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    Is there a difference between admixture and introgression? I think there is. Or have always assumed there is. But of late I'm wondering if a distinction is widely accepted, and what sort of distinctions people make. That is, in some cases it seems clear that admixture and introgression are used interchangeably as meaning the same...
  • The term introgression actually comes from experimental genetics and selective breeding. Sometimes the goal is to insert a genetic variant (usually associated with a phenotype) in a population from a different population (e.g. a different breeding line). In that case, because the goal is to move only the variant at the locus associated with the phenotype, there is repeated cross breeding into just one of the populations, and selection for the specific phenotype.
    In a broader sense, introgression means the introduction in a population of a novel variant from a different population (not a mutation). Whether that variant reaches high frequency in the recipient population is immaterial.
    Admixture refers to a demographic process, and does not need to introduce new variants. Therefore, admixture does not imply introgression. When admixture is extremely asymmetric (~1% from one of the populations), people think of the population that contributes a bit as “admixing into” the other population, and that is why we think of non-Africans as modern humans that received a contribution from Neanderthals. A large number of the present day variants inherited from Neanderthals were not present in modern human populations, and are thus “introgressive”. Some of them were selected, others were not.

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  • @BDoyle
    Well, I am not a biologist, but I read a lot of stuff, and my intuition about the definitions is almost exactly the same as yours. From the roots of the words, admixture implies some kind of passive mixing, while introgression implies some directional progress (see !), like selection acting on the frequencies.

    Since you brought up Tibetans, I've been wondering. Since there were already people living there when the Han moved in, isn't it probable that they also had the Denisovan variant, and had already gone through the selection to increase its frequency? From the example of the current Tibetans, it's a very strong advantage, and doesn't take very long to go to nearly complete fixation. Apparently, the Han's cultural advantage was enough to swamp their genetic deficiency.

    “Since there were already people living there when the Han moved in, isn’t it probable that they also had the Denisovan variant, and had already gone through the selection to increase its frequency?”

    Denisovans may already have been living in Tibet when the first (pre-Han expansion) modern humans arrived, replaced them, and picked up the variant from them. But from what I can tell it currently seems likely that modern humans now in Tibet brought the variant from elsewhere, having already acquired it. Probably these were not Han, but they weren’t necessarily the first modern humans to arrive there, either. As far as I know there is no evidence that the area was inhabited prior to the arrival of the first modern humans, so they may not have been competing with an old altitude-adapted population and may not have had the variant.

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  • I don’t know how interesting this is, but my mother, who is now 90, studied biology as a graduate student in the late 40s and early 50s. I couple of years ago, for sentimental reasons, I picked out a few of her old books for my own library. One of them was “Introgressive Hybridization”, by Edgar Anderson, published in 1949. It’s a short book (109 pages), and moderately technical. Opening to a random page, I see references to terms like “linkage” and “recombination” and “Drosophila”.

    The thing is, I chose the book well before I knew what “introgression” meant, and certainly before I started seeing references to introgression in blogs like this one. I find the subject quite interesting now, so I find it amusing that I happened to pick out that particular book.

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  • Well, I am not a biologist, but I read a lot of stuff, and my intuition about the definitions is almost exactly the same as yours. From the roots of the words, admixture implies some kind of passive mixing, while introgression implies some directional progress (see !), like selection acting on the frequencies.

    Since you brought up Tibetans, I’ve been wondering. Since there were already people living there when the Han moved in, isn’t it probable that they also had the Denisovan variant, and had already gone through the selection to increase its frequency? From the example of the current Tibetans, it’s a very strong advantage, and doesn’t take very long to go to nearly complete fixation. Apparently, the Han’s cultural advantage was enough to swamp their genetic deficiency.

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    • Replies: @Simon in London
    "Since there were already people living there when the Han moved in, isn’t it probable that they also had the Denisovan variant, and had already gone through the selection to increase its frequency?"

    Denisovans may already have been living in Tibet when the first (pre-Han expansion) modern humans arrived, replaced them, and picked up the variant from them. But from what I can tell it currently seems likely that modern humans now in Tibet brought the variant from elsewhere, having already acquired it. Probably these were not Han, but they weren't necessarily the first modern humans to arrive there, either. As far as I know there is no evidence that the area was inhabited prior to the arrival of the first modern humans, so they may not have been competing with an old altitude-adapted population and may not have had the variant.
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  • The human genome is littered with many genes from diverged lineages. That is, any given human has segments from lineages which are deeply diverged from the dominant demographic element in our ancestry, which diverged from an African population which flourished on ~200,000 years ago, and among non-Africans a population derived from Northeast Africa ~50,000 years...
  • It would be interesting if some of the growing catalogue of West Eurasian aDNA (230 full genomes and growing) was checked for this. For example could it be possible that in Western Europeans we are seeing Denisovan type ancestry showing up due to admixture from North Eurasian population (population carrying ANE)?

