linkfest – 05/11/15

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!)

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linkfest – 08/17/14

I can’t afford to think about that“[W]hy are balls of steel so rare in academia? Do they undergo a procedure?” – from greg cochran.

Species Do Not Exist“[T]he Endangered Species Act has shaky conceptual foundations…. And yet we somehow deal with the fact that the universe is complex when it comes to species, although not with races.” – from steve sailer. see also Should You Fear the Pizzly Bear? h/t werner jensen!

Catastrophes in evolution: Is Cuvier’s world extinct or extant?

Million year hominid dispersal event in Iberia“Archaeological remains dating to between 1 million to 780,000 years were also found on an excavation that has provided evidence of the first known human occupation in the Iberian Peninsula.” – h/t cultevobot!

Early Exit: When Did Modern Humans First Leave Africa?“[A] recent study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the genes of indigenous people in southeast Asia has suggested a much earlier date for the first human explorers. Professor Katerina Harvati-Papatheodorou and lead author Hugo Reyes-Centeno of the University of Tubingen in Germany and their colleagues fed this genetic data into a computer model of migration and found that the best explanation was an African exodus around 130,000 years ago, more than twice as far back as most scientists think. They also suggested that this early wave took a different route, spreading along the south coasts of Arabia and Asia towards Australia.”

Early modern humans were ‘culturally diverse’ before they left Africa“Researchers have carried out the biggest ever comparative study of stone tools dating to between 130,000 and 75,000 years ago found in the region between sub-Saharan Africa and Eurasia. They have discovered there are marked differences in the way stone tools were made, reflecting a diversity of cultural traditions. The study has also identified at least four distinct populations, each relatively isolated from each other with their own different cultural characteristics.”

Indo-Europeans preceded Finno-Ugrians in Finland and Estonia“An archaic (Northwest-)Indo-European language and a subsequently extinct Paleo-European language were likely spoken in what is now called Finland and Estonia, when the linguistic ancestors of the Finns and the Sami arrived in the eastern and northern Baltic Sea region from the Volga-Kama region probably at the beginning of the Bronze Age.” – @dienekes’.

168 South Asian Genomes – @dienekes’.

Claim: Modern human teeth in southern China 70-125 ka BP – h/t razib!

The Most Violent Era In America Was Before Europeans Arrived“[A] new paper finds that the 20th century, with its hundreds of millions dead in wars and, in the case of Germany, China, Russia and other dictatorships, genocide, was not the most violent – on a per-capita basis that honor may belong to the central Mesa Verde of southwest Colorado and the Pueblo Indians. Writing in the journal American Antiquity, Washington State University archaeologist Tim Kohler and colleagues document how nearly 90 percent of human remains from that period had trauma from blows to either their heads or parts of their arms. ‘If we’re identifying that much trauma, many were dying a violent death,’ said Kohler. The study also offers new clues to the mysterious depopulation of the northern Southwest, from a population of about 40,000 people in the mid-1200s to 0 in 30 years.” – h/t hbd bibliography!

The ‘six universal’ facial expressions are not universal, cross-cultural study shows“It’s a con­cept that had become uni­ver­sally under­stood: humans expe­ri­ence six basic emotions — happiness, sad­ness, anger, fear, dis­gust, and surprise — and use the same set of facial move­ments to express them…. The only problem with this con­cept, according to North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Dis­tin­guished Pro­fessor of Psy­chology Lisa Feldman Bar­rett, is that it isn’t true at all…. [W]hat were assumed to be ‘psy­cho­log­ical uni­ver­sals’ may in fact be ‘Western’ — or per­haps even ‘American’ — cultural cat­e­gories.”

The intelligent pursuit of happiness“Intelligence is associated with health and longevity, and more intelligent children on average tend to live longer and healthier lives than less intelligent children, although it is not known why. Health is significantly associated with psychological well-being. So, it is possible that more intelligent individuals are more stable in their happiness over time because they are more likely to remain constantly healthy than less intelligent individuals.” – from dr. james thompson.

Clues emerge to genetic architecture of intelligence in children“‘When we computed the contribution of common variants to these cognitive abilities, we found that some of the contributions were substantial,’ said Hakonarson. For instance, common SNPs accounted for roughly 40 percent of the population differences in nonverbal reasoning, and 30 percent of the differences in language reasoning, with the balance of the differences attributable to rare variants and environmental factors. On the other hand, common gene variants together contributed to only 3 percent of the differences in spatial memory—the ability to navigate in a geographical location. There also were significant overlaps between trait domains. Reading ability, which was 43 percent attributable to common variants, was often inherited together with language reasoning abilities.” – h/t nolasco!

Lead released from African cookware contaminates food“Researchers tested 29 samples of aluminum cookware made in Cameroon and found almost all had considerable lead content. This cookware is common throughout Africa and Asia and is made from recycled scrap metal including auto and computer parts, cans, and other industrial debris. Lead exposure in children is linked to brain damage, mental retardation, lower educational performance, and a range of other health effects.” – h/t science enabled!

Facial fluctuating asymmetry is not associated with childhood ill-health in a large British cohort study – h/t jelte wicherts! who tweeted: “Contrary to several small N studies, large study finds no relationship between health measures & facial asymmetry.”

Structural Growth Trajectories and Rates of Change in the First 3 Months of Infant Brain Development – h/t simon baron-cohen! who tweeted: “Typical brain growth from birth to 3 months old: the brain grows 1% per day, and male brains grow faster.”

Workaholism: The addiction of this century“Workaholics scored higher on three personality traits: Agreeableness, Neuroticism, Intellect/Imagination.” – h/t claire lehmann!

