Archives for posts with tag: 10 000 year explosion

the idea that humans have self-domesticated themselves (ourselves!) is definitely in vogue: here’s a recent irl+online symposium held on the topic.

domestication in mammals results in a specific suite of traits known as the “domestication syndrome”:

“[I]ncreased docility and tameness, coat color changes, reductions in tooth size, changes in craniofacial morphology, alterations in ear and tail form (e.g., floppy ears), more frequent and nonseasonal estrus cycles, alterations in adrenocorticotropic hormone levels, changed concentrations of several neurotransmitters, prolongations in juvenile behavior, and reductions in both total brain size and of particular brain regions.”

humans — in some cases some human populations — appear to exhibit many, if not all, of these traits: increased docility, skin color changes, reduction in tooth size, craniofacial feminization, more frequent/nonseasonal estrus cycle, neotenous gene expression in the developing human brain, prolongation in juvenile behavior, and reduction in total brain size.

much of the current thinking seems to be centered on the idea that humans self-domesticated “in the more distant past,” but the fact that humans have been able to dwell together at all in ridiculously large numbers beginning around the time of the agricultural revolution suggests that human self-domestication did not stop “in the more distant past” and is probably even ongoing. this is 10,000 Year Explosion territory, and cochran and harpending have been here already [pgs. 110-113 — my emphases]:

“If your ancestors were farmers for a long time, you’re descended from people who decided it was better to live on their knees than to die on their feet.

“Farming led to elites, and there was no avoiding their power. Foragers could walk away from trouble, but farms were too valuable (too important to the farmers’ fitness) to abandon. So farmers had to submit to authority: The old-style, independent-minded personalities that had worked well among egalitarian hunter-gatherers (‘A Man’s a Man for a’ That’) were obsolete. Even when some group had a chance to refound society on a more egalitarian basis, as in the case of the medieval Iceland republic, elites tended to reappear.

“Aggressive, combative people may also have experienced lowered fitness once ruling elites began to appear. With strong states, the personal payoff for aggression may have become smaller, while law and order made combativeness for self-defense less necessary. Sheer crowding must also have disfavored some personality traits that had worked in the past. Intuitively, it seems that a high level of aggressiveness would be less favored when encounters with strangers were frequent. Fight too often and you’re sure to lose. Moreover, although the winner of a deadly struggle between two peasants might conceivably gain something, his owners, the elites who taxed both of those peasants, would not, any more than a farmer benefits when one bull kills another.

“Farmers don’t benefit from competition between their domesticated animals or plants. In fact, reduced competition between individual members of domesticated species is the secret of some big gains in farm productivity, such as the dwarf strains of wheat and rice that made up the ‘Green Revolution.’ Since the elites were in a very real sense raising peasants, just as peasants raised cows, there must have been a tendency for them to cull individuals who were more aggressive than average, which over time would have changed the frequencies of those alleles that induced such aggressiveness. This would have been particularly likely in strong, long-lived states, because situations in which rebels often won might well have favored aggressive personalities. This meant some people were taming others, but with reasonable amounts of gene flow between classes, populations as a whole should have become tamer.

“We know of a gene that may play a part in this story: the 7R (for 7-repeat) allele of the DRD4 (dopamine receptor D4) gene. It is associated with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a behavioral syndrome best characterized by actions that annoy elementary school teachers: restless-impulsive behavior, inattention, distractibility, and the like.

“The polymorphism is found at varying but significant levels in many parts of the world, but is almost totally absent from East Asia. Interestingly, alleles derived from the 7R allele are fairly common in China, even though the 7R alleles themselves are extremely rare there. It is possible that individuals bearing these alleles were selected against because of cultural patterns in China. The Japanese say that the nail that sticks out is hammered down, but in China it may have been pulled out and thrown away.

Selection for submission to authority sounds unnervingly like domestication. In fact, there are parallels between the process of domestication in animals and the changes that have occurred in humans during the Holocene period. In both humans and domesticated animals, we see a reduction in brain size, broader skulls, changes in hair color or coat color, and smaller teeth. As Dmitri Belyaev’s experiment with foxes shows, some of the changes that are characteristic of domesticated animals may be side effects of selection for tameness. As for humans, we know of a number of recent changes in genes involving serotonin metabolism in Europeans that may well influence personality, but we don’t know what effect those changes have had — since we don’t yet know whether they increase or decrease serotonin levels. Floppy ears are not seen in any human population (as far as we know), but then, changes in the external ear might interfere with recognition of speech sounds. Since speech is of great importance to fitness in humans, it may be that the negative effects of floppy ears have kept them from arising.

“Some of these favored changes could be viewed as examples of neoteny — retention of childlike characteristics. Children routinely submit to their parents — at least in comparison to teenagers — and it’s possible that natural selection modified mechanisms active in children in ways that resulted in tamer human adults, just as the behaviors of adult dogs often seem relatively juvenile in comparison with adult wolf behavior.