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  • To my knowledge there is no evidence of Denisovan admixture in western Eurasian populations, but you can find these “Denisovan” alleles in them.

    Don’t Skoglund & Jakobsson hint at that? http://www.pnas.org/content/108/45/18301.abstract

    S4 for example. It doesn’t tell us if that Denisovan-like ancestry came from Neanderthals that were themselves admixed or not, but yah, still some ancestry there.

    Worth noting that the Amerindian populations with the most Oceanian ancestry are also the ones with the least Denisovan ancestry. So take that as you will.

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Razib:

    Thanks for your coverage of this paper. As an R1a European I was interested to find that the GENO 2.0 test showed me as 3.3% Denisovan and 2.7% Neanderthal. The GENO 2.0 Next Gen testing is usually finding that previously tested people come back at around half of their former Neanderthal percentage. Unfortunately Denisovan admixture has been dropped from the new test. I did speak to Miguel Vilar about running a test to see what change they would find in the Denisovan percentage if they used newer information. I am awaiting his findings.

    It was good to talk with you in Houston.

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  • There is the fact of evolution. And then there is the long-standing debate of how it proceeds. The former is a settled question with little intellectual juice left. The latter is the focus of evolutionary genetics, and evolutionary biology more broadly. The debate is an old one, and goes as far back as the 19th...
  • In their pdf, Enard et al say:
    “…although signals of positive selection are detectable in all tested populations, these signals are systematically stronger in the out-of-Africa populations.”

    Is this result consistent with saying that sub-Saharan Africans as a whole have a greater, richer genome set than, say Europeans and Asians, who in their various exoduses out of Africa, underwent ‘bottlenecks’? Due apparently to adaptive requirements and additionally were initially fairly small population samples to begin with?

    Regarding MrJones’ comment… it seems to me
    that part of the ‘constraint’ would be the finite
    range in the population’s genome content. Ie:
    In that sense, mama nature has by definition
    a limited palette to play with in any given species,
    regardless of the environments. Not to downplay
    the clear genius of evolution by any means.

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  • “does evolution result in an infinitely creative assortment due to chance events, or does it drive toward a finite set of idealized forms which populate the possible parameter space?*”

    I may be misunderstanding but I’d imagine a bit of both i.e. a *potentially* infinite creative assortment due to chance events but in reality constrained to fit a finite set of environments (or broad categories of environment) which filter the range of possibilities.

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  • Credit: Albozagros The genetics and history of Tibet are fascinating to many. To be honest the primary reason here is elevation. The Tibetan plateau has served as a fortress for populations who have adapted biologically and culturally to the extreme conditions. Naturally this means that there has been a fair amount of population genetics on...
  • Interesting analysis – it was getting rather overhyped on Dieneke’s blog, I thought. Neolithic traits don’t appear in Tibet proper until much later than 10,000 years ago, as far as the archaeology goes, so even the date is wrong there, assuming Sino-Tibetan language, Neolithic technologies (Majiayao stuff), and these genetic markers were all spread by the same movement of people

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  • I have blogged about the genetics of altitude adaptation before. There seem to be three populations in the world which have been subject to very strong natural selection, resulting in physiological differences, in response to the human tendency toward hypoxia. Two of them are relatively well known, the Tibetans and the indigenous people of the...
  • i’m sorry, this comment thread is ridiculous. i’m closing it.

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  • TPLF people are a disgrace for ethiopia. Even in foreign blogs they intiate ethnic conflict.
    Normally, tigray women have a bigger forehead(genbaram).Liya is different. i don’t think she is from tigray. She is ethiopian, that is enough.

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    If you have done the studies on Ethiopian highlands then you must understand that there are also Tigrayans as part of the highlands. If you have taken samples only from Amara region then that explains. By the way the capital Addis Ababa, there are many ethnic group dwellers there not just Amaras. Those who win the greatest Marathons are also from central to Southern Ethiopia the Oromos. Most of the runners are Oromos who train at high altitutdes.

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  • i think the women on the picture she is not typical habesha!

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  • @ http: BefQadu: you are absolutely Wrong she is not Tigree she married one. She is Amhara get it right. Liya Kebede is her full name even her last name is a Typical Amhara name.

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  • Liya Kebede is Amhara.

