Friday, February 3, 2012

Round Eye Sockets, Super Focal Lengths, Arctic Predators, Insomnia and The Bitter Unforgiving Genetic Perfection Demanded By Cold Temperatures

Some of you have expressed disbelief about my claim that when I first heard the news of our Neanderthal DNA, I was able to reconcile fifty years of mystery into ten seconds of comprehension. However impossible it sounds, it is true. I have been sorting through that ten seconds for the last two years, one idea at a time. It's a lot of thinking to work my way through.

One of the things that struck me instantly was the association between insomnia, nearsightedness and higher IQs.

My mind solved all three problems in a few milliseconds. This is how it went for me :

1. Neanderthal was not a "night hunter." The orthodoxy had gotten it all wrong. Nobody goes hunting at night in subzero temperatures with wind chill factors that will freeze a man solid in a couple of seconds. The Neanderthal had been a watchman. In cold weather, all the big predators move in to take their prey at sundown. It is the dominant hunting strategy. A sabre tooth would shadow a herd of deer all day long and when the night was coming, the deer would be exhausted and with darkness closing in they would be an easy meal. The only way a hominid and his family could survive in this weather is if one of them kept vigilant until way past midnight. The Neanderthal would take up his place by the mouth of the cave, stoke the fire and lean on his spear while his children slept. His body would be keyed to release ATP into his bloodstream at sundown and increase his core metabolic temperature to bring him to maximum alertness when Homo Sapien's body is cooling and his brain is releasing neurotransmitters to make him sleepy. Neanderthal fathers were required to keep the watch until very late at night and thus would be a polyphasic sleeper, making it up with a nap during the following day. Sapiens is a monophasic sleeper - he goes to sleep when the sun goes down and gets up when it comes up, staying awake all day. A half a million years later, you could predict the far flung descendants of Neanderthals would have a wide myriad of sleep disorders from a biological rest cycle that they have not had sufficient time to adjust to.

Even when I was 2% body fat, my core temperature would rise so high at midnight in my teenage years you could have cooked an egg on my forehead. I didn't understand why other people didn't have this problem at night time. Was it something in my diet? The adults around me didn't notice any of this of course. I had a medical exam when I was 16 and the doctor noticed my temperature was always elevated. If he'd been any good he would have realized something weird was happening there. A resting pulse of 30 and a temperature of 99 around the clock? Those two things don't go together. That is very odd physiology. Perfect for the arctic, though.

2. The anthropologists had guessed that Neanderthal's large orbits and muscular sockets were an adjustment to help him see a larger visual field at night time. They were right about this. It is exactly what you would expect of somebody assigned to be night guard duty for a couple hundred thousand years. Of course, a half a million years later, his progeny are not focusing their powerful eye muscles into the darkness looking for sabre tooth tigers. For the past couple of centuries, they stay up and read or write. Their round sockets are contracting close up every night for six hours before bedtime. This happens during their most important formative years in adolescence, freezing their eyeballs at a short focal length. Nearsightedness.

3. All the computer nerds, scientists, thinkers, dreamers and geniuses you know are Neanderthal genes only. Homo Sapiens goes to bed. The children of Esau stay up late at night, their minds humming at peak performance waiting and watching for sabre tooth tigers that never come. This insomnia stimulates more nerve endings and pathways in the brain when the rest of the world is slumbering. Of course they end up with higher IQs at maturity, for reasons both genetic and behavioural.


Anonymous said...

Brilliant and original stuff, the mark of a true genius. Thanks.

One question. You suggested in some of your older posts that continuous sleep at night for at least 8 or, preferably, 9 hours, is vital to good health and to keep your body running during the day. Does that mean that this advice doesn't apply to Neanderthals but to Sapiens only? Is the Neanderthal sleeping pattern affecting his overall health or is his metabolism adapted so that polyphasic, interrupted sleep doesn't affect his health negatively?

Anonymous said...

What about how homo sapiens has a polyphasic sleep cycle where they wake up for a few hours in the middle of the night during longer winter nights.

Texas Arcane said...

Anon 6:21 AM

A Neanderthal in the modern era is going to always be a bit off unless they can get 9 hours of sleep a night. It may go against the grain of their nature but modern society only permits bums to stagger two naps during the day. They will never be able to exist in Sapiens society without learning to get all their sleep in one big package.

Before I met my wife in New York around '92, I was on a polyphasic sleep cycle of around 6 hours at night (3 AM - 9 AM) and two naps of an hour each during the day. I have never felt myself since then. I was a whole different person on this polyphasic schedule, literally glowing with health. Realistically, I will never be able to support those habits ever again. I'd lose my job, of course.