“If the strong governments made possible by agriculture essentially ‘tamed’ people, one might expect members of groups with shallow or nonexistent agricultural experience to be less submissive, on average, than members of longtime agricultural cultures. One possible indicator of tameness is the ease with which people can be enslaved, and our reading of history suggests that some peoples with little or no evolutionary exposure to agriculture ‘would not endure the yoke,’ as was said of Indians captured by the Puritans in the Pequot War of 1636. In the same vein, the typical Bushman, a classic hunter-gatherer, has been described as ‘the anarchist of South Africa.'”

what i’d like to draw attention to is the idea that there have been multiple (probably multiple multiples of) human self-domestication events which occurred at different places and at different times — all sorta within the broader human self-domestication project which began back in some stone age or, perhaps, even before. one of these, i propose, was the manorialism/outbreeding/execution-of-violent-criminals combo of medieval europe which left “core” europeans with a very specific set of behavioral traits. another might very well be whatever domestication package went along with rice farming in southern china as peter frost has discussed. others undoubtedly include the sorts of civilizations described by cochran & harpending in the passage quoted above — those “strong, long-lived states” — like those found in ancient egypt, ancient china, and ancient india.

just like how we (prolly together with dogs themselves) domesticated dogs thousands of years ago, but then continued and honed the process by selecting for specific traits in specific breeds, i think we should consider that, not only did humans start self-domesticating themselves a very long time ago so that there are common domestication traits in (nearly?) all humans populations, but also that there have been more localized self-domestication events which selected for somewhat different behavioral traits depending on what sort of selection pressures were present in these various events.

(note: comments do not require an email. domesticated foxes!)

look! another linkfest! (^_^)

Our Cats, Ourselves“Which brings us to the genome of one critical tame animal: ourselves, humans. The Nobel Prize-winning zoologist Konrad Z. Lorenz once suggested that humans were subject to the same dynamics of domestication. Our brain and body sizes peaked during the end of the last ice age, and declined with the spread of agriculture…. Our cultural flexibility and creativity since the end of the ice age have not freed humans from evolutionary forces, but have opened up novel and startling paths. Thinking of domestication as an evolutionary process that occurs through ‘artificial’ selection creates a false dichotomy of nurture and nature that plays into a conceit of human exceptionalism. In fact, the idea that we are apart from nature, that it is ours to tame and exploit, is an outmoded approach. A more useful interpretation is that over the past 10,000 years, humans fashioned their own ecosystem. We were part of a natural process that altered the landscape…. The same forces that reshaped the genomes of our domesticates also reshaped ours.” – from razib. in the new york times! (^_^)

Ancient Easter Islanders Interbred With Native Americans“According to the recent study conducted by geneticists, the ancient inhabitants of Easter Island met and interbred with Native Americans long before Westerners arrived…. The recent genetic study is published on Thursday in the Current Biology journal. According to the study, these ancient people had significant contact with Native Americans hundreds of years ago, before the westerners reached the Island in 1722…. The finding of the study suggests that the intermixing occurred 19 to 23 generations ago. The researchers said that the Polynesian people (Rapa Nui’s) are not believed to have started mixing with Europeans until much later, the 19th century. Malaspinas said the genetic ancestry of today’s Rapa Nui people is roughly 75% Polynesian, 15% European and 10% Native American.”

Barley fuelled farmers’ spread onto Tibetan plateau“Cold-tolerant crop enabled high-altitude agriculture some 3,600 years ago”

Faster than Fisher“[M]igration and conquest, must explain the wide distribution of many geographically widespread selective sweeps and partial sweeps. They were adaptive, all right, but expanded much faster than possible from purely local diffusion.” – from greg cochran.

The Germ of Laziness – also from greg cochran.

Putting IBD to Bed – from razib.

The Red Queen Model of Recombination Hotspots Evolution in the Light of Archaic and Modern Human Genomes – h/t mwpennell! who tweeted: “Recombination hotspots in humans appear to be young…evidence for Red Queen theory for evolution of recombination?”

Inclusive fitness and sexual conflict: How population structure can modulate the battle of the sexes – h/t rebecca sear!

Do Chinese people get bored less easily?“Advanced farming — intensive land use, task specialization, monoculture — has profoundly shaped East Asian societies, particularly China. This is particularly so for rice farming. Because the paddies need standing water, rice farmers must work collectively to build, dredge, and drain elaborate irrigation networks. Wheat farming, by comparison, requires no irrigation and only half as much work. Advanced farming seems to have favored a special package of predispositions and inclinations, including greater acceptance of monotony. This has been shown in two recent studies.” – from peter frost.

Culture and state boredom: A comparison between European Canadians and Chinese“European Canadians (vs. Chinese) are more likely to experience state boredom.” – h/t erwin schmidt!

Gender differences in preferences, choices, and outcomes: SMPY longitudinal study“The figures show significant gender differences in life and career preferences, which affect choices and outcomes *even after ability is controlled for*…. According to the results, SMPY men are more concerned with money, prestige, success, creating or inventing something with impact, etc. SMPY women prefer time and work flexibility, want to give back to the community, and are less comfortable advocating unpopular ideas. Some of these asymmetries are at the 0.5 SD level or greater.” – from steve hsu.

