linkfest – 09/28/15

‘Tree of life’ for 2.3 million species released“A first draft of the ‘tree of life’ for the roughly 2.3 million named species of animals, plants, fungi and microbes — from platypuses to puffballs — has been released. A collaborative effort among eleven institutions, the tree depicts the relationships among living things as they diverged from one another over time, tracing back to the beginning of life on Earth more than 3.5 billion years ago. Tens of thousands of smaller trees have been published over the years for select branches of the tree of life — some containing upwards of 100,000 species — but this is the first time those results have been combined into a single tree that encompasses all of life.”

Taste Mutation Helps Monkeys Enjoy Human Food – nice example of recent and local evolution.

SNP hits on cognitive ability from 300k individuals – from steve hsu.

General Cognitive Ability Is Almost Perfectly Stable from Early Adulthood to Late Middle Age“[I]ndividual differences in general intelligence that exist at age 18 are almost perfectly preserved to age 60, after which this stability starts to slowly break down.” – @ human varieties.

Genome-wide autozygosity is associated with lower general cognitive ability“We found that increased levels of autozygosity predicted lower general cognitive ability, and estimate a drop of 0.6 s.d. among the offspring of first cousins (P=0.003–0.02 depending on the model). This effect came predominantly from long and rare autozygous tracts, which theory predicts as more likely to be deleterious than short and common tracts.” – discuss. (~_^)

Study Reports Rare Genetic Mutations Responsible for Almost Half of Autism Cases“Quantitative study identifies 239 genes whose ‘vulnerability’ to devastating de novo mutation makes them priority research targets.”

Genetic transmission of reading ability – h/t to the siberian fox! who tweeted: “Heritability of reading ability is 62%. Previous estimates lower because of assortive mating (r=.38).”

Clannishness – the Series: Zigzag Lightning in the Brain – from jayman. see also: a few thoughts. from me! (^_^)

Inequality among 32 London Boroughs: An S factor analysis and The general religious factor among Muslims: a multi-level factor analysis – from emil kirkegaard.

It’s official: The Maltese are the fattest in all of the European Union“Despite Malta’s weighty problem, the Maltese have a less than average prevalence of premature mortality from cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease.” – h/t staffan!

Support for linguistic macrofamilies from weighted sequence alignment“This article reports findings regarding the automatic classification of Eurasian languages using techniques from computational biology (such as sequence alignment, phylogenetic inference, and bootstrapping). Main results are that there is solid support for the hypothetical linguistic macrofamilies Eurasiatic and Austro-Tai.”

Our Mental Noise Grows More Intense As We Age, So Our Brains Lose Processing Speed Over Time

Ancient hominid ears were tuned to high frequencies“A. africanus and P. robustus could have heard high-frequency consonants associated with the letters t, k, f and s better than either chimps or present-day people do, the team found.”

Extreme Altruism – The Case of the Pathological Do-Gooder – from helian.

Personal values and intergroup outcomes of concern for group honor – h/t andrew sabisky! who tweeted: “group honour culture = more empathy, lower openness, more endorsement of violence towards Americans.”

Scope Insensitivity in Helping Decisions: Is It a Matter of Culture and Values? – h/t robin hanson! who tweeted: “Contrast to westerners, collectivist Bedouin NOT more willing to help one concrete victim than a group of victims.”

Indigenous Belief in a Just World: New Zealand Māori and other Ethnicities Compared“Māori have more ‘leftist’ beliefs than non-Māori (i.e., nearly 60% of Māori blame an unfair society compared to 41% of non-Māori).”

Tiny mitochondria play outsized role in human evolution and disease

An architecture for encoding sentence meaning in left mid-superior temporal cortex – h/t steve pinker! who tweeted: “The most important paper in cognitive neuroscience in many years: How does the brain represent who did what to whom?”

Sex differences and stress across the lifespan – h/t kevin mitchell!

Does the Welfare State Destroy the Family? Evidence from OECD Member Countries“[A]n expansion in the welfare state increases the fertility, marriage, and divorce rates with a quantitatively stronger effect on the marriage rate. We conclude that the welfare state supports family formation in the aggregate. Further, we find that the welfare state decouples marriage and fertility, and therefore, alters the organization of the average family.”

What is a standard deviation? A definition. – from pumpkin person.

Data analysis yields striking maps of human expansion in North American Holocene“[A] group of paleoclimatologists and anthropologists analyzed data recorded in the Canadian Archaeological Radiocarbon Database (CARD), which aggregates 35,905 radiocarbon samples from archaeological sites across the North American continent, and was created by Dr. Richard Morlan of the Canadian Museum of History. By applying a kernel density estimation method to the data, the researchers produced the first maps of temporally distinct paleo-demographic trends that correspond well to existing evidence of human expansion across North America in the Holocene.”

Scientists Discover 9,000-Year-Old Case of Decapitation in the Americas

Remains of 6,000-year-old first settlers [in ireland] found

Archaeological breakthrough could solve the mystery of Greenland’s Vikings

Regional microbial signatures positively correlate with differential wine phenotypes: evidence for a microbial aspect to terroir

bonus: Growing a penis at 12: the ‘Guevedoce’ boys of the Dominican Republic – (O.O) – h/t @don_arete!

and the tweet of the week! (~_^) :

(note: comments do not require an email. 5-alpha-reductase deficiency.)

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linkfest – 02/08/15

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.”

Neanderthals disappeared from the Iberian Peninsula earlier than in the rest of Europe

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.”

from sam dumitriu“Serial killers who kill for enjoyment rather than financial gain are on average 10 IQ points smarter.” [source] (…out of the ones that have been caught. =/ )

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!

Chimps with higher-ranking moms do better in fights

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!

