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    East Africa, 60,000 to 80,000 years ago. The relative stasis of early humans was being shaken by a series of population expansions. The last one went global, spreading out of Africa, into Eurasia and, eventually, throughout the whole world (Watson et al., 1997). Those humans became us. This expansion took place at the expense of...
  • A group than merely reduced the level of intra-group aggression could have less mortality and more numbers, and doom all the the other groups even if the the nicey- nicey group were relatively pacifistic toward other groups. Better to be genes of a cave wimp in the nicey-nicey (and hence flourishing) group that the genes of a big boss man in a relatively dwindling group (where only the strong are respected).

    Maybe what C &H say is correct for early CroMagnons (who I believe are supposed to have used thrusting not throwing spears). But there is a lot of difference in the robustness of the skeleton between CroMagnons and Magdelenian hunters (and women and men).

    I think the steppe tundra sexual selection hypothesis can be pushed further; tools get developed by paying attention to what others are doing and showing others what to do. To me that is intra -group communication, which is not only more like the bonobos’ than the common chimps’ behaviour, it’s more like women’s behaviour than men’s.

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  • Sean,

    I don’t know about modern humans being less warlike. There does seem to be a cognitive difference, with Neanderthals relying more on domain-specific hardwired algorithms. Cochran and Harpending wrote about this point in one of their outtakes:

    “Our favorite hypothesis is that Neanderthals and other archaic humans had a fundamentally different kind of learning than moderns. One of the enduring puzzles is the near-stasis of tool kits in early humans – as we have said before, the Acheulean hand-axe tradition last for almost a million years and extended from the Cape of Good Hope to Germany, while the Mousterian lasted for a quarter of a million years. Somehow these early humans were capable of transmitting a simple material culture for hundreds of thousands of years with little change. More information was transmitted to the next generation than in chimpanzees, but not as much as in modern humans. At the same time, that information was transmitted with surprisingly high accuracy. This must be the case, since random errors in transmission would have caused changes in those tool traditions, resulting in noticeable variation over space and time – which we do not see.

    It looks to us as if toolmaking in those populations was, to some extent, innate: genetically determined. Just as song birds are born with a rough genetic template that constrains what songs are learned, early humans may have been born with genetically determined behavioral tendencies that resulted in certain kinds of tools. Genetic transmission of that information has the characteristics required to explain this pattern of simple, near-static technology, since only a limited amount of information can be acquired through natural selection, while the information that is acquired is transmitted with very high accuracy.”

    http://isteve.blogspot.ca/2009/01/neanderthals.html

    Peltast,

    Not that I know of. The consensus seems to be that Ashkenazi Jews are about half Middle Eastern and half European by origin. Strangely enough, their European origin looks more Italian than Slavic (I suspect “Italian” is a proxy for the European population that existed along the Rhone valley over a thousand years ago, this having been one of the main areas of Jewish settlement).

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  • Animals in Europe may well have been a lot easier to hunt that the ones in Africa, which had evolved with human predation. The Falkland Islands wolf – ‘foolish dog o’ the south’ was easy to kill because in had no fear. Cro magnons were oversized bull necked thugs, and to me they look like they evolved where the main problem was not getting the groceries, but fighting for females.

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  • @Sean
    By my way of thinking, the hulking barrel chested Cro Magnons with their enormous heads seem adapted to being big boss man rather than fiddling about with tools, and they were not replaced--the later Europeans were their descendants. Brian Hare /Bruce Hood's theory is that there was a process similar to wolf domestication into domestic dog or the Russian fox domestication experiment, and it made the Europeans progressively smarter. The sharpest reduction in size was during the Magdalenian.

    Well thank you Sean not only for the ideas to chew on but the cite to some apparent authors to look into.

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  • @TomB
    I have read a modest amount about evolution (lots of the Gould books included), and with that reservation noted about it, as with this piece by Mr. Frost, one of the most interesting aspects of it doesn't seem explored much, despite what appears (again, to me at least) to be its huge importance.

    I'm not sure exactly how to define it, but that relatively unremarked upon aspect seems to me to be the lack of attention paid to the ... social/cultural contribution to evolution in the form of intra-species aggression.

    That is, while Mr. Frost here so typically talks so much (if not almost exclusively) about the evolution of physiological adaptations and how no doubt crucial they are to evolutionary success, look at what happened, say, to the neanderthals.

    After all for a long long time they seem to have had plenty of adaptations to do well and spread wide.

    But what seems to have happened to them? Did they lose their adaptations? No. Unlikely. Indeed the logic of natural selection would argue that if anything they gained some.

    Instead of course their demise seems to be tied to the influx of more advanced humanoids, and its very difficult for me to believe that what happened to the neanderthals en masse wasn't their being essentially massacred by their new neighbors. Just like Mr. Frost off-handedly mentions the reasonable proposition that archaic humans in Africa might have persisted longer than others elsewhere because of a better ability to "fend off" their more modern wanna-be new neighbors.

    Or perhaps as another possible example the eradication of the Dorset arctic people with the influx of the more modern Innuit. With the former not even seeming to be in all that direct a competition with the Innuit for resources given that they seem to have been far more sea-based focused than the early Innuit at least.

    Moreover this dynamic also seems to resonate with what we see in social animals, often to absolutely characteristic degree: One wolf pack gets too big for its territory and splits and one part moves elsewhere and there it doesn't just compete "fairly" for the resources there, instead what does one inevitably see but fierce battles to the death. Genocidal in nature really.

    Since this implicates matters of psychological mentality and instincts and emotions I suppose this ventures ultimately into the realm of socio-biology/evolutionary psychology. But, nevertheless, I can't help but believe that it is *just*as important a part of the evolutionary story of what we see today as the story of the evolution of physiological adaptations to environment.