Jehu said...

I suspect that running hot at night is caused by brown fat. Some people have quite a bit of this as a proportion of their body's fat reserves. It manufactures lots of heat at night when you're deep asleep. My wife has this---I can easily tell whether she's actually fully asleep just by putting a hand within 6 inches or so of her. If she's radiating lots of heat, she's sound asleep. This feature probably helps her stay at 115 pounds or so.

Anonymous said...

Same here. Your post finally helped me figure out why in my entire life from my late teens up to now (I'm 36) I could never keep up a steady sleeping schedule, and no matter how many times I forced myself to conform to normal sleeping hours I would soon find myself staying up all night again doing all sort of things like reading, watching late night movies, playing video games or simply not being able to sleep, and this even at times when the outside conditions wouldn't encourage it (like when I had a day job).

Anonymous said...

When I was 12 I slightly injured my eye. The doctor made me wear one of those black patches that make you look like a pirate. Three days later in pitch blackness when I couldn't see where I was going having to feel my way on hands and knees I lifted up the patch and could see everything clearly. I don't know why three days gave me that ability when three hours of total darkness did not but it works. It would be pretty useful for nighttime guard duty.

Anonymous said...

As Jared Diamond says in the Third Chimpanzee, if a group using tools can do at least as well as a group that relies on great muscular strength, the first group will win the competition for resources. Why? Because they require less - huge muscles require alot of food.

As Archimedes said, give me a lever and I will move the world. Of course there does seem to have been alot of mixing, so Tex is probably right that the later Neanderthals were not unattractive. And the "tools" were probably used against the Neanderthals right from the first meetings.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Batman or superheroes in general who assume their costumed identity and are most active and alert during the night are a reference to the Neanderthals. Actually, now that I come to think of it, their superpowers are obviously an allusion to the superior strength and intelligence of the Neanderthal.

Anonymous said...

Naps - gotta have them. I do it in the corp world (who is completely flabbergasted by the very idea any adult would ever take a N A P) by coming in early to work, eating lunch at my deak and leaving as soon as possible. Head home and first thing I do is take a nap.

Ditto on the need for sleep. If I had to guess I would say hi IQ means more time to process and store info and a higher energy need by the brain, maybe 30 or 35% of body energy instead of the 25 for 'normal' people ?

I read about people who sleep 5 hours a night ... I'd be dead in a month. 9 hours min and 10 is average.

And the night thing as well - all great programmers are night owls - goes with the territory. And yet another reason the corp world does not work for people like me/us.

They have a jello mold of 'normals' and everyone has to fit it to be a successful corp slave.

No thanks.

massively nearsighted as soon as I started voraciously reading

sub 40 pulse as well, altho that was probably from all the running I did.


Anonymous said...

Yeah... In college, I slept like that, 4-5 hrs in the afternoon after class, then 5-6 hrs of studying, then 4 hrs at night. And I was very productive then, too. Now sitting in a cubical all day for 15+ years since then and it sucks.

Anonymous said...

In Spain and in mostly white spanish former colonies(Argentina and Uruguay) the "ciesta"(meaning "nap") is a national and widespread custom. from early afternoon until early night the stores are closed and people rest in their homes. Most visitors find the custom alien. Adults and teenagers stay up in front of their houses drinking yerba mate until late at night. I think in Spain this is now uncommon, save for small towns. In Uruguay and Argentina this is still the rule.

Could this be an indication of neandhertal heritage? Funny enough, in Argentina at the time of the ciesta bums and the unemplyed roam the streets, and these are mostly the "negros"(native american descendants).

Anonymous said...

@February 3, 2012 11:05 AM

Except that Jared Diamond is a kosher charlatan and human intelligence developed not because of tool using but due to abstract/symbolic/religious thinking and Neanderthals were far superior in that aspect.

Texas Arcane said...

Think of how many times you have heard of some exceptional person described as a "night owl."

A lot of anthropologists are lazy. They think, night-owl, must be a night hunter. If they'd just think about it for a few more seconds, they'd realize it pays for potential prey to have the habits of night owls and the same visual acuity if they are hunted by other nocturnal predators.

Every time I read Neanderthal was a "night hunter," I think "basically, you couldn't be bothered to make much of an effort to explain how Neanderthals had these nocturnal features and qualities." They just cannot go to much trouble before they latch onto the first conclusion that springs to mind.

Anonymous said...

