While avoiding the drudge work at Ctrip, I stumbled across the theory of neoteny in evolution. Neoteny is when infant features appear in adults ie when we evolve “backward” such that we display childlike characteristics, presumably mentally as well as physically. Paradoxically, moving backward is going forward: evolution in primates is a steady procession back to childhood.
What caught my attention was the assertion by evolutionary scientists like Stephen Jay Gould that Asians or Mongols are “clearly” the most neotenized human race. Which sounds like Asian or Mongols are clearly the most evolved human race. And this makes a lot of sense to me because throughout my time in China I have felt like a barbarian: uncouth, lumbering and dull, easily fooled and to put it bluntly, ugly with my clear Neanderthal features and mannerisms.
Some Chinese friends of mine occasionally joked that Westerners had not “fully evolved,” pointing to my massive schnoz and hairy body as evidence of a less than tenuous link with monkeys.
I always thought this was funny until I stumbled upon neoteny and its role in evolution. Although the process of evolution is more complicated than just looking more like an infant, it is still instructive to look at some features of neoteny below:
“flattened face, large brain, hairless body, hairless face, small nose, reduction of brow ridge, small teeth, small jaw, epicanthic eye fold (so called “Asian Eyes,” present in all people in the embryonic stage) and thinness of skull bones…”
So lets take a look at some examples shall we?
Consider Exhibit A: Protruding brow, deep set eyes, hairy face, large nose, big jaw, no epicanthic fold, confused slightly hostile expression…
This is how our ancestors looked, roughly 10,000 years ago. As humans evolved, the facial characteristics took on the characteristics of infants – the evolutionary “next step” as it were, from hairy bulky boned cavemen to delicate, refined beings capable of deep thought:
Neoteny is not just the extension of infant or childlike characteristics into maturity, it has also been described as the feminization of Man.
Notice the smooth hairless faces of Exhibits B and C. Not only are these two clearly the next step in human evolution, but we can see that sociological effects of neoteny/femininization are also visible: the man-purse, the sharp fashion sense and jewelry.
Many Shanghainese people ask me if my son is a girl or boy. I like to think its cuz he’s just so damn good looking. But perhaps his mother’s genes play a role. In fact, his mother’s genes most definitely play a role. Behold:
This, my friends, is the future. Notice the smooth hairless (indescribably beautiful) face. Peep if you will the pimp fashion sense: tie and shirt (maturity despite infant characteristics) with shorts and snazzy shoes. Can you discern the quiet confidence of the next step in evolution in Exhibit Dorian’s calm yet somehow mischievous smile?
Go give your momma a kiss boy, she ensured your survival when the apocalypse hits. Cave men like me will just go back to heavy lifting and confused, plaintive grunting and moaning while Exhibits B and C will SERVE MY SON.