    I.e., with many species, the reason they are here today is that not only because they are to some successful degree physiologically adapted to their environment, but also only because they were conquerers essentially. They didn't just "outcompete" their relatives in the sense of being better hunter-gatherers or even farmers: They slaughtered out the others.

    And again, that this is *just* as important a part of the story as the physiological adaptations to environment have been for many species.

    If so seems to say something very deep and profound about our nature since one can hardly imagine that we are one of the species that this dynamic did not work its will with.

    By my way of thinking, the hulking barrel chested Cro Magnons with their enormous heads seem adapted to being big boss man rather than fiddling about with tools, and they were not replaced–the later Europeans were their descendants. Brian Hare /Bruce Hood’s theory is that there was a process similar to wolf domestication into domestic dog or the Russian fox domestication experiment, and it made the Europeans progressively smarter. The sharpest reduction in size was during the Magdalenian.

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    • Replies: @TomB
    Well thank you Sean not only for the ideas to chew on but the cite to some apparent authors to look into.
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  • I have read a modest amount about evolution (lots of the Gould books included), and with that reservation noted about it, as with this piece by Mr. Frost, one of the most interesting aspects of it doesn’t seem explored much, despite what appears (again, to me at least) to be its huge importance.

    I’m not sure exactly how to define it, but that relatively unremarked upon aspect seems to me to be the lack of attention paid to the … social/cultural contribution to evolution in the form of intra-species aggression.

    That is, while Mr. Frost here so typically talks so much (if not almost exclusively) about the evolution of physiological adaptations and how no doubt crucial they are to evolutionary success, look at what happened, say, to the neanderthals.

    After all for a long long time they seem to have had plenty of adaptations to do well and spread wide.

    But what seems to have happened to them? Did they lose their adaptations? No. Unlikely. Indeed the logic of natural selection would argue that if anything they gained some.

    Instead of course their demise seems to be tied to the influx of more advanced humanoids, and its very difficult for me to believe that what happened to the neanderthals en masse wasn’t their being essentially massacred by their new neighbors. Just like Mr. Frost off-handedly mentions the reasonable proposition that archaic humans in Africa might have persisted longer than others elsewhere because of a better ability to “fend off” their more modern wanna-be new neighbors.

    Or perhaps as another possible example the eradication of the Dorset arctic people with the influx of the more modern Innuit. With the former not even seeming to be in all that direct a competition with the Innuit for resources given that they seem to have been far more sea-based focused than the early Innuit at least.

    Moreover this dynamic also seems to resonate with what we see in social animals, often to absolutely characteristic degree: One wolf pack gets too big for its territory and splits and one part moves elsewhere and there it doesn’t just compete “fairly” for the resources there, instead what does one inevitably see but fierce battles to the death. Genocidal in nature really.

    Since this implicates matters of psychological mentality and instincts and emotions I suppose this ventures ultimately into the realm of socio-biology/evolutionary psychology. But, nevertheless, I can’t help but believe that it is *just*as important a part of the evolutionary story of what we see today as the story of the evolution of physiological adaptations to environment.

    I.e., with many species, the reason they are here today is that not only because they are to some successful degree physiologically adapted to their environment, but also only because they were conquerers essentially. They didn’t just “outcompete” their relatives in the sense of being better hunter-gatherers or even farmers: They slaughtered out the others.

    And again, that this is *just* as important a part of the story as the physiological adaptations to environment have been for many species.

    If so seems to say something very deep and profound about our nature since one can hardly imagine that we are one of the species that this dynamic did not work its will with.

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    • Replies: @Sean
    By my way of thinking, the hulking barrel chested Cro Magnons with their enormous heads seem adapted to being big boss man rather than fiddling about with tools, and they were not replaced--the later Europeans were their descendants. Brian Hare /Bruce Hood's theory is that there was a process similar to wolf domestication into domestic dog or the Russian fox domestication experiment, and it made the Europeans progressively smarter. The sharpest reduction in size was during the Magdalenian.
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  • Anyway, maybe modern humans’ intelligence had something to do with them having less need to be fearful, or aggressive.

    I doubt it. The first signs of human culture (cavepaintings, music instruments and sculptures) are from Europe, where humans and Neanderthals were competing with each other.

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  • Hey Peter, its true that jews have a high rate of neanderthal genes?

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  • There was someone a while back who posted a comment on E&P with a link to study of chimp society. It said the males had expanded chests and looked scared apart from the boss chimp. I have read the boss chimp tends to bash up females so he and his pals can mate with her. Chimps are known to make war on neighbouring chimps too. For chimps avoiding violence from rival males and rival groups seems to have been a salient problem.

    Bonobos:”Bonobos are much more likely to keep the peace by offering a sexual favor, whereas a chimpanzee’s first instinct is to secure dominance through battle. In chimp groups, the highest-ranking male is the only one allowed to mate with the females, but in bonobo cultures, everyone has sexual freedom”.

    So the adaptations of the archaic-ancestry humans might have been more like chimps (where there is ever present risk of violence adaptation to it would be useful), while modern humans were more like bonobos. There is a belief that bonobos would not be able to survive around chimps, but bonobo don’t have to deal with chimps as bonobos only live in the resource rich and isolated bend of the Congo basin. Bonobos are really smart Bonobo Stone Tools as Competent as Ancient Human?. Genius ape Kanzi.

    Anyway, maybe modern humans’ intelligence had something to do with them having less need to be fearful, or aggressive.

