Archives for posts with tag: mtDNA

‘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.)


here are a couple of thoughts on ashkenazi jews and the apparently high frequencies of mediterranean mtdna found in that population. i was going to include these in my response to prof. macdonald (prolly still will), but since that isn’t happening anytime soon, i thought i’d throw these out there. remember that these are just ideas, so don’t flip out on me!

if it’s correct that 80% of the mtdna of ashkenazi jews is of european — specifically mostly mediterranean, even more specifically very much italian — orgin, then it could very well have been that some male jews (traders?) from judea or alexandria married some roman women, either in or around rome or maybe even in southern gaul. as costa et al. proposed in their paper:

“Overall, it seems that at least 80% of Ashkenazi maternal ancestry is due to the assimilation of mtDNAs indigenous to Europe, most likely through conversion. The phylogenetic nesting patterns suggest that the most frequent of the Ashkenazi mtDNA lineages were assimilated in Western Europe, ~2 ka or slightly earlier. Some in particular, including N1b2, M1a1b, K1a9 and perhaps even the major K1a1b1, point to a north Mediterranean source. It seems likely that the major founders were the result of the earliest and presumably most profound wave of founder effects, from the Mediterranean northwards into central Europe, and that most of the minor founders were assimilated in west/central Europe within the last 1,500 years. The sharing of rarer lineages with Eastern European populations may indicate further assimilation in some cases, but can often be explained by exchange via intermarriage in the reverse direction….

“It is thought that a substantial Jewish community was present in Rome from at least the mid-second century BCE, maintaining links to Jerusalem and numbering 30,000–50,000 by the first half of the first century CE15. By the end of the first millennium CE, Ashkenazi communities were historically visible along the Rhine valley in Germany. After the wave of expulsions in Western Europe during the fifteenth century, they began to disperse once more, into Eastern Europe.

These analyses suggest that the first major wave of assimilation probably took place in Mediterranean Europe, most likely in the Italian peninsula ~2 ka, with substantial further assimilation of minor founders in west/central Europe. There is less evidence for assimilation in Eastern Europe, and almost none for a source in the North Caucasus/Chuvashia, as would be predicted by the Khazar hypothesis, — rather, the results show strong genetic continuities between west and east European Ashkenazi communities, albeit with gradual clines of frequency of founders between east and west….

The age estimates for the European founders might suggest (very tentatively, given the imprecision with present data) that these ancestral Jewish populations harboring haplogroup K and especially N1b2 may have had an origin in the first millennium BCE, rather than in the wake of the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 CE. In fact, some scholars have argued from historical evidence that the large-scale expansion of Judaism throughout the Mediterranean in the Hellenistic period was primarily the result of proselytism and mass-conversion, especially amongst women.”

just a reminder: the romans were outbreeders. they avoided cousin marriage. the proscriptions against cousin marriage were stronger earlier in the republican period than later, going from no marriage to third cousins or closer to first cousin marriage being allowed by the 200s b.c. but changes to mating patterns and people’s attitudes toward them take time. cosider how long it took for northern europeans to start following the church’s cousin marriage bans in the middle ages — around 300 years in the frankish kingdoms. also, cousin marriage is legal in germany today, and has been (mostly) since the days of luther, but cousin marriage rates remain very low. so i doubt if the roman cousin marriage rates shot up dramatically after the 200s b.c. (although you never know).

what i’m thinking is that the romans might have been quite okay with the idea of marrying their daughters off to some foreigners, especially since they didn’t have a tradition of marrying their cousins. jewish traders from the levant or wherever might not have had a hard time finding a nice roman girl to wed, either in rome itself or even in southern gaul perhaps. this could account for the “major wave of assimilation” in the north mediterranean that costa et al. think that they picked up in their mtdna analysis.

that only “minor founders” came from western/central europe might’ve had to do with the fact that northern europeans like the franks didn’t really start avoiding cousin marriage until the 800s, so they might not have been ready to marry some foreigners at all at that point. and that there was very little introgression whatsoever from eastern europeans should come as no surprise, given that it appears that eastern europeans continued to marry their cousins and be awfully clannish until quite late. when jews moved into eastern europe, they would’ve encountered a populace that barely intermarried between its own members, let alone with some outsiders.

if it’s correct that some jewish blokes married some roman chicks and then we got ashkenazi jews outta that combo AND if the theory of inbreeding/outbreeding/clannishness is right in any way (that’s two big ‘ifs’ there, in case you weren’t counting), then a funny thing to contemplate is that perhaps the jews who had moved northwards into germania in the very early part of the medieval period were some of the least clannish people up in that region, by virtue of the fact that they might’ve had a pretty heavy (outbred) roman ancestry while the northerners had barely begun to outbreed yet. i have to admit that this idea amuses me. (~_^) (just like the thought that much of the european introgression into african-americans likely came from the quite clannish ancestors of our southerners. heh.)

unfortunately, i don’t know what the mating patterns of jews in the levant (or elsewhere) looked like in second or first centuries b.c. not sure that we can guess by biblical proscriptions like those in leviticus either. those were from an earlier time, so it’s not certain they were being followed by our guys in italy. and there was a lot of behavioral variety among jews during this era, too — everything from hellenized jews to pharisees and sadducees, not to mention the jews who thought that jesus and his (universalistic) ideas were pretty cool, so i suspect that there must’ve been all sorts of mating patterns in the middle east at the time. so who knows how clannish (or not) the jews in rome were. no idea.

finally, icymi, i think the subsequent mating patterns of ashkenazi jews went like this. Further Research is RequiredTM.

in any case, mating patterns — and marriage traditions — matter.

see also: Genes Suggest European Women at Root of Ashkenazi Family Tree and Did Modern Jews Originate in Italy?

previously: what did the romans ever do for us? and historic mating patterns of ashkenazi jews

(note: comments do not require an email. roman jewish dude.)