Are liberals and conservatives differently wired? – also from peter frost.

Detecting ‘polygenes’ using signals of polygenic selection. Tools for increasing the power of GWAS – from davide piffer who tweeted: “Watson and Venter’s genomes have higher frequency of intelligence polygenenes.”

Intelligence lost at 1.23 IQ points per decade“Michael Woodley of Menie spends much of his time tending his ancestral estate, pacing the linen-fold panelled rooms of the ancient house, warming his hands at the towering stone fireplace and meditating on the collapse of the aristocracy, the paucity of contemporary innovation and the lamentable and persistent downward drift of the national intellect. Now he sends me a barefoot runner with his latest manuscript, which I have read as the autumn mists creep across the Nadder valley, before penning this reply for the poor urchin to carry back to his master. Young Woodley avers that, not only are we going to hell in a handcart, but we are doing so at a pace which he can predict with some accuracy (1.23 IQ points per decade), composed as it is of two dysgenic effects: the dull have been reproducing with greater fecundity than the bright (.39), and increasing paternal age has increased the rate of deleterious mutations (.84).” – from dr. james thompson.

Gypsy intelligence – also from dr. james thompson.

Lower Body Symmetry and Running Performance in Elite Jamaican Track and Field Athletes – h/t keith laws! who tweeted: “More symmetrical knees & ankles in Elite Jamaican track and field athletes…Of course…”

Great Ape Origins of Personality Maturation and Sex Differences: A Study of Orangutans and Chimpanzees

The Case Against Early Cancer Detection“[C]ancer screening may harm more people than it helps.” – h/t jason collins!

In the U.S., Few Heavy Drinkers Are Actually Alcoholics“About 90 percent of people who drink excessively — more than eight drinks a week for women, 15 for men — are not alcohol dependent.” – h/t ray sawhill!

Genes tell new story: Alcohol in moderation only benefits 15% of population“An alcoholic beverage a day, especially wine, is widely believed to help keep heart disease risk low, but new research from the University of Gothenburg shows that only about 15% of the human population — those with a specific the form of the cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) gene — actually gain this benefit from moderate alcohol consumption.”

The Real Roots of Midlife Crisis“What a growing body of research reveals about the biology of human happiness — and how to navigate the (temporary) slump in middle age.”

Despite its problems, the United States of America is still the best. Thing. Ever.“Other aspects of America’s story, though, seem less important now that the quest for racial equality has become almost a religious mission; this week I finally got around to watching the HBO series John Adams, which begins with the Massachusetts lawyer defending Captain Thomas Preston, the officer blamed for the Boston massacre. The mob wanted to avenge the deaths but, this being a colony where people passionately believed in their ancestral English liberties, ‘due process’ was followed – a term that dates back to the Parliament of Edward III but was obviously influenced by Clause 39 of the Magna Carta. Due process is what was followed in the Ferguson case, but maybe that’s just a boring old racist Anglo-Saxon idea that we can forget about now (grand juries are literally Anglo-Saxon, dating back to the reign of Ethelred II, or possibly the vibrant culturally-enriching Viking maniac King Canute).” – from ed west.

Children are not science projects“What do we tell to prospective adoptive parents? The first answer, and the only answer that ultimately counts, is that they are doing the Lord’s work. They have the opportunity to provide love and nurturing to a child who needs it. There are few better things that human beings can do with their time. The second answer is that they, like biological parents, are not miracle-workers. They will be unable to mold the child. Sometimes their adopted child will experience problems that are not the adoptive parents’ fault; sometimes they will reveal gifts of talent and character that are equally not to the adoptive parents’ credit. What is to the credit of good parents, adoptive and biological alike, is enfolding the child in love.” – from charles murray…who’s really just a big softie after all. (^_^) — see also: Adopt a child, but discard an illusion from dr. james thompson.

In Northern Ireland, a Wave of Immigrants Is Met With Fists – which came (or *should’ve* come) as a surprise to absolutely no one….

When exactly did the Industrial Revolution start?

Europe’s Bronze Age Collapse Not Caused by Climate Change

How Thanksgiving, the ‘Yankee Abolitionist Holiday,’ Won Over the South

Your Inner Feather“About 300 million years ago, our ancestors began to lay hard-shelled eggs. Those early animals would give rise to mammals, reptiles, and birds (collectively known as amniotes, named for the amniotic egg). Edwards and his colleagues found that the first amniotes already had the *entire* complement of feather patterning genes. That means you, as an amniote, have them too.” – cool!

Viruses as a Cure

Stop eating cats and dogs say animal rights campaigners in Switzerland“Cat appears on traditional Christmas menus in some areas of Switzerland.” – wait. what?!

bonus: Snakes are ‘righties’ — with their penis, that is

bonus bonus: Snakes Leave Identity Within Their Fang Marks“Getting a DNA swab from the fang marks of a snake bite can accurately identify the type of snake, a team working in Nepal has found.”

bonus bonus bonus: Monterey Bay researchers capture rare deep-sea anglerfish on video for first time – whoa!

