linkfest – 01/21/14

Calcium absorption not the cause of evolution of milk digestion in Europeans“‘The evolution of lactase persistence is one of the best known and most dramatic examples of recent human evolution. One of the ironies of working in this area is that we know it happened but we still don’t fully know why’ says Sverrisdóttir. Lactase persistence is found at highest frequencies in southern Sweden and in Ireland. Given that calcium absorption is not the only reason why this trait evolved so rapidly, Sverrisdóttir and colleagues have proposed another cause: Although most early European farmers would not have been lactase persistent, they would still have been able to consume fermented milk products such as yoghurt and cheese, because fermentation converts much of the lactose into fats. But in famine conditions, such as when crops fail, they are likely to have eaten all the fermented milk foods, leaving only the more high-lactose products. This would have caused the usual lactose intolerance symptoms such as diarrhea. Diarrhea in in healthy people is not usually life-threatening, but in severely malnourished individuals it certainly can be. So famine could have led to episodes of very strong natural selection favoring lactase persistence.”

Human and Helicobacter pylori coevolution shapes the risk of gastric disease“Patients were recruited from two geographically distinct Colombian populations with significantly different incidences of gastric cancer, but virtually identical prevalence of H. pylori infection. All H. pylori isolates contained the genetic signatures of multiple ancestries, with an ancestral African cluster predominating in a low-risk, coastal population and a European cluster in a high-risk, mountain population. The human ancestry of the biopsied individuals also varied with geography, with mostly African ancestry in the coastal region (58%), and mostly Amerindian ancestry in the mountain region (67%). The interaction between the host and pathogen ancestries completely accounted for the difference in the severity of gastric lesions in the two regions of Colombia. In particular, African H. pylori ancestry was relatively benign in humans of African ancestry but was deleterious in individuals with substantial Amerindian ancestry. Thus, coevolution likely modulated disease risk, and the disruption of coevolved human and H. pylori genomes can explain the high incidence of gastric disease in the mountain population.”

Seeing X Chromosomes in a New Light“X-chromosome inactivation, Dr. Nathans’s pictures show, creates a genetic diversity that’s particularly dramatic. Two cells side by side may be using different versions of many different genes. ‘But there is also much larger-scale diversity,’ Dr. Nathans said. In some brains, for example, a mother’s X chromosome was seen dominating the left side, while the father’s dominated the right. Entire organs can be skewed toward one parent. Dr. Nathans and his colleagues found that in some mice, one eye was dominated by the father and the other by the mother. The diversity even extended to the entire mouse. In some animals, almost all the X chromosomes from one parent were shut; in others, the opposite was true.”

Are plants altruistic?“Roots can distinguish self from other, and they know their own kind (species), they can share resources and information about insect attacks and deliver nutrients to trees in need. The preponderance of evidence does seem to suggest that plants are proactive in filling their own needs and the needs of others.” – ooooh, not just their own species, their own close relatives! – see also The Intelligent Plant.

Sluggish metabolisms are key to primates’ long lives“[P]rimates expend 50 per cent less energy than other mammals of equivalent mass during an average day. ‘What’s more, he says the difference is not easily explained by differing activity levels: a human would need to run a whole marathon every day to be on an even energetic footing with mammals that aren’t primates….’ The finding offers a completely new way to understand why primates have slower life histories than other mammals of equivalent body size…. Pontzer thinks that the slower metabolism may have evolved to help primates cope with food shortages. For instance, orang-utans suffer frequent famines. ‘Orang-utans experience extended periods of low fruit availability,’ says Vogel. ‘There are months when caloric intake is less than expenditure – and they burn body fat stores.’ A slow metabolism might help them survive.”

Triune origins“With the latest paper, the story on European origins is becoming clearer. Three populations account for European ancestry: the Mesolithic hunter-gatherers of western Europe (dubbed WHG in the paper), early European farmers derived from somewhere in the Mideast (EEF), and a third group more closely related to ancient Siberians (ANE) than any existing population. Those Sibermen also contributed a third of Amerindian ancestry, the rest being similar to modern East Asian populations.” – from greg cochran.

The first industrial revolution“As early modern humans spread farther north, they entered more challenging environments…. Did these new cognitive demands have an evolutionary impact? Did they select for certain mental capacities over others? Piffer (2013) has addressed these questions by seeing how hunter-gatherers differ from farming peoples in alleles at COMT, a gene linked to executive function, working memory, and intelligence…. Northern hunting peoples, however, differ from other hunter-gatherers and resemble more advanced farming populations.” – from peter frost.

‘Out of Africa’ gene mutation in human pigmentation increases predisposition to skin cancer“The V60L mutation is more common in people with light hair and skin tone that, despite being light, tans easily in the summer. This mutation is positive for the climate of the Mediterranean region, as it facilitates the absorption of vitamin D in the winter months, in which the ultraviolet radiation is lower. In the summer months, in which the radiation is greater, the ease to darken the skin pigmentation provides a certain protection. However, the study also revealed that among people with this mutation there is a greater predisposition to skin cancer.” – see also: Simultaneous Purifying Selection on the Ancestral MC1R Allele and Positive Selection on the Melanoma-Risk Allele V60L in South Europeans.