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  • Broken Hill (Kabwe) skull. In Africa, very archaic hominins persisted into recent times. Were archaic hominins still roaming over parts of Africa when farming villages began to form in the Middle East? I raised this question in my last post. But others are now raising it too: A new convert to this view is the...
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  • Current research indicates that modern Homo sapiens originated in East Africa and then migrated across Africa as well as out of Africa, where they encountered archaic hominins.

    So, what current human population is the most 'pure' modern human? Ethiopians?

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  • There are various species of snub-nosed monkeys in southern China and northern SE Asia. Snub-nosed monkeys sort of resemble Asians. Is it possible that Asians evolved from them or are related to them?

    Japanese macaques sort of resemble Europeans but Japan is so far from Europe.

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  • I don't have enough knowledge to comment but…

    High levels of archaic admixture makes me imagine a collection of sub-species existing concurrently (in their own environmental niche?) with none adaptable enough to displace the others from their niche – so less a progression of hominids from lower to higher functioning than a collection of more or less equally adapted branches.

    (If the archaics were adapted to a particular niche then the archaic admixture might be the useful bits like high altitude adaptations?)

    Then one of the branchs became more adaptable – either through some special spark or perhaps simply because their geographical location had a migration route to an empty and different environment which forced them to adapt to fill – and that newfound adaptability allowed them to backflow and displace the what then become archaic others.

    The obvious prime candidate for a geographical migration explanation would be Ethiopia in east Africa close to Arabia.

    So it's the out of Africa event itself that creates a more adaptable hominid.

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  • The earliest fully modern humans got a heavy deleterious load of archaic admixture because they had not evolved a suspicion of strange groups or individuals?

    Eventually a specifically modern human form of group selection (requiring intolerance of outsiders migrating into a group) evolved in Africa in response to lethal competition between bands. The archaic admixture was weeded out in those conflicts between groups. As Samuel Bowles says humans became fully modern in cooperation and altuism though warfare. The group-selected-through-warfare modern humans in Africa who came into contact with archaics exterminated them I think.

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  • For whom?

    See Patrick Ewing.

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  • Peter Frost wrote: "In fact, archaic admixture might be an asset."

    For whom?

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  • '4.'in the evolutionary sequence The eastern hominins evolved into modern humans. That was the biggest step of all and it happened by selection from the eastern hominins' own gene pool. The challenging unstable conditions in East Africa must have been the most important factor in bringing the eastern hominins' own, but previously unused, genetic variants into expression (Evolutionary capacitance) and selecting for modern humans' cooperative social and cultural transmission of useful information. It is difficult to believe that the part archaic would be able to keep up in a modern human social environment. On the other hand if they were very rare the grunting uncooperative part-archaic humans could be the rare hawk who does well among the doves, and the bigger brain alleles eventually went to fixation while the other retro alleles disappeared.

    The modern humans who went north out of Africa got bigger brains. "They got the big brains from archaics they met up there'. Very well then; where did those archiacs acquire the alleles for their own big brains from? Presumably they evolved them under the selection pressure of environmental stress in the same way the African hominins evolved into humans in East Africa. The modern humans who went south, along the Indian Ocean, certainly didn't get big brains by introgression from the archaics they met along the way. Maybe their brains were wastefully big and they adaptively acquired smaller brains from the small brained southern archiacs.

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  • Ogunsiron, you do realize australian aborigines have the highest frequency of archaic features out of all modern humans (moreso than africans), yet under these models have less archaic ancestry than africans? (the same as other australo-melanesians, whom differ markedly in physical appearance overall.)

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  • Peter Frost wrote: "In fact, archaic admixture might be an asset."

    Coloured pop. 4 539 790 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coloured

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  • Re: pictures
    I haven't come recently come across any pictures of the type of people I have a mind, sorry.

    Re : Patrick Ewing.
    I find him pretty brutal but the folks I'm thinking off were weirder looking than that.

    Re: Erectus walks among us :
    The author was right in leaving admixture on the table all this time but I think that he pushes the idea too far. Ridiculously far. Doesn't he state that the andamanese descent directly from australopitecines or something like that? I may have read wrong.

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  • ' …This environment isn't just the physical environment (climate, vegetation, habitat, food sources). It's also the social, cultural, and behavioral environment. Wouldn't that component of the environment be altered by archaic admixture?…'

    I am sure it was. To answer that we would need to know the entire 'history' of each 3 billions basepairs of human genome, down to each of its ancestor's bearer. Weird things might have happen during the history of hominid's genetic. We will have to live long to know the answer. From my genetic classes I remember this story about a retrovirus transmitted to drosophila, making the female bearer unfertile with non-bearer males, but still able to reproduce with infected males.
    Certainly the first hominid hybrids (always starting at 50%) were getting a load of things like retrotransposons and the like. These might have drifted, at least for while, the hominid population description out of a classical mendelien framework.
    Chromosome segregation during meiosis is also a big question for hybrids. Persistance of archaic DNA might have occured because the archaic chromosomes were 'positively discriminated' during the meiosis.
    Many other weirdnesses exists. PKD1, the gene responsible for autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease, is present on the tip of chromosome 16. The PKD1 gene has been replicated several times, but only 'recently', during evolution. The pkd1 'pseudogenes' are presents only in big apes and human. Still, one would expect the replicated genes, if they are harmfull, to be eliminated, or at least silenced, after a dozen million years but that's not the case. Why?
    Also, you were yourself mentioning that some commensal vaginal yeasts could possibly modify woman's behavior to their benefit. Who could have guessed that? That's a mother to daughter transmission that shows we are not just transmitting genes. And not forgeting the no-less weirdo case of the tasmanian wolves, who are so inbred they can transmit skin cancer to each other by simple contact without a rejection reaction, to the point they are now endangered. Again, who could have guessed that? Early hominids, hybrids or not, were certainly very inbred. Maybe they needed some hybridization to escape the decay of one of their doomed chromosome (for example, the human Y is predicted to decay in a few thousands years).

