Humans are still evolving despite massive recent lifestyle changes, study finds – no way! =P – “The researchers analysed church records of births, marriages and deaths for 10,000 inhabitants of seven parishes in Finland since the beginning of the 18th Century and concluded that evolution is still occurring despite the dramatic cultural changes over the same period. ‘We are still evolving. As long as some individuals have more children and other individuals have fewer children than others, there is potential for evolution to take place,’ said Elisabeth Bolund of Uppsala University in Sweden. Dr Bolund and her colleagues at the universities of Sheffield and Turku in Finland…found that between 4 and 18 per cent of the variations between individuals in lifespan, family size and ages of first and last childbirth were influenced by genes. ‘This is exciting because if genes affected differences between individuals in these traits, it means they could also change in response to natural selection,’ Dr Bolund said…. The study, published in the journal Evolution, showed that the genetic influence on the timing of when someone is likely to begin a family and the overall size of the family has actually risen higher in recent times compared to the 18th and 19th Centuries. This means that modern humans could still be evolving because people are responding to Darwinian natural selection on the genetic differences between individuals within the population, the scientists said. ‘It is possible that we in modern societies have more individual freedom to express our genetic predispositions because social influences are more relaxed, and this leads to the genetic differences among us explaining more of the reproductive patterns,’ Dr Bolund said.” – h/t ed west!
The decline of human endogenous retroviruses: extinction and survival – “[W]e show that the human genome and that of other hominoids (great apes and gibbons) have experienced an approximately four-fold decline in the ERV integration rate over the last 10 million years.” – huh.
Did Fishermen Find Evidence of an Unknown Group of Primitive Humans? – “A fossilized jawbone pulled from the seafloor near Taiwan may be from an ancient type of hominin new to science…. [M]ultiple lineages of extinct humans may have coexisted in Asia before the arrival of modern humans.”
from lawrence kruass – “An interesting fact from Svante Paabo: How related are we to Neanderthals? On average like 1 Neanderthal relative 6 generations back!”
Fossil Provides Evidence Of Early Human Migration To Europe – “Some 55,000 years ago, a person — whether female or male, we don’t know — lived in Manot Cave in the western Galilee area of what is now Israel. Judging from the partial skull recovered from the cave, and described in Nature last week by Israel Hershkovitz of Tel Aviv University and his co-authors, the person was anatomically modern and closely related to the first modern humans who went on to colonize Europe.” – see also The Manot 1 skull and how we now look at Neandertal ancestry in early modern humans from john hawks.
Before Agriculture, Human Jaws Were a Perfect Fit for Human Teeth – “The emergence of agricultural practices initiated major changes to the jaw structure of ancient humans, leading to dental problems we still experience.”
Half of our [european] ancestry comes from the Pontic-Caspian steppe – “Here’s the latest teaser for the new David Reich et al. paper on the ethnogenesis of present-day Europeans. It’s part of an abstract for a seminar to be held by Professor Reich at Jesus College, Oxford, on February 9. Interestingly, it argues that migrations from the steppe resulted in a ~50% population turnover across northern Europe from the late Neolithic onwards.” – see also Strong (?) linguistic and archaeological evidence for steppe Indo-Europeans from dienekes.
A couple of AAPA 2015 abstracts to blow your socks off – “‘The origins of the Aegean palatial civilizations from a population genetic perspective.'” – cool! (^_^)
Mapping 61 Ancient Tattoos on a 5,300-Year-Old Mummy – ötzi the iceman had 61 tattoos!
Large multiallelic copy number variations in humans – “Thousands of genomic segments appear to be present in widely varying copy numbers in different human genomes…. We find that mCNVs give rise to most human variation in gene dosage—seven times the combined contribution of deletions and biallelic duplications—and that this variation in gene dosage generates abundant variation in gene expression.”
Your IQ in 13 genes (or about 29% of it) – from dr. james thompson.
105 years of the Flynn effect: very fluid – “Into this torrent of Flynn-Effectism jump Jakob Pietschnig and Martin Voracek with a large raft of a paper which runs to 179 pages, which is what you get when you have the temerity and the Teutonic thoroughness to plough through 105 years of data and assemble 271 independent samples from 31 countries, totalling almost four million participants. What sorts of childhood do German speakers have, which drives them to these immense labours?” – (~_^) – also from dr. james thompson.
