Archives for posts with tag: speciation

Deep-ocean microbe is closest living relative of complex cells“A new study indicates that plants, fungi, and animals are descendants of archaea, the group of single-celled organisms that includes Sulfolobus, a resident of hot springs.” – h/t bill barendse! – see also: New Loki Microbe Is Closest Relative To All Complex Life.

A Surprise for Evolution in Giant Tree of Life“Researchers build the world’s largest evolutionary tree and conclude that species arise because of chance mutations — not natural selection…. This controversial proposal stems from efforts by Hedges and collaborators to build the world’s most comprehensive tree of life — a chart plotting the connections among 50,000 species of Earth’s vast menagerie. Their analysis suggests that speciation is essentially random. No matter what the life form — plant or animal, insect or mammal — it takes about 2 million years for a new species to form. Random genetic events, not natural selection, play the main role in speciation.” – see also Was Charles Darwin Wrong About Speciation? from razib.

Genetic changes to basic developmental processes evolve more frequently than thought“Newly evolved genes can rapidly assume control over fundamental functions during early embryonic development. The findings suggest that evolutionary changes to the genetics of fundamental biological processes occur more frequently than previously thought.” – h/t david bachinsky!

The First GMO Is 8,000 Years Old“Scientists find that bacteria modified DNA in sweet potatoes millennia ago.”

Behavioral idiosyncrasy reveals genetic control of phenotypic variability [pdf] – “If we could rear genetically identical individuals from a variety of genetic backgrounds and rear them in the same environment, how much phenotypic variation between individuals of the same genotype would we see? Would different genetic backgrounds differ in their degree of variability? What would account for these differences? We used Drosophila inbred lines to address these questions focusing on variability in locomotor handedness. We show that different genotypes vary dramatically in their propensity for variability, that phenotypic variability itself, as a trait, can be heritable, and that loci affecting variability can be mapped. The genetic control of variability has received little attention in quantitative genetics despite the important role variability plays in explaining phenotypic variation between individuals.”

two tweets from the Biology of Genomes meeting re. a presentation on mutation rates:

Team Characterizing DNA from Ancient Human with Recent Neanderthal Ancestry [registration req.] – see also Ancient DNA from an Upper Paleolithic European with recent Neanderthal ancestry“the male sample, Oase 1, is 37-42K years old and comes from the Pestera cu Oase site in southwestern Romania. it’s estimated to harbor 5-11% of genome-wide Neanderthal ancestry, with as much as 50% on chromosome 12. the admixture is in relatively long stretches, which suggests that the mixture took place four to six generations before Oase 1 was alive. – @the eurogenes blog.

The archaeology, chronology and stratigraphy of Madjedbebe (Malakunanja II): A site in northern Australia with early occupation“The stone artefacts and stratigraphic details support previous claims for human occupation 50–60 ka and show that human occupation during this time differed from later periods.” – h/t chris stringer!

Stone bracelet is oldest ever found in the world“Dating back 40,000 years to the Denisovan species of early humans, new pictures show beauty and craftsmanship of prehistoric jewellery.” – denisovan jewelry!!

The Old Race – from greg cochran.

Ancient DNA Tells a New Human Story“The study of ancient DNA has challenged this view. We now know that mass migrations occurred repeatedly, overwhelming natives while absorbing some of their genes…. Joseph Pickrell of Columbia University and David Reich of Harvard University argue that ‘major upheavals’ of human population have been ‘overwriting’ the genetic history of the past 50,000 years. The result, they say, is that ‘present-day inhabitants of many places in the world are rarely related in a simple manner to the more ancient peoples of the same region.'” – from matt ridley.

2,500-year old Etruscans“All that can be said based on this is that they seem broadly southern European and not particularly Tuscan.” – from dienekes. – h/t anthropology tip!

The time and place of European gene flow into Ashkenazi Jews – @the eurogenes blog.

Symbolic bones and interethnic violence in a frontier zone, northwest Mexico, ca. 500–900 C.E.“Persistent interethnic violence has affected some global regions for centuries…. In the prehispanic Northern Frontier of Mesoamerica, approximately 500–900 C.E., people of different ethnic backgrounds struggled for standing in a shifting sociopolitical landscape. Evidence is consistent with long-term social violence….” – h/t gaetan burgio!

London Conference on Intelligence 2015 Keynote – from dr. james thompson.

NIH bans funding for genetic engineering of human embryos – (>.<)

Three hundred years of low non-paternity in a human population“Here we use this approach to investigate 1273 conceptions over a period of 330 years in 23 families of the Afrikaner population in South Africa. We use haplotype frequency and diversity and coalescent simulations to show that the male population did not undergo a severe bottleneck and that paternity exclusion rates are high for this population. The rate of cuckoldry in this Western population was 0.9% (95% confidence interval 0.4–1.5%), and we argue that given the current data on historical populations we have to conclude that, at least for Western human populations, cuckoldry rate is probably in the range of 1%.” – h/t debbie kennett!

Genius and autism may share genetic link, study finds“Child prodigies and their autistic family members may share a genetic link, according to findings published online for the April issue of Human Heredity.”