Sources of Marital Conflict in Five Cultures [pdf] – h/t jayman! who tweeted: “‘Marital conflict tends to arise around issues relevant to reproductive strategies.'”

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.”

Shared Genetic Influences Between Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Traits in Children and Clinical ADHD

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.”

Why There Is No Perfect Human In Puerto Rico or Anywhere Else – h/t shrikant mantri!

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.

Searching For The Origins Of Individualism And Collectivism

The Implicit Assumptions Test“Does the IAT measure what proponents claim it does?” – short answer: no. – h/t steve stewart williams!

Liberal countries have more satisfied citizens while conservatives are happier individuals

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.'”

Iceland to build its first temple to the Norse gods in 1,000 years

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.

The Massacre of Europe’s Songbirds – by italians and balkan populations. h/t mr. robert ford!

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.'”

Discovery of writing at Peru’s Checta – possible 5000 year old writing from peru. h/t charles mann!

Found in Spain: traces of Hannibal’s troops – h/t donna yates!

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: In Bedbugs, Scientists See a Model of Evolution – h/t hbd bibliography!

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 CatfishPeckoltia greedoi! (^_^)

(note: comments do not require an email. baby olinguito!)

linkfest – 01/18/15

Ancient Jomon people not like present-day East Asians“‘We found a unique genetic position of the Jomon people who had diverged before the diversification of most of present-day East Eurasian populations including East Eurasian Islanders. This indicates that Jomon people were a basal population in East Eurasia and genetically isolated from other East Eurasians for long time.'” – h/t charles!

Uncovering the Genetic History of the Present-Day Greenlandic Population“[W]e analyzed ∼200,000 SNPs from more than 10% of the adult Greenlandic population (n = 4,674). We found that recent gene flow from Europe has had a substantial impact on the population: more than 80% of the Greenlanders have some European ancestry (on average ∼25% of their genome). However, we also found that the amount of recent European gene flow varies across Greenland and is far smaller in the more historically isolated areas in the north and east and in the small villages in the south. Furthermore, we found that there is substantial population structure in the Inuit genetic component of the Greenlanders and that individuals from the east, west, and north can be distinguished from each other. Moreover, the genetic differences in the Inuit ancestry are consistent with a single colonization wave of the island from north to west to south to east. Although it has been speculated that there has been historical admixture between the Norse Vikings who lived in Greenland for a limited period ∼600–1,000 years ago and the Inuit, we found no evidence supporting this hypothesis. Similarly, we found no evidence supporting a previously hypothesized admixture event between the Inuit in East Greenland and the Dorset people, who lived in Greenland before the Inuit.” – h/t razib!

Y chromosome super-fathers“Most of these lineages are so young that there are good chances that their founders were figures from history or mythology.” – from dienekes.

Bone Tool Discovered at Neanderthal Site in France“A bone tool from the Grotte du Bison at Arcy-sur-Cure in France is further evidence that Neanderthals had abilities usually attributed solely to modern humans….”

Early age of alcohol initiation is not the cause of alcohol use disorders in adulthood, but is a major indicator of genetic risk. A population-based twin study.“The association between early age of alcohol initiation and alcohol use disorders in later life does not reflect a causal relationship, but is due almost entirely to common genetic risk factors.”

α-Actinin-3: Why Gene Loss Is an Evolutionary Gain – h/t billare! who tweeted: “Positive selection for broken proteins: Derived ACTN3 mutation seems to help fast-twitch muscles fatigue less slowly.”

Do viruses make us smarter?“[R]etroviruses seem to play a central role in the basic functions of the brain, more specifically in the regulation of which genes are to be expressed, and when.”

Estimating the genotypic intelligence of populations and assessing the impact of socioeconomic factors and migrations – from davide piffer who tweeted: “New version of my paper with genetic distances. Migrations or drift less likely to explain results.” also, from the paper: “The results also provide preliminary evidence in favor of the hypothesis that poor environmental conditions (i.e. economic and sociocultural) tend to depress national IQ scores. Countries with lower per capita GDP and a lower index of Human Development tended to have larger positive ‘residuals’, that is the difference between the score predicted by the regression (of IQs for developed countries on the 4 SNPs g factor) and the actually measured IQ was larger in countries with lower GDP and HDI (r around 0.7). Thus, poorer and less developed countries have yet to reach their full intellectual potential. The results of this study indicate that the gaps in intellectual performance between some populations can be narrowed via adequate improvement of environmental conditions, however the overall pattern of intellectual scores is due to relatively stable and fixed (genetic) factors and cannot be substantially altered.” – see also terrific post from anatoly karlin on this paper!: Genetics, IQ, and Convergence.

Evidence of polygenic selection on human stature inferred from spatial distribution of allele frequencies – also from davide piffer.

Geographical Variation in Dementia: Examining the Role of Environmental Factors in Sweden and Scotland“We found a 2- to 3-fold geographical variation in dementia odds in Sweden, after twin random effects — likely to capture genetic and shared environmental variance — were removed. In Scotland, we found no variation in dementia odds in childhood but substantial variation, following a broadly similar pattern to Sweden, by adulthood. Conclusion: There is geographical variation in dementia rates.” – h/t erwin schmidt! – also Genetics and Underlying Pathology of Dementia.

Archaeogenomic insights into the adaptation of plants to the human environment: pushing plant–hominin co-evolution back to the Pliocene“The colonization of the human environment by plants, and the consequent evolution of domesticated forms is increasingly being viewed as a co-evolutionary plant–human process that occurred over a long time period, with evidence for the co-evolutionary relationship between plants and humans reaching ever deeper into the hominin past. This developing view is characterized by a change in emphasis on the drivers of evolution in the case of plants. Rather than individual species being passive recipients of artificial selection pressures and ultimately becoming domesticates, entire plant communities adapted to the human environment.” – h/t george perry!