Twins separated at birth reveal staggering influence of genetics“Segal, who wrote a book about the study called ‘Born Together Reared Apart: The Landmark Minnesota Twins Study’ (Harvard University Press, 2012), is now doing a prospective study of Chinese twins raised apart, often in different countries, by adoptive families.”

The association between grandparenthood and mortality – h/t neuroskeptic! who tweeted: “People who become grandparents at an early age tend to die sooner.” – because they have faster life histories?

Getting the babes but not the babies“Who’s making more babies? ‘Good boys’ or ‘bad boys’? Originally, the good boys were, thanks to parental monitoring of relations between single men and single women. The pendulum then swung toward the bad boys in the 1940s, only to swing back after the 1960s.” – from peter frost.

Population-level variability in the social climates of four chimpanzee societies – h/t erwin schmidt! who tweeted: “Some groups of chimpanzees are more egalitarian than others.”

Is empathy in humans and apes actually different? ‘Yawn contagion’ effect studied“Humans and bonobos are the only two species in which it has been demonstrated that yawn contagion follows an empathic trend, being more frequent between individuals who share a strong emotional bond, such as friends, kin, and mates…. Two features of yawn contagion were compared: how many times the individuals responded to others’ yawns and how quickly. Intriguingly, when the yawner and the responder were not friends or kin, bonobos responded to others’ yawns just as frequently and promptly as humans did. This means that the assumption that emotional contagion is more prominent in humans than in other species is not necessarily the case. However, humans did respond more frequently and more promptly than bonobos when friends and kin were involved, probably because strong relationships between humans are built upon complex and sophisticated emotional foundations linked to cognition, memory, and memories. In this case, the positive feedback linking emotional affinity and the mirroring process seems to spin faster in humans than in bonobos. In humans, such over-activation may explain the potentiated yawning response and also other kinds of unconscious mimicry response, such as happy, pained, or angry facial expressions.”

Self-regulatory failure and the perpetration of adolescent dating violence: Examining an alcohol use by gene explanation“[A]lcohol use was more strongly associated with dating violence among adolescents who had a high rather than a low multilocus genetic profile composed of five genetic markers that influence dopamine signaling. Alcohol use was more strongly related to dating violence among boys with long rather than short 5-HTTLPR alleles, the opposite of the prediction. MAOA-uVNTR did not interact with alcohol, but it had a main effect on dating violence by boys in later grades in the expected direction: boys with more low activity alleles perpetrated more dating violence. Exploratory analyses found variation in findings by race.” – h/t unsilenced science!

Take Two Sugar Pills and Call Me in the Morning“Over the past decade, a number of clinical studies have begun to show that people who improve on placebos are genetically different than those who don’t.” – h/t billare! see also here.

Designer babies: selection vs editing – @steve hsu’s.

Anxiety in invertebrates opens research avenues“[N]euronal mechanisms related to anxiety have been preserved throughout evolution. This analysis of ancestral behavior in a simple animal model opens up new avenues for studying the neuronal bases for this emotion.”

Our Microbiome May Be Looking Out for Itself – sneaky microbiome! h/t mr. robert ford!

New Study To Look At The Genetics Of Inflammatory Bowel Disease – from 23andMe.

Constitutional verbosity and social trust – h/t heartiste! who tweeted: “The more a nation’s people trust each other, the fewer words they need to codify that trust.”

War in the womb“A ferocious biological struggle between mother and baby belies any sentimental ideas we might have about pregnancy” -h/t charles!

Head Count – ‘Malthus,’ by Robert J. Mayhew

New Saudi ban on marriage to foreigners stirs controversy“[A] new law bans Saudi men from marrying women from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Chad and Burma.” (not a big surprise from the najdis.)

Avoid marrying kin, behave ‘softly on first night’“A notice from the Health Ministry [of turkey-h.chick] on ‘Consultancy before Marriage’ has highlighted that one out of every five marriages are among kin. The recently released document also includes sexual advice for couples, especially for the ‘first night.’ ‘Consanguineous marriage is mostly among first-degree relatives, increasing the number of rare genetic diseases,’ it said. ‘This matter is noteworthy. Those who are married to kin and those who carry genetic diseases should consult a health institution before gestation.'” – h/t anatoly karlin!

Avoiding Prince Joffrey: Primates have newly discovered ability that stops inbreeding“[N]ew research in macaques has revealed for the first time that primates are able to recognise their own relatives. The researchers opted for macaques rather than chimps for their study as the former lives in larger groups with more relatives; allowing them to pick distantly related monkeys who haven’t met, they could rule out ‘familiarity’ as a way for figuring out who is related…. The researchers had no clue as to how they were able to do this. Perhaps they did make a ‘template’ based on relatives they were familiar with, or maybe they had figured out what they looked like somehow, so could use that to figure out who were their relatives.”

Download Pew Datasets!

bonus: Researchers create 1,000-robot swarm – PANIC!!1! HEAD FOR THE HILLS!!

bonus bonus: The Domestic Cat Genome Has Been Fully Sequenced, and It’s Fascinating“Cats also have what biologists call “a highly conserved ancestral mammal genome organization,” which means that many stretches of their genome haven’t changed much over evolutionary time. Put simply, domestic cats haven’t changed much since they first evolved.”

bonus bonus bonus: Reconstructions show how some of the earliest animals lived — and died – rangeomorphs. h/t mike anissimov!

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Shortest-known abstract for a serious scientific paper (^_^)

(note: comments do not require an email. happy capybara!)