dununba

on west africans and their (on average) greater amounts of fast-twitch muscles:

Peering Under the Hood of Africa’s Runners

“…The differences don’t stop with body shape; there is also evidence of a difference in the types of muscle fibers that predominate. Scientists have divided skeletal muscles into two basic groups depending on their contractile speed: type I, or slow-twitch muscles, and type II, fast-twitch muscles. There are two kinds of the latter: type IIa, intermediate between fast and slow; and type IIb, which are superfast-twitch. Endurance runners tend to have mostly type I fibers, which have denser capillary networks and are packed with more mitochondria. Sprinters, on the other hand, have mostly type II fibers, which hold lots of sugar as well as enzymes that burn fuel in the absence of oxygen. In the 1980s, Claude Bouchard’s team at Quebec’s Laval University took needle biopsies from the thigh muscles of white French Canadian and black West African students. They found that the Africans averaged significantly more fast-twitch muscle fibers — 67.5% — than the French Canadians, who averaged 59%….”

i am totally going with my own personal theory for why west africans have more fast-twitch muscles, and that is because of sexual selection.

for how long have various west african populations been showing off their skillz — like this! — on the dance floor?:


_____

yup. sexual selection. that’s my theory (with a small “t”), and i’m sticking with it!

(note: comments do not require an email. rude comments WILL get you banned.)

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28 Comments

  1. I agree. Sexual selection is a much bigger force in human evolution than it is generally given credit for. More important than natural selection by far I would guess, which is certainly not true for animals without culture. It may not be intelligent design, but human beings have been designed — by the opposite sex.

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  2. @grey – “i think it comes from not killing off all the lions.”

    yes, lions (and other predators). but, then, why not high amounts of fast-twitch muscles in east africa? plenty of lions over there.

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  3. Quebec has always been a hothouse for hockey goalies, a position where you need to be quick, for what that’s worth.

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  4. @canuck – “Quebec has always been a hothouse for hockey goalies, a position where you need to be quick….”

    ice hockey! now there’s a sport that puts some STRONG selection pressures on humans! (^_^) (mostly for strong teeth! (~_^) )

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  5. I agree with sexual selection. But maybe it has also something to do with agressivity and violence. I do not have to put any youtube links here :)
    Anyway what’s fascinating that it took no longer than 6,000 years to come from hunter-gatherers to “black” blacks. How will they look and behave in another 6,000 years? From extrapolation it does not look too promising…

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  6. Geoffrey Miller’s The Mating Mind is the seminal book on this topic I would say. Sex and humanity’s insatiable demand for entertainment are the driving forces according to Miller (or at least as I remember him). Beings that have to think to survive (instead of relying on instincts) are easily bored. Imagination fills the bill. Or something like that.

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  7. To me these people look like they are having seizures or something. Doesn’t look like dancing.

    This is dancing:

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  8. @krakonos – “But maybe it has also something to do with agressivity and violence.”

    violence. that’s a good point. warfare. i always forget about that. prolly ’cause i’m a chick. thanks!

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  9. @rosenmops – “To me these people look like they are having seizures or something. Doesn’t look like dancing.”

    (^_^) i have a hard time NOT enjoying or finding something to appreciate about all forms of dance, i love dancing that much. even modern ballet/dance — which is ridiculous — i can usually find myself being impressed with the dancers’ skills.

    scottish country dancing is great! european dance on the whole, though, is funny because of the LACK of upper body movement. don’t know what’s with us. nothing wrong with it, it’s just kinda … odd if you think about it.

    whenever i want to cheer myself up, i watch this slovakian dance. (^_^) starts getting good around 2:50. what fun to get thrown around by some guys! looks like a blast! (slightly NSFW — bloomers! (~_^) ):

    (don’t get me started about dance, or i’ll never shut up!)

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  10. I was very much into European folk dancing when I was in college. It was the biggest thing going at Reed College on Friday nights (1960-1964) and must have known close to a hundred dances. The best ones by far were from all up and down the Balkan peninsula (not sure why) though ones like in this video were also very popular. That was another world back then, BB (before the Beatles).

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  11. Correction. Come to think of it, what all the best folk dances had in common is that they were all Slavic. Something about the Slavic peasantry was unique. They are all mating dances. No question about that.

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  12. @krakonos – “But maybe it has also something to do with agressivity and violence.”

    I’ve always assumed it was related to violence as fast reactions are probably the most useful thing in violence other than low empathy or the ability to switch empathy off (and in extremely violent environments, impulsivity would also be very useful.

    So on first thought i’d include it in the list of “warrior” traits that populations ought to have in proportion to how recently barbarian they are. Although if that was true then people like Maoris ought to have it as well?

    (Unless it’s true the gang environment among the welfare underclass is recreating that barbarian breeding environment and so those traits have been going *up* among the urban black population in the states instead of down.)

    (Makes me wonder if there’s a measurable difference in fast twitch muscle between rural black people in the states and those in the urban gang environment?)

    However after seeing these dancing videos and realizing they are mating dances – which didn’t really occur to me – it does actually make sense.

    Especially if a population’s mating dances are a function of the traits that population wants to select for
    – fast twitch for violent environments
    – hyper self-controlled dancing for environments with long winters

    “i watch this slovakian dance. (^_^) starts getting good around 2:50. what fun to get thrown around by some guys! looks like a blast!”

    Strong enough to throw, light enough to be thrown – it’s practically foreplay disguised as a dance. Kinda obvious when you think about it although i never have.