Europeans drawn from three ancient “tribes”“The modern European gene pool was formed when three ancient populations mixed within the last 7,000 years, Nature journal reports. Blue-eyed, swarthy hunters mingled with brown-eyed, pale skinned farmers as the latter swept into Europe from the Near East. But another, mysterious population with Siberian affinities also contributed to the genetic landscape of the continent.” – see also: Before Slavery“From what I can see so far, it looks as the invaders killed all the LBK-descended farmers in northern Europe, or nearly so. The locals had had long trapezoidal houses clustered in small villages: the Corded Ware culture has almost no buildings at all, and a lot less agriculture. They didn’t make the EEF guys serfs and get a cut of their grain – the villages disappeared. They didn’t tax them, but then money and bureaucracy hadn’t been invented yet. Same for slavery: hadn’t been invented, probably. Judging from the mtDNA patterns, they didn’t even grab many of the nubile women. The genetic mix changes little as you move across the north European plain: if the invaders were picking up local genes as they rolled along, it should have. We used to call Corded Ware the Battle-Axe culture, but that’s too accurate for comfort.” – from greg cochran.

They weren’t wimps: how modern humans, like Neanderthals, braved the northern cold“Recent finds at Willendorf in Austria reveal that modern humans were living in cool steppe-like conditions some 43,500 years ago – and that their presence overlapped with that of Neanderthals for far longer than we thought.” – h/t mr. robert ford!

Stone Age groups made similar toolmaking breakthroughs“Different palaeolithic populations around the world might have developed a crucial toolmaking skill independently. This conclusion, based on the analysis of hundreds of artefacts from a recently excavated archaeological site in Armenia, weakens a long-held theory that Stone Age people in Eurasia learnt sophisticated techniques from migrating African tribes. The work is published in Science.”

Human paternal and maternal demographic histories: insights from high-resolution Y chromosome and mtDNA sequences“Comparisons of maternally-inherited mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and paternally-inherited non-recombining Y chromosome (NRY) variation have provided important insights into the impact of sex-biased processes (such as migration, residence pattern, and so on) on human genetic variation…. Our results confirm the controversial assertion that genetic differences between human populations on a global scale are bigger for the NRY than for mtDNA, although the differences are not as large as previously suggested. More importantly, we find substantial regional variation in patterns of mtDNA *versus* NRY variation.” – h/t juan fernández lópez! – see also: New analysis of human genetic history reveals female dominance – (heh. that was a nice twist on the story! (~_^) ) h/t frau katze!

23andMe mega-study on different American groups – @dienekes’. see also: The genetic ancestry of African, Latino, and European Americans across the United States.

Admixture in Latin America: Geographic Structure, Phenotypic Diversity and Self-Perception of Ancestry Based on 7,342 Individuals“We estimated individual ancestry proportions in a sample of 7,342 subjects ascertained in five countries (Brazil, Chile, Colombia, México and Perú). These individuals were also characterized for a range of physical appearance traits and for self-perception of ancestry. The geographic distribution of admixture proportions in this sample reveals extensive population structure, illustrating the continuing impact of demographic history on the genetic diversity of Latin America. Significant ancestry effects were detected for most phenotypes studied. However, ancestry generally explains only a modest proportion of total phenotypic variation. Genetically estimated and self-perceived ancestry correlate significantly, but certain physical attributes have a strong impact on self-perception and bias self-perception of ancestry relative to genetically estimated ancestry.” – see also razib: The Phenotypic and the Genotypic.

Ashkenazi Jewish population has distinctive, yet similar genomes“Post-population bottleneck, descendants of Eastern European Jews are all 30th-ish cousins…. Compared to genomes of modern Europeans—in this case, the genomes of 26 Flemish people—the Ashkenazi genomes have 47 percent more novel DNA differences per genome. These DNA variants, while novel, are population specific; sequence sharing, where two individuals have a set of the same variants, is eight percent more abundant among the Ashkenazi Jews than it is between the two populations or even among the Flemish genomes.” – h/t billare!

Why Did Civilization Lag in Africa? – from steve sailer.

Force of nature gave life its asymmetry“‘Left-handed’ electrons destroy certain organic molecules faster than their mirror versions.”

make sure not to miss jayman’s new Obesity Facts page. and give him some money, too! (^_^)

A fruitful encounter“Did the Christian doctrine of original sin create the guilt cultures of Northwest Europe? Or did the arrow of causality run the other way?” – from peter frost.