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    The title is actually misleading as there are many ethnic groups in Ethiopia and the author just mentions one while showing a picture of a woman that is a member of a different group. Even what people call “Amhara” is actually a group of different ethnicity that share a common language. He should have just said “How the highland Ethiopians breathe differently”. Otherwise, Ethiopians reading this blog may believe the author to be bigoted.

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  • She is one of he world’s most highly paid model. I believe she is no more a typical Ethiopian than Cindy Crawford is a typical Chicagoan.

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    The women is a real native Amhara or Gurage or Agaw Women. These are the indigenous people of Ethiopia.
    While the Self called Oromo pastoralists and the Tigrians whoes ancestors are Beja nomads are originally from the low land areas who migrated to the Ethiopian highland in search of water and pasture.

    Zurga
    the great
    Son of Amon Raa

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    BefeQadu,

    I doubt if you know Liya & her family at all, if you did, you would have known that she is NOT Tigray. Liya Kebede aka Lily who was actually my next door neighbour growing up in Bole Afrika Kinf aka Kebele 17 K 17 is NEVER Tigrian, rather Amhara. She is apparently married to a Tigray, not sure of that fact though. why on earth would you lie through your teeth? You want to claim anything and everything as Tigrian?

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  • Chris and James: the woman pictured is Tigrian (her name is Liya, I know her because she is a notable person); but the Tigrians are also in the north highlands.

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  • Chris, The woman pictured could be a typical Oromo or Tigrian or even Amhara but there is no doubt she is a typical Ethiopian cos Ethiopian highlands is not limited to Amhra region but rather extends all the way south to Bale mountains in Oromo region (that is where most elite Ethiopian athletes originate from) .

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  • #6, yes.

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  • The key question is did any intruders have to pick up local genes in order to last or not. Since anatomically modern humans seem to have appeared in Ethiopia as early as anywhere the adaptions could be hundreds of thousands of years old.

    If the adaptions are fairly modern then the old adaptions could not have been all that vital.

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  • Why is it that ethiopian/ Kenyan altitude-adapted people can use their adaptations to win long-distance running events, while andean/tibetans are not competative in these events?

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  • “Until know. ” I enjoy this phrase.

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  • By the way: Is the woman pictured a typical Amhara?

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  • A typo (highlighted ;-):

    “In the paper the authors compared the Amhara (a highlight population) to nearby lowland populations.”

    S/B “highland”.

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  • Exciting stuff. Especially the new samples.

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  • In the image to the left you see three human males. You can generate three pairings of these individuals. When comparing these pairs which would you presume are more closely related than the other pairs? Now let me give you some more information. The rightmost image is of the president of Tanzania. The middle image...
  • #16, Agreed, I wasn’t arguing with the main theses at all – the Taiwanese guy is most likely Han Chinese, BUT Han Chinese form a clade with Papuans to the exclusion of Africans – despite appearances.

    #14, Yes, that jumped out at me too – the Taiwanese Aboriginal’s facial features are very like some Amazonian rain-forest dwellers, especially the Xingu.

    #12, Being Irish, one can be seen as a “blow-in” even after 500 years…

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  • #15, I think the point of Razib’s post is to show that Papuans are much more closely related to east Asians than they are to Africans despite the resemblance to the latter. That means they are more closely related to Malays, Filipinos, Indonesians, etc.

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  • #12:
    Taiwanese aboriginals are not closely related to Papuans. There may be a bit of Negrito in there somewhere, but essentially they are like the Malays, Filipinos and Indonesians. The pictures you provide make that pretty clear.

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  • #12, the Taiwanese Aboriginal male looks like a South American indian in Brazil

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  • #12,

    1) a few hundred years is definitely enough for me to say they’re natives of taiwan. but then, i think of myself as american despite only a few decades!

    2) from what i have read the gap between taiwanese aboriginals and han is like that between malays and han. it exists, but compared to the papuan outgroup they’re still a pretty tight clade. i wanted to focus on heads of state cuz their images are always public domain, perhaps should have picked malaysia or something.

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  • Razib,

    One criticism of your inclusion of the current President of Taiwan to represent Taiwanese people is that the majority of Taiwanese are of very recent – last few hundred years – Han Chinese descent.

    The Taiwanese Aboriginals are the people who are most like the Papuans genetically. Here are some images of them:
    1. Taiwanese Aboriginal – male

    2. Taiwanese Aboriginal – female

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  • Oops, I posted the same link twice in post #7. I already showed the australian aboriginal kinky hair, but here is the url link showing mainland australian aborigines with the wavy or straight hair type:

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  • #9, no. i mean sub-saharan africans.

