In the 1930s, when the RMS Mauretania was heading up the East Coast of Britain on her last voyage to the breaker’s yard at Rosyth, the town council of Amble sent a telegram to the ship saying “still the finest ship on the seas”. The Mauretania replied with greetings “to the last and kindliest port in England”.
The Mauretania was lucky. It never landed in Amble. Had it done so, I would likely have been stripped of all its copper wire by roving gangs of greasy-limbed men, while its crew would have undoubtedly been forced to mate with the barely-female denizens of the town in a bid to diversify the gene pool.
And that was in the 1930s.
Now – some nine decades later – the abominable experiment that is the town of Amble is nearing completion. The population of 6,022 is now almost entirely related, with 97.3% of townsfolk being first cousins or closer on the matrilineal line.
Forced to procreate among themselves for the last 600 years, Ambleoids (as they are known) possess some of the lowest rates of genetic variation in the world. Complications have arisen as a result, leading to a phenomenon known as ‘The Amble Look’, which was described in the 18th century as being “of queer narrow heads with flat noses and bulgy, starey eyes”.
The accidental wrecking of a ship on nearby Coquet Island and subsequent capture of its Danish crew in 1841 led to a small increase in genetic variability among the Ambleoid population. However, most of the sailors were eaten and their skeletal remains turned into totems on what is now Rotary Way, in a bid to keep interlopers away. The addition of fresh DNA gave rise to the ‘Surly Wiry Blond’ strain of Ambleoid, a tall male-only specimen which continues to thrive to this day and is identifiable by its almost translucent skin, red eyes and above-average height. They account for around 12% of the current male population.
Atypical Ambleoids retain the hunched posture and hairy knuckles of their fore-cousins, although average heights are in decline due to gradual mitochondrial breakdown. Eyes are usually 60 per cent further apart than those in typical Homo Sapiens, but some 30 per cent smaller. The Ambleoid mouth can be as much as 20 per cent smaller than its human counterpart, but any more than four teeth (typically on the front lower mandible only) is considered rare.
The average demi-female Ambleoid produces 18 children and is typically a multiple great-grandparent by the age of 36.
A visit to ‘The Friendliest Port’ will not disappoint those interested in the field of human evolution.