Review: G Is for Genes: The Impact of Genetics on Education and Achievement (Kathryn Asbury, Robert Plomin) – from emil kirkegaard.

The hereditarian hypothesis almost certainly true“Surely, there are huge benefits to being the first author to publish a study that almost conclusively disproves the genetic model for AA’s. Researchers with access to the data have a strong incitement to publish such a study. If the data supports the view, they have all the necessary means too. Since they haven’t published it, we can hence infer that the data does not support the politically favorable non-genetic conclusion, but instead the genetic model.” – also from emil kirkegaard.

Cognitive ability and party identity in the United States“[I]ndividuals who identify as Republican have slightly higher verbal intelligence than those who identify as Democrat…. [H]igher intelligence among classically liberal Republicans compensates for lower intelligence among socially conservative Republicans.” – the results suggest. – h/t stuart ritchie!

Lighter-skinned minorities are more likely to support Republicans

A study of the performance of Egyptian college students on the Advanced Progressive Matrices“The Egyptian raw scores were transformed to British IQ equivalents using the published 1992 British norms for the APM, on which the sample obtained a British IQ of 89.5. Science students obtained a significantly higher average mean score than arts students by 7.5 IQ points. Male students obtained a non-significantly higher average IQ than female students 1.2 IQ points. Male students had greater variability than the female students.” – h/t erwin schmidt!

The Available Pool – ed realist goes all voldemort on us. again.

Epigenetics, the Glory and the Hype“Epigenetics is real. But it doesn’t change everything. That needs to be said, because people seem to get the impression that everything is changed.” – from razib.

Human preferences for sexually dimorphic faces may be evolutionarily novel [pdf] – “A large literature proposes that preferences for exaggerated sex typicality in human faces (masculinity/femininity) reflect a long evolutionary history of sexual and social selection. This proposal implies that dimorphism was important to judgments of attractiveness and personality in ancestral environments. It is difficult to evaluate, however, because most available data come from large-scale, industrialized, urban populations. Here, we report the results for 12 populations with very diverse levels of economic development. Surprisingly, preferences for exaggerated sex-specific traits are only found in the novel, highly developed environments. Similarly, perceptions that masculine males look aggressive increase strongly with development and, specifically, urbanization.” – h/t jayman!

Do your genes skew how you taste alcohol?“A new study shows that how people perceive and taste alcohol varies as a result of genetics. The scientists focused on three chemosensory genes—two bitter-taste receptor genes known as TAS2R13 and TAS2R38 and a burn receptor gene, TRPV1. The research is the first to consider whether variation in the burn receptor gene might influence alcohol sensations, which has not previously been linked to alcohol consumption.” – alcohol tastes gooooood! (~_^) – h/t phillip melton!

Parent–Offspring Similarity for Drinking: A Longitudinal Adoption Study [pdf] – “Findings imply that genetic influences on drinking behavior increase with age while shared family environment influences decline, especially during the transition from late-adolescence to early adulthood.” – h/t emil kirkegaard!

Violent Video Games and Real-World Violence: Rhetoric Versus Data“Contrary to the claims that violent video games are linked to aggressive assaults and homicides, no evidence was found to suggest that this medium was positively related to real-world violence in the United States. Unexpectedly, many of the results were suggestive of a decrease in violent crime in response to violent video games. Possible explanations for these unforeseen findings are discussed and researchers are cautioned about generalizing the results from laboratory and correlational studies to severe forms of violent behavior.” – h/t mugwump! who tweeted some of the tables here, here, and here.

The Objective Morality Delusion“Atheists often scorn those who believe in the God Delusion. The faithful, in turn, scorn those atheists who believe in the Objective Morality Delusion. The scorn is understandable in both cases, but I give the nod to the faithful on this one….” – from helian.

Paradox of nationalism“Nationalism as we know it arose in modern times in Europe. Other countries outside Europe just don’t seem to have the same thing, although there are exceptions, such as Japan, or maybe Turkey. And in fact, nationalism was at one time considered a part of liberalism – which is another European invention…. Other countries that don’t have the same history as Europe seem unlikely to develop that kind of nationalism. Think of Iraq, Syria, most African countries, even China: they are more given to clannishness than patriotism.” – from mr. mangan, esq.

Plant breeding, not working slaves harder, drove cotton efficiency gains in the US South – from pseudoerasmus.

Confusion Over the Biological Reality of the Human Races“[O]ne can see clearly why Wade’s argument is not racist: at the core of his argument is his claim that the tribalism of racial ethnocentrism belongs to an ancient stage of human evolution that has to be overcome to move into modern states and inclusive institutions (see Wade, 136, 173-82, 196-97).” – larry arnhart on A Troublesome Inheritance.

Yes, it’s official, men are from Mars and women from Venus, and here’s the science to prove it“In his fascinating new book the developmental biologist Lewis Wolpert argues that there is actually hard science behind many of our stereotypical gender roles.” – h/t claire lehmann!

