linkfest – 09/20/15

What Your DNA Says About Medieval History“A new study uses genetic data from living people to trace millennia-old migration patterns…. [M]uch of what Capelli and his colleagues discovered meshed with what historians already knew. For example, among northern Europeans, highest rate of admixing took place ‘around the late first millennium C.E., a time known to have involved significant upheaval in Europe,’ while admixture between north African and southern European populations was dated to a time span ‘consistent with migrations associated with the Arabic Conquest of the Iberian peninsula.’ But there were surprises, too. Most notably, Capelli and his colleagues discovered evidence for an influx of Mongolians into Europe that predated the reign of Ghengis Khan.” – orig. research article: The Role of Recent Admixture in Forming the Contemporary West Eurasian Genomic Landscape.

Inuit Study Adds Twist to Omega-3 Fatty Acids’ Health Story“A study published on Thursday in the journal Science reported that the ancestors of the Inuit evolved unique genetic adaptations for metabolizing omega-3s and other fatty acids. Those gene variants had drastic effects on Inuit’s bodies, reducing their heights and weights. Rasmus Nielsen, a geneticist at the University of California, Berkeley, and an author of the new study, said that the discovery raised questions about whether omega-3 fats really were protective for everyone, despite decades of health advice. ‘The same diet may have different effects on different people,’ he said…. The researchers found several genetic variants at different locations in the genome that were unusually common in the Inuit, compared with people in Europe or China. Several of these variations occurred within a cluster of genes that direct construction of enzymes called fatty acid desaturases. (The genes are called FADS, for short….) Even more intriguing was the fact that one of these gene variants was present in almost every Inuit in the study. It is much less common in other populations: About a quarter of Chinese people have it, compared with just 2 percent of Europeans. Natural selection is the only known way this gene variant could have become so common in the Inuit. Dr. Nielsen said this adaptation might have arisen as long ago as 20,000 years, when the ancestors of the Inuit were living in the Beringia region, which straddles Alaska and Siberia…. The adaptation did more than just change blood levels of fatty acids, the scientists found. Inuit who carried two copies of the variant gene were on average an inch shorter and 10 pounds lighter than those without a copy.” – orig. research article: Greenlandic Inuit show genetic signatures of diet and climate adaptation. see also Your Genes Are What You Eat from razib.

Height-reducing variants and selection for short stature in Sardinia“[K]nown height-decreasing alleles are at systematically higher frequencies in Sardinians than would be expected by genetic drift. The findings are consistent with selection for shorter stature in Sardinia and a suggestive human example of the proposed ‘island effect’ reducing the size of large mammals.” – h/t andrew sabisky!

Are humans still evolving? Yes, both globally and locally. – from jerry coyne.

5 key facts about the nuclear DNA from Sima de los Huesos“If confirmed, the results will push back the H. sapiens-H. neanderthalensis ancestor beyond 400 KYA. Meyer suggested that the ancestors of H. sapiens could have diverged from the branch leading to neandertals and denisovans 550 K to 765 K years ago. It may be possible that H. sapiens evolved in western Eurasia and later migrated back into Africa. The fossils from Europe, Asia and Africa in the 400 Ka. period are physically very diverse and may represent multiple species, only one of which could be the ancestor of today’s humans. For example, Chris Stringer thinks it may be needed to look at Homo antecessor and not Homo heidelbergensis as our last common ancestor with neandertals.”

New DNA tests on ancient Denisovan people ‘shows them occupying Altai cave 170,000 years ago’“Prehistoric Siberians lived in Denisova Cave earlier than scientists realised – new claim based on state-of-the-art technology.” – h/t paleoanthropology!

Origins, admixture and founder lineages in European Roma“We found a set of founder lineages, present in the Roma and virtually absent in the non-Roma, for the maternal (H7, J1b3, J1c1, M18, M35b, M5a1, U3, and X2d) and paternal (I-P259, J-M92, and J-M67) genomes. This lineage classification allows us to identify extensive gene flow from non-Roma to Roma groups, whereas the opposite pattern, although not negligible, is substantially lower (up to 6.3%). Finally, the exact haplotype matching analysis of both uniparental lineages consistently points to a Northwestern origin of the proto-Roma population within the Indian subcontinent.”