    Last, I have seen the last 'planet of the apes' and not only it kind of convinces you that these apes were once more humans that they are now. They 'decided' to stop hominization and go back to the trees. But if that's the case, they might also have been able to introgress some DNA into erectus or australopithecus, and therefore to us. So, maybe we should look there too.

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  • Ogunsiron,

    There seems to be more archaic admixture in western and southern Africa than in eastern Africa. According to Hammer et al., the highest levels of admixture are found in Pygmy and Khoisan populations.

    Anon,

    That's the big question. What does it mean? Or does it mean anything?

    In theory, if the environment of natural selection remains unchanged, archaic admixture wouldn't really alter anything over the long term. Maladaptive alleles would be weeded out and replaced by adaptive ones. Over time, the admixture would only show up in "junk genes" of little or no selective value.

    In fact, archaic admixture might be an asset. It could provide new alleles that are actually more adaptive. Evolution would thus speed up. This is the "cherry picking" theory of archaic admixture currently promoted by John Hawkes, Greg Cochran, and others.

    But, on second thought, why would the environment of natural selection remain unchanged? This environment isn't just the physical environment (climate, vegetation, habitat, food sources). It's also the social, cultural, and behavioral environment. Wouldn't that component of the environment be altered by archaic admixture?

    In other words, archaic admixture could have altered the way ancestral humans behaved, thereby creating a new behavioral environment, a new set of selection pressures, and a different evolutionary trajectory.

    To be honest, the more I think about this question, the less clear it all seems to me. I'd appreciate hearing the thoughts of any readers out there.

    Sean,

    The estimates of archaic admixture come from genes that are of little or no selective value. The picture is probably different if we look at genes that are more vulnerable to natural selection.

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    I have seen Chinese looking like live, walking H. heidelbergensis reconstructions, complete with tiny forehead.

    After seeing such a one, traces of common ancestry could be detected occasionally in certain other Chinese.

    It was most disturbing, frankly.

    Those are probably traces of Homo erectus pekinensis aka "Peking Man" who was discovered in Beijing. Heidelbergensis was found in Europe. The Chinese believe that Peking Man was an ancestor of the Chinese and I think multiregional theory supports that.

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  • I have seen Chinese looking like live, walking H. heidelbergensis reconstructions, complete with tiny forehead.

    After seeing such a one, traces of common ancestry could be detected occasionally in certain other Chinese.

    It was most disturbing, frankly.

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  • I get the feeling that 'ogunsiron' (the first poster) may not be black at all but someone pretending

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    the author of Erectus Among Us

    You're referring to the book Erectus Walks Amongst Us: The Evolution of Modern Humans by Richard D. Fuerle, available for free in its entirety here:

    http://erectuswalksamongst.us/

    Doesn't a lot of the recent science covered on blogs like this and elsewhere suggest that the books claims may not be as controversial as previously believed?

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Their cranial volume notwithstanding

    If you've ever been around large crowds of black people, their small heads are quite noticeable. The fact that they tend to have shaved heads exaggerates the effect. It's especially noticeable when there are whites and Asians around in the crowd as well. Asians tend to have large, bulbous, pumpkin heads and small, slight bodies so the contrast can be quite striking when you observe these crowds.

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  • PS : when I speak of primitive looking faces, unlike the author of Erectus Among Us, I'm not talking about the faces of the average black person.Those people I'm thinking of were rare but very striking looking.

    Do you mean someone like Patrick Ewing?

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  • The estimates of archiac admixture in the gene pool are for the present day. Presuming that the archaic admixture was selected against is there an upper limit for the level that archaic admixture could have been at in the modern human gene pool ?

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  • Ogunsiron,

    Can you find any pictures online of the type of "look" you are describing?

    Peter,

    Does it mean anything substantive that Africans may have 15% archaic admixture? I think I remember you saying before that the admixture events happened so far back that it's not possible to draw any inferences.

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  • I have been dreading (because I'm black myself) for a few years that something like this was bound to come out.

    I've seen,observed people here and there among african and african derived populations whose facial structure just screamed archaic.

    Their cranial volume notwithstanding, they looked like they had just stepped out of a documentary on homo erectus, homo habilis and the like (though it seems that the upper range of cranial volume for homo erectus overlapped with the lower range for modern humans).I had a hard time imagining natural selection sculpting such faces. What for ? I figured that maybe it was because of selection for brute masculinity that such primitive looking facial traits had ridden along. Admixture was pretty much ruled out until a few years ago so it wasn't even considered. Times have changed and it seems that there was admixture after all.

    I'm at once very curious and afraid of what else is coming.

    I'm curious to see if there is great variance in the archaic contribution to the genome of various populations of black africans. Who has more of it ? Who has little of it ?

    PS : when I speak of primitive looking faces, unlike the author of Erectus Among Us, I'm not talking about the faces of the average black person.Those people I'm thinking of were rare but very striking looking.

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  • In an interesting piece in The Guardian on possible proto-gorilla/proto-human hybridization, the journalist lobs this grenade: The issue here is semantics. I think regular readers of this weblog will know to be more cautious than to contend that the "single-origin model" of our species has been "disproved," while its inverse has been "proven." Those are...
  • I completely agree with you, Razib. It has tabloid journalism written all over it rather than science journalism. Why it always has to be sex? Kids nowadays gets them by playing with each other while they play. Jane Goodall showed how chimp young often play with baboons of their age and they even groom each other. While this does not lead to any hybridisation, it could well result in some ectoparasite transmission. I can much more easily envisage this happening than interbreeding.