Immediate susceptibility to visual illusions after sight onset – h/t laura kelley!

The glass is half full *and* half empty: A population-representative twin study testing if optimism and pessimism are distinct systems“Here, we addressed these questions in a genetically informative sample of 852 pairs of twins. Distinct genetic influences on optimism and pessimism were found. Significant family-level environment effects also emerged, accounting for much of the negative relationship between optimism and pessimism, as well as a link to neuroticism. A general positive genetics factor exerted significant links among both personality and life-orientation traits. Both optimism bias and pessimism also showed genetic variance distinct from all effects of personality and from each other.” – h/t stuart ritchie!

Stanford researchers observe the moment when a mind is changed

Nature or nurture? Are sporting champions born to win? – h/t razib!

Menstrual Cycle Phase Does Not Predict Political Conservatism

Heritability of decisions and outcomes of public goods games

The kind of student you were in elementary school predicts mortality – h/t timothy bates!

The Mask of Sanity Revisited: Psychopathic Traits and Affective Mimicry – h/t claire lehmann! who tweeted: “People with psychopathy can produce highly convincing but fake expressions of feelings.”

Polygyny without wealth: popularity in gift games predicts polygyny in BaYaka Pygmies – h/t steve stewart williams!

The kin selection argument continues, with those denying its importance holding firm. They’re wrong. – from jerry coyne.

Behaviorism and the revival of antiracism – from peter frost.

Heterogeneity of long-history migration explains cultural differences in reports of emotional expressivity and the functions of smiles – hmmmm. really? – see also: What your smile says about where you’re from“If you come from a country of immigrants, you’re more likely to crack a friendly smile on the street. That’s the conclusion of a new study, which may explain why Americans beam more than their Chinese and Russian counterparts.”

Is reading to your kids “unfairly disadvantaging” others? – hahahahahaha! – h/t brian boutwell! who tweeted: “The nonsense that you can believe when you’re convinced that genes don’t matter.” – see also Is having a loving family an unfair advantage?

How uncommon is tickertaping? Prevalence and characteristics of seeing the words you hear – h/t kevin mitchell!

Peter Visscher: Genomics, Big Data, Medicine, and Complex Traits – @steve hsu’s.

Memes are Genes – from evolution theorist. (where do memes come from?) – h/t jayman!

How can our future Mars colonies be free of sexism and racism? – (>.<) #virtuesignalling – h/t ed west!

Paternity Case for a New Jersey Mother of Twins Bears Unexpected Results: Two Fathers – ruh roh!

After Nearly Claiming His Life, Ebola Lurked in a Doctor’s Eye“Before he contracted Ebola, Dr. Ian Crozier had two blue eyes. After he was told he was cured of the disease, his left eye turned green [temporarily].” – whoa.

How music evolves“Statistical analysis of music reveals the truth about its periods of revolution.” – h/t argumatronic!

The Medieval Roots of Our DIY Gun Culture“Forget 3-D printers. The first garage gunsmiths date back to the late Middle Ages.”

When Baltimore Shook With Anger, Here’s What China Saw“Online reaction revealed much about Chinese tension with an influx of African immigrants.” – h/t holtz!

No, there’s no “hate speech” exception to the First Amendment – duh. – from eugene volokh.

bonus: The migration of the eagle hunters – awesome!

(note: comments do not require an email. kazakh eagle hunter!)

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Quick Questions for Peter and Rosemary Grant“There is widespread misunderstanding about evolution; that it occurs extremely slowly and therefore cannot be studied in a person’s lifetime. This was the view of Charles Darwin. Many biologists and others now know that this is not correct…. The idea that animals as large as birds might evolve before our eyes is not so well known, yet our study in the entirely natural world of Daphne Major island has revealed this does in fact happen when there is a change in the environment, and it takes place over a period as short as a year, and repeatedly.” – h/t billare!

Is DNA Multilingual?“The genetic code has traditionally been viewed as a universal set of instructions, exquisitely tuned to maintain robust stability and allow evolution-sustaining mutations. But the pervasive occurrence of recoded stop codons, and the backchannel crosstalk between microbes and viruses, paints a more intricate picture of multilingual genetic instructions.”

Jelly genome mystery“The uniqueness of this ctenophore’s nervous system leads Moroz and his team to argue that it must have evolved independently, after the ctenophore lineage branched off from other animals some 500 million years ago.”

Genomic divergence in a ring species complex“Ring species provide particularly clear demonstrations of how one species can gradually evolve into two, but are rare in nature…. Here we use genome-wide analyses to show that, although spatial patterns of genetic variation are currently mostly as expected of a ring species, historical breaks in gene flow have existed at more than one location around the ring, and the two Siberian forms have occasionally interbred.” – h/t razib!

Natural selection and infectious disease in human populations“The ancient biological ‘arms race’ between microbial pathogens and humans has shaped genetic variation in modern populations, and this has important implications for the growing field of medical genomics. As humans migrated throughout the world, populations encountered distinct pathogens, and natural selection increased the prevalence of alleles that are advantageous in the new ecosystems in both host and pathogens. This ancient history now influences human infectious disease susceptibility and microbiome homeostasis, and contributes to common diseases that show geographical disparities, such as autoimmune and metabolic disorders.”