Son of Edar“[S]omebody should look for characteristic racial differences in tears, sebaceous glands, Meobomian glands, and salivary glands. And possibly fingernails. They may well exist, be driven by this EDAR mutation, and some might play a role in its selective advantage.” – from greg cochran.

Quality vs Quantity“To the extent that human capital is a product of genetic factors (quite a lot), this tradeoff *does not exist*.” – also from greg cochran.

Lower mortality rates among Asian, Hispanic lupus patients“Asian and Hispanic patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) have lower mortality rates compared to Black, White, or Native Americans with the disease, scientists have found. Findings indicate that the risk for death among White patients is much lower than in Black and Native American SLE patients.”

Genetic errors linked to more ALS cases than scientists had thought – h/t jayman!

Is your face special?“Face recognition is highly heritable and weakly related to *g* so it probably has its own module, or a favoured set of circuits which only partly taps into the central processor power of general intelligence. So, not only is your face is special. but your specialised ability to recognise faces is even more special.” – from dr. james thompson.

Are flu shots effective? Your genetics determine how the immune system responds

Environment, more than genetics, shapes immune system“Everyone’s immune system is slightly different—a unique mixture of hundreds of these cells and proteins. But the main driver of this variation is unclear. Although scientists know that our immune system can adapt to our environment—that’s why vaccines work, for instance—it is also built by our genes…. After recruiting 210 identical and fraternal twins between 8 and 82 years old, Davis and colleagues took blood samples and measured more than 200 parameters of their immune systems. For example, they measured the numbers of 95 kinds of immune cells and 51 kinds of proteins. Today, the researchers report online in Cell that identical twins’ immune systems were too different for the variation to boil down to genetics. Indeed, environment overshadowed inheritance in three-quarters of the measurements, and half showed no measurable genetic influence. Moreover, younger twins were more similar than were older twins, evidence that as the twins aged and were exposed to different environments, their immune systems diverged over time.”

Levels of Selection Are Artefacts of Different Fitness Temporal Measures“I show by comparing the fitness of individuals with that of collectives of individuals in the same environment and over the same period of time – as required to decide if one or more levels of selection is acting in a population – that the selection of collectives is a by-product of selection at the individual level; thus, talking about two or more levels of selection represents merely a different perspective on one and the same process.”

Does incidental disgust amplify moral judgment? A meta-analytic review of experimental evidence [pdf] – “We meta-analyzed all available studies, published and unpublished, that experimentally manipulated incidental disgust prior to or concurrent with a moral judgment task (k=50). We found that there is evidence for a small amplification effect of disgust (d=.11), which is strongest for gustatory/olfactory modes of disgust induction. However, there is also some suggestion of publication bias in this literature, and when this is accounted for, the effect disappears entirely (d=-.01). Moreover, prevalent confounds mean that the effect size that we estimate is best interpreted as an upper bound on the size of the amplification effect. The results of this meta-analysis argue against strong claims about the causal role of affect in moral judgment and suggest a need for new, more rigorous research on this topic.” – h/t stuart ritchie!

The DNA photofit: Amazing breakthrough means police can tell suspect’s colour, height and even age – from a tiny speck of blood – daily mail.

The Coming Stability? The Decline of Warfare in Africa and Implications for International Security“The years 2010–2013 saw an increase of 35 per cent in African battle deaths over 2005–2010, but they still are 87 per cent lower than the 1990–1999 average…. Consequently, there is no Africa exception to the systemic shift towards lower levels of armed conflict.” – h/t mugwump!

The Scariest Explanation for America’s Vast Prison Population: We Want It That Way“[I]n federal prisons at least, Hispanics have overtaken blacks in the dubious distinction of being the most disproportionately imprisoned. Nor can we blame the war on drugs. The idea that vast numbers of Americans are in prison for smoking pot or snorting blow turns out to be a fantasy. About 20 percent of inmates are in for drug-related crimes, but those crimes are rarely limited to their own casual use. According to a 2004 estimate, only about 12,000 people were incarcerated for simple possession, without intent to traffic or distribute.”

Sorry, liberals, Scandinavian countries aren’t utopias“Finland, which tops the charts in many surveys (they’re the least corrupt people on Earth, its per-capita income is the highest in Western Europe and Helsinki often tops polls of the best cities), is also a leader in categories like alcoholism, murder (highest rate in Western Europe), suicide and antidepressant usage….” – [huh. even with all that tango dancing!] – “It turns out that the ‘warrior gene’ — actually the enzyme monoamine oxidase A, which is linked to impulsive behavior, violence and alcoholism — is especially prevalent in Finland. ‘Dark’ doesn’t just describe winter in the Arctic suburbs, it applies to the Finnish character.” – h/t ninja economics!

The relationship between anti-gay prejudice and the categorization of sexual orientation“[I]ndividuals reporting higher levels of anti-gay bias appear to be less accurate judges of sexual orientation.” but “Italians reporting greater anti-gay bias miscategorized fewer gay faces as straight.” – h/t ben southwood!

Legal Recognition of Same-Sex Couples and Family Formation“It has long been debated how legalizing same-sex marriage would affect (different-sex) family formation. In this article, I use data on OECD member countries for the period 1980–2009 to examine the effects of the legal recognition of same-sex couples (through marriage or an alternative institution) on different-sex marriage, divorce, and extramarital births. Estimates from difference-in-difference models indicate that the introduction of same-sex marriage or of alternative institutions has no negative effects on family formation…. In addition, the country-by-country case studies provide evidence of homogeneity of the estimated effects.”

