Archives for posts with tag: evolution

it is a truth universally acknowledged, that whenever someone posts a map like this

cpi 2014 - europe

…on twitter, that a chorus of people will respond: oh, just look at the terrible effects communism had on eastern europe! for no good reason really because, as we all know, correlation does not equal causation — although it does “waggle its eyebrows suggestively and gesture furtively while mouthing ‘look over there.'”

just because soviet regimes were present in the past in the same areas of europe where there are high corruption levels today does not mean the one is the cause of the other. (and anyway…look at the regions beyond europe! or southern europe, for that matter.) the relationship is certainly suspicious though, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the two were somehow connected.

one way to try to settle this debate would be to look at pre-soviet corruption rates in eastern europe versus the west to see if the situation was any different beforehand.

i have not done that in this post, in large part because i don’t speak any slavic or other eastern european languages, but primarily because it seemed like way too much work. instead, i’m going to take a look a civicness, a set of behaviors — along with things like intelligence, low amounts of corruption, and low levels of violence — that many researchers reckon are necessary in order to have western-style liberal democracies and economies, if that’s what you want in life. i’ll be focusing on russia, again just to kept this little project manageable. but first, italy.

in Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy, robert putnam (yes, that robert putnam) concluded that democracy in northern italy functions better than in the south because the north has had a longer tradition — stretching back to the middle ages — of civicness or of having a civic community. (see previous post: democracy in italy.) according to putnam [pgs. 88-89, 91]:

“Citizenship in the civic community entails equal rights and obligations for all. Such a community is bound together by horizontal relations of reciprocity and cooperation, not by vertical relations of authority and dependency. Citizens interact as equals, not as patrons and clients nor as governors and petitioners….

“Citizens in a civic community, on most accounts, are more than merely active, public-spirited, and equal. Virtuous citizens are helpful, respectful, and trustful towards one another, even when they differ on matters of substance….

“One key indicator of civic sociability must be the vibrancy of associational life.”

in civic societies and civic societies ii, i looked at (self-reported) participation rates in voluntary associations across the world as found in the 2005-2008 wave of the world values survey. specifically, i tallied up the number of individuals who responded that, yes, they were ACTIVE members of the following voluntary associations (thus giving some indication of how civic-minded each of the populations is):

– Church or religious organization
– Sport or recreation organization
– Art, music or educational organization
– Labour union
– Political party
– Environmental organization
– Professional association
– Charitable organization
– Any other voluntary organization

the response rates for eastern europe were abysmal, often vying for last place with the middle east (see previous post for more):

wvs - membership voluntary organizations - totals

not much has changed in the latest wave (2010-2014). here, for example, are the active membership rates for the russian federation for each of the organization types — the first figure is from the 2005-2008 wave, the second from 2010-2014:

– Church or religious organization = 2.60% – 2.00%
– Sport or recreation organization = 5.90% – 2.40%
– Art, music or educational organization = 4.20% – 1.50%
– Labour union = 3.40% – 2.00%
– Political party = 0.80% – 0.50%
– Environmental organization = 0.40% – 0.40%
– Professional association = 1.60% – 1.40%
– Charitable organization = 1.10% – 0.6%
– Any other voluntary organization = n/a – 1.4%

as joseph bradley says in Voluntary Associations in Tsarist Russia: Science, Patriotism, and Civil Society (2009), russia is “not known as a nation of joiners.” apparently not! (mind you, i am not in a position to cast any stones on this account. *ahem*)

but were the russians more civic-minded before the revolution?

unfortunately, i don’t have any figures which can be directly compared to our modern world values surveys, but, yes, there was some amount of participation in voluntary civic institutions in russia in the two hundred years or so preceding 1917. however, civic participation didn’t begin in russia until the mid-1700s (and that is a key point to which i’ll return), and for most of that period, it occurred mostly among the upper classes. participation rates did grow across the nation and classes over the next century and a half, until just after the revolution of 1905 when there was a rapid rise in one sort of voluntary association — consumer cooperatives — among all classes of russians. however, civil society was still comparatively shallow in early-twentieth century russia — it hadn’t fully penetrated the whole of society by that point yet because the concept was so relatively new to the populace. here is laura engelstein in “The Dream of Civil Society in Tsarist Russia: Law, State, and Religion” (2000) quoting the sardinian antonio gramsci on the matter [pg. 23]:

“On the margins of the European state system, sharing but not fully integrating the Western cultural heritage, Russia, it is said, has always lacked just these civic and political traits. Antonio Gramsci provides the classic statement of this contrast: ‘In Russia,’ he wrote in the 1920s, ‘the state was everything, civil society was primordial and gelatinous; in the West there was a proper relation between state and civil society, and when the state trembled a sturdy structure of civil society was at once revealed.’ When in 1917 the Russian autocracy not only trembled but tumbled to the ground, there was no ‘powerful system of fortresses and earthworks,’ in Gramsci’s phrase, to prevent the Bolsheviks from erecting another absolutist regime in its place.”

civic society in russia first came to life under catherine the great (1729-1796), who did go some way to promote enlightenment ideals in the empire; perhaps more so when it came to the arts rather than politics, but still…it was a start, albeit one restricted in extent. from engelstein again [pg. 26 – my emphasis]:

“Eighteenth-century Russia had a lively public life. Private presses, a market in print, debating societies, literary salons, private theaters, public lectures, Masonic lodges — all linked inhabitants of the capitals and provincial centers in something of an empirewide conversation. Yet this world was limited in scope, audience, and resources and was fatally dependent on the autocrat’s good will. Catherine, when it pleased her, cracked down on independent publishers.”

this public life did continue to grow, however, although in fits and starts. nicholas i (1796-1855) was not too thrilled by it all, and alexander i (1777-1825) actually banned the freemasons, but by the nineteenth century, alexander ii (1818-1881) was, for a tsar, positively a radical when it came to permitting and promoting civic society as was evident in his great reforms. by the late nineteenth century then [pg. 16]:

“…an increasingly active public sphere of debate that included advocacy and representation was no longer in doubt in tsarist Russia. Thus well before the Revolution of 1905, the groundwork was laid for the participation of private associations in the public arena.”

the practice of joining voluntary organizations came later to the russian lower classes. consumer cooperatives began to appear in russia and the empire in the 1860s, but these first cooperatives were organized and run by the upper classes. peasants and workers would’ve been customers only. cooperatives among middle class professionals in towns and cities appear in the early-1890s. the idea spread to villages in 1900 via proselytizing intellectuals (also worth noting), and after 1905, the cooperative movement exploded right across the country. from The Co-operative Movement in Russia: Its History, Signficance, and Character (1917) by j.b. bubnoff — delightfully published in manchester by the co-operative printing society limited (so the work could be a bit biased) [pg. 49]:

“In 1891 consumers’ societies were formed in towns among the lower-grade officials, various classes of employees, teachers, members of liberal professions, and other sections of the population. These societies were of two types. One open only to members of a particular class of officials or to employees of a particular firm or institution; the other was open to all. These latter societies were already marked by the spirit of independence.

“Throughout this period the number of consumers’ societies was not large, and their output was small…. In 1900 the position was the same. Beginning from 1900, the Co-operative Movement spread in the villages…. [T]he first consumers’ societies in the villages were initiated by the intellectuals and by the authorities and were not the outcome of free enterprise on the part of the peasants themselves. At the end of the last century, and particularly at the beginning of the present one, an agrarian movement spread among the peasantry and ended in the revolution of 1905.”

by 1917, provided bubnoff wasn’t exaggerating, there were ca. 20,000 consumer cooperatives in russia (bubnoff notes that the other organizations listed in the table below — credit and loan savings associations, agricultural societies, and the artels — were all either government run or arranged by the large landowners, so they weren’t really voluntary associations in the sense of being organized by the members.):

Russia - The co-operative movement in Russia - table

again, though, this is late for finally getting around to launching civic institutions in your country. nineteen hundred and seventeen (1917) is very, very late compared to what happened in northwestern europe. even compared to what happened in northern italy. as valerie bunce says in “The Historical Origins of the East-West Divide: Civil Society, Politcal Society, and Democracy in Europe” [pg. 222]:

“By the end of the nineteenth century, then, it was evident that there were two Europes, long separated by their histories and, thus, by their politics, economics, social structure, and culture.”

not to mention their evolutionary histories.

so how did northwestern “core” europe (including northern italy) differ from russia historically as far as participation in civic institutions goes? the short answer is: civicness in “core” europe began centuries before it did in russia or the rest of eastern europe, at least 500-600, if not 800-900, years earlier.

here is putnam on the formation and functioning of communes in northern italy beginning in the 1000s [pg. 124-126]:

“[I]n the towns of northern and central Italy…an unprecedented form of self-government was emerging….

“Like the autocratic regime of Frederick II, the new republican regime was a response to the violence and anarchy endemic in medieval Europe, for savage vendettas among aristocratic clans had laid waste to the towns and countryside in the North as in the South. The solution invented in the North, however, was quite different, relying less on vertical hierarchy and more on horizontal collaboration. The communes sprang originally from voluntary associations, formed when groups of neighbors swore personal oaths to render one another mutual assistance, to provide for common defense and economic cooperation…. By the twelfth century communes had been established in Florence, Venice, Bologna, Genoa, Milan, and virtually all the other major towns of northern and central Italy, rooted historically in these primordial social contracts.

“The emerging communes were not democratic in our modern sense, for only a minority of the population were full members…. However, the extent of popular participation in government affairs was extraordinary by any standard: Daniel Waley describes the communes as ‘the paradise of the committee-man’ and reports that Siena, a town with roughly 5000 adult males, had 860 part-time city posts, while in larger towns the city council might have several thousand members, many of them active participants in the deliberations….