    I bet cossacks had a lot of fast twitch muscle.

    I bet Cossacks had a lot of fast-twitch muscle.

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  13. Yes, very similar to the folklor dances I saw in Cil and the Apuseni Mtns in Transylvania. The mating display on both sides “Can you throw me? Can you catch me? Will you be thrown? Will you remain poised?” is even clearer at actual festivals. The one above has been modernised a bit for filming: the skirts would not be that short nor the bloomers so easily seen – not until the dances at the end of the festival. You would have to wait until the last afternoon, when quite a lot of palinca had been drunk by all, to see that much leg or flash of white. Talk about foreplay.

    Here’s an interesting contrast. The Gypsy/Cigani/Roma dances can also be vigorous and sexualised, but there are two large distinctions. Gypsies are very casual about exposure from the waist up, very strict about waist down. Lots of cleavage, not much leg. But more importantly for clan discussions are the lengthy, slow group dances, often by women only or including only the oldest and youngest males. Not so vigorous and sexual, and often having a single phrase repeated endlessly. Favorite phrase: “Love your fami -LY! (foot stomp)”

    BTW, unlike American youth who run screaming from the entertainments of their grandparents, in Romania a lot of young people remain very involved in folklor and traditional music, even while adopting American ad Western European styles as well.

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  14. I love dancing, especially folk dancing. But I don’t care for African-type or Latin music or dancing. I like folk music with a simple beat–mostly Scottish and Irish. There doesn’t seem to be much English folk music and dancing–or at least it is not as popular as Scottish and Irish.

    One part of the Slovakian throwing dance reminds me of Highland Dancing.

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  15. Very interesting topic when you think about it from a mating display point of view (or family/clan cohesion point of view with some of the other examples).

    The mating display aspect – see how athletic and healthy i am – combined with flashing underwear is so clear once you notice it. (Nothing like that where i grew up so i hadn’t ever thought about it.)

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  16. @Rosenmops
    “One part of the Slovakian throwing dance reminds me of Highland Dancing.”
    I am not an expert on slovak floklore but I suppose they are highlanders.
    Here is an example of highlander dance from north west Slovakia:

    Here is another example of a sort of funny dance:

    And other slovak dance:

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  17. @grey – “Very interesting topic when you think about it from a mating display point of view (or family/clan cohesion point of view with some of the other examples). The mating display aspect – see how athletic and healthy i am – combined with flashing underwear is so clear once you notice it.”

    yes, the mating aspect — especially of social (partner) dancing — is really fun to take note of — if you’re paying attention. (^_^) even modern, non-partner dancing — breakdancing or house/rave or whatever the kids are doing these days — is obviously about attracting a mate, but the interplay between partners in social dancing is pretty funny.

    (i keep telling guys out there who want to find a girl to GO DANCING already! social dancing, i mean, like swing. it’s a really great form of interaction between men and women. i mean, the men: they get to show off their 3-d skills by navigating the pair across the dance floor AND through all the neat dance patterns they’ve got in their heads — and the men get to LEAD the girls. the men are in charge on the dancefloor — which the girls just love, of course. so … GO DANCING already! it’s not [that] dorky. (~_^) obviously, you’ll need to have rhythm, tho.)

    @grey – “Nothing like that where i grew up so i hadn’t ever thought about it.”

    what? no morris dancing?! (~_^)

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  18. @avi – “But more importantly for clan discussions are the lengthy, slow group dances, often by women only or including only the oldest and youngest males. Not so vigorous and sexual, and often having a single phrase repeated endlessly. Favorite phrase: ‘Love your fami -LY! (foot stomp)'”

    oh, the greeks have a dance like that, which i always thought was so DULL. now it makes sense when you say that it’s a sort-of family/clan dance (duh!). not sure if the greeks shout out anything about family, though.

    thanks! (^_^)

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  19. @rosenmops – “I love dancing, especially folk dancing. But I don’t care for African-type or Latin music or dancing. I like folk music with a simple beat–mostly Scottish and Irish.”

    scottish highland dancing is great! (^_^)

    but what do you mean you don’t like latin music/dancing?! (O_O) (~_^) i am a big salsa fan — but i’m a bit picky about my salsa — needs to be new york-/puerto rican-style salsa (for anybody out there who knows what i’m talking about). talk about foreplay (~_^):

    or, more to my taste actually (although, unfortunately, the girl can’t keep up in this dance, even though she’s a brilliant dancer otherwise):

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  20. @krakonos – “I am not an expert on slovak floklore but I suppose they are highlanders.”

    the video says the dancers are from trenčín, which is kinda upland, but i don’t know if they mean that the dance is actually from trenčín or just that this performance took place there.

    @krakonos – “Here is an example of highlander dance from north west Slovakia”

    oh, thanks for all of those! (^_^)

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  21. @avi – “The mating display on both sides ‘Can you throw me? Can you catch me? Will you be thrown? Will you remain poised?'”

    there was a dance called lavolta that was all the rage in the renaissance which involved the man tossing the woman up into the air. no idea if any european folk dances are related to that or not.

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  22. and since i mentioned swing (see, i told you you shouldn’t get me started about dance!), this is a routine and not a social dance, but it’s still a lotta fun to watch! (^_^):

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  23. “what? no morris dancing?! (~_^)”

    heh, no not even that. it was very urban.

    (seeing some of these vids i’m wondering if Morris dancing was originally a club-fighting dance like the slovak ones which gradually pacified)

    Reply

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