Pair-Bonding, Romantic Love, and Evolution – The Curious Case of Homo sapiens“We conclude there is interdisciplinary support for the claim that romantic love and pair-bonding, along with alloparenting, played critical roles in the evolution of Homo sapiens.”

Sex ratio effects on reproductive strategies in humans – among the makushi people of guyana.

Antiquity of dairy farming in Ireland revealed“Research published today in the Journal of Environmental Archaeology shows that dairying on the island goes back approximately 6,000 years, revealed through traces of ancient dairy fats found in pots dating to around 4,000 to 2,500 BC.” – h/t frau katze!

The origin and evolution of maize in the American Southwest

A Breeder Apart: Farmers Say Goodbye to the Bull Who Sired 500,000 Offspring“Fans Commemorate ‘Toystory,’ a Dairy Legend With a Ravenous Libido” – the genghis khan of bulls! h/t mr. robert ford!

Items lost in the Stone Age are found in melting glaciers“Mittens, shoes, weapons, walking sticks – lost in the high mountains of Norway thousands of years ago – are now emerging from melting ice.”

bonus: ‘I can haz genomes’: cats claw their way into genetics“Canine dominance bows to tabby chic as cat sequencing takes off.”

bonus bonus: Some Microbes Can Eat And Breathe Electricity – whoa.

bonus bonus bonus: Britain’s oldest person Ethel Lang dies aged 114“Ethel Lang was believed to be the last person living in the UK who was born in the reign of Queen Victoria.” – h/t ed west!

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Two New Studies Posit At Least Two New Planets Out Beyond Pluto

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Whaleworld: Looking for cetacean culture – h/t steve stewart williams! who tweeted: “Millions of years before human culture appeared, there was culture in the ocean.” – cool!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Medieval Apps.

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Archaeologists find 132-year-old Winchester rifle leaning against Nevada desert tree

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Irn Bru release 57 Scottish tartan labels and clan finder website promotion (~_^)

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: “At some German crossings you can play a game of Pong with the person standing at the other side.” (^_^)

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: If birds in a truck fly, does the truck get lighter? – hey…don’t bogart that joint, new scientist!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Publish a Novel About Sherlock Holmes’s Brother Mycroft – danced a few dances with kareem! (^_^) (not a euphemism. for anything!)

(note: comments do not require an email. i can haz genomz?)

linkfest – 01/11/15

Genetic Variation in the Nuclear and Organellar Genomes Modulates Stochastic Variation in the Metabolome, Growth, and Defense“Systems biology is largely based on the principal that the link between genotype and phenotype is deterministic, and, if we know enough, can be predicted with high accuracy. In contrast, recent work studying transcription within single celled organisms has shown that the genotype to phenotype link is stochastic, i.e. a single genotype actually makes a range of phenotypes even in a single environment. Further, natural variation within genes can lead to each allele displaying a different phenotypic distribution. To test if multi-cellular organisms also display natural genetic variation in the stochastic link between genotype and phenotype, we measured the metabolome, growth and defense metabolism within an Arabidopsis RIL population and mapped quantitative trait loci. We show that genetic variation in the nuclear and organeller genomes influence the stochastic variation in all measured traits. Further, each trait class has distinct genetics underlying the stochastic variance, showing that there are different mechanisms controlling the stochastic genotype to phenotype link for each trait.” – h/t kevin mitchell! who tweeted: Some genomes are ‘noisier’ than others – robustness of developmental outcome is itself a genetic trait.

Evolutionary pattern in the OXT-OXTR system in primates: Coevolution and positive selection footprints“It was previously believed that placental mammals present no variability in oxytocin (OXT). The present study reports novel data on the diversity of OXT and its receptor (OXTR) in primate species, including New World monkeys. Contrary to prior expectations, we found three novel OXT forms and several OXTR nonsynonymous changes not previously described. In the Cebidae family, signals of positive selection were found for an OXT variant at position 8, which is associated with larger litter sizes. We detected positive selection for OXTR forms and report a coevolutionary process between changes in OXT and OXTR.”

Effects of the demographic transition on the genetic variances and covariances of human life history traits“The recent demographic transitions to lower mortality and fertility rates in most human societies have led to changes and even quick reversals in phenotypic selection pressures. This can only result in evolutionary change if the affected traits are heritable, but changes in environmental conditions may also lead to subsequent changes in the genetic variance and covariance (the G matrix) of traits. It currently remains unclear if there have been concomitant changes in the G matrix of life history traits following the demographic transition. Using 300 years of genealogical data from Finland, we found that four key life history traits were heritable both before and after the demographic transition. The estimated heritabilities allow a quantifiable genetic response to selection during both time periods, thus facilitating continued evolutionary change. Further, the G matrices remained largely stable but revealed a trend for an increased additive genetic variance and thus evolutionary potential of the population after the transition.” – h/t ruben c. arslan!

Mapping granny: ancestry inference for admixed individuals“In the December issue of G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics, Yang et al. describe a method for ancestry inference of admixed individuals that uses a geographic approach to explicitly model some of the messy realities of populations. Testing the new method on data from the Population Reference Sample project, the authors were able to localize the grandparents of admixed Europeans to within around 500 kilometres of their reported ancestry, while simultaneously identifying which segments of each person’s genome were inherited from each ancestor.”

Different neurodevelopmental symptoms have a common genetic etiology“Parents of all Swedish 9- and 12-year-old twin pairs born between 1992 and 2002 were targeted for interview regarding problems typical of autism spectrum disorders, ADHD and other neurodevelopmental conditions (response rate: 80 percent). Structural equation modeling was conducted on 6,595 pairs to examine the genetic and environmental structure of 53 neurodevelopmental problems. One general genetic factor accounted for a large proportion of the phenotypic covariation among the 53 symptoms. Three specific genetic subfactors identified ‘impulsivity,’ ‘learning problems,’ and ‘tics and autism,’ respectively.” – h/t jayman! who tweeted: More evidence for the p-factor. Common genetic factor underlies many mental disorders in study of all Swedish twins.”

