linkfest – 12/07/14

Zigzags on a Shell From Java Are the Oldest Human Engravings“The early human Homo erectus also made the oldest known shell tools half a million years ago.” — see also: The art of Homo erectus“What we can say is that these artifacts carry information about the capabilities of their makers. The few non-perishable marked objects also speak to the likely presence of design in perishable elements of material culture. Clothing, however rudimentary, was likely to have been decorated in some way. Wooden tools were also probably notched and zigzagged — as the occasional bone and ivory implements suggest. They lived for the first time in a world that they could change.” – from john hawks.

Genetic diversity of Sub-Saharan Africa revealed[T]he researchers also found that there were more genetic similarities across Africa than they had thought. Dr Sandhu said: ‘The diversity among populations is not as diverse as we expected it to be….’ The researchers found that many Africans have some Eurasian DNA within their genetic ancestry, which suggests that Eurasians migrated back into Africa many thousands of years after they first left. And several of the populations were descended from the Bantu, a group that spread across Africa about 5,000 years ago.” — see also: The African Genome Variation Project shapes medical genetics in Africa.

and here is dienekes on the above study: African Genome Variation project paper“In too many papers to count, decreasing genetic diversity from East Africa was taken as evidence of an origin of H. sapiens in that locality and its expansion from there to Eurasia. This ‘East Africa=cradle of mankind’ theory has, as far as I can tell, nothing really to stand on. Granted, the oldest anatomically modern human remains have been found in East Africa 200-150 thousand years ago. But, the fact that old sapiens have been found in East Africa and not elsewhere is easily explained by the excellent conditions for preservation (as opposed, e.g., deserts or rainforests of Africa or elsewhere), and by the extraordinary effort by palaeoanthropologists in that area. One also needs to overlook a century of physical anthropology that concluded that East Africa was a contact zone between Caucasoids and Sub-Saharan Africans. We now know that there is no deep lineage of humans in modern east Africans. Take out the Eurasian ancestry and only a paltry Fst=0.027 remains with other Sub-Saharan Africans, a fraction of the Fst between, say, Europeans and East Asians.”

Living African group discovered to be the most populous humans over the last 150,000 years“New genetic research reveals that a small group of hunter-gatherers now living in Southern Africa once was so large that it comprised the majority of living humans during most of the past 150,000 years. Only during the last 22,000 years have the other African ethnicities, including the ones giving rise to Europeans and Asians, become vastly most numerous…. ‘This and previous studies show that the Khoisan peoples and the rest of modern humanity shared their most recent common ancestor approximately 150,000 years ago, so it was entirely unexpected to find that this group apparently did not intermarry with non-Khoisan neighbors for many thousand years….'” — see also The Least Bottlenecked Humans of All from razib.

Ants, altruism and self sacrifice“It’s the selfishness of genes that makes us unselfish…. ‘Group selection’ has always been portrayed as a more politically correct idea, implying that there is an evolutionary tendency to general altruism in people. Gene selection has generally seemed to be more of a right-wing idea, in which individuals are at the mercy of the harsh calculus of the genes. Actually, this folk understanding is about as misleading as it can be. Society is not built on one-sided altruism but on mutually beneficial co-operation. Nearly all the kind things people do in the world are done in the name of enlightened self-interest. Think of the people who sold you coffee, drove your train, even wrote your newspaper today. They were paid to do so but they did things for you (and you for them). Likewise, gene selection clearly drives the evolution of a co-operative instinct in the human breast, and not just towards close kin.” – from matt ridley. — see also: E.O. Wilson’s The Social Conquest of Earth from jason collins. h/t billare!

Genetic Variation in Human DNA Replication Timing“Replication timing, a driver of locus-specific mutation rates, varies among humans…. Replication timing associates with common polymorphisms near replication origins….” – whoa.

Genetic and environmental exposures constrain epigenetic drift over the human life course – h/t casey brown! who tweeted: “Worth repeating: DNA methylation is more genetic than epigenetic.”

IQ is in the genes“How parents raise us has no impact on how smart we become, a new study finds.”

Link discovered between fathers’ criminal history and sons’ intelligence“Sons whose fathers have criminal records tend to have lower cognitive abilities than sons whose fathers have no criminal history, data from over 1 million Swedish men show. The research, conducted by scientists in Sweden and Finland, indicates that the link is not directly caused by fathers’ behavior but is instead explained by genetic factors that are shared by father and son.”

