linkfest – 12/07/14

Zigzags on a Shell From Java Are the Oldest Human Engravings“The early human Homo erectus also made the oldest known shell tools half a million years ago.” — see also: The art of Homo erectus“What we can say is that these artifacts carry information about the capabilities of their makers. The few non-perishable marked objects also speak to the likely presence of design in perishable elements of material culture. Clothing, however rudimentary, was likely to have been decorated in some way. Wooden tools were also probably notched and zigzagged — as the occasional bone and ivory implements suggest. They lived for the first time in a world that they could change.” – from john hawks.

Genetic diversity of Sub-Saharan Africa revealed[T]he researchers also found that there were more genetic similarities across Africa than they had thought. Dr Sandhu said: ‘The diversity among populations is not as diverse as we expected it to be….’ The researchers found that many Africans have some Eurasian DNA within their genetic ancestry, which suggests that Eurasians migrated back into Africa many thousands of years after they first left. And several of the populations were descended from the Bantu, a group that spread across Africa about 5,000 years ago.” — see also: The African Genome Variation Project shapes medical genetics in Africa.

and here is dienekes on the above study: African Genome Variation project paper“In too many papers to count, decreasing genetic diversity from East Africa was taken as evidence of an origin of H. sapiens in that locality and its expansion from there to Eurasia. This ‘East Africa=cradle of mankind’ theory has, as far as I can tell, nothing really to stand on. Granted, the oldest anatomically modern human remains have been found in East Africa 200-150 thousand years ago. But, the fact that old sapiens have been found in East Africa and not elsewhere is easily explained by the excellent conditions for preservation (as opposed, e.g., deserts or rainforests of Africa or elsewhere), and by the extraordinary effort by palaeoanthropologists in that area. One also needs to overlook a century of physical anthropology that concluded that East Africa was a contact zone between Caucasoids and Sub-Saharan Africans. We now know that there is no deep lineage of humans in modern east Africans. Take out the Eurasian ancestry and only a paltry Fst=0.027 remains with other Sub-Saharan Africans, a fraction of the Fst between, say, Europeans and East Asians.”

Living African group discovered to be the most populous humans over the last 150,000 years“New genetic research reveals that a small group of hunter-gatherers now living in Southern Africa once was so large that it comprised the majority of living humans during most of the past 150,000 years. Only during the last 22,000 years have the other African ethnicities, including the ones giving rise to Europeans and Asians, become vastly most numerous…. ‘This and previous studies show that the Khoisan peoples and the rest of modern humanity shared their most recent common ancestor approximately 150,000 years ago, so it was entirely unexpected to find that this group apparently did not intermarry with non-Khoisan neighbors for many thousand years….'” — see also The Least Bottlenecked Humans of All from razib.

Ants, altruism and self sacrifice“It’s the selfishness of genes that makes us unselfish…. ‘Group selection’ has always been portrayed as a more politically correct idea, implying that there is an evolutionary tendency to general altruism in people. Gene selection has generally seemed to be more of a right-wing idea, in which individuals are at the mercy of the harsh calculus of the genes. Actually, this folk understanding is about as misleading as it can be. Society is not built on one-sided altruism but on mutually beneficial co-operation. Nearly all the kind things people do in the world are done in the name of enlightened self-interest. Think of the people who sold you coffee, drove your train, even wrote your newspaper today. They were paid to do so but they did things for you (and you for them). Likewise, gene selection clearly drives the evolution of a co-operative instinct in the human breast, and not just towards close kin.” – from matt ridley. — see also: E.O. Wilson’s The Social Conquest of Earth from jason collins. h/t billare!

Genetic Variation in Human DNA Replication Timing“Replication timing, a driver of locus-specific mutation rates, varies among humans…. Replication timing associates with common polymorphisms near replication origins….” – whoa.

Genetic and environmental exposures constrain epigenetic drift over the human life course – h/t casey brown! who tweeted: “Worth repeating: DNA methylation is more genetic than epigenetic.”

IQ is in the genes“How parents raise us has no impact on how smart we become, a new study finds.”

Link discovered between fathers’ criminal history and sons’ intelligence“Sons whose fathers have criminal records tend to have lower cognitive abilities than sons whose fathers have no criminal history, data from over 1 million Swedish men show. The research, conducted by scientists in Sweden and Finland, indicates that the link is not directly caused by fathers’ behavior but is instead explained by genetic factors that are shared by father and son.”

Are bright people normal?“‘We found no support for the genetic Discontinuity Hypothesis that nonadditive genetic variance is greater for high intelligence….'” – from dr. james thompson.