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Ants Regularly Pack Up and Dig New Nests, and Nobody Knows Why

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Red Baron’s WWI German Fokker triplane rebuilt by flying enthusiast – oooo! pretty. (^_^)

(note: comments do not require an email. a face only a mother could love. maybe.)

two weeks, actually…

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and/or your dollars, and/or your euros, and/or your yen, and/or your renminbi, and/or your canadian pesos dollars…. you get the idea. he’s not picky. really!:

bake sale

this is a great investment, imho!*

so is this book, if you’ve never read it. (why haven’t you?!) it is THE book that fashionable people want to have on their bookshelves, after all. (~_^)

(*don’t sue me if you’re not satisfied. (~_^) )

we know that human biodiversity (hbd) is true because, for one thing, we have many, many examples of it (see here)!

additionally, both the workings of the natural world and specifically the theory of evolution predict that hbd must be the case.

nature likes to throw up variety (see here for example) — the variation between individual organisms is, after all, what natural selection acts upon — and there’s no reason for humans to be any exception. add to that the fact that humans reproduce sexually — with all the genetic shuffling and remixing that happens there — and it’s inevitable that individual humans will be biologically diverse.

various groups or populations of humans — ranging from small-sized families to races and even beyond (for example, think: east asians+native americans together compared to caucasians or subsaharan africans) — will also inevitably be biologically diverse from one another, to greater or lesser degrees, due to forces of evolution such as natural selection, gene flow, and/or genetic drift.

keep in mind that humans — including various discrete-ish human populations (biological borders are fuzzy, naturally) — have experienced recent evolution (i.e. within the last 40,000 years or so), that human evolution has probably sped up since the advent of agriculture, and that we are undoubtedly still evolving today.

ignoring or denying the existence of human biodiversity won’t make it go away. hbd — and its implications — will remain a reality in spite of all your hopes and dreams, however well-intentioned they may be.
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this is one of a set of posts on What is Human Biodiversity? please, before you fire off a rant leave a comment here, check out the other posts, because your question or objection may have been dealt with in one of them. here they all are!:

what is human biodiversity (hbd)?
what human biodiversity (hbd) is not
examples of human biodiversity (hbd)
hbd and racism
hbd and politics

(note: comments do not require an email. another great moment in evolution.)

Sir David Attenborough: Humans have stopped evolving“Human beings have stopped evolving becoming the only species to ‘put halt to natural selection of its own free will’, Sir David Attenborough has said, as he predicts the ‘cultural evolution’ of the future.” – lots of responses to that including: Humans are still evolving, and soon we’ll know a lot more about it – from john hawks; Evolution – it’s not over yet – from tom chivers; and Sir David Attenborough is wrong – humans are still evolving – from ian rickard.

Fate of new genes cannot be predicted“New versions of genes, called alleles, can appear by mutation in populations. Even when these new alleles turn the individuals carrying them more fit to survive and reproduce, the most likely outcome is that they will get lost from the populations. The theory that explains these probabilities has been postulated by the scientist J.B.S. Haldane almost 90 years ago. This theory has become the cornerstone of modern population genetics…. The research team … has now experimentally tested Haldane’s theory.”

Poorest Costa Ricans live longest“Biological markers confirm unusually slow ageing regardless of wealth, at least in one population.” – h/t jayman!

Uros people of Peru and Bolivia found to have distinctive genetic ancestries“Genographic project research shows ancestry may date to Altiplano’s initial settlement.”

African-American study identifies four genetic variants associated with blood pressure“‘We anticipated that individuals of African ancestry share similar biology to other populations. However, differences in genomic make-up between African ancestry and other populations have uncovered additional genes affecting blood pressure, in addition to genetic variants that are specific to individuals of African ancestry….'” – via amren.

Handedness GWAS Leads to Suspected Left-Right Asymmetry Genes“A team from the UK and the Netherlands has garnered evidence suggesting left- and right-handedness may involve genes from some of the same pathways that produce other features differing on right and left sides of the body.”

Functional genetic variation in humans: Comprehensive map published“European scientists, led by researchers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE)’s Faculty of Medicine in the context of the GEUVADIS project, today present a map that points to the genetic causes of differences between people. The study, published in Nature and Nature Biotechnology, offers the largest-ever dataset linking human genomes to gene activity at the level of RNA.”

Insect leg cogs a first in animal kingdom“Toothed gears enable young plant hoppers to synchronize limbs for jumping.”go home, evolution, you are drunk.

The Science of What Makes an Introvert and an Extrovert

Testes Size Correlates With Men’s Involvement in Toddler Care“Men with smaller testes than others are more likely to be involved in hands-on care of their toddlers….” – h/t hbd bibliography!

Can Your Language Influence Your Spending, Eating, and Smoking Habits?“[S]peakers with weak future tenses (e.g. German, Finnish and Estonian) were 30 percent more likely to save money, 24 percent more likely to avoid smoking, 29 percent more likely to exercise regularly, and 13 percent less likely to be obese, than speakers of languages with strong future tenses, like English.” – (“but where does language come from?” hbd chick mumbles to herself in the back row….)