Are bright people normal?“‘We found no support for the genetic Discontinuity Hypothesis that nonadditive genetic variance is greater for high intelligence….'” – from dr. james thompson.

Booze culture may date back 10 million years say scientists“A new study suggests that primates may have begun drinking alchol 10 million years ago, as fermented fruit on the forest floor…. Experts at Santa Fe College in the US studied the gene ADH4 which produces an enzyme to break down alcohol in the body. It was hypothesised that the enzyme would not appear until the first alcohol was produced by early farmers. But scientists were amazed to find it 10 million years earlier, at the end of the Miocene epoch.” – (them’s *my* ancestors right there! (~_^) )

Psychiatry: End of the Road for “Endophenotypes”?“In a nutshell, the researchers ran seven different genetic studies to try to find the genetic basis of a total of seventeen neurobehavioural traits, also known as ‘endophenotypes’…. Essentially an endophenotype is some trait, which could be almost anything, which is supposed to be related to (or part of) a psychiatric disorder or symptom, but which is ‘closer to genetics’ or ‘more biologica’ than the disorder itself. Rather than thousands of genes all mixed together to determine the risk of a psychiatric disorder, each endophenotype might be controlled by only a handful of genes – which would thus be easier to find…. Over 89% of the searches came up null in this way; for eight of the seventeen traits, the researchers found no associated genes using *any* strategy.” – from neuroskeptic.

Unequal fates for maths superstars“The fates of US child prodigies of the 1970s reveal great accomplishments but strong gender differences…. [B]oth genders reported unusually high levels of satisfaction with their lives and careers. ‘It seems that both sexes got what they wanted from life, even if those things were somewhat different….'” – h/t charles! – see also: Sometimes men and women want different things from ben southwood.

Are Chinese babies more docile? – peter frost on the freedman studies.

Inferior Faunas – from greg cochran.

Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2014 released this week.

Domestication and Human Evolution Symposium @getCARTA sessions now available to watch online.

Does evolution need a revolution? – from jerry coyne.

Experimentally induced innovations lead to persistent culture via conformity in wild birds – birds have culture.

A Magisterial Synthesis Of Apes And Human Evolution“[Russell H.] Tuttle’s tome is a grand synthesis of all the latest research and data about apes and their relation to us…. He believes that bipedalism preceded the development of the brain in early humans –and was likely something inherited from smaller apes already used to using their feet to move laterally along branches in trees. Although chimpanzees and bonobos are our closest relatives on the evolutionary tree, they do not represent in their own locomotion good proto-models of what led to human upright posture and walking.”

‘Superbugs’ Kill India’s Babies and Pose an Overseas Threat“A growing chorus of researchers say the evidence is now overwhelming that a significant share of the bacteria present in India — in its water, sewage, animals, soil and even its mothers — are immune to nearly all antibiotics.” – h/t razib!

The RNA World: molecular cooperation at the origins of life“The RNA World concept posits that there was a period of time in primitive Earth’s history — about 4 billion years ago — when the primary living substance was RNA or something chemically similar. In the past 50 years, this idea has gone from speculation to a prevailing idea. In this Review, we summarize the key logic behind the RNA World and describe some of the most important recent advances that have been made to support and expand this logic. We also discuss the ways in which molecular cooperation involving RNAs would facilitate the emergence and early evolution of life.”

Tool to edit DNA revolutionizing research in Boston area – CRISPR.

Thomas Docherty on academic freedom“Managerial fundamentalism has taken hold in universities, with scholars viewed as resources that must be controlled…. A creeping incremental assault on academic freedom threatens not just what can be spoken aloud, but also what it is permissible to think: thought itself is to be subjected to management, so that its critical power is neutered or constrained….”

The Dark Enlightenment for Newbies“So what is dark about the Dark Enlightenment? Absolutely nothing. The Dark Enlightenment only looks dark in contrast to the blinding (as in, it blinds you) optimism of flash in the pan of blank slate equalism. The things that the DE contend about human nature — that parents naturally favor their children, that sexual attraction is a biological phenomenon, that some people are naturally smarter than others — were all accepted as common sense for most or all of human history. It is the unrealistic utopianism of modern liberalism which is ridiculously absurd. The Dark Enlightenment might be better termed The Return to Normalcy. So the phrase “Dark Enlightenment” might not be the best, but it has received enough attention that I don’t think we should abandon it.” – very nice post from empedocles.