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  • In reading The cultural niche: Why social learning is essential for human adaptation in PNAS I couldn't help but think back to a conversation I had with a few old friends in Evanston in 2003. They were graduate students in mathematics at Northwestern, and at one point one of them expressed some serious frustration at...
  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Great stuff! Very accessible and insightful.

    Reminds me of a conversation I was having where we had divided people into 2 classes – those who tend to copy and those who tend to correct. It’s particularly annoying when a student and a professor say the same thing, but only one will be believed. Very few people put in the mental investments required to understand something and align their thinking with truth.

    Our hypothesis was that if you hear 2 people say the same thing, you’re more likely to believe it. And, now with me included, we are 3 who can spread a thought. That’s viral. And right by the end of that sentence, my confidence in what I knew started to shake up!

    Your post got me thinking… Do we understand the signals that a human must be given to encourage them to innovate rather than imitate?

    The obvious answer would be education, but I haven’t seen it being very successful in making thinkers. My bias, and based on your article, is that there is a very definite cognitive switching-of-modes that must be taking place.

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  • TGGP says: • Website

    What happened to the GNXP classic site? It keeps redirecting to the Discover Magazine one. Using /blog/index.php avoids redirection but only goes up to February 2010. Using /wp redirects. I can only see the latest post (dated today) on savantism through google’s cache, but can’t read the comments for the redirect.

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  • In the image to the left you see three human males. You can generate three pairings of these individuals. When comparing these pairs which would you presume are more closely related than the other pairs? Now let me give you some more information. The rightmost image is of the president of Tanzania. The middle image...
  • Razib:”Africans are always the “outgroup” to any two non-African populations. This is a robust pattern whenever you look at averaged total genome phylogenies. In other words, when you don’t privilege particular genes in a phylogeny humanity can be divided into African and non-African branches.”

    Forgive me for asking a stupid question, but does this “African outgroup” pattern hold true with North Africans? Or is it a Sub-Saharan phenomenon?

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  • In reading The cultural niche: Why social learning is essential for human adaptation in PNAS I couldn't help but think back to a conversation I had with a few old friends in Evanston in 2003. They were graduate students in mathematics at Northwestern, and at one point one of them expressed some serious frustration at...
  • Cool post, Razib! I’ve never heard/used the term “grok” before, but reading this made me remember that one thing that has always driven me nuts is that I can’t grok all there is to grok out there. Calculus is definitely one of those things.

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  • In the image to the left you see three human males. You can generate three pairings of these individuals. When comparing these pairs which would you presume are more closely related than the other pairs? Now let me give you some more information. The rightmost image is of the president of Tanzania. The middle image...
  • Maju says: • Website

    First of all the link you provide directs to a footnote and not the beginning of the paper. You may want to correct that.

    I read the paper yesterday or two days ago and I decided that I could not understand neither the method nor the conclusions if any. In fact in fig. 2, which seems central, almost all quadruplets show excess of “mean number of parallel divergent SNPs” above the simulations. They argue this indicates that:

    “For all but one divergence comparison, more parallel divergent SNPs than expected were observed, indicative of parallel adaptation”.

    But I understand that it probably means that the simulations are wrong to begin with and, in any case, the one (or rather three) cases where they approach or give lower results than the simulations are the interesting ones – the rest are just the norm.

    So I eventually decided that the paper was some kind of “mad scientist ranting” and decided to ignore it altogether.

    Regardless, going to your example, I’d say it is a very bad one because it is not as much convergent adaption what makes the Papuan and the Tanzanian look similar in some very obvious traits but conservation of shared ancestral traits. IMO these are the dominant common traits of the ancestral humankind.

    It’d be much better to illustrate convergent evolution to show the Emperor of Japan along the Queen of England, because both lines probably evolved convergently but separately towards white skin color.

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  • In reading The cultural niche: Why social learning is essential for human adaptation in PNAS I couldn't help but think back to a conversation I had with a few old friends in Evanston in 2003. They were graduate students in mathematics at Northwestern, and at one point one of them expressed some serious frustration at...
  • I recall the opposite experience from calculus class in about 1965. I found the definitions and proofs, which weren’t stressed in our class, fascinating and the problem solving techniques boring.

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  • So what you’re saying is that the singularity really happened ~50-60 kya?

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  • When I was younger I always wondered how Newton and Leibnitz came up with the fundamental theorem of calculus. It was not until I was teaching a class where I demonstrated that you can get the total from adding up the changes that I grokked where the fundamental theorem of calculus came from and then realized that it was in a non-obvious way, obvious.