Longitudinal four-dimensional mapping of subcortical anatomy in human development – h/t kevin mitchell! who said: “Large imaging study details substantial sex differences in maturation dynamics of subcortical structures.” – also: Fundamental sex difference in human brain architecture [behind paywall].

Changes in Thickness and Surface Area of the Human Cortex and Their Relationship with Intelligence“At 10 years of age, more intelligent children have a slightly thinner cortex than children with a lower IQ. This relationship becomes more pronounced with increasing age: with higher IQ, a faster thinning of the cortex is found over time. In the more intelligent young adults, this relationship reverses so that by the age of 42 a thicker cortex is associated with higher intelligence. In contrast, cortical surface is larger in more intelligent children at the age of 10. The cortical surface is still expanding, reaching its maximum area during adolescence. With higher IQ, cortical expansion is completed at a younger age; and once completed, surface area decreases at a higher rate. These findings suggest that intelligence may be more related to the magnitude and timing of changes in brain structure during development than to brain structure per se, and that the cortex is never completed but shows continuing intelligence-dependent development.”

Why do spatial abilities predict mathematical performance?“About a third of the variation in spatial ability at age 12 is explained by genetic factors; a little less than half of the variation in mathematics at this age is genetic. We find no sex differences in the genetic and environmental influences (either in magnitude or type) on mathematical and spatial variation at age 12. The observed overlap between spatial ability and mathematics is substantial (r > .40). Approximately 60% of this overlap is explained by common genetic effects, with 40% of the overlap due to environmental experience.” – h/t DOCTOR stuart ritchie! (^_^)

New evidence shows the FDA was wrong to halt 23andMe testing“While the tests are often too inaccurate for consumers to consider them diagnoses, research shows that most customers will seek a doctor’s opinion before taking action, anyway. According to the authors’ research, 58% of 1,051 surveyed customers did nothing at all with their genomic results. Of the 42% who made health decisions based on the information, only 2% changed prescription drug regimens without consulting a physician. The majority of customers who made changes focused on diet, exercise, and vitamins.”

Dogs’ Closest Wolf Ancestors Went Extinct, Study Suggests” A new genetic analysis of modern dogs and wolves suggests that man’s best friend was domesticated before agriculture. But the origin of this domestication remains stubbornly mysterious. Researchers analyzed the genomes of wolves from three likely sites of domestication (the Middle East, Asia and eastern Europe), and found that modern dogs were not more closely related to any of the three. In fact, it seems that the closest wolf ancestors of today’s dogs may have gone extinct, leaving no wild descendants.” – also: Paedomorphic Facial Expressions Give Dogs a Selective Advantage – woof! – h/t claire lehmann!

The Nurture Enigma – How Does the Environment Influence Human Nature? – from staffan.

The interplay of genetic and cultural evolution – from jason collins.

Eye of the Tiger PeopleBut what the hell is ‘culture,’ anyway? Talk about a social construct! Even the term ‘social construct’ is a social construct, one unique to our culture. And who’s to say culture is entirely separate from genetics? There’s some suggestion that the two may be intimately intertwined. In rawest terms, ‘culture’ may be nothing more than what happens when a group’s genes interact with their environment. – from jim goad.

Toddlers’ aggression is strongly associated with genetic factors, study reports“The development of physical aggression in toddlers is strongly associated genetic factors and to a lesser degree with the environment, according to a new study led by Eric Lacourse of the University of Montreal and its affiliated CHU Sainte-Justine Hospital. Lacourse’s worked with the parents of identical and non-identical twins to evaluate and compare their behaviour, environment and genetics.” – h/t mr. mangan, esq!

Modifying DNA May Wipe Away Old Memories – so can several double gin and tonics in a row. (~_^) – they’re talking about epigenetic changes here, btw.

Apes are intuitive statisticians“Here, we conducted the first investigation of such intuitive statistical reasoning with non-human primates. In a series of 7 experiments, Bonobos, Chimpanzees, Gorillas and Orangutans drew flexible statistical inferences from populations to samples. These inferences, furthermore, were truly based on statistical information regarding the relative frequency distributions in a population, and not on absolute frequencies. Intuitive statistics in its most basic form is thus an evolutionarily more ancient rather than a uniquely human capacity.” – iow, the other great apes outperform a lot of humans (i.e. the pc ones)! (~_^) – h/t neuroskeptic!

Study: Chimpanzees Bond Over Shared Meals“[C]himps who share their food have higher levels of oxytocin, known as the love hormone, than those who don’t.” – h/t hbd bibliography!

Comedians have psychotic personality traits, study finds“In a study in the British Journal of Psychiatry, researchers analyzed comedians from Australia, Britain and the United States and found they scored significantly higher on four types of psychotic characteristics compared to a control group of people who had non-creative jobs. The traits included a tendency towards impulsive or anti-social behavior, and a tendency to avoid intimacy. ‘The creative elements needed to produce humor are strikingly similar to those characterizing the cognitive style of people with psychosis – both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder,’ said Gordon Claridge of the University of Oxford’s department of experimental psychology, who led the study.”

Natural selection can favour ‘irrational’ behaviour – well, there’s your problem!

‘Human evolution likely led to rise of religion’ – h/t holly dunsworth! whose response was: duh! (~_^)

New study finds mistimed sleep disrupts rhythms of genes in humans“During this disruption of sleep timing, there was a six-fold reduction in the number of genes that displayed a circadian rhythm (a rhythm with an approximately 24 hour period). This included many regulators associated with transcription and translation, indicating widespread disruption to many biological processes.” – sleep right!

speaking of which: Study finds later school start times improve sleep and daytime functioning in adolescents – h/t anatoly!