‘Love hormone’ may play wider role in social interaction than previously thought“The new study, to be published Sept. 12 in Nature, pinpoints a unique way in which oxytocin alters activity in a part of the brain that is crucial to experiencing the pleasant sensation neuroscientists call ‘reward’…. ‘People with autism-spectrum disorders may not experience the normal reward the rest of us all get from being with our friends….’ Some genetic evidence suggests the awkward social interaction that is a hallmark of autism-spectrum disorders may be at least in part oxytocin-related. Certain variations in the gene that encodes the oxytocin receptor – a cell-surface protein that senses the substance’s presence – are associated with increased autism risk.”

More Money, More Children“‘[N]ow better-off people seem to be having more children; in the U.S., the fertility rate of wives whose husbands are in the top decile of income is back where it was a century ago.'” – h/t puzzle pirate!

Ashkenazi Jewish gene pool derives from ‘recent severe bottleneck’ of 300-400 individuals ca. 800 years ago – @race/history/evolution notes.

Morality and the Epiphany of Joshua Greene“The manifestations of morality are complex, but its origins are simple. Evolved behavioral predispositions are the ultimate reason for its existence…. Those behavioral traits evolved without a goal, and without a purpose. They exist because they happened to increase our chances of surviving and procreating at a time when our mode of existence as well as our social and physical environment were radically different from what they are now.” – helian’s on fire! (not literally … i hope.)

Are Women Less Corrupt?“Women are more likely than men to disapprove of — and less likely to participate in — political corruption, but only in countries where corruption is stigmatized…. ‘When corruption is stigmatized, as in most democracies, women will be less tolerant and less likely to engage in it compared with men. But if ‘corrupt’ behaviors are an ordinary part of governance supported by political institutions, there will be no corruption gender gap.'” – h/t jayman!

Politicians like power – from steve sailer.

Study: The Neg Works – (~_^) – @heartiste.

Some people are feminine – get over it“Whenever you have one group of people who believe one thing for ideological reasons, and another who believe something else because their business model depends on it, I tend to trust the latter. Who do you think knows more about the minds of girls and boys — the academics who’ve spent years discussing gender feminism, or people who sell toys?” (~_^) – from ed west.

A Brief Word On Pedophilia – scharlach reminds everyone what pedophilia is. THANK you!

Stephen Hsu on Cognitive Genomics“At the extremes, there are some academics and social activists who violently oppose any kind of research into the genetics of cognitive ability. Given that the human brain — its operation, construction from a simple genetic blueprint, evolutionary history — is one of the great scientific mysteries of the universe, I cannot understand this point of view.”

Heritability estimates and unexplained variance“Nobody owns unexplained variance.” – from dr. james thompson.

Study sheds light on genetics of how and why fish swim in schools“‘The motivation to be social is common among fish and humans…. ‘Some of the same brain regions and neurological chemicals that control human social behavior are probably involved in fish social behavior as well.'”

Why do haters have to hate? Newly identified personality trait holds clues“New research has uncovered the reason why some people seem to dislike everything while others seem to like everything. Apparently, it’s all part of our individual personality – a dimension that researchers have coined ‘dispositional attitude.'”

Everyday sadists take pleasure in others’ pain“[P]eople who score high on a measure of sadism seem to derive pleasure from behaviors that hurt others, and are even willing to expend extra effort to make someone else suffer.” – yeah. you know who you are.

How an evolutionary model is better at explaining decisions than neo-classical and behavioral economics models: A review of Douglas T. Kenrick and Vladas Griskevicius, The Rational Animal: How Evolution Made us Smarter than we Think.

Making The Right Mistakes: Error Management And The Evolution Of Errors“Human cognitive mechanisms evolved to deal with the problems of the past, where we spent 99% of our history, not those of the present. We should, therefore, hardly expect our brains to perform well all the time in modern settings where the social and physical environment is so different.”

From Slavs to Slaves“Between 1500 and 1650, Eastern Europe exported 1.5 million slaves to North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. Western Europe exported a little over a million between 1530 and 1780.” – from peter frost.

The Madonna or the Whore? – @thosewhocansee.

E.O. Wilson has a new explanation for consciousness, art & religion. Is it credible?

The Evolutionary Case for Great Fiction“Might reading literature help with species survival?” (species survival? hmmmm.)

2013 ig nobel awards were announced this week! my favorite this year: the probability prize – “[T]he longer a cow has been lying down, the more likely that cow will soon stand up; and Second, that once a cow stands up, you cannot easily predict how soon that cow will lie down again.” (^_^)

Mayan mass grave containing 1,400-year-old remains of DECAPITATED prisoners of war discovered in Mexico

Plans to evict Botswana Bushmen revealed by leaked report – @survival international. h/t andrew badenoch!

bonus: Parasite Ants Drafted as Mercenaries

bonus bonus: Inheritance of lifespan is sex-dependent in fruit flies

bonus bonus bonus: ‘Time travel is easy — in one direction,’ says Prof Brian Cox – but the time lords figured it out!

bonus bonus bonus bonus: The sound of interstellar space…” (or not!) – h/ts michael anissimov and nelson!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Wherever there is red tape, the truth will be stranger than fiction“As the [u.k.’s] Government reflects on a bureaucratic obsession with ‘equality’, we ask: which of these tales of political correctness are made up?”

