The news that caveman DNA has been passed down to modern man is sweeping the world. To some misguided souls that is an unsavory revelation, an aberration even, and they would have us believe that caveman DNA makes up only a tiny part of our genetic code. And this from people whose genetic code is 95 percent identical to that of chimpanzees! So let’s not get all purist about homo sapiens. While most scientists feel that Neanderthals and our immediate predecessors in the evolutionary sweepstakes parted genetic ways around 500,000 years ago, the people who won out over Neanderthal Man weren’t exactly sleek specimens of humanity out of the pages of Elle and GQ. 

Any race of beings who out-Neanderthaled the brutal and sturdy Neanderthals had to be pretty damned aggressive and beastly to survive and thrive in the killing fields that were the entire world at the time. And once having exterminated their rivals, they didn’t commence building the Taj Mahal right away and writing the Magna Carta. They lived in caves, many of those caves the former homes of their vanquished rivals. One of the few improvements they made were the first attempts at written communication, the beautiful and  dramatic cave paintings of saber-tooth tigers, giant elk, buffalo, mastodons and bears the size of a minivan being poked with spears by hunting parties of puny cavemen, with often one or two of the hunting party getting gored or trampled by the huge animals. Not exactly a particularly sophisticated or genteel beginning for humanity, but the paintings were pretty nice.

But what are my credentials for interpreting DNA data and human prehistory, you ask? To which I reply: Caveman no hear, pencil neck! Maybe me bash in head of you for make ugly disagree noise! This scientific finding is very liberating, my friends. I’ve already started decorating my computer desk with bones, feathers and smooth stones. If we are part caveman, well, pretty much anything goes, no? Because if one human being has caveman DNA, then we all do. That much I do know, and that’s all I need. They say a little knowledge is dangerous, and I couldn’t agree more and have the scars to prove it. But I’m not unique in my density. The whole history of the human race is a perfect example of having too little knowledge and too much aggression. Sound familiar, History Channel buffs?

Who can deny that? Crack a history book, any history book written by any culture and what do you see? History is basically a bloody mess interrupted by brief periods of enlightenment. Very brief. And what’s the model for all this bloody aggression? Bingo, the caveman, of course! What started as turf wars over hunting grounds and berry patches has been refined and expanded with mankind as we populated the earth, forming clans, tribes, farming communities, villages, cities and finally nations with sizable armies, with all of these groupings of humans practicing incessant warfare on their neighbors, almost always over land and water, which ultimately translates into food, the first and most basic form of wealth. Without food no gold and silver gets beaten into jewelry and currency, no diamonds mined and polished, no castles and cathedrals get built and no Mona Lisa ever gets painted. 

Presumably, the cavemen with the least amount of talent for warfare wound up living in deserts, where wild beasts, berries and water are pretty damned scarce, with the victors inhabiting the bountiful portions of this earth. And, all of us being part caveman, the desert dwellers stubbornly insist they like it there! Yeah, right. That statement hasn’t stopped them throughout history from attacking countries that are actually pleasant to live in to try to take their land and get out of the scorching sun already. At least that’s how things stood until oil was found under some of those deserts. Now they’re pretty okay with living in the barren wastes, and pretty smug about having many of their former conquerors lining up to kiss their butts for their precious petroleum. 

Be that as it many, we humans as a race have cavemanned our way through our relatively short time on this planet, bashing skulls, taking over hunting grounds and berry patches and refusing to listen to reason, then blaming our behavior on some god or another that we made up and the other cavemen disrespected and said their god that they invented was tougher than our god so we had to bash in their bony heads, take their land and drag off their women. Works for me! Who am I to argue with my genetic commands? Me am what me am! And who knows, maybe it is this aggressive, competitive caveman DNA that has propelled humanity’s progress even into the heavens.

So far as we know, when the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong, famously stated: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” what he was really thinking was: “This white stone all mine! Me call Neilmoon! Me bash head who try take from me!” By the same caveman logic cited above, Neil Armstrong never denied thinking that, so it is probably true. Cavemen in space! If it wasn’t for the damned spacesuit, no doubt he would have marked his territory properly and there would be a bright yellow stain beside the American flag he planted up there.

So, how do we reconcile our sophisticated, space-exploring, high tech world with our caveman DNA? We don’t! Check out the globe in recent days. Peace broken out anywhere lately? Are cavemen of different gods and skin colors holding hands and singing Kumbaya by campfires all over the world? Doesn’t seem to be much of that going on outside of America, where a brown man was finally elected president, and he’s going to inherit two wars against countries filled with people of different gods and skin colors, pretty much the same as his own skin color. Go figure. 

So, let’s embrace our inner caveman, since it seems that genetically we have few options. The chimpanzee model sure doesn’t seem so alluring. The presence of that caveman DNA goes a long way towards explaining the contradictions that define man, both as a race and within each individual. We see something good that others have and a part of us says, “Hey, that’s a good thing to work towards,” while our caveman DNA cries out: “Me want shiny object! You give or me bash head good!” Mostly we pick what’s behind Door # 2 in that situation, then the tanks start rolling and a lot of mothers bury a lot of sons. 

But at least with real cavemen, everybody in the cave went bashing together, unlike us, where the old guys stay home and send the young caveman off to bash or be bashed while the old cavemen eat their food and steal their women. Cavemen weren’t quite as dumb as we are. Don’t let those bony brow ridges fool you. For all we know, and that’s not all that much even in his Information Age, the dumber and more brutal humanoids were the ones that won out evolution-wise back in the Stone Age and the caveman DNA in our genes is the smartest part of us. Anyway, let me conclude with: Caveman head hurt! Stop make silly talk! Me do what feel like do, and bash in head who say no! Funny, but that feels a lot more comfortable to say than I thought it would. Well, what did you expect? I’m part caveman.

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