The human brain can process images the eye sees for 13 milliseconds – imagine how quickly THE FLASH’s brain can process images!! (~_^)

The Islamic Republic of Baby-Making“Iran, like other Middle Eastern countries, has an extremely high infertility rate. More than 20 percent of Iranian couples cannot conceive, according to a study conducted by one of the country’s leading fertility clinics, compared with the global rate of between 8 and 12 percent. Experts believe this is due to the prevalence of consanguineous marriages, or those between cousins. Male infertility is ‘the hidden story of the Middle East,’ says Marcia Inhorn, a Yale University medical anthropologist and a specialist on assisted reproduction in the region.”

This Language Names Odors As Precisely As English Speakers Name Colorjahai speakers in malaysia. – h/t t.greer! – see also: Can You Name That Smell?“It’s also possible that the Jahai are built differently than the rest of us. The genes that code for the olfactory receptors in our noses exhibit a great deal of variation not only between different human populations but also between people. So it may be that the Jahai have evolved more of these receptors or a greater diversity of them than everyone else, much like the Tsimane tribe from the Bolivian rainforest were shown to be more sensitive to smells than were Germans.”

Gene therapy ‘could be used to treat blindness’“Surgeons in Oxford have used a gene therapy technique to improve the vision of six patients who would otherwise have gone blind. The operation involved inserting a gene into the eye, a treatment that revived light-detecting cells.”

The thinnest Americans are Asian Americans, CDC data show – surprise!

Shapely centrefolds? Temporal change in body measures: trend analysis – h/t ben southwood! who said: “Playboy centrefolds’ waists have widened, weights have fallen, busts have shrunk and hips have narrowed since 1953.”

Study: Violence, infectious disease and climate change contributed to Indus civilization collapse – h/t mike anissimov!

What was in that grog? Scientists analyze ancient Nordic drink“Ancient Scandinavians quaffed an alcoholic mixture of barley, honey, cranberries, herbs and even grape wine imported from Greece and Rome, new research finds.” – mmmmmm! mmmmmm?

bonus: i’m a journalist! – h/t jayman!

bonus bonus: and a neo-fascist, too, apparently. hahahahahahahaha!! *snort*

bonus bonus bonus: Genetically engineered plant glows so brightly it can be used as a LAMP

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linkfest – 12/05/13

another sunday linkfest on a thursday. what IS the world coming to?! =/

Baffling 400,000-Year-Old Clue to Human Origins – denisovans in SPAIN 400,000 years ago! cool. – see also 400 thousand year old human mtDNA from Sima de los Huesos from dienekes. – and see also Hominin DNA baffles experts.

Snakes outpacing other vertebrates in race to evolve“The first two full snake genomes to be sequenced – belonging to the Burmese python and the king cobra – show that they have one of the fastest rates of genetic evolution among vertebrates.”

Earliest Stone-Tipped Projectiles from the Ethiopian Rift Date to >279,000 Years Ago“Projectile weapons (i.e. those delivered from a distance) enhanced prehistoric hunting efficiency by enabling higher impact delivery and hunting of a broader range of animals while reducing confrontations with dangerous prey species. Projectiles therefore provided a significant advantage over thrusting spears…. Direct evidence for such projectiles is thus far unknown from >80,000 years ago. Data from velocity-dependent microfracture features, diagnostic damage patterns, and artifact shape reported here indicate that pointed stone artifacts from Ethiopia were used as projectile weapons (in the form of hafted javelin tips) as early as >279,000 years ago.” – see also Oldest Javelins Predate Modern Humans, Raise Questions on Evolution – h/t naturalismo! – and see also Stone tipped spears used 500,000 years ago – thrusting ones, tho.

Discovery of partial skeleton suggests ruggedly built, tree-climbing human ancestor“Massive arm bones provide insight into how ‘robust’ P. boisei species, found by Leakey, adapted in Africa.”

Iberian Neolithic farmer DNA“‘The Neolithic Portalón individual is genetically most similar to southern Europeans, similar to a Scandinavian Neolithic farmer and the Tyrolean Iceman. In contrast, the Neolithic Portalón individual displays little affinity to two Mesolithic samples from the near-by area, La Brana, demonstrating a distinct change in population history between 7,000 and 4,000 years ago for the northern Iberian Peninsula.'” – @dienekes’.

How genetics are rewriting the history of the Caribbean“The Spanish who arrived in the New World were de facto polygamists who killed or enslaved the local men and impregnated the women.” – from razib.

Male and female brains wired differently, scans reveal“Maps of neural circuitry show women’s brains are suited to social skills and memory, men’s perception and co-ordination…. Maps of neural circuitry showed that on average women’s brains were highly connected across the left and right hemispheres, in contrast to men’s brains, where the connections were typically stronger between the front and back regions.” – see also Sex differences in the structural connectome of the human brain. – and see also Stop the Presses! from malcolm pollack. (^_^)

Promiscuity Is Pragmatic“Why women and other female primates seek out multiple partners…. [T]here are two environmental contexts where women commonly choose multiple partners. The first is where women have more material support from their kin or economic independence from men more generally. This may explain why multiple mating is most common among small-scale matrilocal societies (in which women remain in their home village after marriage), such as the partible paternity societies of South America or the Mosuo of China. It may also explain why female infidelity has increased in Western societies as women have gained greater political and economic independence…. The second environmental context Scelza identified is where the sex ratio is female-biased (indicating a scarcity of men) or there is a high level of male unemployment (indicating a scarcity of men who can provide support).” – one for the gameboyz. (~_^)

The Associations Among Dark Personalities and Sexual Tactics Across Different Scenarios – h/t neuroskeptic!