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  • Ж says: • Website

    EH?! I gained the strong impression, largely through this blog and the Khan/Wolpoff interview on Bloggingheads, that Chris Stringer was on the multiregionalist side of the argument! (I probably picked it up elsewhere years ago but forgot it.) Pity I didn’t hear I was “wrong” the day before, instead of the day after I mentioned on it on Ж.

    “Proved” is a “too strong” word in science; “Disproved” is strongish and never actually true, but is reasonable.

    Strictly speaking, you could argue that any mixing with pre-existing populations does “disprove” “OOA”, though most would say now it was mostly OOA.

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  • One of the comments on the Guardian piece links to an article by Stringer (also in the Guardian), in which he says he is in favour of a “leaky replacement model”.

    Here it is:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/jun/19/human-evolution-africa-ancestors-stringer

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  • I do hope an editor at the Graundiad is reading your blog. That’s shockingly bad journalism.

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  • Ian says:

    You could argue that, in a narrow sense, the “Out of Africa” hypothesis has been disproven, at least in the maximalist form that was promoted in the late 80s and early 90s. But if you took that position, you’d also have to admit that the Multiregional hypothesis has also been disproven. Of course, few people take as narrowly a Popperian view of science as that, and any realist would say that the dominant paradigm today appears to be “mostly OOA”. Granted, by the mid-to-late 90s, this was pretty much what Wolpoff seemed to be saying.

    One other thing that jumped out at me in that article, though, was the whole hybridisation thing. At the very least, people should realise that every sexual encounter does not lead to a viable offspring. But more importantly, wouldn’t a speciation event probably involve post-mating isolation mechanisms? And wouldn’t the attraction to gorillas be more reasonably explained through a mixture of retained ancestral traits (all apes look similar enough) and convergence (gorillas look rather more ‘man-like’ than chimps, and in fact are somewhat of an exaggeration of a musclebound male).

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  • Mitochondrial DNA and human evolution: And so was published in the year 1987 the paper which established in the public's mind the idea of mitochondrial Eve, which gave rise to a famous cover photo in Newsweek. This also led to the Children of Eve episode on the PBS documentary NOVA. Here is the summary: As...
  • Thank you Razib and your Bloggers for another year of fine insights. Looking forward to 2011!

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  • [...] in the Holy Land! More broadly I think the recent changes in our understanding of human origins over the past year have unsettled the field enough that sensationalists have an excellent opportunity to populate the [...]

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  • German, thanks for the reference. It seems to me Hammer’s Y chromosome paper does still confirm coalescence in Africa around 200 kya, similar to mitochondrial coalescence data. I do agree that the bidirectional gene flow that he found did suggest that idea of an earlier unidirectional replacement expansion out of Africa might be suspect. The ~70% replacement of Y chromosomes in Africa from an Asian root in a much shorter period of time does look like it could eventually have resulted in a complete replacement that would have masked more complex underlying population genetics, suggesting the same might apply to the 200 kya coalescences, but it’s not clear to me that that implication ought to have been obvious to everyone.

    Miko, the modern civil rights liberals in my social circles seem to see equality of results, not equality of opportunity, as the goal; unequal results due to unequal diligence or unequal talent seems anathema to them. That’s what I would mean by “egalitarianism”, though its actual philosophical roots seem to trace only to Rawls.

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  • Razib:

    There are threads on Neanderthal and Denisovan SNPs at 23andme.com. Comparing my self to the 5 SNPs 23andme recognizes from the Denisovans I get the following results:

    My results at the 4 v.2 tested SNPs:

    rs17324735 (C or T) CT chr 9 results AFR 0/46 CEU 4/44 ASN 0/48
    rs10971319 (A or G) AG chr 9 results AFR 0/46 CEU 4/44 ASN 0/48
    rs1148274 (G or T) TT chr 10 results AFR 0/46 CEU 8/40 ASN 0/48
    rs2241970 (A or G) AG chr 10 results AFR 46/0 CEU 38/10 ASN 39/9

    The last seems so wide spread as to not be a reliable marker for Denisovan ancestry and to indicate a marker from before the split.

    rs17226291 is recognized as a SNP but says “Not Tested” in my results

    Hopefully the Denisovan SNPs, the Neaqnderthal SNPs, and the archaic Asian(?) SNPs Hammer found, can be placed on a chip so we can compare to them.

    Thanks for your article and blog.

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  • “default position held in polite society”

    Maybe, but I feel like most civil rights liberals explicitly see equality as a rule of law issue or equal protection entitlement and are understandably suspicious of biological bases for anything political. That said, when a prominent biologist like Gould emits handy sound bites they are happy to selectively include biology. Dennet–raving liberal that he is–is good on the general misinformed-ness created among non-scientist intellectuals by Gould.

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  • if i read gould correct it seems he’s trying to buttress ought through is, but, he isn’t going to explicitly do it because he is aware that science can change. on a related note, cannibalism, genocide, etc., happened between very closely related groups genetically until the rise of agriculture. also he seems to have elaborated on this issue in his huge last mega-book, when out of africa had really cleared the field (he also caricatures multiregionalism).

    in any case, as paul krugman noted in the USA sj gould was the evolutionary biologist par excellence in the public eye. so his confused and convoluted musings held great weight, and from what i can tell his readers did connect the dots that recent human ancestry refuted human equality in some ethical sense.

    ‘biological egalitarianism’ is probably used by detractors precisely because it is in some sense a default position held in polite society. the converse of the mainstream position in the west between 1850 and sometime in the early-mid-20th century.

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  • “Human equality is a contingent fact of history. Equality is not given a priori; it is neither an ethical principle (though equal treatment may be) nor a statement about norms of social action.”