Booze culture may date back 10 million years say scientists“A new study suggests that primates may have begun drinking alchol 10 million years ago, as fermented fruit on the forest floor…. Experts at Santa Fe College in the US studied the gene ADH4 which produces an enzyme to break down alcohol in the body. It was hypothesised that the enzyme would not appear until the first alcohol was produced by early farmers. But scientists were amazed to find it 10 million years earlier, at the end of the Miocene epoch.” – (them’s *my* ancestors right there! (~_^) )

Psychiatry: End of the Road for “Endophenotypes”?“In a nutshell, the researchers ran seven different genetic studies to try to find the genetic basis of a total of seventeen neurobehavioural traits, also known as ‘endophenotypes’…. Essentially an endophenotype is some trait, which could be almost anything, which is supposed to be related to (or part of) a psychiatric disorder or symptom, but which is ‘closer to genetics’ or ‘more biologica’ than the disorder itself. Rather than thousands of genes all mixed together to determine the risk of a psychiatric disorder, each endophenotype might be controlled by only a handful of genes – which would thus be easier to find…. Over 89% of the searches came up null in this way; for eight of the seventeen traits, the researchers found no associated genes using *any* strategy.” – from neuroskeptic.

Unequal fates for maths superstars“The fates of US child prodigies of the 1970s reveal great accomplishments but strong gender differences…. [B]oth genders reported unusually high levels of satisfaction with their lives and careers. ‘It seems that both sexes got what they wanted from life, even if those things were somewhat different….'” – h/t charles! – see also: Sometimes men and women want different things from ben southwood.

Are Chinese babies more docile? – peter frost on the freedman studies.

Inferior Faunas – from greg cochran.

Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2014 released this week.

Domestication and Human Evolution Symposium @getCARTA sessions now available to watch online.

Does evolution need a revolution? – from jerry coyne.

Experimentally induced innovations lead to persistent culture via conformity in wild birds – birds have culture.

A Magisterial Synthesis Of Apes And Human Evolution“[Russell H.] Tuttle’s tome is a grand synthesis of all the latest research and data about apes and their relation to us…. He believes that bipedalism preceded the development of the brain in early humans –and was likely something inherited from smaller apes already used to using their feet to move laterally along branches in trees. Although chimpanzees and bonobos are our closest relatives on the evolutionary tree, they do not represent in their own locomotion good proto-models of what led to human upright posture and walking.”

‘Superbugs’ Kill India’s Babies and Pose an Overseas Threat“A growing chorus of researchers say the evidence is now overwhelming that a significant share of the bacteria present in India — in its water, sewage, animals, soil and even its mothers — are immune to nearly all antibiotics.” – h/t razib!

The RNA World: molecular cooperation at the origins of life“The RNA World concept posits that there was a period of time in primitive Earth’s history — about 4 billion years ago — when the primary living substance was RNA or something chemically similar. In the past 50 years, this idea has gone from speculation to a prevailing idea. In this Review, we summarize the key logic behind the RNA World and describe some of the most important recent advances that have been made to support and expand this logic. We also discuss the ways in which molecular cooperation involving RNAs would facilitate the emergence and early evolution of life.”

Tool to edit DNA revolutionizing research in Boston area – CRISPR.

Thomas Docherty on academic freedom“Managerial fundamentalism has taken hold in universities, with scholars viewed as resources that must be controlled…. A creeping incremental assault on academic freedom threatens not just what can be spoken aloud, but also what it is permissible to think: thought itself is to be subjected to management, so that its critical power is neutered or constrained….”

The Dark Enlightenment for Newbies“So what is dark about the Dark Enlightenment? Absolutely nothing. The Dark Enlightenment only looks dark in contrast to the blinding (as in, it blinds you) optimism of flash in the pan of blank slate equalism. The things that the DE contend about human nature — that parents naturally favor their children, that sexual attraction is a biological phenomenon, that some people are naturally smarter than others — were all accepted as common sense for most or all of human history. It is the unrealistic utopianism of modern liberalism which is ridiculously absurd. The Dark Enlightenment might be better termed The Return to Normalcy. So the phrase “Dark Enlightenment” might not be the best, but it has received enough attention that I don’t think we should abandon it.” – very nice post from empedocles.