Why I’m sceptical about the idea of genetically inherited trauma“A recent scientific paper claiming that the children of Holocaust survivors showed evidence of inherited stress was deeply flawed – here’s why.”

Population genetic differentiation of height and body mass index across Europe“Here we find that many independent loci contribute to population genetic differences in height and body mass index (BMI) in 9,416 individuals across 14 European countries.”

North-South divide, Japanese style – from dr. james thompson.

Genetics of IQ and lifespan and Genius? Avoid rare functional genes and Heritability of Specific Cognitive Abilities and Schizophrenia and cognitive decline and g for Latinos and White matter efficiency predicts women’s IQ, but not men’s – all also from dr. james thompson!

SNP hits on cognitive ability from 300k individuals – from steve hsu. h/t holtz!

Do smart girls postpone first sex? and Do women find bright men sexy? – and even MORE from dr. james thompson!! whew!

Green Arabia’s key role in human evolution“Scientists have been illuminating the vital role played by the Arabian Peninsula in humankind’s exodus from Africa. Far from being a desert, the region was once covered by lush vegetation and criss-crossed by rivers, providing rich hunting grounds for our ancestors.”

The UK10K project identifies rare variants in health and disease – h/t kevin mitchell!

Genetics of aggressive behavior: An overview – h/t brian boutwell!

Sons of the Soil, Migrants, and Civil War“In nearly a third of ethnic civil wars since 1945, the conflict develops between members of a regional ethnic group that considers itself to be the indigenous “sons of the soil” and recent migrants from other parts of the country.” – h/t whyvert!

It’s finally out: The big review paper on the lack of political diversity in social psychology“Psychologists have demonstrated the value of diversity – particularly diversity of viewpoints – for enhancing creativity, discovery, and problem solving. But one key type of viewpoint diversity is lacking in academic psychology in general and social psychology in particular: political diversity.” – from jonathan haidt.

The genetics of alcohol dependence: Twin and SNP-based heritability, and genome-wide association study based on AUDIT scores – h/t amir sariaslan!

Chronotype Associations with Depression and Anxiety Disorders in a Large Cohort Study – h/t emily deans! who tweeted: “‘Morning people’ less likely to be depressed in this large and relatively thorough observational study.” – (morning people depress me. (~_^) )

The Hormone That Bonds Humans to Dogs – h/t old whig! who tweeted: “Evolutionary change is faster than we think? Case study: oxytocin.”

Does the Gender of Offspring Affect Parental Political Orientation? – h/t ben southwood! who tweeted: “Studies on offspring gender & political orientation plagued by publication bias; actually there’s no relationship.”

Do Angry Birds Make for Angry Children? A Meta-Analysis of Video Game Influences on Children’s and Adolescents’ Aggression, Mental Health, Prosocial Behavior, and Academic Performance“Overall, results from 101 studies suggest that video game influences on increased aggression (r = .06), reduced prosocial behavior (r = .04), reduced academic performance (r = −.01), depressive symptoms (r = .04), and attention deficit symptoms (r = .03) are minimal.” – h/t joseph schwartz!

Ancient campfires show early population numbers [in australia]“ANU archaeologist Alan Williams used radio carbon dating technology to examine charcoal dates from more than 1000 prehistoric campfires and based on this he says populations appear to have increased steadily until 25,000 years ago…. After this initial increase, he says, population levels remained steady or even declined from 25,000 years ago, during the more arid Last Glacial Maximum (25,000 to 13,000 years ago) when temperatures were about ten degrees cooler…. Campfire numbers began to grow again 13,000 years ago when the northern wet season re-emerged.”

Aboriginal ‘memories’ of Australia’s coastline go back more than 7,000 years

History became legend, legend became myth: Crater Lake – h/t razib! who tweeted: “8,000 year old explosion preserved in folk memory of klamath indians?”