Tanzania evicting 40,000 people from homeland to make room for Dubai royal family“It will become a private hunting reserve” – =/ (i’m linking to salon!) – h/t john durant!

bonus: Why Some Mosquitoes Spread Malaria and Others Don’t“Sequencing the genomes of numerous Anopheles mosquito species from locations around the world has shown why some can carry and spread the deadly disease malaria while others don’t.” – h/t srikant mantri!

bonus bonus: Humpback Whales in the Arabian Sea Have Been Isolated for 70,000 Years

bonus bonus bonus: A diet to die for“One bird feasts on food that would leave most other animals stone dead.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Insect Swarms Go Critical“Scientists have found tantalizing evidence that diverse biological systems, including the human brain, gene expression networks, bird flocks, and fish schools, behave as though they are near the ‘critical point’ of a phase transition, like correlated spins in a magnet on the verge of ordering.” – h/t jayman!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Weird Physics Can Make an Invisible Cat Visible“These cat pictures are brought to you by quantum entanglement as discussed by Einstein and Schrödinger.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: “The Feynman Lectures on Physics”, The Most Popular Physics Book Ever Written, Now Completely Online

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Tette per la Scienza – boobies! (it really IS this time! (~_^) )

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

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linkfest – 11/19/13

Lyme bacteria show that evolvability is evolvable“Natural selection favours those with a greater capacity to generate genetic variation.”

50,000 generations of bacteria prove that evolution never stops“[C]omputer models have shown that animals can still experience significant evolutionary changes over time, even in the absence of selectional pressures. Traits like evolvability, or evolutionary potential. Indeed, the Lenski study shows that the same holds true when working with organisms in evolutionary ‘real time.’ The researchers, who performed a comparative analyses of the bacteria after every 500 generations, showed that E. coli will continue to evolve towards increasing replicative efficiency.” – h/t peter turchin! – see also Krazy Kats from greg cochran.

Mystery humans spiced up ancients’ rampant sex lives“Genome analysis suggests interbreeding between modern humans, Neanderthals, Denisovans and a mysterious archaic population.” – see also: Mystery human species emerges from Denisovan genome.

Out of Africa revisited (entrevista a Chris Stringer)“To what extent do these differences in evolutionary paths, if any, affect the human biodiversity we see today? That is still unclear, but will become clearer in the next few weeks with the publication of new data….”

Neanderthal virus DNA spotted hiding in modern humans“The DNA of ancient viruses first spotted in the Neanderthal genome have now been identified in modern humans…. [The researchers] examined the genomes of 67 people with cancer, and found they each contained seven of the sequences supposedly unique to the ancient humans.”

How Our Minds Went Viral“Based on this research, the scientists propose a scenario. Our ancestors millions of years ago were infected with a virus. Eventually it became lodged in our genome. At some point, a mutation moved the virus enhancer next to the PRODH gene. Further mutations allowed it to helped boost the gene’s activity in certain areas of the brain, such as the hippocampus…. Perhaps our minds are partly the way they are today thanks to an infection our ancestors got a few millions of years ago.” – h/t john durant!

Reconstructing the Population Genetic History of the Caribbean“‘We find evidence of two pulses of African migration. The first pulse—which today is reflected by shorter, older ancestry tracts—consists of a genetic component more similar to coastal West African regions involved in early stages of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The second pulse—reflected by longer, younger tracts—is more similar to present-day West-Central African populations, supporting historical records of later transatlantic deportation. Surprisingly, we also identify a Latino-specific European component that has significantly diverged from its parental Iberian source populations, presumably as a result of small European founder population size. We demonstrate that the ancestral components in admixed genomes can be traced back to distinct sub-continental source populations with far greater resolution than previously thought, even when limited pre-Columbian Caribbean haplotypes have survived.'” – @dienekes’.

Correlations in the population structure of music, genes and language“‘[T]he first quantitative evidence that music and genes may have coevolved by demonstrating significant correlations between traditional group-level folk songs and mitochondrial DNA variation among nine indigenous populations of Taiwan.” – @dienekes’.

Wolves turned into dogs by European hunter-gatherers – h/t hbd bibliography!

The Paradox of Diverse Communities“Their simulations of more than 20 million virtual ‘neighborhoods’ demonstrate a troubling paradox: that community and diversity may be fundamentally incompatible goals…. After 20 million-plus simulations, the authors found that the same basic answer kept coming back: The more diverse or integrated a neighborhood is, the less socially cohesive it becomes, while the more homogenous or segregated it is, the more socially cohesive…. [T]he models demonstrated that it was impossible to simultaneously foster diversity and cohesion ‘in all reasonably likely worlds.’ In fact, the trends are so strong that no effective social policy could combat them, according to Neal. As he put it in a statement, ‘In essence, when it comes to neighborhood desegregation and social cohesion, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.'” – see also original research article: The (In)compatibility of Diversity and Sense of Community [pdf]. – h/t nearly everybody on twitter!