Tanzania evicting 40,000 people from homeland to make room for Dubai royal family“It will become a private hunting reserve” – =/ (i’m linking to salon!) – h/t john durant!

bonus: Why Some Mosquitoes Spread Malaria and Others Don’t“Sequencing the genomes of numerous Anopheles mosquito species from locations around the world has shown why some can carry and spread the deadly disease malaria while others don’t.” – h/t srikant mantri!

bonus bonus: Humpback Whales in the Arabian Sea Have Been Isolated for 70,000 Years

bonus bonus bonus: A diet to die for“One bird feasts on food that would leave most other animals stone dead.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Insect Swarms Go Critical“Scientists have found tantalizing evidence that diverse biological systems, including the human brain, gene expression networks, bird flocks, and fish schools, behave as though they are near the ‘critical point’ of a phase transition, like correlated spins in a magnet on the verge of ordering.” – h/t jayman!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Weird Physics Can Make an Invisible Cat Visible“These cat pictures are brought to you by quantum entanglement as discussed by Einstein and Schrödinger.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: “The Feynman Lectures on Physics”, The Most Popular Physics Book Ever Written, Now Completely Online

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Tette per la Scienza – boobies! (it really IS this time! (~_^) )

(note: comments do not require an email. quantum cats!)

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linkfest – 10/13/14

The Earliest Group Of Modern Humans To Branch Off Survived Until Just 2,300 Years Ago – h/t mr. robert ford!

Archaeologists unearth remains of oldest Norman ever found which ‘fills gap in our knowledge of pre-Neanderthal evolution’“On a bend of the river Seine near Rouen in Normandy, archaeologists have found the remains of the oldest Norman ever discovered. The three bones from the left arm of a pre-Neanderthal should shed fresh light on a little-known period. In particular, they could help scientists to understand the evolution of the squat, muscular hunters who died out 30,000 to 40,000 years ago, just after the first humans arrived in what is now Europe. The discovery of the bones at Tourville-la-Rivière, 14km south of Rouen, is exceptional because ‘this is a period with very few fossils’, according to Bruno Maureille, a palaeontologist at the National Centre for Scientific Research. He said the arm bones, dating from 200,000 years ago, in the Middle Pleistocene era, were ‘the only known example from northern Europe’.”

The first South Americans: Extreme living“After humans arrived in South America, they quickly spread into some of its most remote corners.”

How ancient DNA is rewriting human history“‘Human history is not one of stasis….’ The genetic record shows that for the past tens of thousands of years, mixed human ancestry is the rule and not the exception.” h/t hbd bibliography!

Treasure trove of ancient genomes helps recalibrate the human evolutionary clock

EmTech: Illumina Says 228,000 Human Genomes Will Be Sequenced This Year

Europe the birthplace of art? Cave art shows Indonesia has a claim“Using this method, the researchers determined that one of the hand stencils they sampled was made at least 39,900 years ago and that a painting of an animal known as a pig deer was at least 35,400 years old. In Europe, the oldest known cave painting was of a red disk found in a cave in El Castillo, Spain, that has a minimum age of 40,800 years. The earliest figurative painting, of a rhinoceros, was found in the Chauvet Cave in France; it goes back 38,827 years.”

Ancient Plague’s DNA Revived From A 1,500-Year-Old Tooth – justinian plague. – h/t debbie kennett!

New Genetic ‘Operating System’ Facilitated Evolution of ‘Bilateral’ Animals

Draft of paper about Amish“[T]he difference in mean AQ [‘amishness’] between young Amish men and their non-Amish neighbors is about 2.8 standard deviations. In the IQ world this would correspond to a group different of 42 points. In the stature world this would correspond to a height difference of about 8 inches.” – from henry harpending. see also Amish v. English from steve sailer.

Does evolutionary theory need a rethink? – no. – see also Evolution Ever Evolves from razib.

Widespread signals of convergent adaptation to high altitude in Asia and America

Evolutionary behavioral genetics“We describe the scientific enterprise at the intersection of evolutionary psychology and behavioral genetics — a field that could be termed Evolutionary Behavioral Genetics — and how modern genetic data is revolutionizing our ability to test questions in this field.”

coolest story! a MUST READ!: Finding Clues in Genes of ‘Exceptional Responders’“One study at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center tested a drug called everolimus that is approved for kidney and breast cancer. Researchers asked if it could treat bladder cancer. Forty-five patients received the drug. Two responded. ‘The verdict was, “O.K., I guess everolimus does not work in bladder cancer,” ‘ said Dr. David Solit, the principal investigator. But then there were those two patients — one, in particular. Her cancer had spread to her abdomen. She was expected to live less than a year, and there was no treatment for her. But with everolimus, her tumors disappeared. ‘I was at a clinical meeting, and everyone was saying this drug did not work,’ Dr. Solit said. ‘I said, “It worked for her.” ‘ The investigators found out why. Her cancer had a mutation in a gene that made it dependent on a protein, mTOR, for growth. Everolimus squelches the activity of mTOR. The woman is still taking everolimus, and her cancer has not recurred.”