Ancient Script Spurs Rethinking of Historic ‘Backwater’“At a temple site in the Republic of Georgia, letters carved in stone could change the way we see the development of writing.”

bonus: Microbiologists Keep Finding Giant Viruses in Melting Permafrost

bonus bonus: Ancient Cats Drove Ancient Dogs to Extinction – woof? (O.O)

bonus bonus bonus: this year’s ig nobel mathematics prize went to the authors of The Case of Moulay Ismael – Fact or Fancy?“Textbooks on evolutionary psychology and biology cite the case of the Sharifian Emperor of Morocco, Moulay Ismael the Bloodthirsty (1672–1727) who was supposed to have sired 888 children. This example for male reproduction has been challenged and led to a still unresolved discussion. The scientific debate is shaped by assumptions about reproductive constraints which cannot be tested directly — and the figures used are sometimes arbitrary. Therefore we developed a computer simulation which tests how many copulations per day were necessary to reach the reported reproductive outcome…. The results indicate that Moulay Ismael could have achieved this high reproductive success. A comparison of the three conception models highlights the necessity to consider female sexual habits when assessing fertility across the cycle. We also show that the harem size needed is far smaller than the reported numbers.” (~_^)

and the tweet of the week!:

https://twitter.com/History_Pics/status/644508143049940992
_____

(note: comments do not require an email. moulay ismael the bloodthirsty!)

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linkfest – 02/17/14

making up for a few lost weekends linkfests…

Tracing Ancestry, Researchers Produce a Genetic Atlas of Human Mixing Events“Researchers have found genetic evidence for hundreds of examples of the large-scale mixing of human populations in the past 4,000 years.” – see also: A Genetic Atlas of Human Admixture History“We used this to produce an atlas of worldwide human admixture history, constructed by using genetic data alone and encompassing over 100 events occurring over the past 4000 years. We identified events whose dates and participants suggest they describe genetic impacts of the Mongol empire, Arab slave trade, Bantu expansion, first millennium CE migrations in Eastern Europe, and European colonialism, as well as unrecorded events, revealing admixture to be an almost universal force shaping human populations.” – see also: A genetic atlas of human admixture history. – see also from dienekes: Human admixture common in human history (Hellenthal et al. 2014).

Earliest footprints outside Africa discovered in Norfolk“Scientists have discovered the earliest evidence of human footprints outside of Africa, on the Norfolk Coast in the East of England. The footprints are more than 800,000 years old and were found on the shores of Happisburgh.”aaaand then they got washed away in the storms. (>_<)

Modern human genomes reveal our inner Neanderthal“Cross-breeding boosted Homo sapiens’ ability to cope with cool climates, but the hybrids may have had trouble breeding.” – see also: Neanderthal-human sex bred light skins and infertility. and see also: Adaptive Neanderthal admixture – from greg cochran.

Science discovers new ignorance about the past – good stuff from matt ridley.

Genetic origins of high-altitude adaptations in Tibetans“Genetic adaptations for life at high elevations found in residents of the Tibetan plateau likely originated around 30,000 years ago in peoples related to contemporary Sherpa. These genes were passed on to more recent migrants from lower elevations via population mixing, and then amplified by natural selection in the modern Tibetan gene pool, according to a new study.” – see also: Admixture facilitates genetic adaptations to high altitude in Tibet – see also: A novel mechanism for getting high – from greg cochran. – see also: Tibetan mastiffs equally adapted to high altitudes of Tibet.

Immediate replacement of fishing with dairying by the earliest farmers of the northeast Atlantic archipelagos [i.e. british isles] – “These new findings…unequivocally confirm rejection of marine resources by early farmers coinciding with the adoption of intensive dairy farming. This pattern of Neolithization contrasts markedly to that occurring contemporaneously in the Baltic, suggesting that geographically distinct ecological and cultural influences dictated the evolution of subsistence practices at this critical phase of European prehistory.”

The booms and busts of Neolithic Europe (and their potential impact on our DNA)“most of the interactions between the genetically Near Eastern-like Neolithic farmers and indigenous European hunter-gatherers, including mixing, in all likelihood took place on the peripheries of the farming societies. If so, then perhaps every time there was a bust, it was the relatively more admixed, or even more hunter-gatherer-like, farmer groups from the peripheries that took advantage of the situation and moved in to grab some land in the depopulated regions? In other words, this might have been the process which led to the well-documented reemergence of hunter-gatherer-derived ancestry in the heart of Europe after the early Neolithic.” – @eurogenes.

