries about our beloved knuckle-dragging ancestors. There is new data and irrefutable truth why that one uncle of yours (as well as your son-in-law) reminds you of a caveman.Don't take this person...

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Steve Stark

FARGO - Modern science marches on with new discoveries about our beloved knuckle-dragging ancestors. There is new data and irrefutable truth why that one uncle of yours (as well as your son-in­law) reminds you of a caveman.
Don’t take this personally. It’s science.
It turns out that on a beautiful Saturday night 50,000 years ago, there was at least one bunch of so-­called modern humans from Africa who met up with a group of Neanderthals at a party in the Middle East. Even the good-looking traveling custom combiners didn’t hold a candle to the allure these swarthy out­of­towners had on the local ladies.
The soiree started typically with the Neanderthals drinking too much, getting rowdy and showing off, but still possessing that infuriating kind of bad boy charm that has obviously been attracting girls since the Neolithic age.
Well, one natural inclination led to another and before you could say “Would you like to come to my cave and see some wall etchings?,” we had some history-changing hook­ups. It was a hot night where inhibitions and furry lion skins were soon loosened, allowing and encouraging the DNA torch to be passed in the flickering torchlight. Nine months later, babies were born and the aggregate gene pool became the tributary of the gene river that still flows today.
This latest research is substantiated by computational geneticists - a term that most certainly is a very intriguing profession but a really lousy song lyric.
Some traits from the Neanderthals that are found today include mood disorders, depression and possible tobacco addiction. I’ll wager that includes anger issues as well.
No doubt we will soon see television ads for medication to combat the modern symptoms passed on to us by the ancient Neanderthals.
Here’s the ad copy:
“If you’re irritable or angry, try new Neander­Vax.
Ask your computational geneticist if Neander­Vax is right for you.
Side effects could include an urge to make stone tools, grunting and squatting more than usual, or experiencing panic attacks and feelings of uncertainty when faced with a neighborhood saber-toothed tiger.”
Anyone following the news these days will immediately conclude that the Neanderthal gene is strong and many might suggest it is more likely to be found in men than women. No offense to my own gender, but the list of names in our courts and prisons in this country have a lot more Bobs than Babs.
More punches are thrown, fists raised, swings taken and triggers pulled by guys than gals. And sadly there are more Neanderthal gene-­carrying men today than any of the original Neanderthal population.
I don’t know if history will conclude if we are capable or even worthy of solving this prehistoric riddle. I’m thinking of contacting a computational geneticist and asking her.
Stark is a Forum News Service editorial cartoonist and columnist, and conducts illustrated history programs in schools.

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