random notes: 07/30/13

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

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

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

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

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

from The Environment of Early Man in the British Isles (1975) [pgs. 147-149]:

“The Highland Zone/Lowland Zone division

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

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

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

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

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

britain - lowland-highland zones

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

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

look! another line – the tees-exe line (the red one):

tees-exe line

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

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

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

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

Another contrast between the Highland and Lowland Zones was almost certainly demographic. No firm statistical evidence exists but several strong indicators suggest that there was a considerable increase of population in the Lowlands from the fifth century onwards, well before the Belgic invasions. A good deal of internal colonisation seems to have taken place during this period….”

from The Culture of the English People: Iron Age to the Industrial Revolution (1994) [pgs. 5-7]:

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

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

england - lowland-midland-highland zones

previously: this one’s for g.w. and the flatlanders vs. the mountain people

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intelligence and corruption

staffan already posted about this in his terrific post on corruption a couple of months ago, but i thought i’d just reproduce niklas potrafke‘s chart of the correlation (-0.63) which he found between corruption and iq. taken from this paper [pdf – click on charts for LARGER views]:

potrafke - intelligence and corruption

clearly there’s a connection between intelligence and corruption — the less smart your population is, the more corrupt it will probably be (on average).

i think i see some sub-patterns, though. take a look at this:

potrafke - intelligence and corruption 02

– in my lowest iq range — ca. 75 and below — all the populations are very corrupt — the vast majority fall above 6 on the corruption scale. and they all cluster together — they’re all more-or-less equally corrupt, just some a bit more, some a bit less.

– in my middle iq range — ca. 75 to 95 (i probably could’ve set that at 90) — again the majority of populations are very corrupt, and again the majority fall above 6, but that majority is floating well above that regression line, and the corruption hot spot (where this group clumps together) really seems to be pretty much the same as the lower-iq populations, around 7 on the corruption scale. as a group, they haven’t really dropped down on the corruption scale.

– in my highest iq rage — ca. 95 and above — this is where the corruption range really fans out. we’ve got everything from what looks like below 1 on the corruption scale to an 8 (russia).

and the spread is nice and geographical — west to east/north to south: the anglos and the dutch (and are the scandinavians there? i can’t tell), my long-term outbreeders, are the least corrupt — then, working upwards on the chart (i.e. towards more corrupt) you’ve got the belgians and french and spanish — crossing the line into the more corrupt zone you start to have poland and hungary and the czech republic, places on the border of the hajnal line and the medieval outbreeding project — and then you get up to italy and the ukraine and russia.

east asia is, of course, interesting with singapore, hong kong, and japan being some of the least corrupt, and china being way up by corrupt italy. need to work on figuring out east asia one of these days! (~_^)

so, there’s definitely a connection between intelligence and corruption, but that’s not the whole story, otherwise china and russia and italy and korea wouldn’t be very corrupt at all. one thing that the chinese, russians, and italians have in common (don’t know much about the koreans) is a longer history of inbreeding as compared to the english and the dutch (see mating patterns series below ↓ in left-hand column). the awesome epigone did find a correlation (0.44) between consanguinity and corruption, but like i said then, i’m betting that the correlation would be stronger if we could calculate something like degree+length-of-time inbreeding.

see also: Corruption: The Exception or the Rule? @thosewhocansee.

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evolution likes it hot

i posted about this before, but the topic came up in conversation recently, so i thought i’d post about it again:

“Evolution faster when it’s warmer”
24 June 2009

“Climate could have a direct effect on the speed of ‘molecular evolution’ in mammals, according to a study.

“Researchers have found that, among pairs of mammals of the same species, the DNA of those living in warmer climates changes at a faster rate.

“These mutations – where one letter of the DNA code is substituted for another – are a first step in evolution.

“The study, reported in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, could help explain why the tropics are so species-rich….

“The idea that microevolution happens faster in warmer environments is not new. But this is the first time the effect has been shown in mammals, which regulate their own body temperature.

“‘The result was unexpected,’ said Len Gillman from Auckland University of Technology, who led the study.

“‘We have previously found a similar result for plant species and other groups have seen it in marine animals. But since these are “ectotherms” – their body temperature is controlled directly by the environment – everyone assumed that the effect was caused by climate altering their metabolic rate….’