First Ancient North American Genome Sequenced“Analysis of 12,600-year-old DNA refutes the idea that Native Americans originated in Western Europe.” – see also: The genome of a Late Pleistocene human from a Clovis burial site in western Montana

The Fading of the Most Basal of Basal“[T]he western and eastern Pygmy populations of the Congo rainforest seem to have diverged tens of thousands of years ago, tens of thousands of years after their divergence from the ancestors of their agriculturalist neighbors.” – from razib.

Slow times in the New World – from greg cochran.

Genetic ancestry is associated with colorectal adenomas and adenocarcinomas in Latino populations“[I]ncreased African ancestry (or variants linked to it) contributes to the increased susceptibility of colorectal cancer in admixed Latin American population.” – h/t razib!

Black Death Left a Mark on Human Genome“Genetically, the Rroma are still quite similar to the northwestern Indians, even though they have lived side by side with the Romanians for a millennium, the team found. But there were 20 genes in the Rroma and the Romanians that had changes that were not seen in the Indians’ versions of those genes, Netea and his colleagues report online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. These genes ‘were positively selected for in the Romanians and in the gypsies but not in the Indians,’ Netea explains. ‘It’s a very strong signal.'”

HBD is Life and Death – from jayman.

Chemists Seek Possible Precursor to RNA – h/t billare! who tweeted: “Were there self-assembling replicants—proto-RNAs—before RNA world? Researchers find some candidates.”

The Unique Merger That Made You (and Ewe, and Yew)“All sophisticated life on the planet Earth may owe its existence to one freakish event.” – mitochondria, eukaryotes, yada, yada, yada.

Study demonstrates evolutionary ‘fitness’ not the most important determinant of success“By modelling populations over long timescales, the study showed that the ‘fitness’ of their traits was not the most important determinant of success. Instead, the most genetically available mutations dominated the changes in traits. The researchers found that the ‘fittest’ simply did not have time to be found, or to fix in the population over evolutionary timescales. The findings suggest that life on Earth today may not have come about by ‘survival of the fittest’, but rather by the ‘arrival of the frequent’.”

Burakumin, Paekchong, and Cagots“Human evolution is a logarithmic curve where most of the interesting changes have happened since the advent of farming and complex societies. *Homo sapiens* was not a culmination but rather a beginning…of gene-culture co-evolution. There are many ways to study this co-evolution, but one way is to look at the different evolutionary trajectories followed by castes and their host populations.” – from peter frost.

Of Genetic Determinists and Unicorns – from helian.

Geographic variation of human gut microbes tied to obesity“[P]eople living in northern latitudes have a greater proportion of the Firmicutes associated with obesity than do people living farther south, and a smaller proportion of Bacteroidetes. The implications are unclear, though microbes may evolve with people to better extract energy from food in colder climates.” – h/t claire lehmann! – also: I had the bacteria in my gut analysed. And this may be the future of medicine.

A Dog Can’t Teach a Dog New Tricks (But It Can Teach a Wolf) – *cough*domestication*cough* – h/t neuroskeptic!

Revolutionary new view on heritability in plants: Complex heritable traits not only determined by changes in DNA sequence“Complex heritable traits are not only determined by changes in the DNA sequence. Scientists have now shown that epigenetic marks can affect traits such as flowering time and architecture in plants. Furthermore, these marks are passed on for many generations in a stable manner.” – in PLANTS! (are you a plant?)

Single nucleotide polymorphism in the neuroplastin locus associates with cortical thickness and intellectual ability in adolescents – h/t stuart ritchie! – also: Scientists identify gene linking brain structure to intelligence.

The many-headed Hydra of alternate intelligences – from dr. james thompson.

Quick Post: L&V’s National IQs predict GMAT scores across 173 nations“We have shown that measures of national cognitive ability predict both GMAT scores and English proficiency scores independent of rates of English usage. GMAT and English proficiency scores seem to be indexes of National (g) by way of National IQ and National ACH.” – @human varieties.