The Woman’s Heart Attack“[M]en more typically have ‘crushing’ pain; women, nausea. That women are likelier to have early warning signs, such as unaccustomed fatigue or insomnia (unaccustomed: That’s the key word here). That we are likelier — this spooked me and kept me, for months, glued to calendars — to die within a year of a heart attack. That our symptoms can be so varied and nuanced that we feel no fear, seek no help, and possibly die — which may be why, although more men have heart attacks, a greater percentage of women die of them.”

The Evolution of Culturally-Variable Sex Differences: Men and Women Are Not Always Different, but When They Are…It Appears *Not* to Result from Patriarchy or Sex Role Socialization“[E]vidence is marshaled across 21 data sources that directly challenge this foundational assumption of social role theory. Empirically, sex differences in most psychological traits — in personality, sexuality, attitudes, emotions, behaviors, and cognitive abilities — are conspicuously *larger* in cultures with more egalitarian sex role socialization and greater sociopolitical gender equity. Even sex differences in many physical traits such as height, obesity, and blood pressure are larger in cultures with more egalitarian sex role socialization and greater sociopolitical gender equity.”

School Performance After Preterm Birth“An increased risk of poor school performance for children born preterm has been shown in many studies, but whether this increase is attributable to preterm birth per se or to other factors associated with preterm birth has not been resolved…. Preterm birth was strongly and negatively correlated with school performance. The distribution of school grades for children born at 31-33 weeks was on average 3.85 (95% confidence interval = -4.36 to -3.35) centiles lower than for children born at 40 weeks. For births at 22-24 weeks, the corresponding figure was -23.15 (-30.32 to -15.97). When taking confounders into account, the association remained. When restricting the analysis to siblings, however, the association between school performance and preterm birth after week 30 vanished completely, whereas it remained, less pronounced, for preterm birth before 30 weeks of gestation. Our study suggests that the association between school performance and preterm birth after 30 gestational weeks is attributable to factors other than preterm birth per se.”

Are Neighborhood Health Associations Causal? A 10-Year Prospective Cohort Study With Repeated Measurements – h/t amir sariaslan! who tweeted: “Neighborhoods did not cause health outcomes in Australian large longitudinal within-individual study over 10 years.”

Seat of Selflessness Found in Brains of Extreme Altruists“In this case researchers chose to study people who donated a kidney to a complete stranger. They found that not only are extreme altruists’ brains different from a normal person’s, they’re basically the opposite of a psychopath’s in one key way – indicating that a specific brain region may play an important role in people’s ability to care for one another.” – n=39, but it’s a start!

Can the Game of Thrones option save the UK?“The situation now resembles the Union of Crowns from 1603-1707 when Scotland had its own parliament but was still under the king in Westminster, and Cameron is behaving like Charles I: making promises to his northern kingdom that affect the southern one, without regards to how the southerners feel. Just as in 1640, the greatest protests are coming from the east of England, once the stronghold of Puritanism and the parliamentary rebels and now the Ukip heartland.” – from ed west.

God, Darwin and My College Biology Class“[A] third consequence of evolutionary insights: a powerful critique of theodicy, the scholarly effort to reconcile belief in an omnipresent, omni-benevolent God with the fact of unmerited suffering. Theological answers range from claiming that suffering provides the option of free will to announcing (as in the Book of Job) that God is so great and we so insignificant that we have no right to ask. But just a smidgen of biological insight makes it clear that, although the natural world can be marvelous, it is also filled with ethical horrors: predation, parasitism, fratricide, infanticide, disease, pain, old age and death — and that suffering (like joy) is built into the nature of things. The more we know of evolution, the more unavoidable is the conclusion that living things, including human beings, are produced by a natural, totally amoral process, with no indication of a benevolent, controlling creator.” – david barash, pessimist(?).

Incest a “fundamental right” says German committee says“Anti-incest laws in Germany could be scrapped after a government-backed group said relationships between brothers and sisters should be legal.” – those wacky germans! h/t anatoly!

Radicalised Muslims in UK more likely to be born in Britain, rich and depressed“Young British Muslims whose families have lived in the UK for generations are more at risk of radicalisation than recent migrants to Britain, according to new research which reveals the common characteristics of those most vulnerable to recruitment by terrorists.” – we’ve seen that pattern before. h/t ed west!

Millions of Old Tyres are Dumped Near Empty Apartment Blocks in Spanish Ghost Town – you HAVE to see the photos! h/t ian geldard!

bonus: Skin coloring of rhesus macaque monkeys linked to breeding success, new study shows

bonus bonus: Fantastically Wrong: Europe’s Insane History of Putting Animals on Trial and Executing Them – h/t kyle hill!

bonus bonus bonus: Belgium to build beer pipeline under Bruges – those wacky belgians!

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

African pygmies evolved their short stature twice“In the rainforests of Africa, being small is so helpful that it evolved twice in separate groups. Luis Barreiro of the University of Montreal in Quebec, Canada, and his colleagues identified 16 regions of the genome associated with short stature in the Batwa pygmies of Uganda. They then compared these regions in 169 Batwa and 74 Baka pygmies from West Africa. ‘In both groups, there was greater variation in those regions associated with being short, but no overlap between them,’ says Barreiro. This suggests they evolved their stature independently instead of inheriting the same ‘pygmy genes’ from a common ancestor.”