Sharing is Caring? – from the awesome epigone.

Height prediction from common DNA variants – from steve hsu.

Parental olfactory experience influences behavior and neural structure in subsequent generations – epigenetic effects passed on between generations? there are those who are skeptical. (^_^) – see also Phobias may be memories passed down in genes from ancestors.

PISA, piece by piece – from steve sailer. see also steve’s Graph of 2012 PISA scores for 65 countries/economies.

Our IQs Are Climbing, But We’re Not Getting Smarter – re. woodley and armstrong paper.

Academic experts criticise Boris Johnson IQ claims“Dr James Thompson, senior lecturer in psychology at University College London, said Boris had been ‘inelegant’ in his choice of words. Thompson, co-author of Cognitive Capitalism, said: ‘What Boris Johnson has done is inelegantly describe things which in fact do seem to be true: intelligence, however you assess it, is predictive. It’s predicative of income, life span and of occupational status. People are different and have different futures and intelligence seems to be an important part of that.’ He said studies showed there seemed to be a correlation between ‘being bright in youth and doing well in life later’. Asked if inequality was inevitable, he said: ‘In one way that is true. There’s two things, one is that some people are brighter than others and can do more complicated work and that more complicated work is generally more valued.’ However, he added that how much people should be paid was a decision for society. Professor Richard Lynn, co-author of IQ and the Wealth of Nations, said that the association between IQ and income was ‘only modest’. ‘That is because some high IQ people go into jobs that don’t have particularly high earnings like university professors, schoolteachers or social workers. Some professions attract very high IQ people but they don’t have very high earnings,’ he said. ‘You could say that the IQ is only one determinant of high earnings, the others are ambition and motivation and the third one is luck.'” – h/t holtz!

The 7 tribes of intellect – from dr. james thompson.

Morality and the State“In general, ‘virtuous’ states – those free of corruption, that do not cheat or steal from their citizens, and that are effective in enforcing laws that are perceived as just – are more effective at promoting the common weal than their opposites. Heraclitus’ dictum that ‘character is destiny’ likely applies to states as well as individuals. I personally think that states are far more likely to be ‘virtuous’ in that sense if their powers are carefully circumscribed and limited.”

Could absence of a father permanently rewire the brain? – from mr. mangan, esq.

Investigation reveals black market in China for research paper authoring“The journal Science has uncovered, via investigation, a thriving black market in science paper authoring—people are paying to have their names added to papers that have been written to describe research efforts…. All in all, the investigative team contacted 27 agencies involved in helping researchers get their work published—only five of them refused an offer to pay for adding a name to a research paper.”

Researchers find first evidence of primates regularly sleeping in caves – ring-tailed lemurs!

Ancestral Journeys – greg cochran reviews a book! – just like he threatened promised!

Why biology belongs in the study of politics – h/t avi tuschman!

Does Nyborg’s study make sense?“One other thing bothers me. So please let me say it. Why must the Danes prove that they deserve to keep their country to themselves? Isn’t that a basic right? They have only one land to call home…unlike the many ‘refugees’ who regularly visit their own homelands. Once the Danes lose majority status in their country, they’ll be like the Copts of Egypt and other minorities in this world. They’ll have to live by their wits, trying to balance off one potential enemy against another.” – hear, hear! – from peter frost.

Migration Hurts the Homeland“The migration that research shows is unambiguously beneficial is the kind in which young people travel to democracies like America for higher education and then go home. Not only do these young people bring back valuable skills directly learned in the classroom; they bring back political and social attitudes that they have assimilated from their classmates. Their skills raise the productivity of the unskilled majority, and their attitudes accelerate democratization…. Many on the left, for their part, don’t like to recognize that we’re taking away fairy godmothers. They prefer to believe that they’re helping poor people flee difficult situations at home. But we might be feeding a vicious circle, in which home gets worse precisely because the fairy godmothers leave. Humanitarians become caught up trying to help individuals, and therefore miss the larger implications: There are poor people, and there are poor societies. An open door for the talented would help Facebook’s bottom line, but not the bottom billion. – h/t michael story!

A very mild form of Sapir-Whorf – from elijah.

Are Alzheimer’s and diabetes the same disease?

Are You A Workaholic? Blame Your Parents“A new study from the University of Michigan finds that how we feel about work depends on how our parents feel about work.” – especially your father, apparently. hmmmm.

Unearthed Peruvian tomb confirms that women ruled over brutal ancient culture“Archaeologists digging in an ancient Peruvian tomb have unearthed a skeleton, confirming that a mysterious people known as the Moche were ruled by a succession of queens that presided over a brutal and ritualistic society.” – h/t heartiste!

Did ancient Polynesians visit California? Maybe so.“Scholars revive idea using linguistic ties, Indian headdress” – h/t charles mann!