“As communal life progressed, guilds were formed by craftsmen and tradesmen to provide self-help and mutual assistance, for social as well as for strictly occupational purposes. ‘The oldest guild-statute is that of Verona, dating from 1303, but evidently copied from some much older statute. “Fraternal assistance in necessity of whatever kind,” “hospitality towards strangers, when passing through the town”…and “obligation of offering comfort in the case of debility” are among the obligations of the members.’ ‘Violation of statutes was met by boycott and social ostracism….’

“Beyond the guilds, local organizations, such as *vicinanze* (neighborhood associations), the *populus* (parish organizations that administered the goods of the local church and elected its priest), confraternities (religious societies for mutual assistance), politico-religious parties bound together by solemn oath-takings, and *consorterie* (‘tower societies’) formed to provide mutual security, were dominant in local affairs.”

in general, nothing like this existed in medieval russia (or eastern europe) — not on this scale anyway — the novgorod republic, which lasted for three centuries and came to an end in 1478, probably being the most notable exception. eastern european society was still very much founded upon the extended family for much of the period (although, again, in certain times and locales that was not the case — russia’s a big place). only a handful of merchants’ guilds were given permission to exist in russia between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries, and the powers that be (including the orthodox church) regularly suppressed craftsmen’s guilds [pg. 13]. by contrast, northern italy was full of civic-mindedness already by the high middle ages.

meanwhile, in england (and other parts of northwestern europe) [pgs. 3-4]:

“As a form of voluntary association, bound by oath and by a (usually modest) material subscription, the fraternity or guild was widespread in late-medieval England and continental Europe. Both the ubiquity and the frequency of the form have been underlined by recent historical case-studies. While the particular purpose and activities of a fraternity might be infinitely various, the organization may be characterized in general as combining pious with social, economic, and political purposes. Its declared aims invariably included important religious functions, expressed in the invocation of a saintly patron and an annual mass with prayers for deceased members. With equal certainty, the annual feast day would bring the members together for a drink or a meal to celebrate their community. The overwhelming majority of English guilds admitted women alongside men: a feature generally characteristic of guilds of medieval northern Europe, although not so prevalent in the Mediterranean world. Sometimes described in modern English accounts as ‘parish fraternities’, these clubs indeed were often founded by groups of parishioners and regularly made use of an altar in a parish church as a devotional focus; yet they as often drew their memberships from a wider field than that of the parish, whose bounds they readily transcended…. An individual might join more than one guild, thereby extending still futher the range of his or her contacts. A significant minority of fraternities crystallized around a particular trade…. The overwhelming majority of guilds, however, were not tied by such association to a single craft, but brought together representatives of various trades and professions.”

extraordinarily, one type of fraternity — of non-kin remember (the whole point of voluntary associations is that they’re made up of non-kin) — appeared in england as early as the late-800s. from a previous post, the importance of the kindred in anglo-saxon society:

“the *gegildan* appears in some of the anglo-saxon laws in the late-800s as an alternative group of people to whom wergeld might be paid if the wronged individual had no kin. by the 900s, though, in southern england, the gegildan might be the only group that received wergeld, bypassing kin altogether. from Wage Labor and Guilds in Medieval Europe [pgs. 39-42]:

“‘The laws of King Alfred of Wessex, dated to 892-893 or a few years earlier, are more informative about the *gegildan*. Again, the context is murder and the wergild — the compensation required for the crime. By Alfred’s time, if not during Ine’s, the *gegildan* is clearly a group of associates who were not related by blood. The clearest example of this is in chapter 31 of the laws: ‘If a man in this position is slain — if he has no relatives (maternal or paternal) — half the wergild shall be paid to the king, and half to the *gegildan*.’ No information exists on the purpose of the *gegildan* other than its role as a substitute for kinship ties for those without any relatives. These associates, who presumably were bound together by an oath for mutual protection, if only to identify who was responsible, would benefit anyone, whether the person had relatives or not…. Although the evidence from the laws of Ine may be read either way, the *gegildan* seems to be an old social institution. As seen more clearly in the tenth and eleventh centuries, it acquired additional functions — a policing role and a religious character.

“‘The nobles, clergy, and commoners of London agreed upon a series of regulations for the city, with the encouragement and approval of King Athelstan, who caused the rules to be set down some time in the late 920s or 930s. The primary purpose of these ordinances was to maintain peace and security in the city, and all those supporting these goals had solemnly pledged themselves to this *gegildan*. This type of inclusive guild, sometimes referred to as a peace guild, was an attempt to create one more additional level of social responsibility to support the king and his officials in keeping the peaces. This social group of every responsible person in London is a broad one, and the law does not use the term *gegildan* to describe the association in general….

“‘The idea of a guild to keep the peace was not limited to London, and a document from the late tenth century contains the rules and duties of the thegn‘s guild in Cambridge. This guild appears to have been a private association, and no king or noble is mentioned as assenting to or encouraging this group. Most of the rules concern the principle purposes of this guild — the security of the members, which receives the most attention, and the spiritual benefits of membership itself. The guild performed the tasks of the old *gegildan*: the members were obliged to defend one another, collect the wergild, and take up vengeance against anyone refusing to pay compensation. The members also swore an oath of loyalty to each other, promising to bring the body of a deceased member to a chosen burial site and supply half the food for the funeral feast. For the first time, another category of help was made explicit — the guild bound itself to common almsgiving for departed members — and the oath of loyalty the members swore included both religious and secular affairs. Although in many respects this guild resembles a confraternity along the lines Hincmar established for the archdiocese of Rheims, the older purpose of the group — mutual protection with its necessary threat of vengeance — makes the Anglo-Saxon guild something more than a prayer meeting. To include almsgiving to members in distress would be a small step, given the scope of activities this guild established. There is no sign that the thegns cooperated in any economic endeavors, but older rules of rural society had already determined methods of sharing responsibility in the villages, and the thegns cooperated on everything that was important in their lives. The thegns of Cambridge had a guild that resembles in some important ways the communal oath, that will be discussed below, of some Italian cities in the next century.'”

the gegildan of early medieval england, then — a voluntary association, a fraternity — appeared on the scene something like two hundred years before the communes of northern italy arose, three hundred plus years before the novgorod republic was formed, and nearly nine hundred years before the russians gave civiness another shot (after novgorod). i’m not aware of any earlier such associations in western medieval europe, although they may have existed. it appears, too, that the gegildan appeared in situ in england, a newly developed social structure to take over some of the earlier functions of the rapidly disappearing kindred (including feuding and protection), although maybe the concept was imported from the carolingians — the heart of the preceding frankish kingdoms, austrasia, was where manorialism had begun, which was then imported across the channel, so perhaps the gegildan concept was as well.

whatever the case, it’s in the core of “core” europe, once again, that we find the earliest evidence for behavioral patterns that are now the hallmarks of western civilization: late marriage and nuclear families, lowest levels of cousin marriage for the longest period of time, low levels of violence, high levels of civic-mindedness (see above), universalism, unparalleled accomplishment — they all appear earliest (in medieval europe), and are still the strongest, in this central area (very roughly the area indicated by the green oval on this map).

so, now we come to it: why? why was it “evident” by the end of the nineteenth century that there were two europes, and what do all these long-standing historical differences have to do with it?

the ultimate cause must lie in our biologies. humans are biological creatures, so there’s no way around it. we know that all behavioral traits are heritable, so we have to look to differences in the populations’ genetics and evolutionary histories.

as i wrote recently: evolution in humans is ongoing, recent, can be pretty rapid (within some constraints), and has been/is localized (as well as global). in fact, human evolution has sped up since the agricultural revolution since the number of individuals, and therefore mutations, on which natural selection might work skyrocketed in post-agricultural societies. remember, too, that “every society selects for something,” and that we’re talking about frequencies of genes in populations and that those frequencies can fluctuate up and down over time.

so there is NO reason NOT to suppose that the differences in behavioral traits that we see between european sub-populations today — including those between western and eastern europe — aren’t genetic and the result of differing evolutionary histories or pathways.

even rapid evolution takes time, though. we’re not talking one or two generations, but more like thirty or forty — fifty’s even better. point is, evolutionary changes don’t only occur on the scale of eons. they can also happen over the course of centuries (again, multiples of centuries, not just one or two). the circa eleven to twelve hundred years since the major restructuring of society that occurred in “core” europe in the early medieval period — i.e. the beginnings of manorialism, the start of consistent and sustained outbreeding (i.e. the avoidance of close cousin marriage), and the appearance of voluntary associations — is ample time for northwestern europeans to have gone down a unique evolutionary pathway and to acquire behavioral traits quite different from those of other europeans — including eastern europeans — who did not go down the same pathway (but who would’ve gone down their own evolutionary pathways, btw).

what i think happened was that the newly created socioeconomic structures and cultural (in this case largely religious) practices of the early medieval period in northwest “core” europe introduced a whole new set of selective pressures on northwest europeans compared to those which had existed previously. rather than a suite of traits connected to familial or nepostic altruism (or clannishness) being selected for, the new society selected for traits more connected to reciprocal altruism.