Meritocracy doesn’t work. It’s in the Left’s interest to recognise this.“The Son Also Rises, a study of social mobility by Gregory Clark, will surprise and also alarm some people. He notes, by using surname patterns, that mobility is minimal in all societies where the data is available. Even, for example, in the Nordic paradise of Sweden. He says: ‘In all societies, what seems to matter is just who your parents are. At the extreme, we see in modern Sweden an extensive system of public education and social support. Yet underlying mobility rates are no higher in modern Sweden than in pre-industrial Sweden or medieval England.’ He also notes that even in revolutionary societies, such as in Communist China, people with aristocratic surnames also turn up at the top, showing that once again Darwin trumps Marx.” – from ed west. – see also: Everyone likes the idea of equal opportunity. This economist thinks it’s a fantasy.

The Ideological-Conflict Hypothesis: Intolerance Among Both Liberals and Conservatives“[L]iberals and conservatives express similar levels of intolerance toward ideologically dissimilar and threatening groups.”

Sadism: A New Addition to the Dark Triad? – from staffan.

You Are Not A Special Snowflake – from sisyphean the mad contrarian.

Males and females differ in specific brain structures“Reviewing over 20 years of neuroscience research into sex differences in brain structure, researchers have conducted the first meta-analysis of the evidence. The team performed a quantitative review of the brain imaging literature testing overall sex differences in total and regional brain volumes. They found that males on average have larger total brain volumes than women (by 8 to 13 percent). Looking more closely, the researchers found differences in volume between the sexes were located in several regions. These included parts of the limbic system, and the language system.”

Major sex differences in brain gene expression – from mr. mangan, esq. – also: How Can This Be? – from malcolm pollack.

How much do sex differences matter in sports?“Thanks in large part to testosterone, men are generally heavier and taller than women. They have longer limbs relative to their height, bigger hearts and lungs, less fat, denser bones, more oxygen-carrying red blood cells, heavier skeletons that support more muscle — 80 percent more in the upper body, on average, which is about the difference between male and female gorillas — and narrower hips that make for more efficient running and decrease the chance of injury. But since these differences generally don’t appear until puberty, boys’ and girls’ records in track tend to be identical before age 10. There’s scant biological reason to separate young boys and girls in competitions.” – from david epstein.

How the gender divide reaches into our nightmares“A study has found women are more likely to dream of interpersonal disputes, while men tend to face war, calamities and insect swarms alone.”

Be My Valentines: Is Monogamy Natural to Us?“It turns out that we aren’t monogamous or polygamous by nature. As everyone from poets to divorce attorneys can attest, we are by nature a profoundly confused species—somewhere in between.” – h/t robert ford!

Male infanticide leads to social monogamy in primates“The origin of social monogamy in primates is best explained by long lactation periods caused by altriciality, making primate infants particularly vulnerable to infanticidal males. We show that biparental care shortens relative lactation length, thereby reducing infanticide risk and increasing reproductive rates. These phylogenetic analyses support a key role for infanticide in the social evolution of primates, and potentially, humans.” – h/t heartiste!

23andMe Couples Correlated“For Valentine’s Day, we analyzed data from 15,298 real-world couples who had children together and found that people paired with others who were more like themselves than they were different.”

How Women Gang Up On Each Other To Get What They Want – from claire lehmann.

Morality and evolution – from mr. mangan, esq.

Cultural Marxism, gay-style – hints of left-wing authoritarism? i think so. from the awesome epigone.

Panthropology reveals 4,300 year old chimp site

Ethnic diversity’s ‘inconvenient truths’“[W]hen the Vancouver Foundation recently conducted a massive survey of Metro Vancouver residents, researchers discovered most people in this West Coast city feel unusually high levels of loneliness and lack of friends…. The Vancouver Foundation survey of 3,800 diverse Metro residents confirmed Putnam’s results. It found one in four Metro residents feels alone more often than they would like, one-third consider Vancouver a difficult place to make friends, most don’t socialize with their neighbours, half don’t volunteer and most feel that, while diversity is generally a good thing, they prefer to be with members of their own ethnic group.” – h/t mike anissimov!