Why did Vinland fail? – h/t jayman!

10,000-year-old settlement unearthed in SW Ireland

bonus: Fruit flies with better sex lives live longer“Male fruit flies that perceived sexual pheromones of their female counterparts – without the opportunity to mate – experienced rapid decreases in fat stores, resistance to starvation and more stress. The sexually frustrated flies lived shorter lives.” – bzz. =(

bonus bonus: The Boomer Bust“Here we are in the baby boom cosmos. What have we wrought?” – by p.j. o’rourke – h/t charles murray!

bonus bonus bonus: The Year of the Hoax – from chuck @gucci little piggy.

bonus bonus bonus bonus: good news from australia! – Abbott’s Govt to dump laws on hate speech.

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Doris Lessing’s Impatience With Political Correctness“‘Political correctness’ had become, Lessing said, ‘a kind of mildew blighting the whole world,’ particularly academic and intellectual circles — a ‘self-perpetuating machine for dulling thought.'”

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Moon gardens: NASA to sow 1st seeds of future habitat

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Mafia ‘fed rival to pigs while he was still alive’ – how could i not link to this??

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Giant prehistoric toilet unearthed – poo!

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linkfest – 09/15/13

Sir David Attenborough: Humans have stopped evolving“Human beings have stopped evolving becoming the only species to ‘put halt to natural selection of its own free will’, Sir David Attenborough has said, as he predicts the ‘cultural evolution’ of the future.” – lots of responses to that including: Humans are still evolving, and soon we’ll know a lot more about it – from john hawks; Evolution – it’s not over yet – from tom chivers; and Sir David Attenborough is wrong – humans are still evolving – from ian rickard.

Fate of new genes cannot be predicted“New versions of genes, called alleles, can appear by mutation in populations. Even when these new alleles turn the individuals carrying them more fit to survive and reproduce, the most likely outcome is that they will get lost from the populations. The theory that explains these probabilities has been postulated by the scientist J.B.S. Haldane almost 90 years ago. This theory has become the cornerstone of modern population genetics…. The research team … has now experimentally tested Haldane’s theory.”

Poorest Costa Ricans live longest“Biological markers confirm unusually slow ageing regardless of wealth, at least in one population.” – h/t jayman!

Uros people of Peru and Bolivia found to have distinctive genetic ancestries“Genographic project research shows ancestry may date to Altiplano’s initial settlement.”

African-American study identifies four genetic variants associated with blood pressure“‘We anticipated that individuals of African ancestry share similar biology to other populations. However, differences in genomic make-up between African ancestry and other populations have uncovered additional genes affecting blood pressure, in addition to genetic variants that are specific to individuals of African ancestry….'” – via amren.

Handedness GWAS Leads to Suspected Left-Right Asymmetry Genes“A team from the UK and the Netherlands has garnered evidence suggesting left- and right-handedness may involve genes from some of the same pathways that produce other features differing on right and left sides of the body.”

Functional genetic variation in humans: Comprehensive map published“European scientists, led by researchers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE)’s Faculty of Medicine in the context of the GEUVADIS project, today present a map that points to the genetic causes of differences between people. The study, published in Nature and Nature Biotechnology, offers the largest-ever dataset linking human genomes to gene activity at the level of RNA.”

Insect leg cogs a first in animal kingdom“Toothed gears enable young plant hoppers to synchronize limbs for jumping.”go home, evolution, you are drunk.

The Science of What Makes an Introvert and an Extrovert

Testes Size Correlates With Men’s Involvement in Toddler Care“Men with smaller testes than others are more likely to be involved in hands-on care of their toddlers….” – h/t hbd bibliography!

Can Your Language Influence Your Spending, Eating, and Smoking Habits?“[S]peakers with weak future tenses (e.g. German, Finnish and Estonian) were 30 percent more likely to save money, 24 percent more likely to avoid smoking, 29 percent more likely to exercise regularly, and 13 percent less likely to be obese, than speakers of languages with strong future tenses, like English.” – (“but where does language come from?” hbd chick mumbles to herself in the back row….)

‘Love hormone’ may play wider role in social interaction than previously thought“The new study, to be published Sept. 12 in Nature, pinpoints a unique way in which oxytocin alters activity in a part of the brain that is crucial to experiencing the pleasant sensation neuroscientists call ‘reward’…. ‘People with autism-spectrum disorders may not experience the normal reward the rest of us all get from being with our friends….’ Some genetic evidence suggests the awkward social interaction that is a hallmark of autism-spectrum disorders may be at least in part oxytocin-related. Certain variations in the gene that encodes the oxytocin receptor – a cell-surface protein that senses the substance’s presence – are associated with increased autism risk.”

More Money, More Children“‘[N]ow better-off people seem to be having more children; in the U.S., the fertility rate of wives whose husbands are in the top decile of income is back where it was a century ago.'” – h/t puzzle pirate!

Ashkenazi Jewish gene pool derives from ‘recent severe bottleneck’ of 300-400 individuals ca. 800 years ago – @race/history/evolution notes.

Morality and the Epiphany of Joshua Greene“The manifestations of morality are complex, but its origins are simple. Evolved behavioral predispositions are the ultimate reason for its existence…. Those behavioral traits evolved without a goal, and without a purpose. They exist because they happened to increase our chances of surviving and procreating at a time when our mode of existence as well as our social and physical environment were radically different from what they are now.” – helian’s on fire! (not literally … i hope.)