(note: comments do not require an email. all that’s required for successful time travel.)

from A Brief History of Great Britain (2010) [pages xiv-xvi]:

“Britain is marked by pronounced regional differences. The most basic division is that between highland areas and lowland areas. The ‘highland zone’ is defined by being over 200 meters (656 feet) above sea level. Highland zones are found in Wales, much of Scotland, northern England, and parts of southwestern England, although lowland pockets exist in highland territories. The British highland zone is not really mountainous, as the highest mountains reach the mode height of roughly 4000 feet (1,129 meters). There is a much higher proportion of highland land in Scotland than in England, and the difference between the highlands and the lowlands and their inhabitants plays a central role in Scottish history and culture.

The highlands are marked by a greater emphasis on pastoralism, as they have mostly chalky soil and are too wet and cold for successful agriculture. The highlands are also much less densely populated than the lowlands, as it requires much more land to support a human being through pastoralism than through agriculture. Lowland areas are usually more fertile. The most fertile lowlands are in the south and southeast of Britain, where there is rich, heavy soil more suited to agriculture. Lowlanders can engage in raising either grains or livestock, depending on circumstances. In the Middle Ages much of the lowlands was truned over to the highly profitable production of wool. Lowlanders tended to live in villages, highlanders in small hamlets or isolated farmsteads, or to be nomadic.

“Invasions of Britain had much less effect on the highlands than on the lowlands, which constituted the really valuable prize due to their greater agricultural productivity. Those regimes exercising power throughout Britain or the British Isles were usually based in lowland England, the only place capable of supporting tehm. The extension of power from the lowlands to the highlands was a difficult challenge due to the difficulty of the terrain. Mountainous Wales preserved its independence for centuries despite its poverty and its inability to unite politically. The only invaders to subdue Wales before the 13th century were the well-organized and disciplined Roman legions, and it took them years after the conquest of England. The less-organized Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, and Normans had a much harder time, and Wales was only permanently annexed to England in 1284.

“The greater poverty of the highlands meant that highlanders often raided lowlanders, creating hostility between the two. The highlands were also more culturally and linguistically conservative. Cultural innovations usually originated in the lowlands and spread to the highlands. The highlands were where the Celtic languages lasted the longest, as English and its offshoots, originally the language of Anglo-Saxon invaders, became the dominant tongue of the lowlands in the early Middle Ages. This cultural division further added to the hostility between highland and lowland peoples.”
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from The Environment of Early Man in the British Isles (1975) [pgs. 147-149]:

“The Highland Zone/Lowland Zone division

“It is from this time [late bronze/early iron age] onwards that the division of the British Isles into Highland and Lowland Zones becomes relevant. The division has been used by geographers to explain differences in settlement patterns, farming practices and the quality of material culture between the two zones, and Cyril Fox exploited it to a considerable extent in ‘The Personality of Britain’.

“In brief, the Highland Zone (Fig. 62) is that part of the British Isles which is made up of the most ancient group of rocks, those formed in the Paleozoic Era. They lie in the north and west and the division with the later Mesozoic and Tertiary rocks of the Lowland Zone falls roughly on a line from the mouth of the Tees to the mouth of the Exe. The Palaeozoic rocks are generally hard, forming mountainous regions, with continuous streches over 300 metres above sea level. Plains and vales are not extensive. There are steep slopes and crags making cultivation difficult or impossible, and soils are often thin, stony and impoverished. Rainfall is high and there is a strong correspondence between the chief moorland areas and mean annual rainfall.

“Lowland Britain, on the other hand, is made up of geologically younger rocks which are softer, and which have given rise to a series of low-lying, rolling hills and intervening extensive vales and plains. Slopes are gentle, crags few and almost all the land is available for tillage, pasture or settlement. Soils are generally fertile and there is little evidence of erosion. Rainfall is light and there is little waste ground.

“But there are many topographical exceptions, in particular various lowland areas within the Highland Zone. Some of these are relatively small — the Vale of Glamorgan, the Hebridean machair and certain fertile river valleys such as Strath Tay. Others are of much greater extent, including the Central Scottish Lowlands, East Banff and Aberdeen, and the Orkney Islands. Ireland can be divided topographically into its own Highland and Lowland Zoens, and presents an anomaly in that approximately half the country is essentially lowland but situated in a high rainfall area….

“Indeed, the key distinction between the Highland and Lowland Zones is not so much elevation and topography as rainfall which is greatest in the west (Fig. 62) since this is the direction from which the main rain-bearing winds blow….

britain - lowland-highland zones

“[F]or a variety of economic and environmental reasons, the first millennium bc represents a period of significant change in the Highland Zone. Fields were abandoned and either reverted to pasture or waste ground, or became covered by peat. In low-lying areas communications became difficult because of mire formation or flooding. The importance of stone and Highland Zone metal deposits dwindled. And there was no great exploitation of timber for iron smelting as occurred in the Lowland Zone. Indeed, it is from the beginning of the Iron Age that the Highland Zone as a whole assumes the pastoral character which it has retained ever since.