Measuring missing heritability: Inferring the contribution of common variants“[T]he most reasonable hypothesis concerning ‘missing heritability’ is simply that larger sample size is required to find the many remaining alleles of small effect. Fisher’s infinitesimal model will turn out to be a good first approximation for most human traits.” – from steve hsu.

Self evident but unexplored – how genetic effects vary over time – from jason collins.

Mendelian and polygenic inheritance of intelligence: A common set of causal genes? Using next-generation sequencing to examine the effects of 168 intellectual disability genes on normal-range intelligence“Despite twin and family studies having demonstrated a substantial heritability of individual differences in intelligence, no genetic variants have been robustly associated with normal-range intelligence to date. This is largely ascribed to the high polygenicity of intelligence, i.e., to its being subject to the effects of a large number of genes of individually small effect. Intellectual disability, on the other hand, frequently involves large effects of single genetic mutations, many of which have been identified…. Using an existing pool of known intellectual disability genes, we constructed a set of 168 candidate genes for normal-range intelligence, and tested their association with intelligence in 191 individuals (aged 5–18) sampled from the high and low ends of the IQ distribution. In particular, we 1) employed exon sequencing to examine the possible effects of rare genetic variants in the 168 genes, and 2) used polygenic prediction to examine the overall effect of common genetic variants in the candidate gene set in a larger sample (N = 2125, mean age 20.4, SD = 14.1). No significant association between the candidate gene set and intelligence was detected.”

IQ and Birth Order Effects: Real? No – from jayman.

Educated parents more important than rich parents“Having a mobile phone, a video recorder and a game computer are associated with lower scholastic ability, and the only substantial positive correlation is with the number of books, and of course the cause may not be the books themselves, but the intellect and character of the families who choose to buy books.” – from dr. james thompson.

The inconsistency of studies of gender differences in cognitive abilities: due to using different methods? – from emil kirkegaard.

Familial Mediterranean fever – from greg cochran.

The etiologic role of genetic and environmental factors in criminal behavior as determined from full- and half-sibling pairs: an evaluation of the validity of the twin method“Heritability estimates for CB from full- and half-siblings closely approximated those found from twins in the same population, validating the twin method.” – h/t ben southwood! who tweeted: “N=1,005,471 study of Swedish siblings and half-siblings (reared together & apart) estimates criminal behaviour is 33-56% heritable.”

Genetic polymorphisms predict national differences in life history strategy and time orientation“Polymorphisms in three genes have been linked to aspects of life-history strategy. National frequencies of these polymorphisms form a strong single genetic factor. The genetic factor is strongly associated with national differences in life-history strategy. This association remains after controlling for national socioeconomic differences.”

Genetic clue points to most vulnerable children“Some children are more sensitive to their environments, for better and for worse. Now Duke University researchers have identified a gene variant that may serve as a marker for these children….” – h/t carlos esteban!

French lesson“Modern France is founded on Western principles of equality, human betterment, and universal morality. Anyone anywhere can become French. That view, the official one, seems more and more disconnected from reality.” – from peter frost.

Is Nothing Sacred? – thosewhocansee on the charlie hebdo killings.

Twin study suggests genetic factors contribute to insomnia in children, teens

Monkeys seem to recognize their reflections“Trained macaques studied themselves in mirrors, fuelling debate over animals’ capacity for self-recognition.”

Insights into hominin phenotypic and dietary evolution from ancient DNA sequence data“Nuclear genome sequence data from Neandertals, Denisovans, and archaic anatomically modern humans can be used to complement our understanding of hominin evolutionary biology and ecology through i) direct inference of archaic hominin phenotypes, ii) indirect inference of those phenotypes by identifying the effects of previously-introgressed alleles still present among modern humans, or iii) determining the evolutionary timing of relevant hominin-specific genetic changes. Here we review and reanalyze published Neandertal and Denisovan genome sequence data to illustrate an example of the third approach.”

A New Antibiotic That Resists Resistance

There is A Scientific Reason That Cold Weather Could Cause Colds“The rhinovirus that most commonly causes colds likes chillier temperatures, where the host’s immune system doesn’t fare so well…. [W]e now know that covering your nose might actually help it stay cold-free, in more than one way.” – yes! fiiiiinally!

Remains of long-dead viruses in our genomes aid our immune response

Skip Your Annual Physical“Regardless of which screenings and tests were administered, studies of annual health exams dating from 1963 to 1999 show that the annual physicals did not reduce mortality overall or for specific causes of death from cancer or heart disease…. [S]creening healthy people who have no complaints is a pretty ineffective way to improve people’s health. If you screen thousands of people, maybe you’ll find tens whose exams suggest they might have a disease. And then upon further tests, you’ll find it is really only a few individuals who truly have something. And of those individuals, maybe one or two actually gain a health benefit from an early diagnosis. The others may have discovered a disease, but one that either would never have become clinically evident and dangerous, or one that is already too advanced to treat effectively. For instance, early detection of most thyroid cancers leads to surgery, but in many cases those cancers would not have caused serious problems, much less death. Conversely, for individuals whose annual exams lead to the diagnosis of esophageal or pancreatic cancer, the early diagnosis might extend the time they know they have cancer but is unlikely to extend their lives.” – h/t jason collins!