Are Women Less Corrupt?“Women are more likely than men to disapprove of — and less likely to participate in — political corruption, but only in countries where corruption is stigmatized…. ‘When corruption is stigmatized, as in most democracies, women will be less tolerant and less likely to engage in it compared with men. But if ‘corrupt’ behaviors are an ordinary part of governance supported by political institutions, there will be no corruption gender gap.'” – h/t jayman!

Politicians like power – from steve sailer.

Study: The Neg Works – (~_^) – @heartiste.

Some people are feminine – get over it“Whenever you have one group of people who believe one thing for ideological reasons, and another who believe something else because their business model depends on it, I tend to trust the latter. Who do you think knows more about the minds of girls and boys — the academics who’ve spent years discussing gender feminism, or people who sell toys?” (~_^) – from ed west.

A Brief Word On Pedophilia – scharlach reminds everyone what pedophilia is. THANK you!

Stephen Hsu on Cognitive Genomics“At the extremes, there are some academics and social activists who violently oppose any kind of research into the genetics of cognitive ability. Given that the human brain — its operation, construction from a simple genetic blueprint, evolutionary history — is one of the great scientific mysteries of the universe, I cannot understand this point of view.”

Heritability estimates and unexplained variance“Nobody owns unexplained variance.” – from dr. james thompson.

Study sheds light on genetics of how and why fish swim in schools“‘The motivation to be social is common among fish and humans…. ‘Some of the same brain regions and neurological chemicals that control human social behavior are probably involved in fish social behavior as well.'”

Why do haters have to hate? Newly identified personality trait holds clues“New research has uncovered the reason why some people seem to dislike everything while others seem to like everything. Apparently, it’s all part of our individual personality – a dimension that researchers have coined ‘dispositional attitude.'”

Everyday sadists take pleasure in others’ pain“[P]eople who score high on a measure of sadism seem to derive pleasure from behaviors that hurt others, and are even willing to expend extra effort to make someone else suffer.” – yeah. you know who you are.

How an evolutionary model is better at explaining decisions than neo-classical and behavioral economics models: A review of Douglas T. Kenrick and Vladas Griskevicius, The Rational Animal: How Evolution Made us Smarter than we Think.

Making The Right Mistakes: Error Management And The Evolution Of Errors“Human cognitive mechanisms evolved to deal with the problems of the past, where we spent 99% of our history, not those of the present. We should, therefore, hardly expect our brains to perform well all the time in modern settings where the social and physical environment is so different.”

From Slavs to Slaves“Between 1500 and 1650, Eastern Europe exported 1.5 million slaves to North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. Western Europe exported a little over a million between 1530 and 1780.” – from peter frost.

The Madonna or the Whore? – @thosewhocansee.

E.O. Wilson has a new explanation for consciousness, art & religion. Is it credible?

The Evolutionary Case for Great Fiction“Might reading literature help with species survival?” (species survival? hmmmm.)

2013 ig nobel awards were announced this week! my favorite this year: the probability prize – “[T]he longer a cow has been lying down, the more likely that cow will soon stand up; and Second, that once a cow stands up, you cannot easily predict how soon that cow will lie down again.” (^_^)

Mayan mass grave containing 1,400-year-old remains of DECAPITATED prisoners of war discovered in Mexico

Plans to evict Botswana Bushmen revealed by leaked report – @survival international. h/t andrew badenoch!

bonus: Parasite Ants Drafted as Mercenaries

bonus bonus: Inheritance of lifespan is sex-dependent in fruit flies

bonus bonus bonus: ‘Time travel is easy — in one direction,’ says Prof Brian Cox – but the time lords figured it out!

bonus bonus bonus bonus: The sound of interstellar space…” (or not!) – h/ts michael anissimov and nelson!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Wherever there is red tape, the truth will be stranger than fiction“As the [u.k.’s] Government reflects on a bureaucratic obsession with ‘equality’, we ask: which of these tales of political correctness are made up?”

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linkfest – 04/15/13

Born to run: genetic test can reveal those best able to run marathons“[T]o run a marathon in a good time requires the right combination of genes and that nearly a fifth of the population lack this special mix. For runners with the right genes, it means their bodies can quickly adapt to carry large amounts of oxygen to their muscles, allowing them to run faster and for longer. Those who lack these genes, however, will never improve, no matter how much they train, and their performance may even get worse the harder they push themselves.”

Scientists Breed Exercise-Crazy Rats“While a wide biological gap exists between humans and rats, the researchers do propose that some people could be genetically predisposed against exercising.”

Genetic discovery found to influence obesity in people of African ancestry

New Studies Shake Up Human Family Tree“[I]n a spate of new studies, paleoanthropologist Lee Berger, of the University of the Witwatersrand, and a team of collaborators have put forward a controversial claim that another hominin — *Australopithecus sediba* — might be even closer to the origin of our lineage [than *australopithecus afarensis,* the most famous example being “lucy”]….” — see also: Special Collection – Australopithecus sediba @science.

Fish Fossil Shows Why Humans Have Two Arms, Legs

Castaways“We may have yet another story of long-distance prehistoric contact. A new paper in PLOS genetics suggests that people from the Jomon culture in Japan may have reached northwestern South America.” – from greg cochran. also from south america: Southern Native American Y-DNA: no correlation with language – @for what they were…we are.