The strange history of the North American Arctic“Archaeologists mapping ancient cultures in the North American Arctic — a region spanning present-day Greenland — have long puzzled over how different cultures relate to one another. Now, an unprecedented large-scale genomics study has traced many such cultures to the Paleo-Eskimos, a people who early inhabited the harsh environment continuously for 4000 years, only to vanish mysteriously about 700 years ago. The discovery could change how scientists understand migration patterns in the North American Arctic…. After comparing the ancient and modern genetic data, the researchers found that the Saqqaq and Dorset cultures belonged to one Paleo-Eskimo people, whose genetic lineage continued in the region for more than 4000 years, from 3000 B.C.E. to 1300 C.E., contradicting previous theories that the diverse cultures came from different peoples. The Paleo-Eskimos are genetically distinct from Native Americans and Inuits, which means they represent a separate, later pulse of migration into the New World, says evolutionary geneticist Eske Willerslev of the University of Copenhagen, a co-author of the study. This contradicts previous theories that humans arrived in the Americas in three waves, painting a scenario of four waves instead — the Amerinds, the Na Dene Native Americans, the Paleo-Eskimos, and the Neo-Eskimo Thules…. What intrigues researchers most is why the Paleo-Eskimo lineage disappeared after the late Dorsets, around the same time that Neo-Eskimo Thules expanded rapidly to the Arctic. Archaeologists have found no evidence of violent conflict between the Thules and the Dorsets, but it would be hard to ignore contrasts between the two groups. The whale-hunting Thules lived in large, well-organized villages and boasted advanced technologies such as dog sleds and sinew-backed bows. The Dorsets, on the other hand, lived in small villages of 20 to 30 people and hunted with chipped stone blades. The researchers suspect that the Dorsets might have been pushed out to the fringes of the Arctic, or perhaps annihilated by a disease. ‘It’s just mind-blowing to imagine an entire people who just completely vanished,’ Willerslev says.” — see also Degüello from greg cochran.

Genetic changes transformed wild rabbits into tame bunnies, DNA study reveals“When humans domesticated wild rabbits and turned them into pet store favorites, they also changed their genome, a study has found…. The domestication of rabbits happened much more recently than that of cattle, sheep, pigs and dogs, which happened between about 15,000 and 9,000 years ago. Monks in monasteries in the south of France first domesticated northwestern europeans rabbits around 1,400 years ago…. [T]he researches report in the journal Science, small pre-existing genetic variations — sometimes just one letter of DNA code — started to become more common in the animals as they became domesticated. These variations generally didn’t affect the genes themselves, but rather acted on the genome’s regulatory regions, which are in control of whether genes are turned on or off. ‘Wild and domestic rabbits do not differ so much in actual protein sequences, but in how gene and protein expression is regulated,’ says Andersson. Among the genes particularly targeted during domestication were those involved in rabbits’ brains and nervous systems. That’s to be expected, Andersson says, because the differences between domestic and wild rabbits are almost all behavioral, while physical differences are slight…. Domestication of rabbits was made easier because the wild variety is a highly polymorphic species that already possesses many of gene variants selectively enhanced during domestication, the researchers say. That is likely to have been the case with most domesticated species, they say. ‘We predict that a similar process has occurred in other domestic animals and that we will not find a few specific genes that were critical for domestication,’ Andersson says.” — see also: Rabbit genome analysis reveals a polygenic basis for phenotypic change during domestication.

Comparative population genomics in animals uncovers the determinants of genetic diversity – h/t lars penke! who tweeted: “Across species, higher genetic diversity is not predicted by ecology, but by faster life history.”

Genome-wide genotype and sequence-based reconstruction of the 140,000 year history of modern human ancestry“We investigated ancestry of 3,528 modern humans from 163 samples. We identified 19 ancestral components, with 94.4% of individuals showing mixed ancestry. After using whole genome sequences to correct for ascertainment biases in genome-wide genotype data, we dated the oldest divergence event to 140,000 years ago. We detected an Out-of-Africa migration 100,000–87,000 years ago, leading to peoples of the Americas, east and north Asia, and Oceania, followed by another migration 61,000–44,000 years ago, leading to peoples of the Caucasus, Europe, the Middle East, and south Asia. We dated eight divergence events to 33,000–20,000 years ago, coincident with the Last Glacial Maximum. We refined understanding of the ancestry of several ethno-linguistic groups, including African Americans, Ethiopians, the Kalash, Latin Americans, Mozabites, Pygmies, and Uygurs, as well as the CEU sample. Ubiquity of mixed ancestry emphasizes the importance of accounting for ancestry in history, forensics, and health.” — don’t miss figure 2!

Seals May Have Carried Tuberculosis To The New World — thousand-year-old skeletons from peru suggest seals brought tuberculosis to americas.

Y Chromosomes of 40% Chinese Descend from Three Neolithic Super-Grandfathers“This observation suggests that the main patrilineal expansion in China occurred in the Neolithic Era and might be related to the development of agriculture.”