Tex, I possess almost every Neanderthal feature I've ever read from you. But I am balding. Are you sure your Neanderthals don't suufer from this?

Rowan said...

You are a slave Tex. To your over-active mind.

You can't stop yourself, you just have to know, you can't wait. You sit there reading, tinkering and learning. You have to keep reading, you have to finish the book, you have to look up something, you have to know more. You have to try some other idea, you have to hack something together quickly, you are so curious.

Then you look at the clock and it's 4am, you have to wake up in 3 hours. But you don't stop. What are you doing? 2 hours and 50 minutes until you have to wake up and you're browsing some obscure 12 year old webpage about some geological formation only 3 people have heard of? You can see yourself doing it, you're watching yourself but you can't stop.

You finally fall asleep and in your lucid dream you're thinking about it all! You can't escape.

Morning rolls round and you can't stop thinking but can't wait to get to work so you can do a quick google for something.

Next thing you know, you're having yet another one of 'those' meetings with Bill Lumberg to discuss your problems.


Also, I saw your 'What is Texas Arcane?' link, a dedicated vault-co reader perhaps?

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:36
I too posses most of the features that Tex has written about, and like you, I have been balding and greying. Recently this process has halted and my hair is thickening again and the colour is starting to return. My fingernails are also substantially stronger, my gums are healthier and my eyesight seems to be improving slowly (I am near-sighted)

What has changed recently is my diet. In the last 4-5 months I have gone from high carb, low fat and protein diet to a diet high in animal fats and proteins, low in carbs (mostly from brown rice, oats and red potatoes) and almost completely wheat, sugar and dairy free.
I have also started to drink water that has had the fluoride and chorine removed.

My hypothesis is that my body has been deficient in the protein and minerals required to maintain hair coverage. As such it began to fall out, but with the new diet, I can now grow hair in the required quantities. I am also growing significantly more hair on my arms, legs and trunk as well. In addition, I believe that fluoride has been causing my IBS, and since filtering it out of my water, my IBS is now gone, allowing mineral absorption in my gut to increase. My wife, who has been suffering from hair problems, including hair loss, for many years has seen a similar dramatic reversal in her symptoms.

Try changing your diet. It doesn't hurt, and the health benefits that I have found have been astonishing.


Texas Arcane said...

Rowan, do you have web cameras inside my house? :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks Anon 2:30, I have tried 'Banting' in the past with great success. Maybe it's time to give it another go.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:36, that's almost exactly how I eat, minus the oats. Been doing it for 6 years now. Lots of animal fat, liver, grassfed beef, bone broth, eggs from pastured hens nearby. Render my own tallow for cooking.

I eat like a predator. Not like prey.

Anonymous said...

Anon, I eat the same way, minus the oats. Lots of animal fat, meat, organs and bone broth. No processed foods or vegitable oils. I render my own tallow for cooking.

Eat like a predator. Not like prey.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the double post. delete one.

Anonymous said...

I didn't fight my way to the top of the evolutionary tree so that I could be a vegetarian and eat bird food!


Anonymous said...

I find the tops of trees usually have leaves, Lucid. I'll be in the kitchen looking for steak.

Anonymous said...

I...I never fit in. When others wanted to watch television, I wanted to read. When others wanted to talk about the local sports team, I wanted to talk about the latest article I'd read in some science magazine.

I was amazed when I was 17 and took weightlifting in gym at how quickly I packed on muscle mass compared to the rest of the guys.

And for whatever reason I can eat as much as I want and never really gain much weight other than 5-10 pounds every winter that I immediately shed when the weather warms up.

I never knew it, but I guess I'm a neanderthal too. Wow.

Giovanni Dannato said...

I instinctively eat lots of butter, hard cheeses, goat cheese, and oily fish.

I love to stay up all night. It is very difficult for me to go to sleep before 2 AM. I'm most focused, do all my best work at night.

My resting heart rate, and my father's is around 30 beats per minute.

I was a social outcast lost in books from an early age. Everyone hated it when I talked about exciting(to me) new information I'd learned. I was antagonized as a nerd.

Growing up I was physically undeveloped compared to other kids my age and always picked last in P.E.
As an adult, I'm much more athletic and physically resilient than average.

Girls love my chiseled chin, high cheek bones, strong eyebrows, large hazel eyes, lean muscular physique, but hate my aloof mien and total lack of affinity for the mind games that they see as proper courtship behavior.

Some of the theories on this site seem pretty outrageous but there's far too many parallels with this Neanderthal theory to ignore.