    Ha! You know I won’t defend the master confuser…I have no idea what he could mean by “equality” if not an ethical principle or the same thing as equal treatment.

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  • you can reread gould’s old essay about human equality being a contingent fact of history. i don’t know what he was really getting at at this point after rereading it

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  • @cyrax: so because some people don’t know what egalitarianism means, you are free to misuse it as well? just because homeopaths call the water they sell “alternative medicine” doesn’t mean thinking people have to include it in their conception of “medicine” or refer to it as such. but, i took your advice and used the google and discovered that “biological egalitarianism” is a term used almost solely by its detractors to caricature something or other…i got bored pretty fast. i am unaware of anyone who has ever advanced an argument for an egalitarian society based on the claim that humans lack genetic–or any other kind of–diversity. if so, they sound pretty fringe and probably not in a position to provoke such self-righteous outrage. as for social policies, you must be the first person to notice that in the service of political goals sometimes people stray from ideological purity. thank goodness, because then the states-rights-lovers on the supreme court couldn’t have installed gw, right?

    words lose meaning in the mouths of ideologues, but the discourse here is normally somewhat elevated above such nonsense. your rant was so typical of paranoid noisemakers that i found it difficult to tell if it was genuine, and your baseless assertion about the cognitive effects of archaic genetic admixture (and calling it “parsimonious”) was such a crystalline example of ideological dumbing down of three or four branches of the life sciences at once, i felt it warranted comment.

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  • “yet a generation of mtDNA and NRY studies have seemingly missed this.”

    It isn’t hard to come up with multiple models with fairly weak assumptions that eliminate mtDNA and NRY traces while preserving autosomal DNA in low frequencies, and the models that achieve that result for Neanderthal admixture work just as well for the Denisovians.

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  • Warren,

    Ever since the publication by Hammer et al. (the same Hammer as you mentioned in conjunction with a 2 MYA coalescence in East Asia) of “Out of Africa and Back again” (mbe.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/15/4/427.pdf), there’s been a recurrent argument that the majority of African Y chromosomes (the huge pan-African E clade characterized by YAP+) are in fact derived from Asia. This would mean that immediately before the founding migration of the would-be E lineages to Sub-Saharan Africa (roughly at 40-45K YBP) there were two big clusters of Y-DNA diversity in the world – the African one, or the AB cluster, and the extra-African one – most likely East Asian, which encompassed CF and pre-DE lineages.

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  • German, I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying. For Y chromosome coalescence to have happened outside of Africa, all Y chromosome lineages in Africa would have to be derived from outside Africa, not just a majority. Is that your contention? My understanding is that Africa was still the likely location of Y chromosome coalescence, but I confess to not having followed the Y chromosome literature very carefully.

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  • @Warren Dew:

    “The Y chromosome data rooting to Africa did provide evidence that a majority of our genes were from Africa.”

    In fact it provided the opposite: evidence that the majority of African lineages (hg E) are derived from outside of Africa. We ended up with hg AB in Africa and CDEF outside of Africa at about 40-45K (all pre-YAP+).

    “Kenichi Aoki of the University of Tokyo published a lovely simulation showing that after a colonizing cascade the root of a gene tree was as likely to be any of the daughters, oldest to newest, as any other. The implication was clear: the root of the mitochondrial tree in Africa could well mean nothing. ”

    Very good. Now let’s look at the map of linguistic diversity. (And let’s ignore Greenberg and Ruhlen.) Interestingly, Melanesia, the inhabitatnts of which “admixed” with Denisovans, is one of the two regions with the highest levels of linguistic diversity. The other region is the New World.

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  • @Mike Gordon
    severe mistreatment of groups designated as the “other”

    Is a common feature of any inter group competition, why should it be that it be seen as “much worse” when the groups are distinguished by ethnic criteria?

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Stringer & Andrews concluded their pivotal 1988 Science paper with the sentence: “As has been proved to be the case in the study of hominid origins, paleoanthropologists who ignore the increasing wealth of genetic data on human populations relationships do so at their own peril.” Now one wonders if the same rules for them apply to DNA drawn from fossil people rather than placentas, none of which even came from Africa. In the same paper to account for morphological traits MRE theorists proposed to link fossil and recent Australasians, Stringer & Andrews referred to native Australians as “evolutionary reversals” and in a NYT editorial Robin McKie and Chris Stringer called MRE and “devisive theory,” equating it with racism. So, there was some justification for having fears of being labeled an opponent to the Eve theory. Racism was often leveled at MRE followers.
    The revolution in paleogenetics is being matched in Neandertal archaeology, where most of the old ideas about Neandertal cultural incompetence are being overturned. Now, new data even point to language origins extending well before the Neandertals. And there is a lot more coming in 2011.

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    We are all the same species in that we can and do interbreed and have fertile progeny.
    Findings of genes in modern humans similar to genes in Neanderthals or Denisovans
    tells us nothing about how we ought to treat each other societally, but they may be useful
    medically, same as all other genome data.

    Different gene frequencies do not justify disparate treatment but can serve as
    an excuse for it. That’s why racism is bad, irrespective of the science, to the extent that dominant groups use it to justify subjugation, and severe mistreatment of groups designated as the “other”. Unfortunately, some people seem to have a need for a group they can look down on. Such groups are social constructs, and sometimes (e.g. Eta in Japan) are physically indistinguishable from the dominant group.

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  • @ miko

    “I can never tell if people like you are merely stupid or willfully pretending that egalitarianism means something it doesn’t for ideological reasons.”