Are adoption gains on the g factor? A meta-analysis“g loadings and adoption gains yield a correlation of −1.” – from te nijenhuis, jongeneel-grimen, and armstrong. – h/t erwin schmidt!

The high heritability of educational achievement reflects many genetically influenced traits, not just intelligence“Genetic research has shown that intelligence makes a major contribution to the heritability of educational achievement. However, we show that other broad domains of behavior such as personality and psychopathology also account for genetic influence on GCSE scores beyond that predicted by intelligence. Together with intelligence, these domains account for 75% of the heritability of GCSE scores. These results underline the importance of genetics in educational achievement and its correlates.” – (because there’s more to hbd than just iq!)

Psychology in the 21st Century“Highly recommended: slides from a recent talk [‘The Genetic Architectures of Psychological Traits’] by James Lee.”

Replicability and Robustness of Genome-Wide-Association Studies for Behavioral Traits“Our results show that large and therefore well-powered genome-wide-association studies can identify replicable genetic associations with behavioral traits.”

Intelligence Is Critical to the Future of Humankind“A conversation with Douglas Detterman, editor of the journal Intelligence” – h/t holtz!

Crime, income, educational attainment and employment among immigrant groups in Norway and Finland – new paper from emil kirkegaard.

Is there no population genetic ‘support’ for a racial hereditarian hypothesis? – h/t jayman! who tweeted: “Racial admixture studies across the Americas all find relationship between ancestry & educational attain. as expected.”

Heavier babies do better in school“A study of children in Florida found that those who were heavier at birth scored higher on math and reading tests in the third to eighth grades.”

Practice Does Not Make Perfect“We are not all created equal where our genes and abilities are concerned.”

another MUST READ, this one from steve sailer: The Bell Curve 20 years later: A New Caste Society. – see also: ‘The Bell Curve’ Turns 20 from robert verbruggen.

Race, Income, and Test Scores – also from robert verbruggen.

The role of lactase persistence in precolonial development“It is shown through a number of specifications that country-level variation in the frequency of lactase persistence is positively and significantly related to population density in 1,500 CE; specifically, a one standard deviation increase in the frequency of lactase persistent individuals (roughly 24 percentage points) is associated with roughly a 40 % increase in precolonial population density.”

Common variants and the biological and genomic architecture of human height“The latest from the GIANT collaboration. They are also estimating ~ 10k causal variants in total, with 697 now identified at genome-wide significance…. With ~1k variants to work with, we can expect progress on the question of whether the ~1 SD group difference in height between north and south europeans is due to selection. Uniformly higher SNP frequencies in the north for variants that slightly increase height would be strong evidence of selection.” – original research paper: Defining the role of common variation in the genomic and biological architecture of adult human height

Big Chickens“More evidence that common genetic variants can produce many standard deviations of change in average phenotype.”

The Giant Mutations in the Human Genome“It turns out that there is a class of giant DNA mutations that share features of developmental disorders: They are surprisingly common, frustratingly diverse, and hard to categorize. Researchers are now discovering that these mutations play a big role in developmental delay disorders. The baffling symptoms are a consequence of the underlying genetic turmoil…. These large mutations are called ‘copy number variants’ or CNVs, and they add or subtract copies of genes.”

Genetic and nonshared environmental factors predict handgun ownership in early adulthood“Analyses revealed a stronger concordance for gun ownership among identical twins as compared to fraternal twins and univariate ACE model results indicated genetic (57%) and nonshared environmental (43%) factors explained the variance in handgun ownership.” – h/t amir sarislan!

Different tastes for different individuals – h/t jayman! who tweeted: “Genetic evidence of recent evolutionary differentiation in taste response across the world.”

From Kale To Pale Ale, A Love Of Bitter May Be In Your Genes

Here’s why you’re bouncing off the walls: the genetics of coffee consumption“Coffee consumption has now been linked to eight genetic variants.”

Do Political Attitudes and Religiosity Share a Genetic Path? – h/t avi tuschman!

Unpacking “evil”: Claiming the core of the Dark Triad

The slow and fast life histories of early birds and night owls: Their future- or present-orientation accounts for their sexually monogamous or promiscuous tendencies – uh oh. i’m a night owl!

Later school start time ‘may boost GCSE results’“Thousands of teenagers are to get an extra hour in bed in a trial to see whether later school start times can boost GCSE results. University of Oxford researchers say teenagers start functioning properly two hours later than older adults…. Prof Russell Foster, director of sleep and circadian neuroscience at Oxford University, said that getting a teenager to start their day at 07:00 is like an adult starting theirs at 05:00.”