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  • However, that said, note the enormous amount of highly creative output these dumb utilitarian engineers and business managers produced. Like our civilization? Like the internet, browsers, electricity et al that allow me to read your blogs. All this is a prime example of how we depend on each other. How many Cromagnons could actually make a good arrow head?

    what the fuck does that have to do with this post?

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  • “We don’t just imitate anyone, we imitate prestigious and successful individuals.”

    Quite a few customs associated with major holidays such as Christmas, that are now considered “traditional” and of “obscure origin” originated with voluntary copying of the practices of a reigning monarch or ruling President’s household.

    It is also the case that the dominant dialect of a language in emerging societies tends to be the dialect used in the ruling court (or more recently in the mass media), although it isn’t entirely obvious how much of that is prestige imitating voluntary self-improvement and how much of it is or was enforced (e.g. by mandatory grammar curricula).

    Arguably, the entire genre of biography exists to faciliate this process.

    In population genetics, one of the standard strategies to gain acceptance of researchers in a studied population is to start by publicly using community leaders at the first Guinea pigs. (For example, such an approach was used in the first whole genome typing in Southern Africa.)

    One of the characteristic features of imitation without understanding is that both functional and non-functional aspects of what is imitated are copied (not necessarily a bad idea since many seemingly non-functional aspects of culture have ill understood but functional purposes).

    Thus, Ataturk had his people imitate not just Western political and economic practices, but Western fashions, for example. Or, to use another example, Italians imitating (and ultimately reinventing) the modern business suit made creases a standard part of the design even though the only reason that the suits that they imitated were creased was that they had been folded into trunks by the travellers they imitated. As a third example, it is common for Japanese people who want to be trendy to wear clothing with English words on it, even if the meaning is irrelevant, absurd or non-sensical for the person wearing it (in fairness, Americans do much the same thing with Japanese or Chinese characters put in tattoos rather than on T-shirts).

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  • Didn’t Newton invent the calculus as an algorithmic way to solve difficult problems, and say that he feigned “no hypothesis” as to the true nature of gravity?

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  • Hmmm, so collective cultural memory can sometimes be maladaptive. In other words:

    If I have seen less far, it is by standing in the footprints of giants!

    (Someone had this as their Usenet signature, back in the day, and I found it enormously amusing. I miss Usenet!)

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  • Copy-right is double edges sword for this human flexibility. Indeed, so called creativity is mostly only small step improvement from known knowlage. Verbal-bragging is often key for inflated achievement. Such braggings often deny predecessors achievement.

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  • ….mash of smarter people’s intellects. Not much original info comin’ outta this brain but, at least, I’m good as a middle man. Link digging/sending is how i contribute.

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  • It is generally true that engineers (I R 1) don’t care about the logic behind the calculus, or, for that matter, chemistry, physics, geology, ad nauseam. And the even dumber business types care even less. (How long did it take Excel to report the statistics of the trend lines? Version 3 or 4?)

    However, that said, note the enormous amount of highly creative output these dumb utilitarian engineers and business managers produced. Like our civilization? Like the internet, browsers, electricity et al that allow me to read your blogs. All this is a prime example of how we depend on each other. How many Cromagnons could actually make a good arrow head?

    By the way, I would like to whine again about eye-ball lines on graphs. The last set of hominin date suggest that the “line” got a lot steeper around 50,000 ybp. Tufte (The Visual Display of Quantitative Information) has a whole chapter on how to mislead (oneself, too) by drawing lines through data.

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  • Yeah, Im not a high IQ person so my personality is basically a mish

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  • There is more truth to this hypothesis than meets the eye.

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  • In the image to the left you see three human males. You can generate three pairings of these individuals. When comparing these pairs which would you presume are more closely related than the other pairs? Now let me give you some more information. The rightmost image is of the president of Tanzania. The middle image...
  • It’s interesting that the austrailian aborigines actually had both hair textures. They had the wavy or straight hair on the big island and then on the island of Tasmania, photographs taken of the now extinct aboriginal Tasmanians show them with kinky hair.

    Here is a Tasmanian aborigine with the kinky hair type:
    Here are mainland australian aborigines with the wavy or straight hair type:

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  • we don’t know now. we may at some point. but the hair texture of east asians, very thick shafts which are very straight, may be evolutionarily novel if recent selection on the EDAR locus pans out.

    I find it interesting how the revered indian spiritual leader who died recently (Sathya Sai Baba) sported an afro:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqrXVOsOUzo

    Indians aren’t generally known for having afros, which makes his appearance (see url link) unusual.