    Sometimes I can’t tell if people like you are merely stupid, or willfully pretending that terms can’t be borrowed from other contexts or have different meanings in different contexts. Or are didisdainful of Google:

    First result for “biological egalitariansim” actually happens to be our own gnxp: http://www.gnxp.com/blog/2009/10/biological-egalitarianism.php

    Ironically, we don’t have egalitarianism under the law (e.g. affirmative action, which is in violation of the equal protection clause but is exceptioned by the courts due to a “compelling state interest”), in part due to an unsubstantiated belief in biological egalitarianism.

    “enjoy imaging themselves victims of an ideological conspiracy, which is creepy and sad.”
    Do you mean sort of like how some blacks and latinos believe that “the white man” is constantly trying to keep them down? But I assume you mean some whites and Asians in respect to things like affirmative action, because they’re socially acceptable targets .

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  • Obviously, you can’t do anything with the mere fact that average brain sizes vary by a couple of standard deviations (from lowest to highest group ) – unless you know the causal gene variants. In much the same way, there was no point in trying to domesticate the horse before someone sequenced its genome. Unsound.

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  • Cyrax, egalitarianism does not depend on any particular version of human history, or anything in particular about humans at all. It is about social institutions and equality under the law, it has nothing to do with assuming that people are identical or equivalent. Obviously, we are not all the same height, and just as obviously can vary in any other quantitative trait. I can never tell if people like you are merely stupid or willfully pretending that egalitarianism means something it doesn’t for ideological reasons.

    For most of the behavioral and cognitive traits that certain kinds of people fetishize, there is nothing approaching adequate evidence for causal gene variants between groups, and there often seem to be highly emotional motivations for or against particular kinds of biological explanations for historical specifics. For this reason, I’m agnostic on most of these and suspicious of the motives of people who whine that one interpretation or another is obvious but politically suppressed. My other annoyance is that very few of the people who seem obsessed with this seem to be involved or conversant with obtaining evidence, or even have a clear sense of what it would look like, and seem to actively enjoy imaging themselves victims of an ideological conspiracy, which is creepy and sad. Same goes with convoluted and baseless explanations for how some kinds of admixture must make you smart while other kinds make you stupid.

    And before you post a bunch of social science citations with “evidence” for group genetic differences driving cognitive traits (or–my favorite–correlations between SNPs and Likert scale responses in college students), consider what a behavioral geneticist might consider compelling evidence. I’ve said it before: just because human data is hard to get doesn’t mean we should use lower evidentiary standards.

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  • Razib I think you are perhaps too abrupt with Warren Dew: I think his comments are right on the money. For example when the original CSW paper came out Kenichi Aoki of the University of Tokyo published a lovely simulation showing that after a colonizing cascade the root of a gene tree was as likely to be any of the daughters, oldest to newest, as any other. The implication was clear: the root of the mitochondrial tree in Africa could well mean nothing. You are correct that this did not become the ‘majority view’ but it was quite clear to those to whom it was clear.

    Rogers, Eswaran, and I published a paper a few years ago claiming that genomic patterns denied the exclusive African origin model. Again few paid attention although no one told us we were wrong. People like Hammer and Wall and Long have also pointed out the same thing.

    One interesting story here is the interaction between laboratory technologies and population genetics theory. For the last decade or two the focus of our interest has been lab stuff, while before that much of the action was in population genetics, like coalescence theory. Hence by citing the ‘majority of researchers’ you are obscuring some interesting history.

    And, BTW, Merry Christmas to you and everyone here.

    Henry

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Having just finished Peter Heather’s “Empires and Barbarians: the Fall of Rome and the Birth of Europe,” I was struck by the analogous cultural lenses which have evolved surrounding an historical debate. He traces the paradigm shifts concerning the fall of Rome and the rise of the barbarian successor states: the older hypotheses were all variations on the invasion/volkerwanderung model where whole, insular “peoples” engaged in a kind of ethnic cleansing/ total population replacement. These models were largely overturned in the second half of the 20th century by the attenuated wave and limited elite replacement hypotheses, wherein at best only a tiny fraction of elite landowners where replaced ( for example, Romano-British villa owners were replaced in England by a similarly small militarized Germanic elite). For Heather, the pendulum had swung too far in the opposite direction, and largely for cultural-political reasons. His book builds a very convincing corrective model: the first millennium CE saw a constant flux of migration, invasion, cooperation, cultural admixtures, and so on, from the earliest interactions between Romans and The Germani on the Rhine frontier, through the collapse of the Western Empire and the foundation of Frankish, Gothic, and Vandalic successor states, to similar movements by Slavic speaking groups and the Viking diaspora in the final quarter of the millennium. Heather uses a core-periphery model to build another model of a “four gear” Europe. As individuals and groups interacted with the more developed gears closer tomthe core, they engaged in multiple strategies, some violent some not. None involved total genocide and wholesale replacement. Heather uses the 70% genetic Anglo-Saxon makeup of England today, for example, to postulate that the subsequent breeding advantage of an original 10% Germanic contribution is all that is necessary, not ethnic cleansing of all British Celts (he does not regard the process as non violent however). Is is possible that this historical model can help us understand prehistorical conditions as well? Perhaps favored hunting and foraging areas like estuarial territories and river valleys functioned as cores to peripheries of less advantageous lands. Complex mixtures of violent invasion, cooperation, trade, inter- mating, etc operated between hominin groups. Over long swathes of time whatever advantages existed in the African sapiens tool kit would lead to the submerging of Neandertal and Denisovan lineages to their apparent background role.

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  • “previous comment”?

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  • I don’t think it’s accurate to say that autosomal data ever really supported recent African replacement.

    i am aware of work which showed the admixture (i blogged about those papers as early as 2004), but it was clearly the minority view. your interpretation might have been that the results didn’t support that view, but not the majority of researchers. i expect you not to repeat your previous comment again.

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  • You wonder in your last paragraphs how this was missed, citing a generation of mitochondrial and Y chromosome data.