Variation in cancer risk among tissues can be explained by the number of stem cell divisions“Some tissue types give rise to human cancers millions of times more often than other tissue types. Although this has been recognized for more than a century, it has never been explained. Here, we show that the lifetime risk of cancers of many different types is strongly correlated (0.81) with the total number of divisions of the normal self-renewing cells maintaining that tissue’s homeostasis. These results suggest that only a third of the variation in cancer risk among tissues is attributable to environmental factors or inherited predispositions. The majority is due to ‘bad luck,’ that is, random mutations arising during DNA replication in normal, noncancerous stem cells.”

Germs May Play Key Role in Wound-Induced Skin Cancer

Race and Police Killings: Additional Thoughts – from robert verbruggen who tweeted: “Three data sets now show that racial disparities in police shootings can be explained by violent crime rates.”

In Search of an Association Between Conception Risk and Prejudice [pdf] – h/t lars penke! who tweeted: “4 large studies (1 pre-reg) by @BrianNosek et al. fail to replicate menstrual cycle effects on racial biases.”

The Strange Inevitability of Evolution“Good solutions to biology’s problems are astonishingly plentiful…. [T]wo crucial things about the RNA sequence space. First, there are many, many possible sequences that will all serve the same function. If evolution is ‘searching’ for that function by natural selection, it has an awful lot of viable solutions to choose from. Second, the space, while unthinkably vast and multi-dimensional, is navigable: You can change the genotype neutrally, without losing the all-important phenotype. So this is why the RNAs are evolvable at all: not because evolution has the time to sift through the impossibly large number of variations to find the ones that work, but because there are so many that do work, and they’re connected to one another.” – h/t billare!

Skeptic’s Guide to Debunking Claims about Telomeres in the Scientific and Pseudoscientific Literature – h/t richard harper!

Mathematicians refute oft-cited ‘diversity trumps ability’ study“‘Diverse groups of people bring to organizations more and different ways of seeing a problem and, thus, faster/better ways of solving it,’ Page told The New York Times in 2008. ‘The reason: the diverse groups got stuck less often than the smart individuals, who tended to think similarly,’ Page said. ‘What the model showed was that diverse groups of problem solvers outperformed the groups of the best individuals at solving problems.’ But Thompson’s paper in the Notices of the American Mathematical Society systematically dismantles Page’s sophistic mathematics.”

Easter Island’s Demise May Have Surprising New Explanation“The downfall of Easter Island may have had more to do with preexisting environmental conditions than degradation by humans….”

13,000 Year Old Cosmic Impact Actually Just a Stone Age House Fire

bonus: Deep bacteria may evolve even without passing genes on“Bacteria living hundreds of metres below the seafloor carry more genetic changes than their peers nearer the surface – even though the deep microbes are unlikely to reproduce and undergo natural selection in its traditional sense…. The results show – for the first time, Briggs thinks – that the bacterial genomes change with depth: the micro-organisms at 554 metres carry more mutations in genes that code for energy-related processes like cell division and biosynthesis of amino acids than are seen in their shallower counterparts…. [I]f you take evolution in its broader sense to mean genetic changes across the population, then it might be occurring even without cell division, says Briggs. That’s because in theory, bacteria in these environments grow so slowly that they may survive for hundreds of thousands of years. Individual bacteria might have begun life at the seafloor before being gradually buried, over a period of thousands of years, as more sediment accumulated at the bottom of the sea. If so, perhaps the bacteria now at 554 metres were rare cells in the initial population that have now come to dominate because the other cells, which didn’t carry their genetic mutations, have all died.”

bonus bonus: Insights into the evolution of longevity from the bowhead whale genome“The bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) is estimated to live over 200 years and is possibly the longest-living mammal. These animals should possess protective molecular adaptations relevant to age-related diseases, particularly cancer. Here, we report the sequencing and comparative analysis of the bowhead whale genome and two transcriptomes from different populations. Our analysis identifies genes under positive selection and bowhead-specific mutations in genes linked to cancer and aging. In addition, we identify gene gain and loss involving genes associated with DNA repair, cell-cycle regulation, cancer, and aging. Our results expand our understanding of the evolution of mammalian longevity and suggest possible players involved in adaptive genetic changes conferring cancer resistance. We also found potentially relevant changes in genes related to additional processes, including thermoregulation, sensory perception, dietary adaptations, and immune response.”

bonus bonus bonus: A Museum’s Butterfly Emerged Half Male, Half Female“The rarity is like a natural experiment that tells scientists how genes and hormones interact to produce different sexes.”

(note: comments do not require an email. bowhead whale!)

linkfest: 06/10/14

Crickets in two places fall silent to survive“To hide themselves from deadly flies, crickets on two Hawaiian islands have evolved an inability to sing. Ten years ago, two years apart, males appeared on Kauai and Oahu with altered wings, which they would normally rub together to chirp and attract females. New findings published in the journal Current Biology show that the wing changes are physically different and arose from separate mutations. This makes the silent crickets a brand new example of ‘convergent evolution’.” – and some really rapid evolution!

Microbes May Drive Evolution of New Animal Species“[S]ymbiosis — a long-term, stable and often beneficial interaction between organisms — could drive two populations apart, the first step in the development of new species. Although the idea has been floating around for nearly a century, it has only recently begun to gain traction in biology. This idea contrasts sharply with the traditional picture of evolution, in which new species emerge either from geological isolation or from a relentless struggle for food and mates. According to this new hypothesis, a host organism’s microbes might trigger changes in mating and reproduction that begin to define two different populations.” – h/t charles!

you gotta read this!: Coincidental Killers“We assume that microbes evolved to attack humans when actually we are just civilian casualties in a much older war…. Many of the pathogens we fear most are mere tourists on the human body. Their real homes are oceans, caves, or soils. To understand them, we need to understand them within their natural ecology. Soil, for example, is an extreme habitat for a microbe: harsh and constantly changing. It can quickly oscillate from flood to drought, from scalding heat to freezing cold, and total darkness to intense solar radiation. It’s rife with other competing microbes, and crawling with hungry predators. We fear lions and tigers and bears; bacteria have to contend with phage viruses, nematode worms, and predatory amoebas. All of these conditions can lead to adaptations that make microbes accidentally suited for life in a human host. We are, after all, just another environment. A thick capsule that shields a microbe from dehydration could also shield it from our immune system. A spore that is adapted for travelling through the air can be easily inhaled into a respiratory tract.”