Blue Eyes Are More Common Than Any Other Colour in Britain“The Blue Eyes Project has found that although all eyes in Britain were once brown, they are now 48% blue, 30% green and just 22% brown…. The study mapped eye colour across the UK and Ireland and found that Scottish and Irish people are more likely to have blue eyes than in other parts of the UK, particularly the south. Just over a third (35%) of the population of south-west England and 41% in east England have blue eyes, compared to 57% in southeast Scotland…. Blue eyes are the result of a variant in the HERC2 gene, which, when it mutates, switches off the supply of brown-eye forming melanin, researchers say. Green eyes are also a result of this change, because they arise from a combination of the blue variant with brown. The first gene mutation resulting in blue eyes is understood to have occurred in the Baltic region around 10,000 years ago.”

Neanderthals in Europe Died Out Thousands of Years Sooner Than Some Thought, Study Says

The Other Neanderthal – h/t billare! who tweeted: “‘Denisovans are an example of…how mitochondrial DNA [misleads], & only the nuclear genome tells the full story.'”

Admixture in South African Afrikaners — from razib.

Finland’s love of milk dates back to the Stone Age“A combined team from the Universities of Bristol (England) and Helsinki (Finland) have been examining examples of Corded Ware pottery found in the northern parts of Finland. The pieces examined were cooking pots dated at 3,900 to 3,300 BCE and also approx. 2,500 BCE. Astonishingly the pots from 2,500 BCE contained traces of milk fats. This proved that the inhabitants at that time, despite a climate where it can snow for up to four months of the year, had domesticated animals.”

Holding a Mirror to Their Natures“[U]nrelated look-alikes showed little similarity in either personality or self-esteem. By contrast, twins — especially identical twins — score similarly on both scales, suggesting that the likeness is largely because of genetics…. Personality traits do not appear to be influenced by the way people are treated because of appearance. Moreover, they found, there appears to be no special bond between look-alikes. Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist at Rutgers University who is also an identical twin, praised that study, saying it went to the heart of what makes people form a bond. ‘Even in cases where a person is a dead ringer for another, the natural pull is not there,’ Dr. Fisher said, ‘which builds the case that there is an underlying biology to kinship.'” — h/t steve stewart williams!

On the genetic architecture of intelligence and other quantitative traits — from steve hsu. h/t richard harper! who tweeted: “cognitive ability gene search requires sample sizes of 10,000 genes across a million persons.”

Genes Influence Young Children’s Human Figure Drawings and Their Association With Intelligence a Decade Later“Do genes influence individual differences in this species-typical behavior, and is drawing related to intelligence (g) in modern children? We report on the first genetically informative study of children’s figure drawing. In a study of 7,752 pairs of twins, we found that genetic differences exert a greater influence on children’s figure drawing at age 4 than do between-family environmental differences. Figure drawing was as heritable as g at age 4 (heritability of .29 for both). Drawing scores at age 4 correlated significantly with g at age 4 (r = .33, p < .001, n = 14,050) and with g at age 14 (r = .20, p < .001, n = 4,622). The genetic correlation between drawing at age 4 and g at age 14 was .52, 95% confidence interval = [.31, .75]. Individual differences in this widespread behavior have an important genetic component and a significant genetic link with g." – h/t rosalind arden!

Differences in intelligence between ethnic minorities and Han in China

The Canadian IQ calculated from the standardization of the WAIS IV eh? — h/t emil kirkegaard (no relation)!

Genome-wide screening for DNA variants associated with reading and language traits

Differences in cognitive abilities among primates are concentrated on G: Phenotypic and phylogenetic comparisons with two meta-analytical databases“Using meta-analytic databases of ethological observations of cognitive abilities involving 69 primate species, we found that cognitive abilities that load more strongly on a common factor (which is here termed G, in line with the terminology developed in previous literature to describe aggregated measures of general intelligence) are associated with significantly bigger interspecies differences and bigger interspecies variance. Additionally, two novel evolutionary predictions were made: more G-loaded abilities would present (1) weaker phylogenetic signals, indicating less phylogenetic conservativeness, and (2) faster rates of trait evolution, as it was hypothesized that G has been subjected to stronger selection pressures than narrower, more domain-specific abilities. These predictions were corroborated with phylogenetic comparative methods, with stronger effects among catarrhines (apes and Old World monkeys) than within the entire primate order. These data strongly suggest that G is the principal locus of selection in the macroevolution of primate intelligence. Implications for the understanding of population differences in cognitive abilities among human populations and for the theory of massive modularity applied to intelligence are discussed.” – h/t erwin schmidt!

The Flynn Effect: A Meta-Analysis [pdf] – h/t jelte wicherts! who tweeted: “IQ [continues] to go up with 3 points per decade. New meta-analysis shows no evidence of diminishing Flynn Effect.”

The Elusive X-Factor, or Why Jonathan Kaplan Is Wrong about Race and IQ – @humanvarieties.

Coevolution of languages and genes“[E]volutionary processes are more complex than simple models of gene-language coevolution predict, with linguistic boundaries only occasionally functioning as barriers to gene flow. More frequently, admixture takes place irrespective of linguistic differences, but with a detectable impact of contact-induced changes in the languages concerned.” – h/t jayman!

