Slow news week but inbreeding is one of our last cheap-shot taboos for a laugh

The Skinny | No 140 – Our (Deeply Inbred) Ancestors

Fertility goddess ‘Il-Mara l-Ħoxna’
Fertility goddess ‘Il-Mara l-Ħoxna’

What are we skinning? The results of genome sequencing of 4,500-5,000 year old Maltese humans from Xaghra Circle cave burials revealing how the temple-builders went into genetic decline towards the end of the third millennium BC, likely a result of inbreeding due to not being privy to contact with foreigners due to a lack of boat arrivals and such.

Why are we skinning it? Honestly? It’s a slow news week and inbreeding is one of our last cheap-shot taboos when aiming for a good laugh.

Make me laugh about our inbred ancestors, then - I dare you. They were short and procreated with members of their own family. Shouldn’t that be enough for you?

Your tendency towards such visual, bordering-on-slapstick humour does speak to a particular Maltese tendency towards the same on stage and screen… Hauntingly suggesting that the study under consideration may even have resonances that carry through to the current generation…

Come now, Malta has progressed substantially since then. With the help of a few colonisers along the way, sure.

That’s mean. And honestly, were the original Neolithic structures ever REALLY superseded? I remain in awe of them.

Well, same. But then you walk through the entrance into Valletta only to find that someone has placed a series of planters in your way.

True, that’ll lead you to run out of merciful interpretations pretty quick. One has to conclude that genetics play a big part of it, yes.

Guess how many planters you’ll find at Ggantija or Hagar Qim. Zero?

Zero indeed. But there’s plenty of space for them, and they may actually look cute lodged in the middle of a former place of sacrifice.

Oh, weed and grass grows naturally around them... Indeed, ‘life finds a way’, as a famously enthusiastic prehistory buff once said.

Quoting Jurassic Park may come across as something of an insult to the researchers whose work we’re paying homage to here. Well, they better brace themselves for even headier insults from a certain section of the Maltese online commentariat.

Do you think that will force them to look upon their findings in a new light? Quite the contrary.

Cause for celebration, then. I’ll let them pop the champagne while we continue to wallow down here.

Do say: “Malta’s prehistory will never cease to be fascinating, warts and all.”

Don’t say: “Preventing boat arrivals appears to be high on the current government’s agenda. Maybe the results of this study will help sway things in the opposite direction?”