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  • In other words did both have kinky hair at the point in time where they split up in Asia or did that hair texture come later after the ancestors of melanesians moved to the islands?

    we don’t know now. we may at some point. but the hair texture of east asians, very thick shafts which are very straight, may be evolutionarily novel if recent selection on the EDAR locus pans out.

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  • Razib or anyone, were the ancestors of melanesians who arrived in the pacific islands more asian as we know in appearance (e.g. non-kinky hair), or did the ancestors of asians who split off from melanesians resemble the melanesians more so? In other words did both have kinky hair at the point in time where they split up in Asia or did that hair texture come later after the ancestors of melanesians moved to the islands?

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  • Hi Razib. Thanks for an excellent summary of our paper!

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  • Great blog post.

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  • The skin color thing is a great example. I didn’t understand the original paper so I’m glad you posted that analogy.

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  • Last week I reviewed ideas about the effect of "exogenous shocks" to an ecosystem of creatures, and how it might reshape their evolutionary trajectory. These sorts of issues are well known in their generality. They have implications from the broadest macroscale systematics to microevolutionary process. The shocks point to changes over time which have a...
  • [...] RSS « The evolutionary effect of the sky gods [...]

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  • President William Howard Taft It is the best of times, it is the worse of times. On the one hand the medical consequences of human genomics have been underwhelming. This is important because this is the ultimate reason that much of the basic research is funded. And yet we've learned so much. The genetic architecture...
  • @Randi Anderson

    Being unfit and overweight only increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes, and not from a zero level. This means even skinny, fit, low GI diet eating people can get Type 2, it’s just that your risk is lower, but non zero. This is because the disease is both genetic and environmental in nature. You probably lucked out on the gene front I’m afraid. I have an uncle by marriage who is thin, wiry and active who became Type 2 in his old age. One of my offspring became Type 2 in early 20s without being particularly overweight and with no family history.

    Be aware that living a chaotic lifestyle in terms of not getting a regular night’s sleep and not eating 3 good meals a day (Especially breakfast) are risk factors for Type 2. Excess alcohol consumption mixed in doesn’t hurt either. I have always tended towards getting hypoglycaemic but I am a distance runner, get 7-8 hours every night and have learned to eat 3 meals a day because of the running, which I took up seriously at 14. So it may be that I have avoided it, so far.

    Having looked into things because of occasionally needing to cater for the offspring on visits home there is lots of stuff available to help including fruit syrups and powdered fructose. I’m gluten intolerant and I would swap to Type 2 from a diet p.o.v. (though I already eat a lowish GI diet anyway so not much change needed). My wife made the offspring diabetic individual lemon meringue pies recently that worked extremely well. Chin up and take the opportunity to learn how to cook.

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    I don’t believe one gene explains it all for this reason: I have never been obese or significantly overweight yet I have been diagnosed with diabetes. I rarely drink. I have never smoked. And frankly, I have never had a sweet tooth or particularly liked carbs. I did have polycystic ovary disease which can be linked to diabetes, but that was during years of being underweight and not overweight. I do have the Irish tendency to have high iron upload, but not outside normal. Just high for a female. I think until they can explain me, they don’t have the whole story. My BMI which is now 24 on a diabetic diet and heavy exercise was never more than 25.5.

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  • [...] Can a single gene explain diabetes or obesity? Razib Khan over at Gene Expression provides a fascinating and in-dept analysis. [...]

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  • The differences between Eurasian and East Asian haplotype distribution map the difference between rice and wheat growing areas. Rice is higher GI than whole meal grain flour (the main mode of consumption in Eurasia in the form of porridge and bread), giving a stronger selection pressure in rice eaters. As to food poverty, one thing that marks the poor of food is a lack of protein and subsistence on simple starches which form the majority of the diet.

    Also the Malthusian trap is that food security results in more people, it is driven by exactly the necessary food excess the hypothesis requires. It is not food that is limiting in the Malthusian trap, but land to grow it on. Initially more hands are helpful in increasing the food supply. It is only once all the land usable under the existing technology is under cultivation that the trap closes. Before then there is enough food.

    You fall into the trap of thinking that the haplotype cannot be enough through observing the effect of the modern world on diabetes rates. But this haplotype spread long before strong white bread flour was invented. It spread in a world of wholemeal pottage and heavy, wholemeal at best breads. The curse of the modern world is not too much carbs, it is too much overly simple carbs. That world has not been in existence for long enough to explain this haplotype.

    That is why you are at high risk of Type II. If you ate the sort of diet your ancestors ate and got the exercise from having to grow it you would not be at risk. Blame your environment and lack of exercise, not your genome’s lack of adaptation to the modern world.