Academic performance of opposite-sex and same-sex twins in adolescence: A Danish national cohort study – h/t jayman! who tweeted: “Opposite sex DZ twins & their math grades shows little evidence of hormonal masculinization in utero.”
Intergenerational Wealth Mobility in England, 1858-2012: New evidence based on rare surnames – “Descendants of the wealthy people of England in 1850 are still wealthy. They also have longer life spans than the average person; they are much more likely to attend Oxford or Cambridge; they still live in more expensive neighbourhoods; and they are more likely to be doctors or lawyers.”
Social mobility barely exists but let’s not give up on equality – “Too much faith is placed in the idea of movement between the classes. Still, there are other ways to tackle the unfairness of society.” – from greg clark. h/t ben southwood!
Genetic analysis of human extrapair mating: heritability, between-sex correlation, and receptor genes for vasopressin and oxytocin – “[W]e used data on recent extrapair mating in 7,378 Finnish twins and their siblings. Genetic modelling showed within-sex broad-sense heritability — i.e. the percentage of variation in extrapair mating due to genetic variation — of 62% in men and 40% in women. There was no between-sex correlation in extrapair mating, making indirect selection unlikely. Based on previous animal and human findings, we also tested for association of the arginine vasopressin receptor 1A gene (AVPR1A) and oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) with extrapair mating. We found gene-based association for AVPR1A in women but not in men, and OXTR showed no significant association in either sex. Overall, these findings confirm genetic underpinnings of extrapair mating in humans, but do not suggest that women’s predisposition to extrapair mating is due to selection on men.” – h/t erwin schmidt!
Science Is Not Always “Self-Correcting” – “Some prominent scientists and philosophers have stated openly that moral and political considerations should influence whether we accept or promulgate scientific theories. This widespread view has significantly influenced the development, and public perception, of intelligence research. Theories related to group differences in intelligence are often rejected a priori on explicitly moral grounds. Thus the idea, frequently expressed by commentators on science, that science is ‘self-correcting’ — that hypotheses are simply abandoned when they are undermined by empirical evidence — may not be correct in all contexts.” – no, indeed. =/ – from nathan cofnas.
Liberal Bias in Social Psychology: Personal Experience II – “‘To what extent is research on politicized topics in social psychology, psychology, and the social sciences distorted by political bias?’ Or, put differently, how much does political bias lead us to entirely unjustified and invalid conclusions?” – h/t claire lehmann! see also Liberal Bias in Social Psychology: Personal Experience I.
Harsh environments and “fast” human life histories: What does the theory say? – “A common belief among human life history researchers is that ‘harsher’ environments – i.e., those with higher mortality rates and resource stress – select for ‘fast’ life histories, i.e. earlier reproduction and faster senescence. I show that these ‘harsh environments, fast life histories’ – or HEFLH – hypotheses are poorly supported by evolutionary theory.” – h/t razib!
Lifecycle Patterns in the Socioeconomic Gradient of Risk Preferences [pdf] – h/t ben southwood! who tweeted: “Risk tolerance drops by 0.5sd between adolescence and age 40, but for badly-off it continues dropping to extremity.”
Evidence of polygenic selection on human stature inferred from spatial distribution of allele frequencies – from davide piffer who tweeted: “Different populations have different levels of genotypic height.”
Dorian Gray without his portrait: Psychological, social, and physical health costs associated with the Dark Triad – “Examined the Dark Triad and health in American, Australian, and British samples. Psychopathy was best associated with ‘negative’ health outcomes. Narcissism was associated with ‘positive’ health outcomes…. Sex differences in health outcomes were partially mediated by the Dark Triad.”
DNA methylation age of blood predicts all-cause mortality in later life – h/t stuart ritchie! (i don’t wanna die! =o )
Study uncovers genetics of motion sickness – i betcha i have every. single. one. =/
Correlation: The devil rides again? – bryan pesta on correlation…on his new(-ish) blog!