High genetic differentiation between populations often driven by classic selective sweeps“‘We demonstrate that while sites of low differentiation represent sampling effects rather than balancing selection, sites showing extremely high population differentiation are enriched for positive selection events and that one half may be the result of classic selective sweeps. Among these, we rediscover known examples, where we actually identify the established functional SNP, and discover novel examples including the genes ABCA12, CALD1 and ZNF804, which we speculate may be linked to adaptations in skin, calcium metabolism and defense, respectively. Conclusions: We have identified known and many novel candidate regions for geographically restricted positive selection, and suggest several directions for further research.'” – @dienekes’.

Mendelian-Mutationism: The Forgotten Evolutionary Synthesis – h/t neuroskeptic! who tweeted: “Did geneticists ‘crack’ the secret of evolution much earlier than believed?”

this one’s for linton!: Why Marrying Your Cousin May Pay Off“In line with previous findings, the researchers found that among non-foraging societies, a couple’s relatedness was linked with having more surviving children. But among foraging societies, the opposite was true: More-closely related spouses had fewer surviving children. Furthermore, the more family intermarriage in a society, the greater the benefit of intermarrying on the number of children couples had. In other words, in societies in which people frequently married their relatives, intermarrying showed a stronger link to having more children.”

The Closest of Strangers“[I]dentical twins who are aunts and uncles invest more in caring for the children of their twins (their ‘genetic’ sons and daughters) than do fraternal twins.”

Why Do Honor Killings Defy the First Law of Homicide? And Will Smaller Families Lead to Fewer Of Them? – h/t tom farsides! – previously: inclusive inclusive fitness.

Genetic and educational assortative mating among US adults“We find that spouses are more genetically similar than two individuals chosen at random but this similarity is at most one-third the magnitude of educational similarity.”

Irish fair skin can be traced to India and the Middle East“A major new US study at Penn State University has found that Europeans’ light skin stems from a gene mutation from a single person who lived 10,000 years ago…. Keith Cheng from Penn State College of Medicine reported that one amino acid difference in the gene SLC24A5 is a key contributor to the skin color difference between Europeans and West Africans…. ‘The mutation in SLC24A5 changes just one building block in the protein, and contributes about a third of the visually striking differences in skin tone between peoples of African and European ancestry, he said…. The mutation, called A111T, is found in virtually everyone of European ancestry. A111T is also found in populations in the Middle East and Indian subcontinent, but not in high numbers in Africans. All individuals from the Middle East, North Africa, East Africa and South India who carry the A111T mutation share traces of the ancestral genetic code. According to the researchers, this indicates that all existing instances of this mutation originate from the same person.” – h/t 23andMe!

The puzzle of European hair, eye, and skin color“The physical appearance of Europeans seems to result from a selection pressure that acted primarily on women and only secondarily on men. This is especially true for highly visible traits on or near the face—the focus of visual attention.” – from peter frost.

The Dark Triad of Personality – special issue of Personality and Individual Differences. – h/t claire lehmann!

Heritability of brain volume change and its relation to intelligence“Human brain volumes change throughout life, are highly heritable, and have been associated with general cognitive functioning…. Results show that changes in volumes of total brain (mean=-6.4ml; -0.5% loss), cerebellum (1.4ml, 1.0% increase), cerebral white matter (4.4ml, 0.9% increase), lateral ventricles (0.6ml; 4.8% increase) and in surface area (-19.7cm2, -1.1% contraction) are heritable (h2=43%; 52%; 29%; 31%; and 33%, respectively). An association between IQ (available for 91 participants) and brain volume change was observed, which was attributed to genes involved in both the variation in change in brain volume and in intelligence. Thus, dynamic changes in brain structure are heritable and may have cognitive significance in adulthood.”

Cognitive abilities amongst the Sámi population“Lapps have an IQ around 100.8 are tilted towards visuospatial ability and away from verbal ability.” – from elijah armstrong, michael woodley the younger, and richard lynn. edit: original paper here on elijah’s blog! (^_^)

The Flynn Effect in a Nutshell – from elijah.

Does brain structure determine your political views?“‘People like to believe that their own political beliefs are rational, that they’re a sensible response to the world around them, so when we come along and say, “Maybe there are these predispositions, influential but perhaps not fully in your conscious awareness,” that’s not the way we like to view our own political beliefs.'” – h/t mr. robert ford!

Sex-Related Neuroanatomical Basis of Emotion Regulation Ability“Behavioral research has demonstrated that males have a higher capability of regulating their own and others’ emotions than females; however, little is known about the sex-specific brain mechanisms involved in emotion regulation ability…. we found the sex differences in the neuroanatomical basis of emotion regulation ability. Males showed a stronger positive relation between emotion regulation ability and regional gray matter volume (rGMV) in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. In contrast, females demonstrated a stronger positive relation between emotion regulation ability and rGMV in an anatomical cluster that extends from the left brainstem to the left hippocampus, the left amygdala and the insular cortex.”