How Iceland’s Genealogy Obsession Leads to Scientific Breakthroughs

Infidelity and kin selection: Does cheating seem as bad when it’s “all in the family”?“[C]ontrary to predictions generated by kin selection theory, participants tended to report that they would feel worse if their partners had sex with their relatives. We propose several explanations for the current findings and discuss their implications for kin selection theory.” – h/t neuroskeptic!

Anthropologists find that even among egalitarian forager-farmers, social status can impact health and happiness

Africa is on time“Using survey data on African income distributions and national accounts GDP, we estimate income distributions, poverty rates, and inequality indices for African countries for the period 1990–2011. We show that: (1) African poverty is falling rapidly…. All classes of countries, including those with disadvantageous geography and history, experience reductions in poverty. In particular, poverty fell for both landlocked as well as coastal countries; for mineral-rich as well as mineral-poor countries; for countries with favorable or with unfavorable agriculture; for countries regardless of colonial origin; and for countries with below- or above-median slave exports per capita during the African slave trade.” – h/t mugwump!

Ethnic Divisions and Production in Firms“A body of literature suggests that ethnic heterogeneity limits economic growth. This paper provides microeconometric evidence on the direct effect of ethnic divisions on productivity. In team production at a plant in Kenya, an upstream worker supplies and distributes flowers to two downstream workers who assemble them into bunches. The plant uses an essentially random rotation process to assign workers to positions, leading to three types of teams: (a) ethnically homogeneous teams, and teams in which (b) one or (c) both downstream workers belong to a tribe in rivalry with the upstream worker’s tribe. I find strong evidence that upstream workers undersupply non-coethnic downstream workers (vertical discrimination) and shift flowers from non-coethnic to coethnic downstream workers (horizontal discrimination), at the cost of lower own pay and total output.” – spite! it’s so funny. – h/t ben southwood!

Statistics in educational research – on statistical significance and p-values from andrew sabisky.

Social Network Analysis Shows Direct Evidence for Social Transmission of Tool Use in Wild Chimpanzees – h/t razib!

Reparations for Slavery? – from those who can see.

Researchers Have Identified The Origin Of The HIV/AIDS Pandemic

The Human Genome Is In Stalemate in the War Against Itself

Winter is coming: do you really need a flu jab? – from tom chivers who tweeted: “On the flu jab, and the evidence, and lack of evidence, thereof.”

(Re)Becoming Human“As the sun set over Lake Eyasi in Tanzania, nearly thirty minutes had passed since I had inserted a turkey baster into my bum and injected the feces of a Hadza man – a member of one of the last remaining hunter-gatherers tribes in the world – into the nether regions of my distal colon. I struggled to keep my legs in the air with my toes pointing towards what I thought was the faint outline of the Southern Cross rising in the evening sky. With my hands under my hips – and butt perched against a large rock for support – I peddled an imaginary upside down bicycle in the air to pass the time as I struggled to make sure my new gut ecosystem stayed put inside me. With my butt cheeks flexed and my, you know what puckered, I wondered if I had just made a terrible mistake….”

Strange Seeds on Distant Shores – a look at albion’s seed and american nations, etc., etc. – h/t jayman!

Remains of Alexander the Great’s Father Confirmed Found

Diversity: A Nature & Scientific American special issue – *facepalm*

Philosophy is a Bunch of Empty Ideas: Interview with Peter Unger – (^_^)

bonus: New particle is both matter and antimatter – phreaky physics!

bonus bonus: Physicist turns smartphones into pocket cosmic ray detectors – really cool physics!

bonus bonus bonus: A Kindle loaded with e-books is heavier than an empty one – so there!

bonus bonus bonus bonus: The Questioning of John Rykener, A Male Cross-Dressing Prostitute, 1395 (in london) – shocking!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Around the world in 400,000 years: Journey of the red fox“[T]his new research shows that the red foxes of North America and Eurasia have been almost entirely reproductively isolated from one another for roughly 400,000 years. During this time, the North American red fox evolved into a new species distinct from its Old World ancestors…. The new genetic research further suggests that the first red foxes originated in the Middle East before beginning their journey of colonization across Eurasia to Siberia, across the Bering Strait and into North America, where they eventually founded the North American population.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Cosmic Karma: Mosquitoes Have Flying, Blood-Sucking Parasite of Their Own

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Kangaroos have three vaginas!

(note: comments do not require an email. and just to make your head asplode…. (^_^) )