before the early medieval period, northwest europeans — looking away from the urbanized gallo-romans who may have been something of a special case (more on them another day) — had been kin-based populations of agri-pastoralists whose societies were characterized by inter-clan feuding, honor/shame (vs. integrity/guilt), and particularism (vs. universalism). i think these traits were under constant selection in those populations because: reproductive success in those societies was dependent upon one’s connection to, and one’s standing within, the extended kin-group, so, thanks to being tied to kin rather than non-kin, nepotistic altruism genes would’ve been favored over reciprocal altruism ones; the extended kin-group was the element within which most individuals would’ve interacted with others, those others being related individuals who would’ve been likely to share the same nepotistic altruism genes (alleles) [see here for more]; and cousin marriage was rife, which again would’ve further fuelled the selection for these genes, since members of the same kin-group would’ve had an even greater likelihood of sharing the same versions of their nepotistic altruism genes.

pretty much the opposite happened during the early and high middle ages in “core” europe. manorialism pushed for nuclear families rather than extended family groupings, and so people began to interact more with non-kin rather than kin, enabling the selection for more traits related to reciprocal altruism. the avoidance of close cousin marriage meant that family members would’ve shared fewer altruism genes in common, so any selection for nepotistic altruism would’ve slowed down. and once voluntary associations of non-kin appeared, the selection for reciprocal altruism really would’ve (or, at least, could’ve) taken off. reproductive success was no longer dependent upon connections to the extended family group, but, rather, unrelated individuals living with the community.

the manor system developed in the 500s in “core” europe (austrasia), but did not arrive in russia (and much of eastern europe) until the late medieval/early modern period. (it never got to the balkans.) the extended family was most likely gone on the manors in the west by the 800s (see mitterauer), although it is conceivable that the nuclear families found on the manors in the earliest days were residential nuclear familes rather than the fully atomized ones that we see in the west today. certainly by the 1500s, there are no longer any traces of the extended family among “core” europeans (although there are still some pockets). the avoidance of cousin marriage was underway in earnest by the 800s (possibly earlier, but definitely by the 800s). it was still on shaky ground as late as the 1400s in russia. and, as we’ve seen, voluntary associations appeared very early in “core” western europe, but only very recently in russia (and, presumably, other areas of eastern europe).

most of you will recognize this as the hajnal line story (yet again!) with a few new nuances thrown in. manorialism, outbreeding, and voluntary associations all began in “core” europe — again very roughly the area outlined by the green oval on the map below (the other lines indicate, again roughly the extent of the hajnal line) — and they spread outwards from there over time, eventually reaching russia and other parts of eastern europe, but not until very late. (and the manor system in russia, once it was adopted there, was of a very different form than what had existed in western europe.)

hajnal line - core europe

inside the hajnal line, which (imo) reflects the extent of the strongest selection for behavioral traits related to reciprocal altruism over nepotistic altruism, the populations have stronger democratic traditions, are more civic-minded, are less corrupt, and score higher on individualism (vs. collectivism) on hofstede’s idv dimension than the populations outside the hajnal line. (please, see my big summary post on the hajnal line for more details.) all of these behavioral patterns “fit” better with the idea that these populations are characterized by innate reciprocal altruism tendencies rather than more nepotistic altruism ones. the populations outside the hajnal line seem to be more oppositely inclined.

there is no doubt that soviet communism wreaked havoc on eastern european populations. some untold millions died in the gulags, families and towns and villages were ripped apart, political repression was beyond belief. but smart money says that, along with civicness, many of the “non-western” features of contemporary eastern europe — high corruption rates, etc. — have deeper roots, and are not the consequences of communism, but rather of recent evolution by natural selection.

previously: civic societies and civic societies ii and democracy in italy and big summary post on the hajnal line

(note: comments do not require an email. sorry there’s no tl;dr summary!)

in Experimenting with Social Norms ensminger and henrich compile several very interesting studies on prosocial “fairness” norms conducted on various populations of different types — ranging from hunter-gatherers to urban factory workers — from around the world. three different economic experiments were conducted on the various populations (although it’s not clear to me if all three were run on each group — i haven’t read through all of each of the studies chapters yet): the ultimatum game, the third-party punishment or altruistic punishment game, and the dictator game.

the authors conclude that [pgs. 89-90]:

“1. Fairness and punishment show both reliable patterns and substantial variability across diverse populations.
2. Fairness increases with a population’s degree of market integration.
3. Fairness increases with an individual’s participation in a world religion.
4. Willingness to engage in punishment increases with community size.”

they ultimately conclude “that social norms evolved over thousands of years to allow strangers in more complex and large settlements to coexist, trade and prosper” — but they just mean that the norms and the cultures evolved, not the peoples.

possible biological/evolutionary reasons for the findings are given some consideration, but only across one and a half pages, and the authors end with the following [pg. 139]:

“Genetic differences between populations or groups would most likely account for the behavioral patterns we observe if they arose in response to stable differences in the culturally evolved social norms and institutions (formal and informal) found in different societies. Norms and institutions, in creating stable regularities in the local social environment, can theoretically produce conditions for natural selection to act on genes that make individuals better adapted to those particular norms and institutions (Henrich and Boyd 2001; Laland et al. 2010; McElreath, Boyd, and Richerson 2003; Richerson et al. 2010). This is an intriguing and provocative possibility, but there is no evidence at this point supporting a suspicion that such a culture-gene coevolutionary process has occurred.”

…and it’s too scary to think about anyway, so we won’t give it any more ink here. (>.<)

in 2010, re. pretty much the same data sets/findings, they had this to say [my emphasis]:

“These findings indicate that people living in small communities lacking market integration or world religions — absences that likely characterized all societies until the Holocene — display relatively little concern with fairness or punishing unfairness in transactions involving strangers or anonymous others. This result challenges the hypothesis that successful social interaction in large-scale societies — and the corresponding experimental findings — arise directly from an evolved psychology that mistakenly applies kin and reciprocity-based heuristics to strangers in vast populations (4,5), without any of the ‘psychological workarounds’ (42) that are created by norms and institutions. Moreover, it is not clear how this hypothesis can explain why we find so much variation among populations in our experimental measures and why this variation is so strongly related to MI, WR, and CS. The mere fact that the largest and most anonymous communities engage in substantially greater punishment relative to the smallest-scale societies, who punish very little, challenges this interpretation.”

this is old school evolutionary psychology at its worst — that human nature and the human psyche (and there’s only one sort in this viewpoint) stopped evolving at the end of the last ice age when a majority of us quit being hunter-gatherers.

well, i’ve got news for them: evolution in humans is ongoing, recent, can be pretty rapid (within some constraints), and has been/is localized (as well as global). in fact, human evolution has sped up since the agricultural revolution since the number of individuals, and therefore mutations, on which natural selection might work skyrocketed in post-agricultural societies.

remember, too, that all human behavioral traits are heritable (and more down to biology than many like to think), “every society selects for something,” and that we’re talking about frequencies of genes in populations and that those frequencies can fluctuate up and down over time.

given all of the above, there are NO good reasons for dismissing genetic or evolutionary explanations for variations in social norms between populations (and individuals for that matter). since we are biological creatures, biological explanations should be ruled out (properly!) first before moving on to other sorts of explanations.

again ensminger and henrich said:

“This result challenges the hypothesis that successful social interaction in large-scale societies — and the corresponding experimental findings — arise directly from an evolved psychology that mistakenly applies kin and reciprocity-based heuristics to strangers in vast populations, without any of the ‘psychological workarounds’ that are created by norms and institutions.”

no, of course not. a more likely scenario is that the behavioral traits realted to social norms in large-scale societies — post-agricultural societies (and post-post-agricultural societies) — evolved with some rapidity away from what had existed before in smaller societies thanks to: 1) the larger population size itself (generating a greater number of mutations), and 2) the larger societies and the structures that developed exerting new selective pressures on those populations in sort-of giant feedback loops — society selects for genes for new behavioral traits which in turn produces new societal forms, and so on.

more from the authors:

“Moreover, it is not clear how this hypothesis can explain why we find so much variation among populations in our experimental measures….”

well, that’s easily explained if you remember that human evolution is ongoing, recent, pretty rapid, and can be local.

to take just one example from their findings, if we look at their results from the dictator game…

mean dictator game offers

…it was primarily members of the hunter-gatherer or horticulturalist groups who gave low offers in the game, african agriculturalists (or pastoralists) middling offers, and the residents of hamilton, missouri, the highest. (annoyingly, a couple of the populations — accra and isanga — are groups of mixed ethnicities, so it’d be difficult for anybody to tease apart what’s going on.)

well, hunter-gatherers and horticulturalists — like the hadza, the tsimane’, the au, and the sursurunga — have largely missed out on the agricultural revolution and its evolutionary effects. the middling offers from the mostly african (mostly bantu) agriculturalists are not a surprise either since agriculture and the development of large-scale societies got going comparatively late in sub-saharan africa. and that the hamiltonians offered up the most money — and have the highest market integration — probably owes a lot to the fact that that population is a part of the u.s. midlands and are descended from a group that experienced the agricultural revolution back in the neolithic, and furthermore went through the selection pressures created by medieval manorialism and long-term outbreeding (and who knows what else?).

those are just a few ideas for starters. i’m sure it’s much more complicated than that. for instance, why are the tsimane’ forager-horticulturalists so stingy while the au from papua new guinea, who are also forager-horticulturalists, quite generous? i dunno, but one possibility i suggest checking out is the difference in the family structures of the two groups (prolly will be difficult to do this very far back in time): the interconnectedness of au families, which stretch between villages, is quite complex, while tsimane’ families are not so much (afaik). among many other possibilities and scenarios, we should be looking for the selection pressures created by family types and the flow of genes (especially for behavioral traits like altruism) through different family types.

one final thing – ensminger and henrich et al. from 2010:

“Methodologically, our findings suggest caution in interpreting behavioral experiments from industrialized populations as providing direct insights into human nature.”

well, quite. but it works in the other direction, too: we should also be cautious in interpreting behavioral experiments from non-industrialized populations as providing direct insights into human nature(s).

see also: The 10,000 Year Explosion

(note: comments do not require an email. citizens against prosocial behaviors.)

several people have compared the current migrant crisis in europe to the arrival of the barbarians in rome in the fourth century — for example, here’re steve sailer, peter frost, and historian tom holland. their concern — at least that of steve and peter — is the future of the west: will these migrants (help to) bring down modern western civilization just as the goths et al. did to rome? the question is not just an emotional or an irrational one — migration is one of the main driving forces of evolution (along with things like natural selection and genetic drift), since the movement of individuals from one population to another also means the movement of genes. and because all behavioral traits are heritable, the transference of genes via migration ought to be a matter of interest and importance to one and all. (that’s not to say that it should never be allowed, just that people(s) ought to pay it due attention.)

what i haven’t seen though are any comparisons to a more recent mass migratory event, one which also happened to feature germany, a major player in today’s migrant crisis. i suppose that’s because the whole subject is rather sensitive, but that’s no excuse for ignoring it — rather to the contrary! so, here goes…

in the late-1800s/early-1900s, at least a couple of million (i haven’t been able to find a precise number) eastern european jews migrated to and/or through germany. and how well did that work out for everybody?

from Unwelcome Strangers: East European Jews in Imperial Germany [pgs. 11-12]:

“In the last two years of the 1860s, a few thousand Russian Jews crossed into Prussia seeking relief from cholera epidemics and famines that were wreaking havoc in the western part of the Tsarist Empire. Desperately ill and malnourished, the refugees deluged their German coreligionists with pleas for economic assistance and medical attention. The latter responded by launching numerous ad hoc committees that collected funds throughout Germany and then funneled their receipts to Jewish communities along the frontier; these, in turn, provided relief to the needy. In time, the immediate crisis passed. Many of the Russian Jews remained in Prussia or traveled farther west, some as far as the New World. And the ad hoc committees, convinced that their mission had ended, folded their operations….

“Over the next half-century, the momentum of Jewish emigration from Russia steadily increased. During the 1870s perhaps 40,000 to 50,000 Jews migrated westward. After the pogroms of 1881, however, the trickle turned into a flood as tens of thousands abandoned their homes annually…. By the early twentieth century, over 100,000 such refugees emigrated each year, so that by 1914 at least two and a half million Russian Jews had settled in Western countries, including England, France, Canada, Argentina, and principally the United States.

“Concurrently, Jews from the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Rumania also were on the move. In the face of economic boycotts and rising unemployment at the end of the nineteenth century, Jews emigrated from the Polish sectors of the Hapsburg Empire. Rumanian Jews, too, made their way west after their country denied them citizenship and introduced blatantly anti-Jewish policies….”

(yes, eastern europeans are, on average, more xenophobic than most western european populations. and, judging by the above, they apparently have been for some time).

“…Between 1870 and the outbreak of World War I, over 400,000 Jews left their homes in the Galician, Bohemian, Moravian, Hungarian, and Rumanian lands to seek a new future in Western countries, while and even larger number migrated *within* the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

“Whereas anti-Semitism and impoverization provided the push to drive Jews *from* Eastern Europe, emigrants were also drawn *to* Western lands. They were lured by the promise of eonomic opportunity in the more industrialized West and the knowledge that their fellow Jews in England, France, Germany, and the New World countries enjoyed comparatively greater freedom and prosperity. The promise of toleration and opportunity, therefore, also attracted adventuresome Jews to seek their fortunes in new environments.

funnily enough, during at least some of this period, germany behaved more like macedonia or serbia today, shuffling the migrants onwards to the next country (making a ton of cash in the meantime, sounds like). ‘course the eastern european jews wanted to just migrate through germany, kind-of like the middle eastern/north african/african migrants of today don’t want to stay in macedonia or serbia or hungary [pgs. 13-14]:

“Germany had a vested economic interest in allowing Jewish refugees into the Reich. For Germany — and especially its shipping companies — hoped to benefit from the lucrative business of transporting Eastern Jews to England and America via the ports of Hamburg and Bremen. The sheer number of Jewish transmigrants embarking from German ports was staggering, exceeding 700,000 during the peak years between 1905 and 1914….

“The extent of German interest in encouraging Jewish transmigrant traffic is illustrated by some of the policies pursued by governments and shipping firms. For example, according to Prussian decrees in force between the 1890s and the outbreak of World War I, no Russian transmigrant was officially allowed into Germany without a proper pass, a ticket for passage out of the country, plus an additional sum of money. (Each person over ten years of age had to posses 400 mark, and children needed 100 mark.) Significantly, individuals holding tickets on German ships were exempted from this rule and permitted into the Reich even if they possessed less money. Perhaps the most revealing episode in the campaign to develop the transmigrant traffic occurred in 1893 when the eastern-most states of the Reich sealed their borders in response to cholera epidemics in Eastern Europe. Led by the Hamburg America Line, German shipping companies successfully lobbied for a reversal of this policy, arguing that Jewish transmigrants posed no health risk to the German populace. To further allay fears, shipping firms expended significant sums of money to erect special transport centers in key German cities and vast barrack areas in port cities; such facilities were designed to isolate Jewish travelers from the German populace and thereby eliminate objections to the temporary presence of these Jews on German soil.”

unfortunately, even though most of them didn’t even stay very long in germany, the ostjuden left a bad impression on the minds of germans. i couldn’t even tell you if any of the stereotypes were true or not, and if true by how much — and i really don’t want to get into a discussion about it here and now (although i strongly suspect that eastern european jews are, on average, more clannish than german jews, so there’s possibly that) — but even german jews at the time panicked a bit over the behaviors of their eastern cousins. from Brothers and Strangers: The East European Jew in German and German Jewish Consciousness, 1800-1923 [pgs. 33, 57]:

“German Jews undertook massive charitable work on behalf of the persecuted East European Jews at the same time that they sought the most efficacious means to prevent their mass settlement in Germany….

“Ultimately the difference between German Jews and Ostjuden, both in and out of Germany, was regarded as cultural in nature. Liberal German Jews viewed Eastern Jewish culture as ‘ghetto’ culture which by definition was backward and underdeveloped. The German historical experience had made it abundantly clear that Jewish modernization was conditional upon deghettoization, and this in turn left no room for *Kulturjuden* along the lines still maintained in Eastern Europe.

“This point of view was perfectly understandable. German Jews felt like Germans and their culture *was* German culture. By the beginning of the twentieth century they possessed almost nothing akin to the ‘Jewish’ culture that characterized life in the ghettos of Eastern Europe. The distance they felt, the dissociation from Ostjuden was, then, predicated upon both an objective and subjective reality.”

eastern european jews had a very different (bio-)culture to german jews and gentiles, one that, unfortunately, did not sit well with too many members of the mainstream culture. (the timing was bad, too. more on that below.) am i blaming jews for the holocaust? no. but i am warning — again — that in order to prevent future genocides, we need to understand previous ones, and that includes examining them with a biological/evolutionary eye. as i said previously:

“humans don’t *really* fight and kill neighboring populations or discriminate against subgroups within their nations — not to mention enslave one another — for any of the goofy ideological, religious, or ‘moral’ excuses that they give. those are mostly just after the fact rationalizations that they’ve come up with (no, really — the human brain is not to be trusted!). like other creatures, humans very often try to eliminate or dominate other groups *because they are in competition with them for resources* [pdf] — or, at least, *feel* that they are anyway, whatever the reality on the ground may be.”

bill hamilton pointed to the fourfold increase in the number of ashkenazi jews in eastern europe over the course of just the nineteenth century as a possible contributing factor to the holocaust. this would’ve represent an enormous change in the competition for resources between jews and gentiles in eastern europe. couple that already existing situation to the mass migration of a (bio-)culturally different population into/through germany at the turn of the century, and THEN the appalling economic conditions in germany after wwi and the stock market collapse — further feuling the competition for resources — and you have a recipe for an absolutely horrific biological disaster.

no, i’m not saying that such a scenario is guaranteed to happen again in the west with our new migrants. if there’s enough manna from heaven to go ’round, people probably won’t take it out on their neighbors. (there’s been no genocide of jews in the u.s. where times have generally been pretty good. always.) but i am saying that the powers that be ought to be MUCH more careful in shuffling peoples around willy-nilly. they’re playing a very dangerous game.

see also: us and them

previously: historic mating patterns of ashkenazi jews and gene-o-cide and human biodiversity, racism, eugenics, and genocide

(note: comments do not require an email. eastern european jewish immigrants on an american liner, 1906.)

trying to remain a bit on topic here. (evolution? get it? (~_^) [click on image for LARGER view.])

troopers evolution

a linkfest! (^_^) ’cause i hate linkfasts, too. (*^_^*)

Whole genome sequence analyses of Western Central African Pygmy hunter-gatherers reveal a complex demographic history and identify candidate genes under positive natural selection“African Pygmies practicing a mobile hunter-gatherer lifestyle are phenotypically and genetically diverged from other anatomically modern humans, and they likely experienced strong selective pressures due to their unique lifestyle in the Central African rainforest…. Our two best-fit models both suggest ancient divergence between the ancestors of the farmers and Pygmies, 90,000 or 150,000 years ago. We also find that bi-directional asymmetric gene-flow is statistically better supported than a single pulse of unidirectional gene flow from farmers to Pygmies, as previously suggested…. We found that genes and gene sets involved in muscle development, bone synthesis, immunity, reproduction, cell signaling and development, and energy metabolism are likely to be targets of positive natural selection in Western African Pygmies or their recent ancestors.”