“‘We suspected the same effect might be happening in mammals, because seasonal changes affect the animals’ activity,’ Dr Gillman told BBC News.

“He and his team compared the DNA of 130 pairs of mammals, looking at genetically similar ‘sister species’ – where each of the pair lived at a different latitude or elevation.

“They tracked changes in one gene that codes for a protein known as cytochrome b, comparing the same gene in each of the pair of mammals to a “reference” gene in a common ancestor.

“By looking for mutations in the DNA code for this gene – each point where one letter in the code was substituted for another – the researchers were able to see which of the two mammals had ‘microevolved’ faster.

“Animals living in environments where the climate was warmer, had about 1.5 times more of these substitutions than the animals living in cooler environments.

“Dr Gillman explained that, at higher latitudes where environments are colder and less productive, animals often conserve their energy – hibernating or resting to reduce their metabolic activity.

“‘In warmer climates annual metabolic activity is likely to be greater, so this will lead to more total cell divisions per year in the germline.’

“These results support the idea that high tropical biodiversity is caused by faster rates of evolution in warmer climates.”

here’s the original research article: Latitude, elevation and the tempo of molecular evolution in mammals

one of the first things that popped into my mind — right after cool! — when hearing about this a few years ago was: so what could this mean for the out-of-africa (ooa) theory? one of the foundational pillars of ooa is that, because genetic variation is greatest in africans, they must be some of the oldest populations on earth ’cause they’ve acquired so many, many mutations — therefore, everyone else prolly came ooa:

“A 10-year study published in 2009 analyzed the patterns of variation at 1,327 DNA markers of 121 African populations, 4 African American populations, and 60 non-African populations. The research showed that there is more human genetic diversity in Africa than anywhere else on Earth….

“Human genetic diversity decreases in native populations with migratory distance from Africa and this is thought to be the result of bottlenecks during human migration, which are events that temporarily reduce population size. It has been shown that variations in skull measurements decrease with distance from Africa at the same rate as the decrease in genetic diversity. These data support the Out of Africa theory over the multiregional origin of modern humans hypothesis.”

but if genetic variation might be increased just by living in a hot climate … well … then what?

more recently, davidski over at eurogenes posted about this paper the other day: An Abundance of Rare Functional Variants in 202 Drug Target Genes Sequenced in 14,002 People. turns out african americans have a lot more rare genetic variants than europeans — and northern europeans have the least of all:

could the differences be related to the fact that these people’s ancestors came from different latitudes/climates and, so, their mutation rates were different? dunno. maybe.

previously: here’s my question

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consanguinity in england – north vs. south

in “Marriage Patterns in Two Wiltshire Parishes 1754-1914: Geographical Mobility, Consanguinity and Illegitimacy” [opens pdf], catherine linley day found that the average cousin marriage rates for stourton and kilmington parishes between the years of 1800 and 1914 were (pg. 243 – click on chart for LARGER view):

those are really low rates. the total average consangunity (first- AND second-cousin) rate is just 3.9%. going out all the way to include sixth cousins, the cousin marriage rate is still only 9.2%.

wiltshire is in sw england and is part of the area where hackett fischer’s “distressed cavaliers and indentured servants” came from.

meanwhile (well, not really meanwhile ’cause the centuries are off), in cumbria up north on the border with scotland (from Albion’s Seed):

“In many cases the husband and wife both came from the same clan. In the Cumbrian parish of Hawkshead, for example, both the bride and groom bore the same last names in 25 percent of all marriages from 1568 to 1704.”

so, up north, cumbrians were marrying their paternal kin twenty-five percent of the time — presumably anywhere from first- to sixth-cousins or even farther out, who knows? but that twenty-five percent only includes paternal kin. who knows how frequently they married maternal kin in addition?

i know, i know. the centuries don’t match so these data sets aren’t really comparable. but trust me — this is a general pattern for england — greater inbreeding in the north and less in the south. i’ll have some follow up posts offering more proof for this phenomenon. promise!

previously: but what about the english? and cousin marriage rates amongst nineteenth century english and english jews and exogamous marriage in medieval england and invention of the modern world

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