More Maps of the American Nations – from jayman.

Privilege and Morality“Our species isn’t good at nuance. The ‘privilege’ debate will and must take place in a morally charged context. It is not possible to sanitize the discussion by scrubbing it free of moral emotions. That is one of the many reasons why it is so important to understand what morality is and why it exists. It does not exist as a transcendental entity that happened to pop into existence with the big bang, nor does it exist because the Big Man upstairs wants it that way. It exists because it evolved.” – from helian.

Economic Growth & Human Biodiversity“Economic growth in lower-IQ countries does not invalidate either the reality of IQ differences between countries or the persistence of those disparities.” – from pseudoerasmus.

Good Fences: The Importance of Setting Boundaries for Peaceful Coexistence“Switzerland is recognized as a country of peace, stability and prosperity. This is surprising because of its linguistic and religious diversity that in other parts of the world lead to conflict and violence. Here we analyze how peaceful stability is maintained. Our analysis shows that peace does not depend on integrated coexistence, but rather on well defined topographical and political boundaries separating groups, allowing for partial autonomy within a single country. In Switzerland, mountains and lakes are an important part of the boundaries between sharply defined linguistic areas. Political canton and circle (sub-canton) boundaries often separate religious groups. Where such boundaries do not appear to be sufficient, we find that specific aspects of the population distribution guarantee either sufficient separation or sufficient mixing to inhibit intergroup violence according to the quantitative theory of conflict. In exactly one region, a porous mountain range does not adequately separate linguistic groups and that region has experienced significant violent conflict, leading to the recent creation of the canton of Jura.”

Was Territoriality Important in the Pleistocene? A Commentary on Johnson and Toft – @peter turchin’s.

Southern Europe is suspicious: the evolution of trust in the EU – ess and wvs results.

Trust and In-Group Favoritism in a Culture of Crime [pdf] – h/t ben southwood! who tweeted: “Areas in Palermo with high Mafia involvement have lower generalised trust but higher in-group favouritism.”

In dogs’ play, researchers see honesty and deceit, perhaps something like morality – woof!

What is Phonemic Diversity? — And Does It Prove the Out-of-Africa Theory? – h/t james winters!

How a Protestant spin machine hid the truth about the English Reformation“It seems that in 1533, the year of Henry’s break from Rome, traditional Catholicism was the religion of the vast majority of the country. And in most places it was absolutely thriving. It had developed a particularly English flavour, with a focus on the involvement of ordinary people in parish churches, village greens, plays, and pageants – much of which seemed to involve a good deal of community parties, dancing, and drinking. It is true that English religion in the early 1500s was not especially studious or erudite. The people did not spend hours a day in biblical studies, contemplation, and moralising in the manner of the more intense European reformers. But England had a nationally cohesive spirituality that was alive and exuberant, with a distinctly community feel…. The conclusion of this modern grassroots scholarship is that bulldozing the Catholic Church off the face of medieval England was not a ‘bottom up’ revolution in which Henry merely acquiesced to his people’s wishes by throwing off a widely hated foreign domination. To the contrary, it looks increasingly like Henry and his circle imposed the Reformation ‘top down’, unleashing 100 years of deep anger and alienation that was only overcome by sustained politicking and ruthless force.” – h/t william briggs!

bonus: “No Oxygen? No Problem!” Says Squid That Can Shut Down Its Metabolism – h/t kyle hill!

bonus bonus: A Theory on How Flightless Birds Spread Across the World: They Flew There

bonus bonus bonus: Chicken project gets off the ground“Effort aims to unravel the history of bird’s domestication.” – cluck!

(note: comments do not require an email. humble humboldt squid!)

holy toledo! two week’s worth of links! happy friday! (^_^)

John Derbyshire On Nicholas Wade’s A TROUBLESOME INHERITANCE – A Small, But Significant, Step For Race Realism“Wade raises high the banner of race realism and charges head-on into the massed ranks of the SSSM. He states his major premise up front, on page two: ‘New analyses of the human genome have established that human evolution has been recent, copious, and regional.’ Those last four words are repeated at intervals throughout the narrative. They are, as it were, the keynote of the book; Wade returns to them many times to anchor his observations — and some speculations — on the history and development of human societies.” (my emphasis there – h.chick)

henry harpending on science“[T]his is perhaps at the heart of the slander of the so called hbd-crew that circulates. Most of us are really interested, in our hearts, in theory and models. This is the way that most of science works…. You state somewhere that the hbd crew is obsessed with IQ. Seems so, but wait! IQ is literally the only thing that can be reliably measured of a whole constellation of interesting traits. It really does work in the sense of telling one whom to hire or whom to admit to graduate school. You also speak of what we ‘believe’ but the whole fun of science is falsifying hypotheses, not believing them. I would give my eye teeth (if I had them) to come up with something besides IQ to look at.” (my emphasis again – h.chick)

Digging For Gold: Study Says Your Race Determines Your Earwax Scent – h/t hbd bibliography!