Directional dominance on stature and cognition in diverse human populations“[I]ncreased homozygosity was associated with decreased trait value, equivalent to the offspring of first cousins being 1.2 cm shorter and having 10 months’ less education. Similar effect sizes were found across four continental groups and populations with different degrees of genome-wide homozygosity, providing evidence that homozygosity, rather than confounding, directly contributes to phenotypic variance. Contrary to earlier reports in substantially smaller samples5, 6, no evidence was seen of an influence of genome-wide homozygosity on blood pressure and low density lipoprotein cholesterol, or ten other cardio-metabolic traits. Since directional dominance is predicted for traits under directional evolutionary selection7, this study provides evidence that increased stature and cognitive function have been positively selected in human evolution, whereas many important risk factors for late-onset complex diseases may not have been.” – see also Not tonight, cousin from dr. james thompson. and see also Inbreeding from greg cochran. and see also Directional dominance on stature and cognition from steve hsu.

Genes Unite Executive Functions in Childhood [pdf] – h/t brian boutwell! who tweeted: “Shared genes explain all of the covariance in exec functioning items. No parenting effects to be found.”

200 Blog Posts – Everything You Need to Know (To Start) and The Rise of Universalism and Demography is Destiny, American Nations Edition and National Prosperity – jayman’s been on a roll lately! (^_^) each of these warrants your close attention!

Heritability and the evolution of cognitive traits

CNVs in neuropsychiatric disorders“Over the last few years at least 11 copy number variations (CNVs) have been shown convincingly to increase risk to developing schizophrenia: deletions at 1q21.1, NRXN1, 3q29, 15q11.2, 15q13.3 and 22q11.2, and duplications at 1q21.1, 7q11.23, 15q11.2-q13.1, 16p13.1 and proximal 16p11.2. They are very rare, found cumulatively in 2.4% of patients with schizophrenia and in only 0.5% of controls. They all increase risk for other neurodevelopmental disorders, such as developmental delay and autism spectrum disorders, where they are found at higher rates (3.3%). Their involvement in bipolar affective disorder is much less prominent. All of them affect multiple genes (apart from NRXN1) and cause substantial increases in risk to develop schizophrenia (odds ratios of 2 to over 50). Their penetrance for any neurodevelopmental disorder is high, from ∼10% to nearly 100%. Carriers of these CNVs display cognitive deficits, even when free of neuropsychiatric disorders.”

Improving Phenotypic Prediction by Combining Genetic and Epigenetic Associations [pdf] – h/t dr. xaverius!

County level homicide rates by race/ethnicity of victim and On the effects of wealth on the B-W gaps, a response to questions posed by a commenter @random critical analysis.

the much discussed post The IQ Gap Is No Longer a Black and White Issue – from chanda chisala. see also Chanda Chisala: An African Hereditarian?“If evolution applies to all of us, that includes Africans. It is perfectly possible that some African sub-groups are brighter than others. Any geographic group which takes care to encourage bright persons to marry one another could see positive effects after 20-30 generations of consistently strong selection, if those brighter parents have more surviving offspring, which is likely.” – from dr. james thompson. and see also The Jews of West Africa? from peter frost. and see also my post: there’s more to human biodiversity than just racial differences.

The Water-Crossers – from greg cochran.

Ancestry Matters: Patrilineage Growth and Extinction – h/t ben southwood! who tweeted: “Higher status Chinese patrilineages in the 18th and 19th centuries had more ancestors for hundreds of years after.”

The puzzle of European hair, eye, and skin color – from peter frost.

The people who need very little sleep

How evolutionary psychology may explain the difference between male and female serial killers“[R]esearch has shown that male serial killers tend to stalk and kill strangers. But FSKs tend to kill people they know. It seems, then, that MSKs are hunters and FSKs are gatherers.”

Is the Romantic–Sexual Kiss a Near Human Universal – apparently not! – “The romantic–sexual kiss was present in a minority of cultures sampled (46%). Moreover, there is a strong correlation between the frequency of the romantic–sexual kiss and a society’s relative social complexity: the more socially complex the culture, the higher frequency of romantic–sexual kissing.”

Men are both dumber and smarter than women – just an ok article, but interesting to see this out there *at all*.

Historical Artifacts of the Blank Slate – from helian.

On a Fast Track – Can rapid genome sequencing at birth help save lives?

Genomics Industry Generating Huge Amounts Of Data Due To DNA Sequencing – yay!

Ageing rates vary widely, says study“A study of people born within a year of each other has uncovered a huge gulf in the speed at which their bodies age…. [S]ome people had almost stopped ageing during the period of the study, while others were gaining nearly three years of biological age for every twelve months that passed.” – original research article: Quantification of biological aging in young adults.

Reacting to Spree Killings, Progressively – @thosewhocansee.

for you brits: Is that stranger opposite you a distant cousin?

bonus: Pluto’s discoverer’s ashes will be the first human remains to leave the solar system — glued to the side of a space probe – *sniff*

bonus bonus: r.i.p. conrad – *sniff*

bonus bonus bonus: tweet of the week! (~_^) >>

(note: comments do not require an email. r.i.p. conrad. *sniff*)

Deep-ocean microbe is closest living relative of complex cells“A new study indicates that plants, fungi, and animals are descendants of archaea, the group of single-celled organisms that includes Sulfolobus, a resident of hot springs.” – h/t bill barendse! – see also: New Loki Microbe Is Closest Relative To All Complex Life.

A Surprise for Evolution in Giant Tree of Life“Researchers build the world’s largest evolutionary tree and conclude that species arise because of chance mutations — not natural selection…. This controversial proposal stems from efforts by Hedges and collaborators to build the world’s most comprehensive tree of life — a chart plotting the connections among 50,000 species of Earth’s vast menagerie. Their analysis suggests that speciation is essentially random. No matter what the life form — plant or animal, insect or mammal — it takes about 2 million years for a new species to form. Random genetic events, not natural selection, play the main role in speciation.” – see also Was Charles Darwin Wrong About Speciation? from razib.

Genetic changes to basic developmental processes evolve more frequently than thought“Newly evolved genes can rapidly assume control over fundamental functions during early embryonic development. The findings suggest that evolutionary changes to the genetics of fundamental biological processes occur more frequently than previously thought.” – h/t david bachinsky!

The First GMO Is 8,000 Years Old“Scientists find that bacteria modified DNA in sweet potatoes millennia ago.”

Behavioral idiosyncrasy reveals genetic control of phenotypic variability [pdf] – “If we could rear genetically identical individuals from a variety of genetic backgrounds and rear them in the same environment, how much phenotypic variation between individuals of the same genotype would we see? Would different genetic backgrounds differ in their degree of variability? What would account for these differences? We used Drosophila inbred lines to address these questions focusing on variability in locomotor handedness. We show that different genotypes vary dramatically in their propensity for variability, that phenotypic variability itself, as a trait, can be heritable, and that loci affecting variability can be mapped. The genetic control of variability has received little attention in quantitative genetics despite the important role variability plays in explaining phenotypic variation between individuals.”

two tweets from the Biology of Genomes meeting re. a presentation on mutation rates:

Team Characterizing DNA from Ancient Human with Recent Neanderthal Ancestry [registration req.] – see also Ancient DNA from an Upper Paleolithic European with recent Neanderthal ancestry“the male sample, Oase 1, is 37-42K years old and comes from the Pestera cu Oase site in southwestern Romania. it’s estimated to harbor 5-11% of genome-wide Neanderthal ancestry, with as much as 50% on chromosome 12. the admixture is in relatively long stretches, which suggests that the mixture took place four to six generations before Oase 1 was alive. – @the eurogenes blog.

The archaeology, chronology and stratigraphy of Madjedbebe (Malakunanja II): A site in northern Australia with early occupation“The stone artefacts and stratigraphic details support previous claims for human occupation 50–60 ka and show that human occupation during this time differed from later periods.” – h/t chris stringer!

Stone bracelet is oldest ever found in the world“Dating back 40,000 years to the Denisovan species of early humans, new pictures show beauty and craftsmanship of prehistoric jewellery.” – denisovan jewelry!!

The Old Race – from greg cochran.

Ancient DNA Tells a New Human Story“The study of ancient DNA has challenged this view. We now know that mass migrations occurred repeatedly, overwhelming natives while absorbing some of their genes…. Joseph Pickrell of Columbia University and David Reich of Harvard University argue that ‘major upheavals’ of human population have been ‘overwriting’ the genetic history of the past 50,000 years. The result, they say, is that ‘present-day inhabitants of many places in the world are rarely related in a simple manner to the more ancient peoples of the same region.'” – from matt ridley.

2,500-year old Etruscans“All that can be said based on this is that they seem broadly southern European and not particularly Tuscan.” – from dienekes. – h/t anthropology tip!

The time and place of European gene flow into Ashkenazi Jews – @the eurogenes blog.

Symbolic bones and interethnic violence in a frontier zone, northwest Mexico, ca. 500–900 C.E.“Persistent interethnic violence has affected some global regions for centuries…. In the prehispanic Northern Frontier of Mesoamerica, approximately 500–900 C.E., people of different ethnic backgrounds struggled for standing in a shifting sociopolitical landscape. Evidence is consistent with long-term social violence….” – h/t gaetan burgio!

London Conference on Intelligence 2015 Keynote – from dr. james thompson.