“‘It is generally understood that…the remains of the monuments and material costructed or used throughout Britain reveal no noticeable differences in quality between the lowland and highland areas until well into the first millennium bc, but that thereafter a contrast developed between the two areas, comprising a falling-off of the material culture of the highland in comparison with that of the lowland — a contrast which has lasted to the present day.'”
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look! another line – the tees-exe line (the red one):

tees-exe line
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from The British Isles: A History of Four Nations (1989, 2006) [pgs. 18-19]:

“To draw attention to this fact [i.e. that much of the pre-roman british isles was a part of a broader european celtic culture] is not to say that there was political and social uniformity throughout the area. The existence of tribal groupings in both Britain and Ireland is an indication of political differences at the local level. The Romans, to whom we are indebted for Latin versions of tribal names in the absence of their original Celtic forms, distinguished over twenty tribes in Britain south of the Forth. In Ireland, where politcal aggregation had not gone as far as it had elsewhere, the number of tribes seems to have been much larger.

“One powerful cause of variety was geography, in particular the contrast between Highland and Lowland Zones. It was Sir Cyril Fox who argued in his book ‘The Personality of Britain’ (1932) that the Lowlands would usually be exposed to forces of change before the Highlands. The Highland/Lowland contrast certainly makes good sense when applied to Britain, where north and west form a distinctive geographical area, including a good deal of land over 400 metres above sea-level. Poorer soil and climatic conditions made agriculture more of a challenge in the Highland Zone than it was in the south and east. In a British Isles context, however, the Highland/Lowland contrast is not quite so clear. Ireland, which has been compared to a saucer in which the rim represents the hills and the flat base the central plain, is not, geologically speaking, a Highland Zone. There is no doubt, however, that the narrow seas between north-west Ireland and south-west Scotland linked rather than divided them. At this particular period, however, it may be seen as forming part of a ‘cultural Highland Zone’, cut off, for better or worse, from the influence of the rising military power of Rome.

“Geographical determinism should not be pressed too far, however. It can also be argued that, under certain conditions, the Irish Sea provided a channel of communication…. It also seems to have been the case during the fifth and sixth centuries AD when Christian communities on both sides of the Irish Sea retained their links with Christian Europe at a time when the eastern half of Britain was being overrun by Germanic settlers. The Irish presence in Scotland in the sixth century AD and in parts of Wales illustrates the same point….

Another contrast between the Highland and Lowland Zones was almost certainly demographic. No firm statistical evidence exists but several strong indicators suggest that there was a considerable increase of population in the Lowlands from the fifth century onwards, well before the Belgic invasions. A good deal of internal colonisation seems to have taken place during this period….”
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from The Culture of the English People: Iron Age to the Industrial Revolution (1994) [pgs. 5-7]:

“Some fifty years ago Sir Cyril Fox published one of the most seminal books in the history of British archaeology and culture, ‘The Personality of Britain’. In it he distinguished two parts of these islands, a ‘highland’ zone and a ‘lowland’ zone, with a boundary between them which ran from County Durham to Lyme Bay on the south coast (Fig. 1.1). This line separated a predominantly hilly region of Paleozoic rocks from a gentler region of Secondary and later rocks. These two regions, he argued, corresponded with two differing modes of cultural evolution. Simply expressed, his argument was that the bearers of outside cultural influences reached the Highland Zone often by sea and almost always in small numbers. Their impact was never sufficient to blanket or submerge the indigenous cultures. Instead they became assimilated. Elements of older cultures are today not only present, but conspicuously so in Highland Britain. Lowland Britain, by contrast, lay at the receiving end of a long series of invasions, from those who walked across the landbridge which once existed with Europe to the more recent invasions of Anglo-Saxons, Vikings and Normans. Each wave was powerful enough to impress its own culture, and thus to mask or to destroy pre-existing cultures. Fox commented on the relative ease with which new civilizations are established in the Lowland Zone, repressing without necessarily obliterating those which had prevailed before. ‘There is [thus] greater unity of culture in the Lowland Zone, but greater continuity in the Highland Zone.’

“The Fox model has not been without its critics. Some, including the present writer, would interpose a third zone covering the basically claylands of the English Midlands, between the Highland and the Lowland, with its own distinctive cultural history. But, however modified, the Fox model has been of incalculable imortance to a cultural history of these islands. It gives a rational explanation for a phenomenon which will recur in the pages of this book, namely the persistence of early cultural traits in the Celtic west and north, and the greater degree of cultural traits in the Celtic west and north, and the greater degree of cultural homogeneity in the lowlands of the south and east.”

england - lowland-midland-highland zones
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previously: this one’s for g.w. and the flatlanders vs. the mountain people

(note: comments do not require an email. lemur alert!)

a day late and (*hbd chick checks her wallet*) … yes, a dollar short!

