(1) The very vexed question of whether Neanderthals and modern humans interbred has recently heated up again–here is a report from the New York Times It keys to the remarkable discoveries of Bruce Lahn, which I wrote up in NRODT last year (issue dated 11/7/05). In very brief, if you’re not familiar with the topic: We, modern humans, Homo sapiens, are one species in the genus Homo. We showed up in Europe around 45-40K years ago (and these earliest European homo saps are commonly tagged “Cro-Magnon Man“). A different species in the Homo genus, Homo neanderthalensis, was already in residence in Europe, having arrived there about 300K years earlier. The subsequent interaction of the two species ended with the neanderthals becoming extinct about 30K years ago. The exact nature of that interaction is the longest-running controversy in paleoanthropology, with genetic evidence recently adding some new wrinkles and promising to resolve some of the issues. That’s what the NY Times piece is about.
(2) The brainteaser in my October Diary has generated an unusual quantity of email. I’m going to post a solution VERY SHORTLY. Watch this space.
(3) My publisher tells me that Unknown Quantity has shipped 13,000 copies to date, remarkable for a hardback book of this kind. I know a lot of that is from NR/NRO fans, so… **T**H**A**N**K** **Y**O**U**!! And if you are looking for a Christmas present for a smart kid who might like to fill in on some math-history knowledge, UQ would be just the ticket. I’ll sign any copies shipped to the NR offices & ship them back in time for Christmas, if you include return envelope & postage (and of course an ADDRESS!)