Genetically identical ants help unlock the secrets of larval fate“A young animal’s genes are not the only genes that determine its fate. The genetic identity of its caretakers matters too…. [A] team led by Serafino Teseo of the University of Paris 13 used the unique aspects of the [clonal] ants’ biology to test the indirect role genes play in shaping the future identity of larvae and whole colonies by looking at the interaction between larvae and adults. They did so by observing the success of two ant clones, A and B, in pure colonies or mixed together into chimeric colonies. They also swapped broods, so A adults raised B larvae and vice versa. It turned out that A and B larvae developed differently depending on whether A or B nurses raised them. Left alone, pure A colonies produced the most young after six generations, making them more successful than B. However, in mixed colonies, B did better because its larvae more frequently turned into large adults that specialize in egg-laying rather than smaller, foraging-focused individuals….” – h/t rolf muertter!

Mitochondrial DNA of first Near Eastern farmers is sequenced for the first time“According to conclusions, genetic affinities have been observed between the mitochondrial DNA of first Neolithic populations and the DNA of first Catalan and German farmers. This suggests that probably Neolithic expansion took place through pioneer migrations of small groups of population. Moreover, the two main migration routes — Mediterranean and European — might have been genetically linked. ‘The most significant conclusion — highlights Eva Fernández — is that the degree of genetic similarity between the populations of the Fertile Crescent and the ones of Cyprus an Crete supports the hypothesis that Neolithic spread in Europe took place through pioneer seafaring colonization, not through a land-mediated expansion through Anatolia, as it was thought until now….’ Other scientific studies had already provided signs of an alternative scenario of Neolithic spread in Europe different from the one through Anatolia. According to Turbón, ‘recent archaeological finds have proved that the Neolithic arrived to Cyprus around 10,600 years ago, some years after the first documentation of agricultural practices in the Near East.’ Architecture and burial models found in Cyprus’ sites are similar to the ones found in the Middle Euphrates basin, ‘that indicates a direct colonisation of these territories,’ highlights the author. ‘Besides, spatial interpolation of radiocarbon dates from different Neolithic sites in the Near East and Europe also suggests a first seafaring expansion through Cyprus,’ he concludes.” – orginal research article.

The Giant Rat of Sumatra and Sardinia and No True Sardinian – from greg cochran.

A twist in Austronesian origins“The Taiwanese origin of Austronesians is widely accepted. A new preprint confirms this theory, but adds a new twist to the story of Austronesian dispersals, as it seems that in their western expansion, Austronesians picked up some Austroasiatic ancestry. This means either that Austroasiatic speakers preceded them in islands where Austronesian languages are now spoken, or that the Austronesians picked up this kind of ancestry in the mainland before settling in the islands.” – from dienekes.

A new allele for blond hair“There is a widespread belief that whatever made Europeans fair-skinned also gave them their unique palette of hair and eye colors. In reality, fair skin has only a weak genetic linkage with either non-black hair or non-brown eyes.” – from peter frost. see also: A molecular basis for classic blond hair color in Europeans.

A Genetic Map of Fireworks in Time“French Canadians and Slavs are both cases of populations which were once relatively modest and began in a narrow delimited region, but now are quite expansive and numerous. In the case of the East Slavs the demographic expansion also entailed the absorption of numerous Uralic tribes, as well as later Turks. And this illustrates one of the major details which I think has characterized the genetic turnover of human populations: phase shifts from a relatively static one defined by isolation by distance gene flow across clinal gradiants, to a rapid expansion of a small subset, and the overlay of this component as a palimpsest over the underlying variation. In some cases the replacement is nearly total, as in the modern United States. In other cases, as among Great Russians, the Slavic affinities of this population, and its association with Poles and other groups are clear, but there was a non-trivial uptake of exogenous segments which might allow for a reconstruction of the prior genetic landscape. These changes occur over short periods, and are bright fireworks against the comparatively static firmament.” – from razib.

Male faces ‘buttressed against punches’ by evolution“A new theory suggests that our male ancestors evolved beefy facial features as a defence against fist fights. The bones most commonly broken in human punch-ups also gained the most strength in early “hominin” evolution. They are also the bones that show most divergence between males and females.” – h/t darwin evolution! – original research article.

Faster eye responses in Chinese people not down to culture“New research from University of Liverpool scientists has cast doubt on the theory that neurological behaviour is a product of culture in people of Chinese origin. Scientists tested three groups – students from mainland China, British people with Chinese parents and white British people – to see how quickly their eyes reacted to dots appearing in the periphery of their vision…. The findings, published in the journal PLoS One, revealed that similar numbers of the British Chinese and mainland Chinese participants made high numbers express saccades, with the white British participants made far fewer. Culturally the British Chinese participants were similar to their white British counterparts and different to the mainland Chinese students.”

Cultural differences in human brain activity: A quantitative meta-analysis“East Asians show enhanced activity underlying mentalizing and emotion regulation. Westerners show enhanced activity underlying self-reflection and emotional responses.”

