I just saw this article from Scientific Reports which headlined: “Neanderthals may have used their hands differently from humans.” As an ardent ping pong player, this aroused my curiosity as to how the Neanderthals may have held their rackets when they played our game. But there was no answer to this question in the article. They just wasted the space by talking about what kind of hand shakes Neanderthals had. I would have preferred to know what kind of milkshakes. But, never mind, the thing of it is, I had written about prehistoric table tennis in this blog previously, and since the Neanderthals lived for 350,00 years, I thought they deserved another look-see and a few more paragraphs as it related to these pertinent ping pong matters. (And screw the article’s report on the “trapeziometacarpal complex”, the shape of their ‘hand bones.’ Okay, so they had meatier hands than us and could squeeze the life out of you. Thanks for telling us what we already knew.)
You may sensibly ask why this is important. Okay, here’s why: It is estimated that 20 percent of Neanderthal DNA currently survives in modern humans. That doesn’t mean our own chromosomal genetic code consists of 20 percent Neanderthal stuff. At least not for most of us enlightened ones, for which the figure is much less than that. But it’s in there. Yep, it’s in there. Neanderthals do emphatically still exist … but mostly concentrated in players who use long pips. Well, Europeans have some residual DNA also, mostly clustered at the International Table Tennis Federation (the ITTF) in Laussane, Switzerland.
You have to realize that both fossil and genetic evidence indicate that Neanderthals and modern humans (Homo sapiens) evolved from a common ancestor sometime between 700,000 and 300,000 years ago. Probably, we both derive from a guy using a Seemiller grip (he became extinct, but some penholders still have an uncanny resemblance).
Previously, anthropologists had believed that many Neanderthals lived in the Scarsdale and Larchmont geographical regions. But, now, thanks to the development of new, highly sensitive scientific instruments, scholars believe with near certainty (i.e., 5 Sigma) that Neanderthals migrated to Chappaqua, Tuckahoe and probably Pleasantville long before the ITTF created the Expedite Rule (of which the latter act proves that the ITTF ranks are saturated with genotypes linked to extinct hominoids). How do we know this, that these large headed, Trump resembling beasts (it’s the red hair) arrived in Pleasantville? Aside from radiometric dating instruments, one only needs to check out some of the cavemen playing in the club on league night. Bunch of rubes playing for ratings. (Ed. Lao Du kept the following stupid joke out at my insistence: “These guys -i.e., league night players – took Covid-19 and IQ tests at the same time – they both came back negative.”)
And, by the way, there is often heard the mistaken view that the modern sandpaper player is a Neanderthal descendent, but this is false. Completely false. It’s a rumor. Make that a conspiracy theory embraced by a few lunkheads at the Westchester Table Tennis Club. The modern sandpaper player is actually genetically linked to a great lost advanced civilization, the Romulons (much nicer people, by the way, than the Klingons.)
Now, there had been a lot of discussions – controversial discussions – as to whether Neanderthals could actually keep score without having to use stones or tree branches to scratch out numbers in the dirt. However, all of that was debunked when it was discovered in the 1980’s that Neanderthals had a hyoid bone. That, my friends, was truly a momentous breakthrough, because it meant that these forbears of ours could talk … and argue with referees. So, then, the discussions took on a completely different tack and a slightly different question arose in the anthropology community: Did the Neanderthals play to 21 or did they play 11 point games? That, regrettably, remains a subject of contentious debate.
But, now, consider this key matter: What is the difference between a human and a Neanderthal? The main difference is that Neanderthals were slow to adapt to the new sponge technology and were unable to advance when paired against Homo sapiens in most European tournaments. They did protest for awhile, but their voices were completely stricken from the record when the whole lot of them went extinct some 30,000 years ago (some scientists say 40,000 – but what’s 10,000 years if they didn’t have Xushaoufa 40mm+ competition balls).
So, now we’ve come full circle in our historical journey. We can report with great clarity, that it wasn’t habitat degradation that killed off the Neanderthals. No indeed. It was the squishee – the sponge paddle. Mark my words: Our species is surely headed for a similar speedy extinction if we persist in using those diabolical techno-paddles. We should thus take heed, because “those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it” (Winston Churchill). Lao Du