We’ve got a lot of 30-something males still living at home with mommy and daddy today. They don’t work and aren’t married and basically all they do is sit in the basement playing video games endlessly or engaging in some other recreational activity that one would expect to see a teenage boy doing. It’s as if these young men aren’t really men at all. Well….that is…mentally. They have the bodies of grown men but they have the minds of teenage boys and although they are sexually and physically mature they seem to still act like teen boys depending on their parents or grandparents (or someone else) to pay all of the bills, provide a roof over their heads, and supply massive amounts of food. This is a growing problem in America today especially among white males and although most are in their late 20s or early 30s there are growing numbers that are in their early to mid-40s!
There is a word for this “phenomena” and it is “Neoteny.” Neoteny refers to individual organisms who remain child-like even after they’ve reached sexual maturity. Although physically adults, mentally they retain their child-like mentality. These guys have the bodies of men but the minds and emotions of adolescents. “Children in adult bodies” is a good basic definition of Neoteny.
Biologically, an organism becomes sexually mature and an adult when it is capable of reproducing. When it enters into adulthood, then, the organism becomes physically mature. Human evolution has produced a variety of genetic changes in our species and one of the MOST IMPORTANT is neoteny. Humans are the most neotenic of all primates, in fact! Some have even gone so far as to characterize humans as “sexually mature fetuses.” And there are some reasons for this. For example, in most quadrupedal fetal animals the foramen magnum (where the spinal column connects to the brain) is near the center of the base of the skull as it is in modern humans. BUT, as that animal matures the foramen magnum moves to the rear of the skull. However, this doesn’t happen in modern humans! Our foramen magnum stays in the center….in the INFANT position!! Even in apes the young lose their neotenic features as they grow up and there are big changes in the way they look physically and act mentally. This is obvious in chimps, for example, as infants and the young look far different from adults. And they act far different from adults too. But, the position of the foramen magnum is not the only feature seen in modern humans that causes some researchers to characterize modern humans as “sexually mature fetuses.” Continue Reading