A Review of ‘The Diversity Illusion’ by Ed West – from peter hitchens. – The Diversity Illusion.

War’s Enduring Effects on the Development of Egalitarian Motivations and In-Group Biases“[G]reater exposure to war created a lasting increase in people’s egalitarian motivations toward their in-group, but not their out-groups, during a developmental window starting in middle childhood (around 7 years of age) and ending in early adulthood (around 20 years of age). Outside this window, war had no measurable impact on social motivations in young children and had only muted effects on the motivations of older adults.” – h/t t.greer!

It’s nothing to sniff at: Men have bigger noses because of more muscle“Men may have larger noses than women because they generally have more muscle, demanding larger noses to breathe in more oxygen….” – h/t mr. mangan, esq.!

Rural White Liberals – a Key to Understanding the Political Divide“there are likely several factors involved in shaping the modern American political landscape. Of which, the strongest may be ethnonational origin. This is buttressed by population density pressure, founder effects, internal self-sorting, and perhaps even recent evolution.” – from jayman.

John Horgan and the “Warfare is Innate” Red Herring“The Blank Slate may be dead, but its zombies still walk among us.” – (~_^) – from helian.

A Little Speculation About Disgust Sensitivity and Attitudes Towards Homosexuals and People of Other Races – ewwww! – from staffan

They aren’t meant to pee standing up – well, not without one of these, but frankly that’s gross. – the awesome epigone on how happy teh feminists are (not).

Open letter to Morten Kjeldgaard – (~_^) – from elijah. – see also Was the Scientific Dishonesty Minister trying to suppress population estimates? from dr. james thompson.

The White man has no friends“Over the past millennium, Western Europeans have created a social environment where the individual is largely free from collective ties of kinship and ethnicity. Because the State has imposed a monopoly on the use of violence, there is less need to rely on kinsmen to safeguard one’s life and property.” (and ’cause of The Outbreeding Project, too, imho. (^_^) ) – from peter frost.

Preclinical testing shows SUMO-1 gene therapy shrinks an enlarged heart, improves heart funcion, and blood flow, human trials to start – h/t mike anissimov!

Borjas, Grogger, and Hanson: Immigrant and Native Complementarity“George Borjas, Jeffrey Grogger, and Gordon Hanson have a new paper, and it’s not good news for the Ottaviano and Peri result that immigration can cause native wages to increase due to strong complementarities between native and immigrant labor.” – h/t heartiste!

Is Jared Diamond racist? – oh, noes! not a waaaaycist! (hmmmm. maybe he is….) – h/t peter turchin!

Stunning Portraits Of The World’s Remotest Tribes Before They Pass Away – h/t heartiste!

bonus: William Pollack Dies at 87; His Vaccine Saved Infants“William Pollack, a medical researcher who helped develop a vaccine that virtually eradicated a disease [Rh disease] once responsible for 10,000 infant deaths a year in the United States, died on Nov. 3 in Yorba Linda, Calif. He was 87.”malcom pollack‘s dad. =( see also: William Pollack, R.I.P. from mr. mangan, esq.

bonus bonus: working first chapter of A Part-time Job in the Country by luke lea! send comments to luke.

bonus bonus bonus: I’ve realised why I like the Dutch so much: they invented capitalism – from dan hannan. (just missing the biology! (~_^) ) – see also: The World of English Freedoms“It’s no accident that the English-speaking nations are the ones most devoted to law and individual rights, writes Daniel Hannan.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus: It’s time to confront this taboo: First cousin marriages in Muslim communities [in the u.k.] are putting hundreds of children at risk“Many NHS doctors, while admitting privately there is a crisis, refuse to speak out for fear of being branded ‘racist’.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Thus Spake Obama“The incompetence of our neo-monarchy.” – from mark steyn. – h/t charles murray!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Wine: Drinking in the Mother Vine“[R]eportedly the oldest cultivated grapevine in North America.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Scientists date world’s oldest animal at 507 years old — after they accidentally kill it – *facepalm* – h/t nelson!

(note: comments do not require an email. ming – the ex-world’s oldest animal.)