David Hammond’s story “Making the List” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 6 October 2017.
This story was inspired by The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert. Kolbert talks about the extinction of the Neanderthals and the idea that Homo sapiens survived by being a bit crazier than previous human species. (I don’t have a copy of the book, so I’m copying these quotes from Goodreads.)
“Archaic humans like Homo erectus ‘spread like many other mammals in the Old World,’ Pääbo told me. ‘They never came to Madagascar, never to Australia. Neither did Neanderthals. It’s only fully modern humans who start this thing of venturing out on the ocean where you don’t see land. Part of that is technology, of course; you have to have ships to do it. But there is also, I like to think or say, some madness there. You know? How many people must have sailed out and vanished on the Pacific before you found Easter Island? I mean, it’s ridiculous. And why do you do that? Is it for the glory? For immortality? For curiosity? And now we go to Mars. We never stop.’”
She also mentions the fact that Neanderthals didn’t look all that different from modern humans:
“…given a shave and a new suit, the pair wrote, a Neanderthal probably would attract no more attention on a New York City subway ‘than some of its other denizens.’”
It seemed a natural extension of those ideas to imagine what a Neanderthal suddenly appearing among the modern human population would be like.
The 2014 study identifying Neanderthals as a separate species can be found online here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25156452 It is also discussed in a more easily digestible format here: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141118141606.htm
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