Does Natural Law exist?“While certain notions of right and wrong can apply to all humans, much of what we call ‘morality’ will always be population-dependent. What is moral in one population may not be in another.” – from peter frost.

Morality: The Amazing Side-Taking Machine“If there are so many evolutionary pathways to nice behaviors, and if many animals are cooperative, including bees, bats, hyenas, and monkeys, then perhaps the elaborate paraphernalia of human morality — explicit rules of behavior, moral taboos, moral debates, accusations, impartiality, punishments — are not needed to make people nice. Right? This is exactly what psychological research indicates. Developmental evidence shows that children are nice to people before acquiring adult-like moral judgment. Moreover, when children develop moral judgment, it does not prevent them from taking actions they judge wrong such as lying or stealing. In adults, research shows that moral judgments differ from and can even oppose altruistic motives. Research on hypocrisy shows that people are mostly motivated to appear moral rather than to actually abide by their moral judgments. Research on ‘motivated reasoning’ shows that people deviously craft moral justifications to push their own agendas. In short, people can be nice without morality and nasty with morality — altruism and morality are independent. In fact, humans are more eager to judge other people than to follow their own moral advice. Moral condemnation of other people’s behavior is distinctly, perhaps uniquely, human. So, what is the evolutionary function of condemnation…? People can use moral judgment to assess the wrongness of fighters’ actions and then choose sides against whoever was most immoral. When all bystanders use this strategy, they all take the same side and avoid the costs of escalated fighting. That is, moral condemnation functions to synchronize people’s side-taking decisions. This moral strategy is, of course, mostly unconscious just like other evolved programs for vision, movement, language, and so on.”

The roots of human altruism“[T]he willingness to provision others varies greatly from one primate species to the next. But there was a clear pattern, as summarized by Burkart: ‘Humans and callitrichid monkeys acted highly altruistically and almost always produced the treats for the other group members. Chimpanzees, one of our closest relatives, however, only did so sporadically.’ Similarly, most other primate species, including capuchins and macaques, only rarely pulled the lever to give another group member food, if at all – even though they have considerable cognitive skills. Until now, many researchers assumed that spontaneous altruistic behavior in primates could be attributed to factors they would share with humans: advanced cognitive skills, large brains, high social tolerance, collective foraging or the presence of pair bonds or other strong social bonds. As Burkart’s new data now reveal, however, none of these factors reliably predicts whether a primate species will be spontaneously altruistic or not. Instead, another factor that sets us humans apart from the great apes appears to be responsible. Says Burkart: ‘Spontaneous, altruistic behavior is exclusively found among species where the young are not only cared for by the mother, but also other group members such as siblings, fathers, grandmothers, aunts and uncles.’ This behavior is referred to technically as the ‘cooperative breeding’ or ‘allomaternal care.'”

Feminist activist women are masculinized in terms of digit-ratio and dominance: A possible explanation for the feminist paradox“The feminist movement purports to improve conditions for women, and yet only a minority of women in modern societies self-identify as feminists. This is known as the feminist paradox…. We measured the 2D:4D digit ratios (collected from both hands) and a personality trait known as dominance (measured with the Directiveness scale) in a sample of women attending a feminist conference. The sample exhibited significantly more masculine 2D:4D and higher dominance ratings than comparison samples representative of women in general, and these variables were furthermore positively correlated for both hands. The feminist paradox might thus to some extent be explained by biological differences between women in general and the activist women who formulate the feminist agenda.”

Global genetic variations predict brain response to faces“[A] significant proportion of the brain response to facial expressions is predicted by common genetic variance in a subset of regions constituting the face network. These regions show the highest inter-individual variability in the number of connections with other network nodes, suggesting that the genetic model captures variations across the adolescent brains in co-opting these regions into the face network.” – h/t razib!

Brain, behavior and genetics“Regardless of where the science now lies, we know that biology controls behavior. Our actions and thoughts aren’t magic, they rely on the biochemistry of neurotransmitters and nerve signals. They have physical substrates that are controlled by our genes….”

The impact of neighbourhood deprivation on adolescent violent criminality and substance misuse: A longitudinal, quasi-experimental study of the total Swedish population“We found that the adverse effect of neighbourhood deprivation on adolescent violent criminality and substance misuse in Sweden was not consistent with a causal inference.” — see also Depraved on account of being deprived? from dr. james thompson.

Does Urban Living Cause Mental Illness? – h/t jayman! who tweeted: “Interview w/ @AmirSariaslan, on his work showing that adverse environments don’t cause schizophrenia, & killing GxE.”

Daughters provide as much elderly parent care as they can, sons do as little as possible — h/t frau katze!

Honor: The Cause of — and Solution to — All of Society’s Problems“Centuries-old cultural norms don’t change overnight….” — gee, i wonder why? (where does culture come from?)

Social sciences suffer from severe publication bias“Survey finds that ‘null results’ rarely see the light of the day.” – h/t claire lehmann!

Haidt: “Political Diversity Will Improve Social Psychological Science” – from steve sailer.