NIH bans funding for genetic engineering of human embryos – (>.<)

Three hundred years of low non-paternity in a human population“Here we use this approach to investigate 1273 conceptions over a period of 330 years in 23 families of the Afrikaner population in South Africa. We use haplotype frequency and diversity and coalescent simulations to show that the male population did not undergo a severe bottleneck and that paternity exclusion rates are high for this population. The rate of cuckoldry in this Western population was 0.9% (95% confidence interval 0.4–1.5%), and we argue that given the current data on historical populations we have to conclude that, at least for Western human populations, cuckoldry rate is probably in the range of 1%.” – h/t debbie kennett!

Genius and autism may share genetic link, study finds“Child prodigies and their autistic family members may share a genetic link, according to findings published online for the April issue of Human Heredity.”

Immediate susceptibility to visual illusions after sight onset – h/t laura kelley!

The glass is half full *and* half empty: A population-representative twin study testing if optimism and pessimism are distinct systems“Here, we addressed these questions in a genetically informative sample of 852 pairs of twins. Distinct genetic influences on optimism and pessimism were found. Significant family-level environment effects also emerged, accounting for much of the negative relationship between optimism and pessimism, as well as a link to neuroticism. A general positive genetics factor exerted significant links among both personality and life-orientation traits. Both optimism bias and pessimism also showed genetic variance distinct from all effects of personality and from each other.” – h/t stuart ritchie!

Stanford researchers observe the moment when a mind is changed

Nature or nurture? Are sporting champions born to win? – h/t razib!

Menstrual Cycle Phase Does Not Predict Political Conservatism

Heritability of decisions and outcomes of public goods games

The kind of student you were in elementary school predicts mortality – h/t timothy bates!

The Mask of Sanity Revisited: Psychopathic Traits and Affective Mimicry – h/t claire lehmann! who tweeted: “People with psychopathy can produce highly convincing but fake expressions of feelings.”

Polygyny without wealth: popularity in gift games predicts polygyny in BaYaka Pygmies – h/t steve stewart williams!

The kin selection argument continues, with those denying its importance holding firm. They’re wrong. – from jerry coyne.

Behaviorism and the revival of antiracism – from peter frost.

Heterogeneity of long-history migration explains cultural differences in reports of emotional expressivity and the functions of smiles – hmmmm. really? – see also: What your smile says about where you’re from“If you come from a country of immigrants, you’re more likely to crack a friendly smile on the street. That’s the conclusion of a new study, which may explain why Americans beam more than their Chinese and Russian counterparts.”

Is reading to your kids “unfairly disadvantaging” others? – hahahahahaha! – h/t brian boutwell! who tweeted: “The nonsense that you can believe when you’re convinced that genes don’t matter.” – see also Is having a loving family an unfair advantage?

How uncommon is tickertaping? Prevalence and characteristics of seeing the words you hear – h/t kevin mitchell!

Peter Visscher: Genomics, Big Data, Medicine, and Complex Traits – @steve hsu’s.

Memes are Genes – from evolution theorist. (where do memes come from?) – h/t jayman!

How can our future Mars colonies be free of sexism and racism? – (>.<) #virtuesignalling – h/t ed west!

Paternity Case for a New Jersey Mother of Twins Bears Unexpected Results: Two Fathers – ruh roh!

After Nearly Claiming His Life, Ebola Lurked in a Doctor’s Eye“Before he contracted Ebola, Dr. Ian Crozier had two blue eyes. After he was told he was cured of the disease, his left eye turned green [temporarily].” – whoa.

How music evolves“Statistical analysis of music reveals the truth about its periods of revolution.” – h/t argumatronic!

The Medieval Roots of Our DIY Gun Culture“Forget 3-D printers. The first garage gunsmiths date back to the late Middle Ages.”

When Baltimore Shook With Anger, Here’s What China Saw“Online reaction revealed much about Chinese tension with an influx of African immigrants.” – h/t holtz!

No, there’s no “hate speech” exception to the First Amendment – duh. – from eugene volokh.

bonus: The migration of the eagle hunters – awesome!

(note: comments do not require an email. kazakh eagle hunter!)

a linkfest! =D

Experimental evolution reveals hidden diversity in evolutionary pathways“Our findings show that parallel genetic evolution is strongly biased by constraints and we reveal the genetic bases. From such knowledge, and in instances where new phenotypes arise via gene activation, we suggest a set of principles: evolution proceeds firstly via pathways subject to negative regulation, then via promoter mutations and gene fusions, and finally via activation by intragenic gain-of-function mutations. These principles inform evolutionary forecasting and have relevance to interpreting the diverse array of mutations associated with clinically identical instances of disease in humans.”

Selectionism Strikes Back! – from razib.

Genomes carry a heavy burden“Most people’s DNA contains genetic mutations that are potentially lethal to offspring…. Most people carry one or two genetic mutations that can cause early death or infertility in their offspring….”

World’s oldest stone tools discovered in Kenya“Researchers…say they have found the oldest tools made by human ancestors — stone flakes dated to 3.3 million years ago. That’s 700,000 years older than the oldest-known tools to date, suggesting that our ancestors were crafting tools several hundred thousand years before our genus Homo arrived on the scene. If correct, the new evidence could confirm disputed claims for very early tool use, and it suggests that ancient australopithecines like the famed ‘Lucy’ may have fashioned stone tools, too.”

Neanderthals manipulated the bodies of adults and children shortly after death

Neandertal flutes debunked – @dienekes’.

IQ prediction from structural MRI – from steve hsu. see also: MRI-Based Intelligence Quotient (IQ) Estimation with Sparse Learning.

New brain science shows poor kids have smaller brains than affluent kids – see also: Credit, where credit is due, to Lyndsey Layton and Income, brain, race: Prof Kimberly Noble replies and Howitzer or Katyusha: Reply to Prof Noble at dr. james thompson’s blog. – and see also: In today’s social science, wishing makes it so – from charles murray.

Gene study may explain why some remain quick thinkers“Genetic differences could explain why some people are quicker thinkers in middle age and later life, a study of data from 30,000 people suggests.” – see also: GWAS for executive function and processing speed suggests involvement of the CADM2 gene.

Prediction of brain age suggests accelerated atrophy after traumatic brain injury – h/t stuart ritchie! who tweeted: “Super-cool new paper on how to predict someone’s age just from a brain image (r = .92!)”

National Wealth and IQ at the Edge: American Exceptionalism, East Asian Mediocrity – anatoly karlin’s “big-ass blog on national wealth, IQ, HBD, East Asians, smart fractions, etc.” (~_^)

In the beginning was the Word – dr. james thompson blogs on the recent woodley et al. paper “By their words ye shall know them: Evidence of genetic selection against general intelligence and concurrent environmental enrichment in vocabulary usage since the mid 19th century.”

Born That Way – from greg cochran.

Female Same-Sex Attraction Revisited – from jayman.

Examining the S factor in Mexican states – from emil kirkegaard.

Sex differences and vulnerability: how the male-female divide affects health“[S]ome studies have shown that premature baby girls will grow up to suffer greater language deficits than premature boys, whereas boys exposed to certain prenatal toxins will suffer greater deficits to spatial skills than girls similarly exposed, but because sex differences were never the original focus of the research no one, until Geary, has united these sex specific developmental problems and placed them in evolution’s bigger picture. Geary explains, ‘Sexually selected traits are the first to go; for example, low level exposure to prenatal toxins will affect play in boys but not their IQ: if you don’t measure the right thing you will fail to detect underlying problems.'” – h/t steve stewart williams!

Men up to five times more likely to commit sex crimes than the average male if they have brother or father convicted of a sex offence – h/t claire lehmann! who tweeted: “Survey of 21,566 men convicted of sex crimes from 1973- 2009 has revealed a strong genetic component to sex offending.” – see also: Sexual offending runs in families: A 37-year nationwide study.

Aggressive-Antisocial Boys Develop Into Physically Strong Young Men“We found that males’ antisocial tendencies temporally precede their physical formidability. Boys, but not girls, with greater antisocial tendencies in childhood attained larger increases in physical strength between the ages of 11 and 17. These results support sexual selection theory, indicating an adaptive congruence between male-typical behavioral dispositions and subsequent physical masculinization during puberty.”

Childhood Self-Control and Unemployment Throughout the Life Span: Evidence From Two British Cohort Studies“Analyzing unemployment data from two nationally representative British cohorts (N = 16,780), we found that low self-control in childhood was associated with the emergence and persistence of unemployment across four decades. On average, a 1-SD increase in self-control was associated with a reduction in the probability of unemployment of 1.4 percentage points after adjustment for intelligence, social class, and gender.”

Enlisting in the Military: The Influential Role of Genetic Factors“Given that enlistment in the U.S. military is completely voluntary, there has been a great deal of interest in identifying the various factors that might explain why some people join the military, whereas others do not. The current study expanded on this line of literature by estimating the extent to which genetic and environmental factors explained variance in the liability for lifetime participation in the military. Analysis of twin pairs drawn from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) revealed that 82% of the variance was the result of genetic factors, 18% of the variance was the result of nonshared environmental factors, and none of the variance was accounted for by shared environmental factors.” – from brian boutwell et al.

Risk of Suicide Among US Military Service Members Following Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom Deployment and Separation From the US Military“Findings do not support an association between deployment and suicide mortality in this cohort. Early military separation (<4 years) and discharge that is not honorable were suicide risk factors.” – h/t michael story!

Verbal ability as a predictor of political preferences in the United States, 1974–2012“[H]igher vocabulary scores are associated with a greater likelihood that people place themselves on the ideological and political spectrum and that they vote in presidential elections, but have only small relationships with liberal-versus-conservative self-identification.”