Austronesians Out of the Cauldron“…the emergence of Austronesians. Linguistics and archaeology already were rather clear on the pattern of expansion, and when. But now an ancient DNA remain from off the coast of Fujian dated to ~8,000 years ago solidifies in totality the where and when. This is not an argument anymore.” – from razib.

New Diet, Sexual Attraction May Have Spurred Europeans’ Lighter Skin“[A] new study of ancient DNA concludes that European skin color has continued to change over the past 5000 years, suggesting that additional factors, including diet and sexual attraction, may also be at play.” – see also: Natural selection has altered the appearance of Europeans over the past 5,000 years.

It made their brown eyes blue…“A recent report in PNAS shows the inhabitants of the Ukraine and its environs had much darker hair, skin, and eyes back in the Bronze Age and earlier.” – from greg cochran.

Did Europeans become white in historic times? – from peter frost.

Pause Is Seen in a Continent’s Peopling“Using a new method for exploring ancient relationships among languages, linguists have found evidence further illuminating the peopling of North America about 14,000 years ago. Their findings follow a recent proposal that the ancestors of Native Americans were marooned for some 15,000 years on a now sunken plain before they reached North America.”

The place of the Armenian language in the Indo-European family“A very interesting talk at the Library of Congress making a good case for a Greek-Phrygian-Armenian clade within the Indo-European family.” – from dienekes.

One Million Brits ‘Descended from Vikings” DNA Study Claims“Around one million Britons, or one in 33 men across the UK, can claim direct descent from Vikings, according to a new DNA study. Men from the far north of Scotland were most likely to provide a direct match with almost a third (29.2%) of the men from the Shetland Islands testing positive for Viking blood.” – h/t ed west!

Genetic Architectures“The point is that the genetic architecture of a quantitative trait does not have to be the same in different populations of the same species. For example, I have the impression that height is not as highly polygenic in Pygmies as it is most other human populations. There’s a particular region on chromosome 3 that seems to influence height- you don’t see such a concentration in Europeans.” – another from greg cochran.

Molecular genetic contributions to socioeconomic status and intelligence – h/t billaire! who tweeted: “21% of the var. in education level, 18% of SES, 29% of cognitive ability explained by COMMON SNPs in Scottish sample.”

Study finds genetic link between height and IQ“A team of researchers at Edinburgh University in Scotland has found a correlation between genes associated with height and those associated with intelligence. In their paper published in the journal Behavior Genetics, the group describes how they studied the DNA of 6,815 unrelated people and discovered what they describe as a direct correlation between height and intelligence—taller people are smarter, they say.”

HVGIQ: Puerto Rico – from jason malloy.

Population differences in intellectual capacity: a new polygenic analysis – peter frost on davide piffer’s work.

Evidence for the general factor of personality as social-effectiveness

Intelligent people are more likely to trust others“Intelligent people are more likely to trust others, while those who score lower on measures of intelligence are less likely to do so, says a new study. Researchers based their finding on an analysis of the General Social Survey, a nationally representative public opinion survey carried out in the United States every one to two years.” – h/t mr. mangan, esq!

Openness to experience and aesthetic chills: Links to heart rate sympathetic activity“These results suggest links between openness to experience and sympathetic nervous system activity explaining, at least in part, relationships of openness to such traits as aesthetic chills.” – h/t stuart ritchie!

Psychological refractory period in introverts and extraverts“Evidence for faster stimulus analysis in extraverts compared to introverts.”

‘Free to Be’ Boys and Girls: 40 Years After the Failed Gender Revolution“1974’s ‘Free to Be…You and Me’ feels like an eternity ago. And, amazingly, kids and adults have yet to morph into mutually respectful, non-gendered human persons.” – from christina hoff sommers.

Personality Regions: The Friendly Midwest, the Left Coast and the Wicked (Possibly Irish) Witch of the Northeast – from staffan.

Want Success? Choose the Right Parents“Gregory Clark’s startling new book, ‘The Son Also Rises,’ asks you to rethink everything you thought you knew about social mobility. His research, if it’s correct, isn’t good news. It says that socio-economic status is mostly a matter of nature not nurture, and suggests that trying to help the disadvantaged move up won’t make much difference.” – h/t alice teller! – see also: Social mobility: Have and have not“Mr Clark follows his logic to an unexpectedly egalitarian end. Redistribution is sensible, he argues, not in order to boost mobility but because mobility is intractably low. The cream will rise regardless, and so paying extraordinary salaries to capable workers is unnecessary. If high rates of mobility are used to excuse or justify inequality, he suggests, then the reality of low mobility implies something quite different: t hat great inequality serves little purpose and redistributing income from the rich to the poor might raise overall welfare at little economic cost. This makes for uncomfortable reading for those of all ideological persuasions.”