Fluctuation of Fertility with Number in a Real Insect Population and a Virtual Population“Real fruit fly fertility increases with average consanguinity thus decreasing with population size in a pattern that is modelled successfully with a virtual population. This invites the deliberate manipulation of wild insect populations for the control of vectors of human disease.” – from our very own linton herbert! yay! (^_^)

Do drugs for bipolar disorder ‘normalize’ brain gene function? U-M study suggests so“Brain tissue study shows gene expression in patients treated with antipsychotics is similar to expression in non-bipolar brains.”

Serenity“If the realities of human nature render your hope on how to make a better world impossible, merely wishing it were not so is not going to help your cause. But instead, better results can be attained to by working *with* what we learn about human nature.” – from jayman. hear, hear!

HVGIQ: Dominican Republic – from jason malloy.

Napoleon Chagnon’s “Noble Savages” – The Life of an Anthropological Heretic“Napoleon Chagnon’s ‘Noble Savages’ is a must read.” – from helian unbound.

Frequent texters more shallow, racist, study finds – w.e.i.r.d. students. (psychology students, no less! (~_^) ) also: Texting, social networking and other media use linked to poor academic performance.

Study: we assume people stare at us“People often think that other people are staring at them even when they aren’t, vision scientists have found. In a new article in Current Biology, researchers at The Vision Centre reveal that, when in doubt, the human brain is more likely to tell its owner that they’re under the gaze of another person.”

Political organization in a hunter-gatherer tribe – @mangan’s.

First Encounters of the Close Kind: John Derbyshire’s Address To The 2013 American Renaissance Conference – from john derbyshire.

Jared Taylor Remembers Philippe Rushton and Arthur Jensen

Our Inconsistent Ethical Instincts – read also: The Pro-Death Movement from jim goad – “[T]here’s an almost universal human definition of good and evil: If it enhances my survival, it’s good. If it harms it, it’s evil.” – yup.

Individual Donation Amounts Drop When Givers Are in Groups, Says MU Researcher“Numerous studies have provided evidence that people are less likely to help when in groups, a phenomenon known as the ‘bystander effect.'” – see also this old post from steve sailer: Chinese kindness.

The Fraud Of America’s “Rape Culture” – from anatoly. see also his earlier post Much Ado About Rape: Quantifying A Big Taboo“[I]t is ironic that the public panic over rape and sexual assault has risen to fever pitch at precisely the moment in history when the real lifetime risk of becoming a victim of rape has never been lower.”

Monkey chatter smacks of human speech, researcher says

How Parents Around the World Describe Their Children, in Charts“A fascinating new study reveals that Americans are more likely to call their children ‘intelligent,’ while European parents focus on happiness and balance.”

DNA Shows It: Birds Are Promiscuous“Here’s the warm and fuzzy part of this column: most birds really do mate for life. But here’s the cold side: They mess around. And here’s the switch: Blame the ladies.”

How to blackmail your parents for food“Fledglings extort food by putting themselves in danger.”

When Animals Mourn: Seeing That Grief Is Not Uniquely Human – cr*p. i hate sad animal stories. *sniff*

Hawking: Humans Will Not Survive Another 1,000 Years ‘Without Escaping’ Earthmanifest destiny!

In Defence of Pseudonyms in Science: Defending the Right to Write

bonus: read this!>> Sam Parnia – the man who could bring you back from the dead“This British doctor specialises in resurrection and insists outdated resuscitation techniques are squandering lives that could be saved.”

bonus bonus: James Lovelock: A man for all seasons – lovelock thinks there are too many people on the planet.

bonus bonus bonus: and this week’s “bras in the news” stories >> Bras Make Breasts “Saggier”, 15-year French [of course! – h.chick] Study Reveals and How your under-wired bra could kill you… if you’re a keen walker“Metal in under-wired bras can cause compasses to be reversed because of the magnetic effect”. (sorry, no naked boobies at either of those pages.)

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linkfest – 12/04/11

Ravens are the only species other than apes who can ‘point’ and share objects like humans

Researchers find poop-throwing by chimps is a sign of intelligence

The Nubian Complex of Dhofar, Oman: An African Middle Stone Age Industry in Southern Arabia – out-of-africa ca. 106,000 years ago. or maybe out-of-arabia?

Were native Europeans replaced? – in the neolithic, that is. peter frost says not entirely.

Our Crimes, Ourselves – cool historic crime data @those who can see.

Personality Is Reflected in the Brain’s Intrinsic Functional Architecture

Science Keeps Proving HBD Right – from dennis.

Atheist kids better at sports: study – in switzerland.

Regional Soccer Player Composites – in italy @italianthro.

The Hidden Potential of Autistic Kids“What intelligence tests might be overlooking when it comes to autism”

Neandertals’ mammoth building project“Extinct hominids may have been first to build with bones”

bonus: Distrust Feeds Anti-Atheist Prejudice“New research finds atheists are widely perceived as untrustworthy, which may be a major factor in why they’re disliked more than other minorities.”

bonus bonus: Rainbows of mourning

bonus bonus bonus: In Sicily, Rice Farming Returns After Mussolini Had Dried Up Cultivation – arancini! aaaah!