Do our genes tell us how to vote? Study of twins says they might

On the Malleability and Plasticity of the History of the Blank Slate and 21st Century Moral Philosophy Advances Boldly into the 19th Century – from helian.

More on the younger Franz Boas – from peter frost.

Surnames and Y-Chromosomal Markers Reveal Low Relationships in Southern Spain – ruh roh.

New study finds genetic predisposition for noise-induced hearing loss

New function of obesity gene revealed

The placebome: Where genetics and the placebo effect meet

Chimps That Hunt Offer a New View on Evolution“[A] 10-year study of chimpanzees in Senegal shows females playing an unexpectedly big role in hunting and males, surprisingly, letting smaller and weaker hunters keep their prey. The results do not overturn the idea of dominant male hunters, said Jill D. Pruetz of Iowa State University, who led the study. But they may offer a new frame of reference on hunting, tools and human evolution. ‘We need to broaden our perspective,’ she said.”

Upper Palaeolithic ritualistic cannibalism at Gough’s Cave (Somerset, UK): The human remains from head to toe“Our present analysis of the postcrania has identified a far greater degree of human modification than recorded in earlier studies. We identify extensive evidence for defleshing, disarticulation, chewing, crushing of spongy bone, and the cracking of bones to extract marrow. The presence of human tooth marks on many of the postcranial bones provides incontrovertible evidence for cannibalism.”

Yes, You Can Catch Insanity“A controversial disease revives the debate about the immune system and mental illness.” – pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders or “PANDAS”.

Hatfield and McCoy Feud — The Real Thing

Colors help set body’s internal clock“[Mice] use light’s changing color to set their own clocks, a finding that researchers expect will hold for humans, too.”

The Myth of the Angry Atheist“[T]hese results support the idea that people believe atheists are angry individuals, but they do not appear to be angrier than other individuals in reality.”

Flowers Are “Darker” at Lower Latitudes“UV radiation may explain why plants and animals closer to the equator come in darker varieties.”

The Disease That Turned Us Into Genetic-Information Junkies – brief history on tay–sachs disease research.

Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Could Predate Antibiotics“A South American tribe, called the Yanomami, which was isolated for about 11,000 years prior to 2009, have gut bacteria that carry antibiotic resistance genes, according to new research. The Yanomami’s microbiome is far more diverse than that of Europeans or North Americans, but it also contains antibiotic resistant genes, despite never having had antibiotics. The findings suggest antibiotic resistance predates antibiotics, although it is possible the Yanomami ingested naturally occurring antibiotics in soil at some point.” – see also: The microbiome of uncontacted Amerindians.

Rotherham Worker ‘Told To Give Girls To Abusers’“The ex-protection worker says she repeatedly raised concerns about men taking girls away but her boss told her to ‘let them go’.” – also: State wards being groomed for prostitution by paedophile gangs“Organised gangs of paedophiles are grooming state wards as young as 12 for prostitution. Veteran child protection workers have told the Herald Sun they are powerless to protect the children in their care and that the sexual exploitation of state wards is ‘endemic’…. Victoria Police has set up a taskforce to investigate a gang of Afghani men in Dandenong suspected of preying on teens in care.” – australia now. =/

bonus: Jurassic Park in real life: The race to modify the DNA of endangered animals and resurrect extinct ones“Professor Church has applied a sophisticated and revolutionary ‘gene editing’ technique known as Crispr and has managed to get it working in elephant cells to carry out 14 precise changes to its genome. ‘We are now working on in vitro organogenesis [organ formation] and embryogenesis [embryo formation],’ he told The Independent in an email.”

bonus bonus: Genome Digest – findings from genomes of mountain gorilla, pseudomonas aeruginosa, canary, bird flu strain, and leprosy bacterium.

bonus bonus bonus: Through This Chemical Loop, Dogs Win Our Hearts

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Human evolution tied to a small fraction of the genome“Only about 7.5 percent of the human genetic instruction book shaped the evolution of human traits, a new study suggests. And it’s often not genes, but the how-to instructions for using those genes that are most important, researchers report January 19 in Nature Genetics…. Previously, researchers have mostly looked for evolutionary clues in protein-producing genes because proteins do much of the important work in cells and organisms. Altering a protein may change the way an organism looks or acts. But mutations that alter proteins often are devastating to an organism and therefore aren’t passed on to offspring. Gulko and colleagues found that only 9 percent of the DNA that got evolution’s attention resides in protein-coding parts of the genome that are shared with other species. About 52 percent of the places showing signs of natural selection were in intergenic regions, the stretches of DNA between genes. Another 35 percent were in introns — spacer DNA found within genes but not involved in encoding proteins. Both intergenic regions and introns often contain DNA responsible for controlling gene activity. These findings suggest that human evolution works mostly through changes in how genes are used, rather than by altering genes and the proteins they encode.”

The Wrists of Birds Reveal Evolution Undoing Itself“Contrary to earlier claims, a new study shows that evolution may be reversible.” – previously from greg cochran: Back to the trees.

Kennewick Man was Native American“‘Genetic analysis is still under way in Denmark, but documents obtained through the federal Freedom of Information Act say preliminary results point to a Native-American heritage.'” – from dienekes. see also from razib: Native Americans Are Evolutionarily Elegant“One insight of modern ancient DNA is that there has been a great deal of population turnover over the past ~10,000 years, as well as admixture between disparate lineages. When Kennewick Man died ~9,000 years ago Europeans as we understand them did not exist genetically.”

The Genetic Ancestry of African Americans, Latinos, and European Americans across the United States“Over the past 500 years, North America has been the site of ongoing mixing of Native Americans, European settlers, and Africans (brought largely by the trans-Atlantic slave trade), shaping the early history of what became the United States. We studied the genetic ancestry of 5,269 self-described African Americans, 8,663 Latinos, and 148,789 European Americans who are 23andMe customers and show that the legacy of these historical interactions is visible in the genetic ancestry of present-day Americans. We document pervasive mixed ancestry and asymmetrical male and female ancestry contributions in all groups studied. We show that regional ancestry differences reflect historical events, such as early Spanish colonization, waves of immigration from many regions of Europe, and forced relocation of Native Americans within the US. This study sheds light on the fine-scale differences in ancestry within and across the United States and informs our understanding of the relationship between racial and ethnic identities and genetic ancestry.” – see also: The Fluidity of Race from greg cochran.

Genghis Khan’s genetic legacy has competition“The Mongolian leader left a strong footprint in the Y chromosomes of modern descendants — but he was not the only one.”

Largest-ever autism genome study finds most siblings have different autism-risk genes“In the new study, Dr. Scherer’s team sequenced 340 whole genomes from 85 families, each with two children affected by autism. The majority of siblings (69 percent) had little to no overlap in the gene variations known to contribute to autism. They found that the sibling pairs shared the same autism-associated gene changes less than one third of the time (31 percent). The findings challenge long-held presumptions. Because autism often runs in families, experts had assumed that siblings with the disorder were inheriting the same autism-predisposing genes from their parents. It now appears this may not be true.” – h/t shrikant mantri!

Genetic mutation for metabolic disease identified within an Inuit population“The disease in question, glycogen storage disease type IIIa, is caused by mutations in the AGL gene, leading to less-active glycogen-debranching enzymes. The disorder disrupts the body’s capacity to release sugar from glycogen, resulting in the formation of damaging glycogen deposits…. Glycogen storage disease IIIa affects around one in 100,000 people in North America. However, the researchers estimate that the disorder may affect around 1 in 2,500 people in Nunavik – the homeland of the Inuit in Quebec.” – maybe they should stick to eating seal blubber. srsly!

Admixture in the Americas: Admixture among US Blacks and Hispanics and academic achievement“[W]e see the expected directions and order, for Blacks (who are mostly African), American admixture is positive and European is more positive…. We do not see the expected results per genetic model. Among Hispanics who are 73% European, African admixture has a positive relationship to academic achievement. American admixture is negatively correlated and European positively, but weaker than African. The only thing that’s in line with the genetic model is that European is positive. On the other hand, results are not in line with a null model either….” – from emil kirkegaard.

School“In summary, it very much looks like more years of education are associated with an increase in intelligence test scores, but not anything like as strongly to underlying general intelligence or to underlying basic processing speeds.” – from dr. james thompson.

Genetic Pleiotropy Explains Associations between Musical Auditory Discrimination and Intelligence“[A] large sample of Swedish twins (N = 10,500) was used to investigate the genetic architecture of the associations between intelligence and performance on three musical auditory discrimination tasks (rhythm, melody and pitch). Phenotypic correlations between the tasks ranged between 0.23 and 0.42 (Pearson r values). Genetic modelling showed that the covariation between the variables could be explained by shared genetic influences. Neither shared, nor non-shared environment had a significant effect on the associations. Good fit was obtained with a two-factor model where one underlying shared genetic factor explained all the covariation between the musical discrimination tasks and IQ, and a second genetic factor explained variance exclusively shared among the discrimination tasks. The results suggest that positive correlations among musical aptitudes result from both genes with broad effects on cognition, and genes with potentially more specific influences on auditory functions.” – h/t rosalind arden!