Why HBD“As I have tired to explain in my earlier post, Environmental Hereditarianism, the behavioral and physical traits of people are environmentally context-dependent. The broad environmental context regulates the expression of the genes. There is *not* a dichotomy between genes and ‘environment’. Nor could there be one – we are always ‘with’ both. The broad environment includes geography, climate, technology, and prevailing social landscape (otherwise known as ‘culture’). When the social-technological-geographic landscape changes, you can have broad behavioral change all without genetic change. This explains secular changes that occur too quickly to be a result of evolution, such as the sexual revolution, the modern rise in irreligiosity, the increase in the obesity rate, etc.” – from jayman.

Key connection“Biologists zero in on role of plasticity in evolution. For more than a century, scientists have suggested that the best way to settle the debate about how phenotypic plasticity — the way an organism changes in response to environment — may be connected to evolution would be to identify a single mechanism that controls both. Harvard researchers say they have discovered just such a mechanism in insulin signaling in fruit flies. Cassandra Extavour, an associate professor of organismic and evolutionary biology, and grad student Delbert André Green II were able to show that a single molecular pathway plays a role in both heritable changes in the flies’ number of ovarioles — egg-producing compartments in the ovaries — and in how they react to their environments by shutting down some ovarioles. The study is described in a paper published this month in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. ‘This is the first example, to my knowledge, that shows this link — between heritability and plasticity — being controlled by the same mechanism,’ Extavour said. ‘What we’ve done with this paper is show that an important trait that controls how many offspring a fruit fly will have exhibits both heritable variation and phenotypic plasticity, and that both are controlled by insulin signaling.'” – h/t steven pinker!

Morality and the Lament of the Liberal Atheists“Moral relativism is the ground state of living things. It doesn’t work for a social species like ours. If every one of us tried to monopolize all the available resources within his grasp at the cost of everyone else, the chances that any given individual would survive and reproduce would be drastically reduced. Therefore, morality. It exists because, from an evolutionary perspective, it works. It will continue to function just as it always has, even if 100,000 philosophers shout at the top of their lungs that it’s irrational. Of course it is, but it doesn’t matter. We will continue to perceive the good and evil that seem so real to our imaginations as absolutes. It is our nature to do so….” – from helian

coolest. story. ever. (in the past two weeks.): The Woman Who Can Will Herself Out Of Her Body – h/t keith laws!

Hypothesis on Why Northwest Europe Began Outbreeding“It could just be coincidence that the outbreeding areas that coincide with other positive hajnal line traits were also lands conquered by men from tribes with the traditions of Germanic kingship. These kings were illiterate barbarians seeking legitimacy and thinking long term at the security of their line ruling…. This is a hypothesis, but the position these rulers were in was one of new conquerors in foreign lands. They needed to create and encourage loyalty in the natives as well as find a way to secure their individual line as king in a manner that was different from what their people, the conquerors, were accustomed to. The Church, an institution eager for power in a new area as well, offered an opportunity to import a political infrastructure and change the social make up of their new lands. Even moreso in England than the rest of core Europe, the Church and the elite’s motivations and goals overlapped perfectly. Christianity was new to them and new to the Britains, but as conversions mounted, it was a shared trait amongst them all. That shared identity was the warrior-chiefs’ way to have rule and kingship legitimized. That shared identity made the natives and newcomers men of Kent or East Anglia, later England, and not of the clan.” – good stuff from son of brock landers!

Rise of the West and the Hajnal line – from mr. mangan, esq.

The Low Fertility Of Urban Liberals Is A Feature Not A Bug – from heartiste.

The Achilles’ Heel of Northern Europeans: Outbreeding? – from alfred clark.

The Medieval Mind“The medieval character was not just about poisoning rivals and raping their daughters. That picture misses the raw and unquestioned nationalism, the impulsivity, the superstition, the childishness (in Barbara Tuchmann’s words), the present time-orientation.” – from elijah.

On Digit Ratio and its Implications – from sisyphean the mad contrarian.

psychO – from the awesome epigone. linking to this mostly for the pictures – awwww! (^_^)

The genes that mean you have a good ear for music“Musical aptitude may be partly down to genes that determine the architecture of the inner ear.” – h/t simon makin! – alternatively: you, too, can have perfect pitch! (~_^)

The Origin of Ideology“Are left and right a feature (or bug) of evolution?” – review of a couple of books.

Do Women’s Mate Preferences Change Across the Ovulatory Cycle? A Meta-Analytic Review – answer: yes. – see also: Intersexual conflict across women’s ovulatory cycle“Results indicate that (a) men are particularly self-assertive toward partners when their partners are fertile; (b) similarly, women are especially self-assertive toward partners when they are fertile; (c) women report engaging in more behaviors that resist male vigilance and mate-guarding when they are fertile, especially in ways that are unobservable to male partners; (d) these effects are especially strong when women themselves report greater attraction to men other than partners when they are fertile, compared to the luteal phase.” – h/t robert burriss!

