Flash Fiction: Species? Homo sapien, Neanderthal & Denisovan offspring!

Source: Crystal Lewis

by LJ Frank

Clouds drifted across the sky with intermittent showers of  sunlight casting shadows through the clerestory windows of the spacious laboratory. Emerging from her office adjacent to the laboratory, Zelia, an experienced biological anthropologist, looked over at me. I had been her volunteer intern for the past year while finishing up my doctoral thesis. I was examining the bones that were laid out on the long platform. Curiosity, patience, perseverance, attention to detail, obsessiveness, focus and resilience I thought were among the necessary traits for the grueling but rewarding field work.

Zelia nodded her head, “The bones fragments are from three different types of humans.”

I glanced at her. “Why are Neanderthal’s and Denisovans considered a different species to Homo Sapiens if they freely interbred and produced fertile offspring?”

“Hmmm,” she sighed. “What anthropologist wishes to publicly answer with certainty without the potential of a negative impact on his or her reputation at a later date? I’d like to have more evidence. On the there hand, nothing is certain even when we feel we have evidence of that certainty. Still, I want to produce my paper with as much clarity as possible. What we have found here is unlike anything we have discovered so far.”

“I know. It’s amazing. Trial and error. It’s also a matter of competition and recognition.”

“Yeah. And perhaps another question is one of paradigm and adaptation. Will this lead to a discovery that the variations between our ancestors are so minute that we need to reclassify human history itself? The DNA of Neanderthal (throughout the world) and Denisovan (especially Oceana) can be found in modern humans. And race is a social construct invented by Europeans a few hundred years ago.  It appears that both Neanderthal and Denisovan are simply part of the amazing biological complexity of human history. The study of genetics is revealing. What more will we discover? I mean look at yours and my skin tone, my height, large nose and high cheek bones and your long eye lashes and short, hairy physique. What is our genetic ancestry?”

“I’ve thought about it. It’s seductive.”

“I know you have and I agree. We have become so very close.”

“When did you want to examine our genetic history…our DNA?”

“We have time. Our ceremony is three months away.” Zelia smiled.