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  • The introduction of agriculture would seem to create a period of several centuries where Malthusian conditions would not prevail. Also, assuming the thesis of Turchin’s “Secular Cycles” is correct, and applies to agricultural societies before written history, then there will be subsequent intermittent generations where the population as a whole will not be at the Malthusian limit for two to three generations in a row, and more-fecund social elites will develop in circumstances where they will not be subject to food constraint for even longer periods (as much as 7 or 8 generations) in the cycle.

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  • “uh, Razib, I don’t mean to nitpick but it’s spelled “diabeetus.”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILIvPzyK_8I”

    I had tears in my eyes.

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  • #7, it does, and i did consider it. remember i leave a lot out of blog posts, especially when they’re getting on ~3000 words, and lunch is calling ;-) but i appreciate and hope for supplementary comments like yours which extend, correct, and clarify issues. bravo!

    p.s. also, perhaps the LD and frequency can be explained by a demographic expansion in east asia within the last 10,000? though the melanesian frequency makes me wonder if it has to do with a particular style of agriculture or its adoption (austronesians).

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  • I take your point that most people most of the time lived on the edge of starvation. But if the well fed minority disproportionately produced the children who survived to breed, doesn’t that weaken your argument a little?

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  • lol.

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  • uh, Razib, I don’t mean to nitpick but it’s spelled “diabeetus.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILIvPzyK_8I

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  • just to be clear, the authors are almost perfunctory in the paper. i don’t think they believe it explains the variance either. the other stuff in the paper is interesting to me. i just don’t think this is very relevant to real disease variation across populations.

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  • At a first quick read of your review (I have not read the original paper yet) I think you are absolutely right. The authors are making unwarranted assumptions here. Also, there was a recent paper from South India that did not find any correlation between diabetes risk and the rs2291725 SNP. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20673334 A case-control analysis of common variants in GIP with type 2 diabetes and related biochemical parameters in a South Indian population.Sugunan D, Nair AK, Kumar H, Gopalakrishnapillai A.). I have not given this much thought yet, but at first look, this looks overblown..
    also see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17624916

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  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Geoffrey Dyson, World Amazing Things, m, 0001_xml, Al Poe and others. Al Poe said: One diabetes gene to explain it all? | Gene Expression: President William Howard Taft It is the best of times, i… http://bit.ly/dSsryq [...]

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  • oh, and my model:

    1) relaxation of constraint once pops leave africa

    2) then, more recently, selection among east asians and some other groups

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  • When I was in college I would sometimes have late night conversations with the guys in my dorm, and the discussion would random-walk in very strange directions. During one of these quasi-salons a friend whose parents were from Korea expressed some surprise and disgust at the idea of wet earwax. It turns out he had...
  • [...] blog post prompted this response: He notes research hypothesizing a link between high latitudes and the dry [...]

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  • The Japanese, Korean, Turkish and Mongolian and Han Chinese languages have their origins in Northeast Asia and the Tibetan Plateau, both of which are cooler than many of the places where those languages are spoken today (and would be at the greatest extreme of serial founder effects in Eurasia). One can imagine low body odor being considered a positive social class indicator in time periods when expanding populations from low body odor Northeast Asia were conquering other populations that tended to have more body odor, giving the low body odor trait advantage in sexual selection.

    It is also worth noting that while modern humans have been in Europe for a very long time, that a large share of modern humans have roots in far Southern Europe and the Near East within the last 8,000 years (Neolithic expansion and population replacement) and in many cases more recently (Indo-European migration of the Bronze Age or later, i.e. within the last 5,500 years with language shifts in many areas as recent as 3,000 years ago). So, demographically in the relevant time frame, Europe is far more Southern than the current population’s locations would suggest.

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  • You mean eating them, riding them, or both?

    We can also add to these drinking their milk in some form.

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  • Much of China, Korea and Japan were still covered by ice sheet from the last ice age until around 10,000 years ago. I doubt there were any human being living in Canton before that. Also majority of cantonese today were han people whose ancestors moved to warmer south less than 2000 years ago (more due to war rather than weather, of course).

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  • Presumably in recent times Mongolians smelled mainly of horse.

    You mean eating them, riding them, or both?

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  • Presumably in recent times Mongolians smelled mainly of horse.

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  • there’s a strong subjective perceptive aspect to stank. if everyone stinks, you stop noticing it. there’s obviously both innate and environmental influences here.

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  • She also claimed that perfume was not a great seller in Japan because they were historically not predominantly consumers of meat.

    But Japanese were historically one of the most fish-consuming societies, and as everyone knows, fish gives the body an unpleasant odor just like every other meat.