Study finds less cooperation among women than among men where hierarchy is involved“‘When I studied young children, I noticed that boys were typically interacting in groups, and girls tended to focus on one-on-one relationships,’ said Benenson, the study’s lead author, who explored similar questions in her book Warriors and Worriers. ‘There is even evidence that these differences exist in six-month-olds – but you can see it with the naked eye by about five or six years old, where boys form these large, loose groups, and girls tend to pair off into more intense, close friendships.’ What makes those differences particularly provocative, Benenson said, is that chimpanzees organize their relationships in nearly identical ways. ‘Chimpanzee males usually have another individual they’re very close with, and they may constantly battle for dominance, but they also have a larger, loose group of allies,’ Benenson said. ‘When it comes to defeating other groups, everybody bands together. I would argue that females don’t have that biological inclination, and they don’t have the practice.'”

The Reason Early Humans May Have Practiced Infant Cannibalism – mmmmmmm! – h/t diana fleischman!

Personality Traits and Body Mass Index in a Korean Population“Compared with the normal weight groups, overweight and obese men scored higher on openness to experience and lower on conscientiousness. Overweight and obese women scored lower on neuroticism and openness to experience and higher on agreeableness. Extraversion was positively associated with BMI in men (β = 0.032, P<0.05). BMI and waist circumference were significantly increased in individuals who were less dutiful. In women, neuroticism was inversely associated with BMI (β = −0.026, P<0.05). Openness to experience was negatively, and agreeableness was positively, associated with BMI (openness to experience: β = −0.072, agreeableness β = 0.068) and waist circumference (openness to experience: β = −0.202, agreeableness: β = 0.227) (P<0.05).”

The Supergene That Paints a Liar

This Island Life“The strange biology of island populations highlights the role of chance, not just selection, in evolutionary change.” – h/t john belmont!

Competition May Not Be the Driving Force of Species Diversity After All – h/t robert ford!

Big Testicles Drive Genetic Evolution: Size Does Matter After All“[A]nimals with larger testis having an increased speed of genome evolution, researchers have found.”

Bye bye RNA world

The Phylogeny of Everything, the Origin of Eukaryotes, and the Rules of Taxonomy: Death to Archaea, Bacteria, and Eucarya! Long live Archaebacteria, Eubacteria, Eukaryota, and Prokaryota!

Genomics/Bone Marrow Donation: Next-gen DNA sequencing enables reliable donor matching service

Is Ed Houben Europe’s most virile man?“Ed Houben has an unusual pastime. He has slept with scores of women who seek him out for his legendary powers of insemination…. Ed Houben has come to see his daughter for the first time. He talks gently to the six-week-old baby, and little Madita looks up at him. She is, he says, his 98th child.”

The Costume of Shangri-La: Thoughts on White Privilege, Cultural Appropriation, and Anti-Asian Racism – it’s worth quoting the whole abstract: “This piece poses cultural appropriation as an undertheorized aspect of white privilege in White Privilege Studies. By way of narrative exploration, it asserts that a paucity of scholarship on Orientalism and anti-Asian racism has created a gap in White Privilege Studies that curbs its radical transformative potential. It argues for the value of a structural and historically focused lens for understanding the issue of cultural appropriation, and extends questions of culture and race relations beyond the borders of the United States. It also explores the complex ways that interracial and transnational relationships can influence white racial identity, and illustrates the disruptive potential that queer interracial relationships can offer to dominant historical patterns of white behavior.” – (~_^) h/t ben southwood!

bonus: mr. mangan’s book! (^_^): Smash Chronic Fatigue: A Concise, Science-Based Guide to Help Your Body Heal, and Banish Fatigue Forever

bonus bonus: Backing the Big Bang“In breakthrough, astronomers find evidence of speedy ‘cosmic inflation’ of universe”

bonus bonus bonus: Does Time Flow? (video) – d*mn physicists! (~_^)

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Elephants Hear Age, Gender, Ethnicity in Human Voices – elephants are awesome!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Dinosaurs are not Extinct – YAAAAAAAAYYYYY!!!! – h/t steve stewart williams!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: The stripy stick insect that walked with dinosaurs“This is the earliest known plant-mimicking stick insect, its fragile body preserved for 126 million years in the dusty rocks of north-east China.” – h/t jason moore!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Flies That Do Calculus With Their Wings“The wings of fruit flies beat about 250 times a second.” – h/t kyle hill!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Portolan Charts ‘Too Accurate’ to be Medieval – h/t heresiarch!

(note: comments do not require an email. polite elephant steps over fence.)

Questions you never thought to ask: Is inbreeding bad for democracy? – i thought to ask. so did a few other people (way before me!): steve sailer, stanley kurtz, parapundit. see also Cousin Marriage and Democracy. and, of course, see also woodley and bell. and see Question of the Day @breviosity. previously: consanguinity and democracy.

A Dose of Clannishness and What’s So Bad About Clanocracy? – @breviosity!

Where do those tensions come from?“When the Milgram experiment was done with Jordanian assistants, they were just as willing as Americans to inflict pain under orders (62.5%). But they were more willing than Americans [1.4%] to inflict pain when no orders were given, with 12.5% of them delivering shocks right up to the top end of the scale (Shanab & Yahya, 1978).” – great post from peter frost!

Modern Europe’s Genetic History Starts in Stone Age“Scientists create the first detailed genetic history of modern Europe.” – original research article. see also mtDNA haplogroup H and the origin of Europeans (Brotherton et al. 2013) from dienekes.

