Thanks to the wonders of science we are never at a loss for a reason to shake our heads in amazement. For example, we have long been aware of our distant human relative, the Neanderthal. Discovered more than 50 years ago, it has helped us better learn history of our own humanity. We continue to discover more about this species. As recently as two years ago, an extensive and sophisticated dating process applied to Neanderthal bones and tools uncovered the fact that humans and Neanderthals coexisted for a nearly 5000 years in Europe.
Through other advanced scientific processes, accurate depictions of the ancient Neanderthal are readily available. Most have seen highly detailed illustrations of our latent, humanoid relative. Usually they are depicted wearing bits of animal skin and featuring long broad noses and prominent foreheads. Never, though, have they appeared sporting leather and spandex. Nor dining on bat head delicacies.
Not too long ago, a genome mapping company in Cambridge, MA named Knome decided to look under the hood of Ozzy Osbourne’s DNA. Yes, I do mean that Ozzy Osbourne. The Ozzy Osbourne of legendary rock band Black Sabbath; a chief conductor on the rock and roll Crazy Train. Knome scientists were interested in looking at the DNA of not only a person with musical talent but more so from one that has been able to exceed all logical physical boundaries of drug and alcohol excess – and still be alive. (No offense to Keith Richards but in a contest of overindulgence between him and Ozzy, Ozzy may be the odds on favorite to win by the width of a guitar pick.)
Ozzy himself was quite curious, too. As he put it, “… given the swimming pools of booze I’ve guzzled over the years — not to mention all of the cocaine, morphine, sleeping pills, cough syrup, LSD, Rohypnol… you name it — there’s really no plausible medical reason why I should still be alive. Maybe my DNA could say why.” He was quite correct in his assumption. Much to no one’s surprise there were some interesting revelations in the map of Ozzy’s genes.
Not the least of these revelations was the evidence that Ozzy had a slightly higher than normal level of Neanderthal genes. This could go a long way in explaining some of the less than evolved episodes of his (miraculously lasting) life. We may now have an explanation for his reasons behind an early in life burglary in the dark which netted him with baby clothes. Or perhaps why he nearly killed himself riding an ATV quad, in his own words, “…at fucking two miles an hour.” In the mid 1800’s, as the species and genus of our ancient ancestor, the Neanderthal, was physically and academically being unearthed, there was a proposal put forth for the naming of this new distant human relative. Although it was ultimately determined to be Homo Neanderthalensis, the German biologist, naturalist, philosopher, physician, professor, and artist, Ernest Haeckel had a different idea. He had been responsible for discovering and naming thousands of biological species. The idea he put forth into consideration to name this newly discovered, upright waking earth dweller? Homo Stupidus. This, more than a hundred years before Ozzy tried stealing a television only to have to abort his caper due to it falling on him as he tried to make his getaway. How prescient Herr Haeckel was.