    How about Mongolians? They are pure carnivores. They consume more meat than any white people. Inuits are pure carnivores too.

    I don’t think people bothered about body odor arising from meat consuming in nomadic societies, at least not in any significant degree.

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  • most vegetarians believe meat eaters smell different. also dairy vs. non-dairy.

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  • There’s also a link between the AA genotype and lack of postpartum colostrum secretion. Not sure if that one would be pro-selection.

    Miura, K.; Yoshiura, K.; Miura, S.; Shimada, T.; Yamasaki, K.;
    Yoshida, A.; Nakayama, D.; Shibata, Y.; Niikawa, N.; Masuzaki, H.
    A strong association between human earwax-type and apocrine colostrum
    secretion from the mammary gland. Hum. Genet. 121: 631-633, 2007.

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  • “Not the least bit scientific but I once heard an executive with an international cosmetics company claim that perfumes had been used by Europeans to mask the body odor
    that resulted from meat eating. She also claimed that perfume was not a great seller in Japan because they were historically not predominantly consumers of meat.”

    How about Mongolians? They are pure carnivores. They consume more meat than any white people. Inuits are pure carnivores too.

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  • Lived in igloos, any bad body smell without bath would not be tolerated and suvive since any bath would result in an ice man or woman. If you smell bad without bath, you are out of luck. Only people smelling ok without bath can survive. lol

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  • Sandgroper,
    IMHO, the best rice is Indian long-grained rice!

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  • Not the least bit scientific but I once heard an executive with an international cosmetics company claim that perfumes had been used by Europeans to mask the body odor
    that resulted from meat eating. She also claimed that perfume was not a great seller in Japan because they were historically not predominantly consumers of meat.

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  • While I’m on the subject and totally OT, my recommendation for my favourite tea:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tit_Kwun_Yum – If I had to choose a favourite Bodhisattva, she’s it. Nice lady, reportedly.

    Usually badly translated into English as Iron Buddha, more correctly as Iron Goddess of Mercy. There are grades of the tea, as there always are. The best is ridiculously expensive (but nice), but the cheap stuff is still pretty good in my opinion.

    If you go to a Chiu Chow restaurant they will usually serve you this tea brewed super-strong in tiny cups before and after the meal as an aid to digestion. Chiu Chow is also my favourite Chinese cuisine, pretty bland and delicate flavours, but you can always ask for chilli sauce and dunk or heap it on. I don’t know how it rates on your demanding scale, but one dab of their chilli sauces sets me on fire for hours.

    And Chiu Chow are rice traders, they always have the best rice, apart from the Japanese – Japanese rice is something else, superlative stuff in a category of its own.

    But I don’t know if you get the good stuff outside of East Asia. In Australia no, it’s a sad travesty. In America I don’t know, but suspect similar. You need t0 visit.

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  • Also, it seems, then, discriminatory that Q-Tips don’t have a little shovel on one end to accommodate our asian friends. It’s sort of like all band-aids being the same color.

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  • Ahhhh! So THAT’S why the world is going to hell!

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  • “You’d figure that the Cantonese lived in igloos going by all the myriad adaptations to frigid conditions which they exhibit.” – LOL!

    Sorry, couldn’t resist. :D

    It’s the air-conditioning in dim-sum restaurants that does it.

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  • What is the difference in the “dry” as opposed to “wet” earwax?
    Is this just composition as it is secreted or does some “air drying”
    (oxygen reaction with unsaturated fatty acids) take place?
    Georg

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  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ron Simon, Leilani Cooper, World Amazing Things, Al Poe, Maggie and others. Maggie said: Body odor, Asians, and earwax | Gene Expression: When I was in college I would sometimes have late night conversat… http://bit.ly/96xhDk [...]

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  • Last month in Nature Reviews Genetics there was a paper, Measuring selection in contemporary human populations, which reviewed data from various surveys in an attempt to adduce the current trajectory of human evolution. The review didn't find anything revolutionary, but it was interesting to see where we're at. If you read this weblog you probably...
  • We can perhaps make fellow atheists out of them yet.

    Atheism and fertility are hardly mutually exclusive.

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  • Oh no no no no.

    Razib, WHO is making these emails to you about my misanthropic propensities? :D

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  • have we not considered that these little crotchfruit of theirs are deconvertable?

    …oh god, now i’m gonna hear it….

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  • Regarding fertility being the measure by which religion shall drive our species to the death of civilization if it’s not dealt with, have we not considered that these offspring of theirs presumably have the ability to think?

    We can perhaps make fellow atheists out of them yet.

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