Queer Eye for the Neandertal Guy


Did Neandertal’s wear make up?  Did they know all the words to Dancing Queen?  Did they have more style than Homo Sapiens?

These are just some of the questions that come up in response to the Daily Mail’s “Neandertal Make up” piece.  Here’s a quote from Professor Chris Stringer,

‘When football fans behave badly, or politicians advocate reactionary views, they are invariably called “Neanderthal”, and I can’t see the tabloids changing their headlines any time soon.’

John Hawks wonders if that might inspire football fans to start wearing make up.  I counter that we should simply start calling the guys at Queer Eye for the Straight Guy a bunch of Neandertals.  

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5 responses to “Queer Eye for the Neandertal Guy

  1. Apologies in advance, but I’m a compulsive spell-checker.

    According to wikipedia, Neandertal is “a small valley of the river Düssel in the German Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia, located about 12 km (7.5 mi) east of Düsseldorf, the capital city of North Rhine-Westphalia.”

    I think you meant neanderthal.

  2. No worries, brother. The interesting thing is that Neandertal is spelled both ways in Anthropology circles, but usually without the “h”. The species was in fact named after said valley since that’s where the first fossil remains were found.

    Originally the valley was called the Neaner Thal valley. But, in the early part of the 20th century, German spelling was systematized and the name was changed to Neandertal.

    In English, we often will even pronounce the “th” sound with the original spelling (most English spell checkers prefer the “th”). But, in the original German, there is no such sound as “th”, so the “t” makes more since linguistically.

    For this reason, I and many other evolutionists go with the German. But, there is no “wrong” way. And you’ll even see many famous texts on the species that have both spellings.

    Ah … isn’t language whacked out!

  3. Oh, forgot to mention. In spite of the fact that so many Paleoanthropologists and other scientists use the “t” spelling … the official biological name does not. This is because changing taxonomic names is nearly impossible.

    The official name: Homo neanderthalensis or Homo sapiens neanderthalensis is that way is it regardless of the new(ish) German spelling. And in official journal articles, the “th” occurs more frequently. (but in science blogging, the “t” outnumbers the “th”!)

    So, in that regard, you’re dead on.

  4. That’s what I get for arguing about anthropology with an anthropologist. I’ll know better next time.

  5. Don’t worry, I’m not an anthropologist, I’m a Mathematician. WAY dorkier. (You should see my sci fi collection!)

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