How Do Liberal and Conservative Attitudes About Obedience to Authority Differ? The Surprising Result of My Study“Together with my collaborators Dr. Danielle Gaucher and Nicola Schaefer, we asked both red and blue Americans to share their views about obeying liberal authorities (e.g., ‘obey an environmentalist’). In an article that we recent published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, we found that liberals were now the ones calling for obedience. And when the authorities were viewed as ideologically neutral (e.g., office manager), liberals and conservatives agreed. Only when people perceived the authority to be conservative (e.g., religious authority) did conservatives show a positive bias.”

The Kennewick Man Finally Freed to Share His Secrets

Measuring Inbreeding in the Greek Gods“it seems that Ares has an inbreeding coefficient of 37.5%. This is due to the fact that his parents—Zeus and Hera—are siblings, as well as his grandparents with each other. Zeus has an inbreeding coefficient of 25%.” — (^_^)

bonus: Walking fish raised on land mimic ancient evolutionary transition

bonus bonus: Why are all our wagtails vanishing? Scientists baffled by long-term decline of three species in Britain“The three wagtail species spotted on our shores are the Yellow Wagtail, a farmland bird that migrates to sub-Saharan Africa, and two which largely remain in the UK over the winter, the Grey Wagtail, a river specialist, and the familiar Pied Wagtail. Researchers said the races of both Pied and Yellow Wagtail breeding in the UK nest almost nowhere else in the world…. Sarah Harris, BBS Organiser at the British Trust for Ornithology, said: ‘I find it fascinating that three seemingly similar birds, the Yellow, Grey and Pied Wagtail can lead such different lives and face such a variety of challenges. With the UK races of two of these species – Pied and Yellow Wagtails – being largely confined to our islands, these population changes are of global conservation significance….'” – ornithologists are soooo waaaaycist! they make me sick! (~_^)

(note: comments do not require an email. biophobia. (~_^) )

…they can work that out from your mtdna. with a fr*ckin’ 80-90% accuracy rate! awesome. (don’t ask me what a ‘support vector machine’ is, but it sounds awesome, too!)

it’s “coarse ethnicity” — for instance caucasian, asian, african, hispanic — but still:

Inferring ethnicity from mitochondrial DNA sequence

“Background: The assignment of DNA samples to coarse population groups can be a useful but difficult task. One such example is the inference of coarse ethnic groupings for forensic applications. Ethnicity plays an important role in forensic investigation and can be inferred with the help of genetic markers. Being maternally inherited, of high copy number, and robust persistence in degraded samples, mitochondrial DNA may be useful for inferring coarse ethnicity. In this study, we compare the performance of methods for inferring ethnicity from the sequence of the hypervariable region of the mitochondrial genome.

“Results: We present the results of comprehensive experiments conducted on datasets extracted from the mtDNA population database, showing that ethnicity inference based on support vector machines (SVM) achieves an overall accuracy of 80-90%, consistently outperforming nearest neighbor and discriminant analysis methods previously proposed in the literature. We also evaluate methods of handling missing data and characterize the most informative segments of the hypervariable region of the mitochondrial genome.

“Conclusions: Support vector machines can be used to infer coarse ethnicity from a small region of mitochondrial DNA sequence with surprisingly high accuracy. In the presence of missing data, utilizing only the regions common to the training sequences and a test sequence proves to be the best strategy. Given these results, SVM algorithms are likely to also be useful in other DNA sequence classification applications.”

(but don’t forget — race doesn’t exist. it’s juuuust a social construct….)

(note: comments do not require an email. or a cheek swab.)

How to Live With an Unknowable Mind

Homicidal Fantansies“The majority of subjects in both studies reported at least one fantasy. Males tended to recall more homicidal fantasies than did females (in Study 1, 73% vs 66%; in Study 2, 79% vs 58% of males and females, respectively). Males also reported longer and more detailed fantasies, and were more likely to imagine strangers and coworkers as victims. Females’ recent fantasies were more likely to involve family members than were males, but that appears to be due to the fact that males had more fantasies about members of other categories, and not due to a tendency for males to have fewer homicidal fantasies about family members than do females. There was some evidence of greater fantasies involving step-parents, especially when one considered the amount of time subjects had spent living with step-, as opposed to genetic, parents.”

Sexual Orientation Affects Cancer Survivorship, Study Finds

Why sons inherit their mother’s curse – mtDNA affects gene expression of nuclear genes in male fruit flies more than in female fruit flies

Scientific literacy by church attendance – from the epigone

Children Conceived in Winter Have a Greater Risk of Autism, Study Finds

The Tricky Chemistry of Attraction“Taking Birth-Control Pills May Mask the Signals That Draw the Sexes Together, Research Shows”

Children can ‘recall early memories’, Canadian study suggests“Events from well before the age of two can be recalled, suggests a Canadian study of around 100 young children aged 4 to 13.”

What will happen to us?“Only 0.01 percent of all species that have ever existed continue to do so.”

The Science of Why We Don’t Believe Science

bonus: The People vs. Goldman Sachs – the latest from matt taibbi

bonus bonus: It’s Raining on Men: Balls Deep at the Conference on Male Studies