The Role of Parenting in the Prediction of Criminal Involvement: Findings From a Nationally Representative Sample of Youth and a Sample of Adopted Youth [pdf] – “The role of parenting in the development of criminal behavior has been the source of a vast amount of research, with the majority of studies detecting statistically significant associations between dimensions of parenting and measures of criminal involvement. An emerging group of scholars, however, has drawn attention to the methodological limitations — mainly genetic confounding — of the parental socialization literature. The current study addressed this limitation by analyzing a sample of adoptees to assess the association between 8 parenting measures and 4 criminal justice outcome measures. The results revealed very little evidence of parental socialization effects on criminal behavior before controlling for genetic confounding and no evidence of parental socialization effects on criminal involvement after controlling for genetic confounding.” – h/t jayman!

Hospitals Aim to Better Match Blood Donors and Recipients“People fall into one of four main blood groups — A, B, AB and O — and they have a so-called Rh factor that is either positive or negative. But scientists over the last few decades have discovered around 33 blood groups and continue to identify more. Each group also contains multiple variations that go to make up a patient’s exact blood type.”

Ageing research: Blood to blood“By splicing animals together, scientists have shown that young blood rejuvenates old tissues. Now, they are testing whether it works for humans.” – parabiosis. it’s baaaack!

Comparative analysis of the human saliva microbiome from different climate zones: Alaska, Germany, and Africa [pdf] – “Here we analyze the saliva microbiome from native Alaskans (76 individuals from 4 populations), Germans (10 individuals from 1 population), and Africans (66 individuals from 3 populations) based on next-generation sequencing of partial 16S rRNA gene sequences. After quality filtering, a total of 67,916 analyzed sequences resulted in 5,592 OTUs (defined at ≥97% identity) and 123 genera. The three human groups differed significantly by the degree of diversity between and within individuals (e.g. beta diversity: Africans > Alaskans > Germans; alpha diversity: Germans > Alaskans > Africans). UniFrac, network, ANOSIM, and correlation analyses all indicated more similarities in the saliva microbiome of native Alaskans and Germans than between either group and Africans. The native Alaskans and Germans also had the highest number of shared bacterial interactions.”

Tuberculosis genomes track human history“A study of nearly 5,000 samples of Mycobacterium tuberculosis from around the world shows how a lineage of the bacterium that emerged thousands of years ago in Asia has since become a global killer that is widely resistant to antibiotic drugs. Although M. tuberculosis probably first emerged some 40,000 years ago in Africa, the disease did not take hold until humans took to farming…. [T]he common ancestor of all the M. bacterium strains circulating today began spreading around 10,000 years ago in the ancient Fertile Crescent, a region stretching from Mesopotamia to the Nile Delta that was a cradle of agriculture…. But of all the M. bacterium strains circulating today, few strike more fear in public-health officials than the ‘Beijing lineage’. First identified in greater Beijing in the mid-1990s, this lineage now circulates throughout the world and many strains are resistant to drugs that vanquish other types of TB…. Consistent with its name, the Beijing lineage did indeed emerge near north-eastern China…. And it did so around 6,600 years ago, the researchers found, which coincides with archaeological evidence for the beginnings of rice farming in China’s upper Yangtze River valley.” – h/t billare!

Your Friends Know How Long You Will Live: A 75-Year Study of Peer-Rated Personality Traits“To test whether friends’ reports of personality predict mortality risk, we used data from a 75-year longitudinal study (the Kelly/Connolly Longitudinal Study on Personality and Aging). In that study, 600 participants were observed beginning in 1935 through 1938, when they were in their mid-20s, and continuing through 2013. Male participants seen by their friends as more conscientious and open lived longer, whereas friend-rated emotional stability and agreeableness were protective for women. Friends’ ratings were better predictors of longevity than were self-reports of personality, in part because friends’ ratings could be aggregated to provide a more reliable assessment.”

Voluntary Activities and Daily Happiness in the US [pdf] – “This paper analyzes differences in daily happiness between those individuals in the United States who perform voluntary activities during the day, and those who do not…. [T]hose who devote any time to voluntary activities during the day report higher levels of daily happiness than those who do not…. [W]hen the issue of reverse causality is taken into account, we find no differences in daily happiness between volunteers and non-volunteers, which indicates that happier individuals are also more likely to volunteer.” – h/t ben southwood!

Aberrant Gene Expression in Humans“The uniqueness of individuals is due to differences in the combination of genetic, epigenetic and environmental determinants. Understanding the genetic basis of phenotypic variation is a key objective in genetics…. One of our major findings is that private SNPs may contribute to aberrant expression in outlier individuals. These private SNPs are more frequently located in the enhancer and promoter regions of genes that are aberrantly expressed, suggesting a possible regulatory function of these SNPs.”

Recurrent loss of sex is associated with accumulation of deleterious mutations in Oenothera“Sexual reproduction is nearly universal among eukaryotes. Theory predicts that the rarity of asexual eukaryotic species is in part caused by accumulation of deleterious mutations and heightened extinction risk associated with suppressed recombination and segregation in asexual species. We tested this prediction with a large dataset of 62 transcriptomes from 29 species in the plant genus Oenothera, spanning 10 independent transitions between sexual and a functionally asexual genetic system called permanent translocation heterozygosity…. These results confirm that an important advantage of sex is that it facilitates selection against deleterious alleles, which might help to explain the dearth of extant asexual species.” – h/t melissa wilson sayres!

Perceptions Of Required Ability Act As A Proxy For Actual Required Ability In Explaining The Gender Gap – @slate star codex. make sure to read jayman’s comment there! this one, too.

Lewontin wins the Crafoord Prize“The Crafoord Prize for 2015 was awarded to Richard Lewontin and Tomoko Ohta, for their discovery that there was very much more genetic variation that had been expected. Lewontin discovered this using protein gel electrophoresis to study a number of loci in Drosophila. It’s an important result. The problem is, virtually everything he’s said and done since that time has been a pile of steaming ideological crap.” – from greg cochran.

Single Markers Tell You Only a Bit About Individual Ancestry“A new paper in The American Journal of Human Genetics, Estimates of Continental Ancestry Vary Widely among Individuals with the Same mtDNA Haplogroup, tells you something which should be obvious: one marker tells you only so much about individual ancestry. In other words, the history of one gene can only tell you so much about the whole genome. Because mtDNA and Y chromosome* does not recombine you can treat it as one long genetic marker…. But Richard Lewontin’s insight that a great deal of human genetic variation is not partitioned across populations, but within them, applies to mtDNA and the Y chromosomes as well. Where Lewontin’s insight misleads is that using just a few more markers one can obtain relatively robust phylogenetic trees which reflect well the population structure and history of a given species.” – also from razib.

The Economist takes a half step forwards“They do not examine the usual finding that educated parents are more influential than rich parents in supposedly ‘boosting’ intelligence. They leave out the genetic element entirely, and say it is ‘incomes’ which are inherited. If so adoption into a rich household should have massive effects on intellect, but that is not found. If adoption cannot wipe the slate clean, what chance a kindergarten?” – from dr. james thompson.

Gender divide in religious belief, survey suggests“A big gender divide exists between men and women in their 40s in belief in God and life after death, a poll suggests. Of the British men surveyed, 54% said they were atheists or agnostics compared with only 34% of women. The study also showed that Muslims in the survey had the fewest doubts about the existence of God and the afterlife. The research involving more than 9,000 British people born in 1970 was analysed at the University of Essex.” – h/t ed west! who tweeted: “71% of evangelical Christians have no doubts about God’s existence. 33% of Catholics, 16% of Anglicans & Methodists.”

This Woman Can’t Feel Fear“Damage from a rare genetic condition appears to have knocked out the ‘fear center’ in her brain.”

Thumb bones in pre-humans make them more like us, study says“Some of our tree-swinging pre-human ancestors may have been a bit more like us than previously thought, thanks to a tiny section of their thumbs. One key attribute that separates humans from other animals is our opposable thumb, and the way parts of the thumb are structured to allow for a strong yet precise grip that fostered advanced use of tools. It’s what allows us to throw items more precisely, pick guitars and turn a key. And now, thanks to high-tech tools of our own, scientists have determined that a couple million years ago one of our pre-human ancestors had the same human-defining precision grip, even though researchers think of them as little more than upright walking apes, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Science. That supports earlier but controversial evidence that the small-brained Australopithecus africanus fashioned early tools.” – h/t regular ron!

‘Designer babies’ debate should start, scientists say – h/t avi tuschman!

Darwin May Have Experienced Extreme Anxiety

Why Footbinding Persisted in China for a Millennium“Despite the pain, millions of Chinese women stood firm in their devotion to the tradition.”

Thomas Cromwell was the Islamic State of his day“No one can be sure of the exact figure, but it is estimated that the destruction started and legalised by Cromwell amounted to 97% of the English art then in existence. Statues were hacked down. Frescoes were smashed to bits. Mosaics were pulverized. Illuminated manuscripts were shredded. Wooden carvings were burned. Precious metalwork was melted down. Shrines were reduced to rubble.”

bonus: When it comes to speedy evolution, you can’t outpace this lizard’s penis

bonus bonus: FDA Considering Releasing Genetically-Modified Mosquitos In Florida – h/t sam bowman!

bonus bonus bonus: Fish Live Under Antarctica’s Ice Shelf, Where It Seems They Shouldn’t Survive“Biologists expected the seafloor under a glacier to be nearly barren, until life swam into view.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus: This fish lived in peace for 70 million years. Then it met the Army Corps of Engineers.

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: All in the (bigger) family“A decade of genetic data and other evidence has persuaded most researchers that insects and crustaceans, long considered widely separated branches of the arthropod family, actually belong together. The new arthropod tree puts hexapods — six-limbed creatures that include insects, springtails, and silverfish — as closer kin to crabs, lobster, shrimp, and crayfish than those ‘standard’ crustaceans are to others such as seed shrimp.”

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