I Don’t Belong Here – on immigrants in france and their problems. lots o’ data! as usual from those who can see!
Your DNA Is Nothing Special – “It’s time to relax about genetic testing.” see also: It’s time for the United States to talk about genetics.
diana fleischman tweets: “85% of students in my lecture today think people shouldn’t be able to choose the sex of their baby.” also, from pew: “83% of Americans say changing a baby’s genes to make it more intelligent takes science too far.”
Amazonian horticulturalists live in larger, more related groups than hunter–gatherers – “Endogamous marriages among kin create intensive kinship systems with high group relatedness, while exogamous marriages among nonrelatives create extensive kinship with low group relatedness. Here, a sample of 58 societies (7,565 adults living in 353 residential groups) shows that average group relatedness is higher in lowland horticulturalists than in hunter–gatherers. Higher relatedness in horticulturalists is remarkable given that village sizes are larger, harboring over twice the average number of adults than in hunter–gatherer camps. The relatedness differential between subsistence regimes increases for larger group sizes.” – h/t andrew sabisky! (thanks, andrew! (^_^) )
On the Whole How You Raise Kids Doesn’t Matter Much – from razib.
How secular family values stack up – “[Bengston] was surprised by what he found: High levels of family solidarity and emotional closeness between parents and nonreligious youth, and strong ethical standards and moral values that had been clearly articulated as they were imparted to the next generation. ‘Many nonreligious parents were more coherent and passionate about their ethical principles than some of the “religious” parents in our study,’ Bengston told me. ‘The vast majority appeared to live goal-filled lives characterized by moral direction and sense of life having a purpose….’ [N]onreligious family life is replete with its own sustaining moral values and enriching ethical precepts. Chief among those: rational problem solving, personal autonomy, independence of thought, avoidance of corporal punishment, a spirit of ‘questioning everything’ and, far above all, empathy. For secular people, morality is predicated on one simple principle: empathetic reciprocity, widely known as the Golden Rule. Treating other people as you would like to be treated…. As one atheist mom who wanted to be identified only as Debbie told me: ‘The way we teach them what is right and what is wrong is by trying to instill a sense of empathy … how other people feel. You know, just trying to give them that sense of what it’s like to be on the other end of their actions.'”
Formation-flying birds swap places to share out lift – h/t steve stewart williams! who tweeted: “Reciprocal altruism is rare in nonhuman animals, but it looks like scientists have found another example.”
Commentary: Weighing the cost of ‘home rule’ in Maine – “The state’s system of strong municipal governments is rooted in the early Puritans’ fear of centralization of power.” – from colin woodard.
Ancient tablets reveal life of Jews exiled in Babylon – “…where the Judeans traded, ran businesses and helped the administration of the kingdom. ‘They were free to go about their lives, they weren’t slaves,’ Vukosavovic said. ‘Nebuchadnezzar wasn’t a brutal ruler in that respect. He knew he needed the Judeans to help revive the struggling Babylonian economy.'”
Among New York Subway’s Millions of Riders, a Study Finds Many Mystery Microbes – “Researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College released a study on Thursday that mapped DNA found in New York’s subway system — a crowded, largely subterranean behemoth that carries 5.5 million riders on an average weekday, and is filled with hundreds of species of bacteria (mostly harmless), the occasional spot of bubonic plague, and a universe of enigmas. Almost half of the DNA found on the system’s surfaces did not match any known organism and just 0.2 percent matched the human genome.” – ruh roh. =/
bonus: Even cockroaches have personalities – personality goes a long way. (~_^)
bonus bonus bonus: from john hawks – “[M]ale anthropology instructors are vastly more likely to exude spittle than any other field.” =P
bonus bonus bonus bonus: ricky gervais loves natural selection. (~_^)
bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: A Great Idea: Create an HMS Beagle in LEGO Form – “Vote to turn this tiny version of a famous ship into a LEGO kit available for all to enjoy.” – legohhhhhhhhs!!
bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: The Closest Thing to STAR WARS’ Greedo is Now a Catfish – Peckoltia greedoi! (^_^)
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