Rainforests in Far East shaped by humans for the last 11,000 years“New research shows that the tropical forests of South East Asia have been shaped by humans for the last 11,000 years. The rain forests of Borneo, Sumatra, Java, Thailand and Vietnam were previously thought to have been largely unaffected by humans, but the latest research suggests otherwise.”

The Case of Moulay Ismael – Fact or Fancy?“The results indicate that Moulay Ismael could have achieved this high [888 children!] reproductive success.” – btw, that’s moulay ismael the bloodthirsty to you!

How HBD Will Make you a Better Person“[F]orbidden knowledge does not result in genocide. The problem with this view is that genocide has been the norm throughout human history — that is, until very recently. On a historical timeline, our recent scientific knowledge of racial differences actually negatively correlates with the historic trend of genocide.” – @occam’s razor.

Robots and HBD denialism“The coming robot revolution will make the labor of people below a certain IQ totally worthless. This is an event never before experienced by humanity.” – from the lion of the blogosphere.

The outgrowth of Muller’s eugenics program“[T]he eugenics program described by Muller, as such, has become a reality.” – h/t jayman and billare!

Being lazy could be genetic say scientists – study done on (lazy, good for nuthin’!) mice.

Male sexual orientation influenced by genes, study showsGenes examined in study are not sufficient or necessary to make men gay but do play some role in sexuality, say US researchers.”

Church Making Strides Preserving African Family Histories“Genealogy experts are experiencing a race against time in Sub-Saharan Africa; an area that spans 36 countries. There is an urgency to collect oral interviews of African genealogy because family historians are aging and some are dying before those histories can be recorded.” – h/t t.greer!

Plagiarism attitudes common across cultures – in children – h/t naturalismo!

Richard III DNA mapping: historic first lets experts look into eyes of Plantagenet king“Scientists will be able to check whether portraits of a dark-haired brooding monarch are accurate.”

Norse Rune code cracked“A scholar of the University of Oslo has cracked one of the rune codes used by the Vikings, revealing they were sending each other messages such as ‘Kiss me’.” -?!-

Midiclorianos: determinismo biológico en Star wars – REALLY important stuff from eduardo zugasti. (^_^)

After 400 years, mathematicians find a new class of solid shapes“Nearly 400 years after the last class was described, researchers claim that they may have now invented a new, fourth class, which they call Goldberg polyhedra.” – h/t jason moore!

bonus: Nigeria: Restaurant Served Roasted Human Heads – yup.

bonus bonus: Huge chimpanzee population thriving in remote Congo forest“Scientists believe the group is one of the last chimp ‘mega-cultures’, sharing a unique set of customs and behaviour.”

bonus bonus bonus: Camels Had No Business in Genesis“Radiocarbon dating was used to pinpoint the earliest known domesticated camels in Israel to the 10th century B.C.— decades after the kingdom of David, according to the Bible.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Cat parasite found in Arctic Beluga“The cat parasite *Toxoplasma gondii*, which can cause blindness in people, has been identified in Beluga in the western Arctic.” – h/t carl zimmer!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: The Rise of the Crazy Ants“Ants equipped with venom antidote invade southeastern U.S.” – h/t hbd bibliography!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: This Tiny Animal Can Live an Estimated 1,400 Years

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Conservative Acquaintance Annoyingly Not Racist – h/t niall gooch!

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

gypsies and cousin marriage

i know you’ve been wondering.

well, obviously the gypsies are a highly endogamous group — they mostly marry other gypsies. the actual cousin marriage rates vary though from (as you’ll see below) ca. 10-30% first cousin only marriages amongst gypsies in slovakia to 29% first+second cousin marriages amongst gypsies in spain [pdf] to 36% first+second cousin marriages amongst gypsies in wales [pdf]. these rates are comparable to those found in places like turkey (esp. eastern turkey) or north africa…or southern india.

consang.net tells us that the rates of first cousin marriage (that includes double-first cousin marriage) amongst slovakian gypsies ranges from 10.1% to 14.7% [pdf – pg. 10 – i think the reference is to this 1994 paper].