Race could be a factor in head, neck cancer survival rates“The national survival rates for African-Americans diagnosed with head and neck cancer have not improved in the last 40 years despite advances in the treatment and management of the disease, researchers have found. The researchers suggest that inherent genetic factors in African-Americans may make some tumors resistant to treatments.”

Severe intellectual disability diagnosed by analysis of entire genome“[A]lmost all mental impairments are caused by new mutations that have not yet occurred in father or mother.” – h/t mr. robert ford!

New genes involved in food preferences will revolutionize diets and improve health“The researchers undertook genome wide association studies (GWAS) to try to unravel the genetic basis for certain food preferences. 2311 Italian subjects participated in the discovery step, while 1755 from other European countries and from Central Asia were used in order to further verify the findings. They uncovered 17 independent genes related to liking for certain foods, including artichokes, bacon, coffee, chicory, dark chocolate, blue cheese, ice cream, liver, oil or butter on bread, orange juice, plain yoghurt, white wine and mushrooms. Surprisingly, none of the genes thus identified belonged to the category of taste or smell receptors…. In a second study, the researchers amassed the response of around 900 healthy adults from North Eastern Italy to salt, and related this to a DNA sequence variation found on the KCNA5 gene, known to be related to taste pathways in mammals.”

First direct evidence for human sex pheromones“‘By using dynamic point-light displays that portray the gaits of walkers whose gender is digitally morphed from male to female, we show that smelling androstadienone systematically biases heterosexual females, but not males, toward perceiving the walkers as more masculine. By contrast, smelling estratetraenol systematically biases heterosexual males, but not females, toward perceiving the walkers as more feminine. Homosexual males exhibit a response pattern akin to that of heterosexual females, whereas bisexual or homosexual females fall in between heterosexual males and females. These effects are obtained despite that the olfactory stimuli are not explicitly discriminable. The results provide the first direct evidence that the two human steroids communicate opposite gender information that is differentially effective to the two sex groups based on their sexual orientation.'” – @deric bownds’ mindblog.

Genetic relatedness predicts contact frequencies with siblings, nieces and nephews: Results from the Generational Transmissions in Finland surveys“Individuals have more contacts with full than with half siblings. Individuals have more contacts with nieces/nephews via full than via half siblings. Individuals have more contacts with nieces/nephews via sisters than via brothers.” – h/t jayman!

Beware Armchair Psychoanalysis“‘Behavioral genetic studies have proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that heredity is responsible for a sizable portion of the variations in people’s personalities. Some people are more hot-tempered or outgoing or meticulous than others, and these variations are a function of the genes they were born with as well as the experiences they had after they were born. The exact proportion— how much is due to the genes, how much to the experiences—is not important; the point is that heredity cannot be ignored.'” – from jayman (quoting judith rich harris there).

SD-IE and other differentiation effects in Italy and Spain [pdf] – “SD–IE [strategic differentiation–integration effort] is a strategic differentiation effect present amongst indices of life history (LH), such that persons and populations of slow LH are more differentiated compared to those of fast LH. We found that this phenomenon is present amongst provinces in Italy and Spain, similarly to demonstrations among US states and Japanese prefectures. The average effect size of SD–IE was found to be bigger in Spain and Italy….. In the present study, we test SD–IE using regional-level data for counties in Spain and Italy.”

Is the smart fraction as valuable as previously thought?“‘Consistent with the intellectual class theory advocated by Rindermann and Thompson (2011) and Rindermann et al. (2009), our research findings showed strong evidence that those people that have high IQ are the most relevant influence on economic development. Although our results suggested that all three examined IQ categories promote higher economic growth, the intellectual class has the highest impact followed by the mean ability and non-intellectual classifications. Similarly, the intellectual class also has a highly significant effect on generating technological progress, whereas the influence of the other two groups is immaterial.'” – @dr. james thompson’s blog.

HVGIQ: Burma and HVGIQ: U.S. Virgin Islands – from jason malloy.

Life unworthy of life – post about, as jayman put it, who supports eugenics. – from the awesome epigone.

The Biology of Risk“The state of your body predicts your appetite for financial risk just as it predicts an athlete’s performance. If we understand how a person’s body influences risk taking, we can learn how to better manage risk takers. We can also recognize that mistakes governments have made have contributed to excessive risk taking.”

We can’t ignore the evidence: genes affect social mobility“Why do so many people fail to accept the overwhelming evidence that genes contribute to academic achievement and thereby social status?” – h/t hbd bibliography!

India’s Feudal Rapists

Old chaps? 3,300-year-old trousers found in China may be world’s oldest“Animal-fur menswear found on the bodies of two mummies in Xinjiang province ‘almost the same shape as today’s trousers'”

Grave find may be Western Europe’s earliest false tooth“Archaeologists have identified what could be remains of the earliest false tooth found in Western Europe. The dental implant comes from the richly-furnished timber burial chamber of an Iron Age woman that was excavated in Le Chene, northern France.”

Cat People Are Smarter Than Dog People, New Study Shows – (~_^) – ftr, i like both. i’m not a speciesist!

bonus: Blind cavefish are able to ‘count’“Blind cave-dwelling fish are able to discriminate between different quantities, scientists say…. Researchers say it is the first time non-visual numerical abilities have been shown in fish.” – h/t mo costandi!

bonus bonus: Bees build mental maps to get home“Study suggests the insects do not rely solely on the Sun as a compass…. ‘The surprise comes for many people that such a tiny little brain is able to form such a rich memory described as a cognitive map,’ says co-author Randolf Menzel, a neurobiologist at the Free University of Berlin.”

bonus bonus bonus: Nemo’s Dad Should Have Become His Mom, And Other Lies Children’s Movies Told You – h/t steve stewart williams!

(note: comments do not require an email. “i wandered lonely as a cloud….”)