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inbreeding and the spontaneous development of a unique language

amongst some bedouins in southern israel:

“The Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language (ABSL) is a sign language used by about 150 deaf and many hearing members of the al-Sayyid Bedouin tribe in the Negev desert of southern Israel. As both deaf and hearing people share a language, deaf people are not stigmatised in this community, and marriage between deaf and hearing people is common.

“The Al-Sayyid community (as of 2004) numbers around 3,000 in total, most of whom trace their ancestry back to the time the village was founded, in the mid-19th century, by a local woman and an Egyptian man. Two of this founding couple’s five sons carried a gene for nonsyndromic, genetically recessive, profound pre-lingual neurosensory deafness. The descendants of the founding couple often married their cousins due to the tribe’s rejection by its neighbours for being ‘foreign fellahin‘. This meant that the gene became homozygous in several members of the family.

“ABSL was first studied in the end of the 1990s by anthropologist Shifra Kisch, and came to worldwide attention in February 2005 when an international group of researchers published a study of the language in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The spontaneous emergence of the language in the last 70 years, which has developed a complex grammar without influence from any other language, is of particular interest to linguists for the insights it provides into the birth of human language.

“ABSL shows a preference for subject–object–verb word order (e.g. ‘WOMAN CHILD FEED’), in marked contrast to the dialect of Arabic spoken by hearing members of the community (SVO), as well as Hebrew (SVO), classical Arabic (VSO), and the predominant sign languages in the region, Israeli Sign Language and Jordanian Sign Language. The authors of the study see ABSL as evidence for the human tendency to construct communication along grammatical lines.”

from the research article in pnas:

“In a detailed anthropological study of deafness in the Al-Sayyid community, Kisch showed that the deaf members of the community are fully integrated into its social structure and are not shunned or stigmatized. Both male and female deaf members of the community marry and always to hearing individuals.”

on the al-sayyid:

“Five percent of the tribe (150 of the 3,000) are deaf, compared to a usual rate of 0.1%. One suggested cause is the high level of inbreeding within the tribe; 27% of marriages are between cousins, and 65% are between couples related in some way, and a quarter of the population carries the deafness gene. This is attributed to the tribe’s historical isolation in the area.

“The tribe’s oral history tells that its first leader moved to the area from Egypt with his wife in the mid-19th century. They settled amongst the other Bedouin tribes around Beersheba and lived off the land. However, other tribes refused to marry their daughters to the al-Sayyids, who were known as ‘the foreign fellahin.’ Eventually the head of the tribe managed to marry his sons to women from the Gaza area. However, their low social status meant that they continued to be rejected locally, and so the next generation began to marry cousins, a trend that continued for five generations. Even today other tribes continue to veto marriage ties with the al-Sayyids.”

interesting!

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where does language come from?

via dienekes (go there for all the juicy bits!):

Parallel Evolution of Genes and Languages in the Caucasus Region

“We analyzed 40 SNP and 19 STR Y-chromosomal markers in a large sample of 1,525 indigenous individuals from 14 populations in the Caucasus and 254 additional individuals representing potential source populations. We also employed a lexicostatistical approach to reconstruct the history of the languages of the North Caucasian family spoken by the Caucasus populations. We found a different major haplogroup to be prevalent in each of four sets of populations that occupy distinct geographic regions and belong to different linguistic branches. The haplogroup frequencies correlated with geography and, even more strongly, with language. Within haplogroups, a number of haplotype clusters were shown to be specific to individual populations and languages. The data suggested a direct origin of Caucasus male lineages from the Near East, followed by high levels of isolation, differentiation and genetic drift in situ. Comparison of genetic and linguistic reconstructions covering the last few millennia showed striking correspondences between the topology and dates of the respective gene and language trees, and with documented historical events. Overall, in the Caucasus region, unmatched levels of gene-language co-evolution occurred within geographically isolated populations, probably due to its mountainous terrain.”

i still can’t help thinking that different languages arise (arose) because different peoples think kinda differently. clearly speaking different languages can keep populations separated from one another (it’s easier to mate with someone with whom you can communicate) … but which came first? how we think or how we speak?

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linkfest – 04/17/11

Actions and personality, east and west“Cultural differences are evident very deep in the brain, challenging a commonsense notion that culture is skin deep.”

Clear Genetic Links to Poor Impulse Control, Drug Dependency – @al fin.

The Art of Scientific and Technological Innovations“[Nobel laureates] are twenty-five times as likely as average scientist to sing, dance, or act; seventeen times as likely to be an artist; twelve times more likely to write poetry and literature; eight times more likely to do woodworking or some other craft; four times as likely to be a musician; and twice as likely to be a photographer.”

Familial concordance for age at menarche: analyses from the Breakthrough Generations Study“[A]pproximately half of the variation in age at menarche was attributable to additive genetic effects with the remainder attributable to non-shared environmental effects.” via diversity is chaos.

Two-Faced Brains – @overcoming bias.

Group solidarity among whites – from inductivist: “Bottom line: whites either tend identify with groups at all levels or no groups at any level. To put it in exaggerated terms, ethnicists are racialists are patriots. Individualists are individualists are individualists.”

Language like people came out of Africa“All languages stem from the same source, claim scientists, after tracing origins of speech to sub-Saharan Africa around 150,000 years ago.”

bonus: Classic car culture in red states and blue states – from agnostic.