Ozzy Osbourne: Part Colbert, Part Neanderthal

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Stephen Colbert is a consummate showman. Neanderthals are uninhibited homunculi with crazy hair. It's strangely plausible, then, to think that Ozzy Osbourne might lie at the intersection of the two. In a recent piece for The Times of London, the heavy-metal singer wrote about getting his genome sequenced, which he did in part to see if medical science could explain how he's lived so long despite a lifetime of substance abuse. Osbourne learned that he's "6.13 times more likely than the average person to have alcohol dependency or alcohol craving," he writes. "Er... yeah." The sequencing also showed that Osbourne is "2.6 times more likely to have hallucinations while taking cannabis (makes sense, although I was usually loaded on so many different things at the same time, it was hard to know what was doing what)."

At MIT's Technology Review, Emily Singer notes that "analysis of his mitochondrial DNA, inherited from his mother, revealed that Osbourne shared a common ancestor with Stephen Colbert about 1,000 years ago." Singer adds that Osbourne "also learned that, like most people of European descent, he has some DNA segments inherited from Neandertals." But the real lesson here, in Singer's view, is about "how easy it is to create a narrative out of a genome, especially one belonging to someone with as colorful a personality as Ozzy's."

Of course, anyone who's followed Osbourne's career may not be surprised to learn that his DNA isn't fully human:

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.