Headlines you wouldn’t expect: “Woman had a Neanderthal mother and a Denisovan father”

While Science’s true headline was “Ancient DNA reveals tryst between extinct human species“, indeed its sub headline was as reported above. Other notable quotables from the article include:

  • “She was the direct offspring of two different species of ancient humans – neither of them ours.”;
  • “Now we have the love child of two different hominid groups, found where members of both groups have been found. It’s quite a lot of things happening in one cabe through time.”; and
  • “The evidence “is so direct, we almost caught them in the act,” Pääbo says.”.

It is remarkable though: the idea of a possible human just ever so slightly further way genetically. Were they still with us, would we grant them the right to vote, a spot next to us in the public arena, an underclass? Overclass? “Other than” has had within me a resonant sort of quality to describe the “distinctness” (emphasis on those ts) of that subset of people who stand amongst the “them” the “we” see as unknown, possibly unknowable. Perhaps, other than knowable. To know that two so distinct – a Capulet finding her Montague – came together to produce something so like us is now known and in sense further knowable. In at at least one sense.

Knowing that such a creature existed, should we count it amongst our “human” number?