another study of gypsies in slovakia (in svinia) found that the cousin marriage rates have actually increased over time since the early twentieth century, the researcher guesses due to the increasing population size (the more cousins around to marry, the more cousin marriage – maybe?). from Svinia in Black and White: Slovak Roma and Their Neighbours (2005) [pgs. 84-85]:

“Analysis of the marital choices made by local Roma shows that 75 per cent of the children born here between the 1930s and the early 1970s had a least one parent who hailed from elsewhere, whereas that ratio fell to 25 per cent during subsequent years. This dramatic shift doesn’t mean that young people no longer leave Svinia for spouses in other settlements — some continue to do so — but it does mean that of those who remain behind, which is the vast majority, far fewer end up with spouses from outside the community than used to be the case with their parents and grandparents.

“I don’t know how to explain this remarkable shift toward settlement endogamy. The people who are responsible for it don’t indicate any significant changes in their preferences, and the most plausible conclusion one can draw in the absence of evidence pointing in a different direction is to correlate the shift with the dramatic increase in Svinia’s population size, which translates into a corresponding growth of the local marriage universe. Unlike their parents and grandparents who lived in a small community that imposed strict limits on their choice of partners, the people who have reached maturity in more recent years have faced a much expanded pool of potential local partners, enabling them to make a selection within their own settlement.

“The result of this shift has been a decrease in the amount of traffic between Svinia and other Romani communities. Every marriage with a resident of another settlement brings about increased contact between the two communities. Relatives and friends travel to and fro as they attend baptisms, birthday parties, funerals, and other important events…. The shift from choosing mostly spouses from other settlements to marrying predominantly one’s own neighbours has gone hand in hand with a remarkable increase in the rate of unions between relatives. It is certain that common-law marriage involving close relatives did exist among Svinia’s first- and second-generation Roma. Indeed, there is strong evidence that the common-law spouse of Bartolomej (1912-73), one of Juraj and Hania’s sons and the founder of one of the lineages of *jarkovci*, was his biological niece. And of Hania and Juraj’s 27 grandchildren who remained in Svinia and found partners there, seven chose first cousins or first cousins once removed. But this rate of roughly 25 per cent pales in comparison with the situation among the third- and fourth-generation: people who have reached maturity during the last 30 years or so and who have remained in their ancestral settlement. Of the 159 persons in this category, 101 (or close to 65 per cent) opted for a biologically related partner. Roughly one half of these unions involves close cousins — first and once removed — while the other half consists of more distant degrees of consanguinity….

“Interestingly, local Roma profess avoidance of cousin marriage, and few of those who have broken this norm will disclose it voluntarily. Confronted with genealogical evidence, most will shrug their shoulders and declare pragmatically that affection overrides conventions. On the other hand, many people have such a vague grasp of their own ancestry that they cannot establish the identities of all four grandparents. This means that more distantly linked spouses, such as second or third cousins, are often not even aware of their relationship.”

and here about gypsies in albania from Roma and Egyptians in Albania: From Social Exclusion to Social Inclusion (2005) (egyptians??) [pg. 18]:

“Most marriages, especially among Roma, are intra-ethnic and arranged through match-makers. In fact, 95 percent of Roma and 74 percent of Egyptians preferred members of their own ethnic group as marriage partners.

“Traditional Marriage Partners. Most Roma and Egyptians still marry within their own ethnic group. More Egyptians than Roma would accept a marriage between a family member and an Albanian.

Among many Roma families, moreover, marriage partners must be members of their own primary *fis*. Many Cergar and Bamill Roma in Delvina, Gjirokastra, Levan, Fier, Fushe Kruja, and Korca arrange marriages between first and second cousins. Endogamy is practiced by some Roma in isolated localities, or by Roma that recently migrated from the country, and is explained by the limited access to available marriage patterns there. Roma explain endogamy through such metaphors as ‘The good horse should be sold within the village’ and ‘Why should the good apple get eaten by someone else?’

