On the books of Michael Crichton

Neanderthals and Wendols

By Ian Tattersall

Neanderthals. If they didn’t exist, we’d have to invent them. Wherever on the planet they come from, human beings seem to hunger for a powerful image to embody their darker side, their shadowy connection to the animal world of which we all so clearly form a part but from which we equally strongly feel distinct. Such images come in any number of forms; but in our modern culture the safely extinct but well-docu-mented Neanderthals fit the bill perfectly, although they certainly don’t have a monopoly–witness the ongoing dramas of Bigfoot in the pacific Northwest, or the Almas in the Altai Mountains of western Asia, or the yeti in the himalayas. Yet is it just possible that all of these various alter egos are actually the same thing? if they are (or even, for that matter, if they are not), do they correspond to a real but elusive biological entity that is living out there, somewhere? Or are they nothing more (or less) than an expression of some widespread and deep-seated psychic need that resides only within the human skull?

Far be it from me to spoil the fun and claim that there is no humanlike form lurking out there in the backwoods or among the snowy wastes. All I am in a position to do is to point out that all assertions to this effect so far have been based on evidence that is inconclusive at best and that has on occasion proved to be out-and-out fraudulent. Still, claims of this  …

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