As women live longer and have fewer children, they are becoming taller and slimmer, study finds“‘This is a reminder that declines in mortality rates do not necessarily mean that evolution stops, but that it changes.'”

Birth Defects, FBD Marriages – from anatoly.

HBD Fundamentals – from jayman!

Why the Tropics are an evolutionary hotbed“Ant family tree shows tropical New World hosts fast speciation while also keeping older lineages alive.”

Study: People Who Believe in God Are More Responsive to Treatment of Depression“It may be that ‘the tendency to have faith in conventional social constructs’ can be generalized both to religion and the medical establishment.”

Beauty isn’t skin deep – @mangan’s.

Social psychology fraud: Just tell professors what they want to hear – from steve sailer.

Book Review: Quiet – The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (2012) by Susan Cain – from staffan. and a classic: Caring for Your Introvert. (just shush already! (~_^) )

Ethnic origins of Forbes world billionaires (2013) – @race/history/evolution notes.

Computer scientists suggest new spin on origins of evolvability“‘[E]volvable species accumulate over time even without selective pressure.'” – in their computer simulations.

Culture — Not Just a Human Thing – vervet monkeys got culture. also Parrots Barter With Nuts.

Humans Evolved Flexible, Lopsided Brains – some of us more lopsided than others. (~_^)

When Do Babies Become Conscious?“New research shows that babies display glimmers of consciousness and memory as early as 5 months old.”

Fish win fights on strength of personality“When predicting the outcome of a fight, the big guy doesn’t always win suggests new research on fish.”

Feeding our gut bacteria meat may enhance heart disease risks“Antibiotics or vegetarian diets block production of a risk-associated chemical.”

On Hold: Genes That Pause Pregnancy Discovered

Giza Secret Revealed: How 10,000 Pyramid Builders Got Fed“This meat-rich diet, along with the availability of medical care (the skeletons of some workers show healed bones), would have been an additional lure for ancient Egyptians to work on the pyramids…. ‘They probably got a much better diet than they got in their village….'”

Earliest Mayan monuments unearthed in Guatemala. see also Ancient Maya discovery sheds new light on the origins of civilization.

bonus: Levels of Commitment to the Dark Enlightenment – @habitable worlds. also What are characteristics of the Dark Enlightenment? @occam’s razor.

bonus bonus: How Cuban Villagers Learned They Descended From Sierra Leone Slaves“The amazing story of the traditional songs and dances, passed down over hundreds of years, that have tied a small Caribbean ethnic group to a remote African tribe.” – cool story!

bonus bonus bonus: Revealed: The Indian village with just 6,000 inhabitants … but more than 100 pairs of twins – another town of twins!

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Can Animals Be Mentally Ill?

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: not a news story, but here’s the definition of stubborn – Last Two Speakers of Dying Language Refuse to Talk to Each Other

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Thanks to rare alpine bacteria, researchers identify one of alcohol’s key gateways to the brain“Discovery is a step on the road to eventually developing drugs that could disrupt the interaction between alcohol and the brain.” – cool! wait. they want to disrupt the effect of alcohol on the brain?! hey!

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

Rats Harmed by Great-Grandmothers’ Exposure to Dioxin“Pregnant rats exposed to an industrial pollutant passed on a variety of diseases to three generations of descendants.” – epigenetic effects.

Average Scores for SAT Tests Drop as Pool of Students Who Take Test Widens

A surprising link between Africans and Denisovans and More on the surprising link between Africans and Denisovans – from dienekes.

Burn victim identified by maggots on body“When Mexican police found a body in the woods it was burned beyond recognition, its DNA too damaged to be used for identification. Luckily, investigators were able to extract DNA from elsewhere – the digestive systems of maggots that had been feeding on the body. This is the first time that human DNA from a maggot gut has been analysed in this way to successfully identify a victim in a legal case.”

The Marketplace in Your Brain“Neuroscientists have found brain cells that compute value. Why are economists ignoring them?”

Trans-species polymorphisms“It’s not just that we see the same gene in distantly related species. We also see the same gene with the same set of alleles—a trans-species polymorphism (Klein et al., 1998). A good example is the ABO blood group system. On the basis of that gene marker, I probably have more in common with certain apes than I do with some of my readers.” – (^_^) from peter frost.

The South and sexual perversity – from the inductivist.

Darwinian Giant Robert Trivers Riffs on Toddler Tantrums, Homophobic Denial and Other Lies – on robert trivers.

Ancient stinging nettles reveal Bronze Age trade connections“A piece of nettle cloth retrieved from Denmark’s richest known Bronze Age burial mound Lusehøj may actually derive from Austria, new findings suggest.”

bonus: I’m Spantacus! Slave ants rebel“[O]n average 95 per cent of the parasitic ant larvae survived to pupa stage – but then the slave ants attacked or neglected them. Only 45 per cent of the parasite’s offspring survived to adulthood. In comparison, the survival rate for host pupae in their own free-living nests is 85 per cent.”

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