World’s Oldest Genome Sequenced From 700,000-Year-Old Horse DNA – cool!

Bad Health at the Origins of Agriculture – from henry harpending! see also andrew badenoch from evolvify.

DNA Evidence for Strong Genome-Wide Pleiotropy of Cognitive and Learning Abilities“Genetic correlations were greater than 0.70 between general cognitive ability and language, reading, and mathematics, results that were highly similar to twin study estimates of genetic correlations. These results indicate that genes related to diverse neurocognitive processes have general rather than specific effects.” – via jayman!

Insulin differs between ethnicities, study finds“People have differing abilities to release and react to insulin depending on ethnicity, according to a new study from researchers at Lund University in Sweden, Stanford University and Kitasato University.” – see also previous linkfest.

I Don’t Feel Your Pain“A recent study shows that people, including medical personnel, assume black people feel less pain than white people…. In each experiment, the researchers found that white participants, black participants, and nurses and nursing students assumed that blacks felt less pain than whites.”original research article.

Studying Tumors Differently, in Hopes of Outsmarting Them“[C]ancer: It is an evolutionary disease.”

Accelerating adaptive evolution in humans“In my last post, I noted R.A. Fisher’s argument that a larger population leads to more mutations and greater potential for adaptive evolution. As human populations have undergone massive growth over recent tens of thousands of years, we would expect the evidence of this population growth to show in our genomes. In this post, I point to a couple of papers that look at this evidence.” – from jason collins.

Three-Parent IVF Set to Go Ahead in Britain

Complete mtDNA from Filipino groups – @dienekes’.

Still missing the point – more good stuff from peter frost on stephen jay gould.

The Search for Western Tribalism“Tribalism as clannishness light.” – from staffan!

How Long Can You Wait to Have a Baby?“[M]illions of women are being told when to get pregnant based on statistics from a time before electricity, antibiotics, or fertility treatment. Most people assume these numbers are based on large, well-conducted studies of modern women, but they are not.”

Grandparents effect spotted in British class system“Children’s eventual position in Britain’s class system is closely linked to that of their grandparents, not just their parents, academics say. And where parents have ‘dropped down’ the socio-economic ladder, the so-called ‘grandparents effect’ often pulls them back up, research suggests…. [A]mong men with both parents and grandparents in the highest socio-economic group, 80% stayed in those positions when they were adults. But among men whose parents had been upwardly mobile, only 61% stayed in the group they had been born in to.” – don’t they mean the “regression to the mean effect’? – via jason collins.

Study: People With a Lot of Self-Control Are Happier“Improbably enough, people who are better able to resist impulses report being more satisfied with their lives.”

Clues in the Cycle of Suicide“Every year, suicide peaks with the tulips and lilacs — increasing roughly 15 percent over the annual average to create one of psychiatry’s most consistent epidemiological patterns. It may seem perverse that the period of spring and early summer … should contain ‘a capacity for self-murder that winter less often has.’ Yet it does.”

A Test to Measure How Rational You Really Are – dysrationalia!

Does life have a purpose?“Nobody expects atoms and molecules to have purposes, so why do we still think of living things in this way?”

Study appears to overturn prevailing view of how the brain is wired

Sardinian family’s tip for a long life: minestrone – and good longevity genes! (~_^) – “Luca Deiana, a professor of clinical biochemistry at the university of Sassari in Sardinia, who has studied some 2500 centenarians on the island since 1996, was quoted by Corriere della Sera at the time as saying the longevity of local inhabitants was influenced by genetics along with environmental, nutritional and lifestyle habits.”

Chilean Mummies Reveal Ancient Nicotine Habit“The hair of mummies from the town of San Pedro de Atacama in Chile reveals the people in the region had a nicotine habit spanning from at least 100 B.C. to A.D. 1450.”

Mysterious Pair Buried With Flowers — Oldest Example Yet“The pair — an adult male and an adolescent of undetermined sex — belonged to the primitive Natufian culture, which flourished between 15,000 and 11,600 years ago in an area that is now Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.”

bonus: Judge jails depraved sex gang for 95 years after they committed grotesque abuse on girls as young as 11 – good!

bonus bonus: Foreign reporter raped in Tahrir Square – again. see also Arab Spring Unleashes Illiberal Repressive Masses from parapundit.

bonus bonus bonus: The Divided States of America, in 25 Charts“As America approaches its 237th birthday, it’s feeling quite a bit more ‘pluribus’ than ‘unum’…” – gee, i wonder why?

bonus bonus bonus bonus: First Pictures: Peru’s Rare, Unlooted Royal Tomb

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: India: If you have casual sex, you are legally married – ruh roh.

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Take the Impossible “Literacy” Test Louisiana Gave Black Voters in the 1960s – it’s not impossible, but it’s not easy either. esp. given that not all of the questions are worded very clearly. =/

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: The scientific feud that ended in an execution

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Leeches from the Underworld Don’t Want Your Blood

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Awesome astronomical board game from 1804

(note: comments do not require an email. the tapir’s PREHENSILE penis! good lord.)

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