“The tradition of marrying members of one’s own primary *fis* is, however, undergoing change. One Roma leader in Tirana explained: ‘Many marriages happen nowadays between members of different Roma *fise*, whereas before they didn’t. Everyone wanted [to marry someone] from his own *fis*. My father and my wife’s father belong to the same *fis*; therefore my wife and I married…Today, however, the youth don’t care about this tradition, and they’ve even started marrying whites, Egyptians, or Roma from other *fise*.’

“Marriage with a member of another ethnic group is sometimes punished with ostracism….”

we’ve heard about these *fise* in the balkans before. here’s more about the gypsy *fise* (i think we can just call them clans) [pgs. 21-22]:

“Roma social organization is based on the *fis*. Members of one *fis* are usually persons who patrilineally descend from a common male *fis* name. The main branches of the *fis* — large families — serve as the bases for the creation of new *fise*.

“Arben, a Roma who enjoys a high standing within his *fis*, explained: ‘My *fis* is made up of all cousins [first, second] that have my last name, Demir.’ When a *fis* extends for several generations into a few dozen families, *fis* membership can reach into the hundreds. Now into its third generation, the Demir *fis* is composed of approximately 70 families and several hundred individuals.

“*Fis* structures can take several forms. Many Roma only consider persons with a common last name as *fis* members. But some Roma think that the children of female *fis* members can still be considered *fis* members although they have different last names. The concept of the *fis* is relative and dependent upon the outlook of *fis* members and the point in the family tree from which the *fis* begins. Patrilineage indicates an ongoing social change. But while patrilineage has, up to now, been a rather stable form of kinship social organization of the Roma *fis*, forms of matrilineage have become less common.”

and, finally, on some gypsies in romania — Exploring Gypsiness: Power, Exchange and Interdependence in a Transylvanian Village (2007) [pg. 79]:

“The only restrictions of marriage among the hamlet Roma are between members of the immediate family, between uncles and nieces, aunts and nephews and between Roma and gaže [that’s us]. These restrictions are, however, not expressed as rules, but as a self-evident question of morality and practicality. As the gaže ‘have no shame’ and do not speak Romanes, and as such mixed marriages are also rejected by gaže, they will not generally happen. As marriage to gaže does not create alliance, and thus kinship, it is not strategically interesting. When such marriages did occur they were the result of individual choice, but were not rejected if they were seen as prosperous for the family household or familia in general. The hamlet Roma preferred to marry Roma of their own subgroup, generally Roma to whom they were already related. Although most Roma told us that it was bad to marry too close, first- and second-cousin marriages were common, both between cross and parallel cousins (vero/verisoara). These were regarded as true Roma (Roma cace), people one knows and can trust because they already belong to one’s kin network and speak Romanes properly.
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how long have gypsies been marrying close cousins at these rates? who knows. long time probably.

*edit 10/24: anonymous points out that the “gypsies” on My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding are actually irish travellers — or mostly irish travellers. thanks, anonymous! the irish travellers marry their cousins A LOT.

/edit

apparently, a couple of the principles on My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding who got married were first cousins. caused a bit of a stir among some non-gypsy viewers i guess. i must’ve missed that episode. (~_^) interesting to see here the restrictions on women — related to reproduction, of course — just like in other inbreeding groups — like the arabs, for instance:

“‘My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding’ stars believe in incest, not pre-marital sex”

“…The show’s stars add that they also embrace traditional values and distinct gender roles.

“‘We don’t believe in sleeping with men before we are married,’ Annie explained. ‘The woman’s role in a gypsy family is to stay home, take care of kids, clean, get your nails done, and take care of duties at home. The kids, especially the girls, are learning to clean the house and parents are very strict on them. Growing up I was not allowed to stay at friends’ houses even when I was 15 or 16 years old, I was not allowed to go to parties or have a boyfriend or do anything. I just cleaned the house.’

“Nettie continued that the ‘normal age for a girl to get married is between 16 and 18,’ and that females are allowed fewer freedoms than their male counterparts.

“‘It is just the way we were brought up,’ she insisted. ‘A girl has more at risk with her reputation than a boy does. A girl has to go a little further than a guy to protect her reputation. A girl is to be looked at as a decent young girl, where a boy can do whatever and nobody is going to look at him in a bad way….'”

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