    Someone else mentioned this, but it bears repeating: the answer is that mitochondrial and Y chromosome DNA share a feature that they don’t share with any of the rest of the genome, which is that they are inherited asexually. For that reason, we should expect mitochondrial and Y chromosome lineages to be lost at a more rapid rate, and that means that we should expect the coalescence times to be relatively recent. You can’t get “persistence of lineages with deep coalescence times” because with any deep split, one side of the split will have been lost through chance alone.

    For that reason, I’ve been skeptical of the mitochondrially based reasoning for the recent African replacement model ever since it was proposed: the mitochondria had to be recently rooted somewhere, and the fact that it was Africa could have even been pure chance. The Y chromosome data rooting to Africa did provide evidence that a majority of our genes were from Africa, but the “replacement” part of the recent African replacement model was still virtually data free. It should always have been obvious that sexually transmitted autosomal data shouldn’t be expected to tell the same simple story that the mitochondrial and Y chromosome DNA did, though perhaps scientists can be excused for looking at the evidence they had and ignoring its limitations.

    I don’t think it’s accurate to say that autosomal data ever really supported recent African replacement. Green’s paper, which was probably the first relevant work in this respect – not counting a near simultaneous paper that was discounted due to apparent contamination with modern human DNA – did conclude that the modal probability was that humans had no neanderthal ancestry. However, Green’s data had a broad confidence interval, allowing for up to 20% neanderthal ancestry, and the mean probability was still for around 5% neanderthal ancestry, rather than none, and completely consistent with later findings.

    Other autosomal work, for example Michael Hammer’s work on coalescence times in the modern genome, also argued against the recent African replacement model. In fact, Hammer’s finding of a multimodal distribution of coalescence times with a secondary peak at 2 Mya, suggests that the primary nonafrican contributions from archaic humans is not from neanderthals, but from homo erectus, at least in east Asian populations. In one presentation, about 20% of the east Asian loci that he looked at were rooted around 2Mya rather than in the last 200kya.

    I think the excessive emphasis on the low neanderthal contribution to the exclusion of other archaic humans reflects a eurocentric prejudice, rather than enlightened thinking. Peking man was not a neanderthal, and Hammer’s data is completely consistent with Peking man being a modern human ancestor, contrary to what some other commenters imply. If AG has east Asian ancestry, then in all likelihood you are mistaken in saying that he’s “still 95% neo-african” – more likely he owes closer to only 75% of his ancestry to African ancestors within the last 200 kya or so.

    And Colugo is right – this has nothing to do with racism. For all we know, denisovans might have had even larger brains than neanderthals, for example.

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  • Cyrax stick to your guns. In 1975, when Washburn called Bill Hamilton a racist, people noticed. No one except crazies notices any longer. The 1970s and 1980s are well behind us. Most of us in the trade have been called racist at one time or another: we simply nod and agree.

    What is distressing about Colugo’s posts is his concern with “superiority” and “inferiority”. In biology these mean one thing, fitness. By this metric most of us are inferior to Afghanis. But we all know that this ranking is transient and none of us, I presume, care much about it one way or another.

    I presume that Colugo is referring to IQ, wishing to deny world group differences in intellectual ability. Who cares? Likely most of us are, by this metric, “inferior” to Bobby Fisher or Stephen Hawking, among others. Does anyone care?

    Henry Harpending

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  • miko it ought to be obvious, but admixture at that level has lots of potential to be interesting, in the sense of adding qualitatively different adaptive alleles. The difference between some admixture and none could, in principle, be important. But the picture isn’t real close to any version of multiregionalism promulgated in the 90s or earlier – none I’m familiar with, anyhow. It’s not lots of Fisher waves tying the populations together. But then it’s qualitatively different from pure OOA, also.
    Instead, it looks as if we have deep splits between populations with very low gene flow, followed by a massive expansion of one of those populations. As AMH expanded, they picked up significant amounts of genetic materials from the archaics – more than enough to pick up every noticeably adaptive allele. And there has certainly been time enough for adaptive alleles to increase in frequency.
    The pattern is more like that of an invasive species.

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  • “Now racemongers like the commenter @29 are embracing the notion of superior archiac genes in Europeans but inferior archaic genes in Melanesians. How predictable. They’re nothing if not adaptable; not long ago top scientific racists tended to be hardline Out Of Africanists who argued that race differences were recent and the result of strong selection rather than the artifact of mixture with archaics.”

    Typical knee-jerk ad hominem attacks with side orders of indignation and appeal to historical racism. Colugo putting on a clinic here of how PC harpies operate. Not accepting PC egalitarian ideology a priori and being open to other possibilities makes one a card-carrying racist, it appears.

    My point is that those who point to the new findings with the smug satisfaction that these findings corroborate their own little egalitarian narrative are no better than the racists they love to look down upon, who point to the findings as supportive of their own narrative. I disagree slightly with Razib–egalitarians and racists (KKK-style, not the PC ideological conception of racists) will each take this opportunity to claim the findings as supportive of their faith, and thus each side will be all the more fervent.

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  • these results will have no effect on maximalist egalitarians or racial nationalists. people simply leverage parts of reality to support their own presuppositions. we are at a stage of inquiry that downstream inference is probably unwarranted. let’s see if others can replicate the results first. i do think that wolpoff’s critique of gould’s manner of argumentation and reasoning is powerful. i thought so even when i agreed more with gould than wolpoff on the details of recent human origins.

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  • Stephen Jay Gould gave a gift on a silver platter to racists by insisting that racial equality is entirely historically contingent on Homo sapiens being very young, recently geographically divergent and having no admixture with other Homo populations. Well, genius, what say you if at least one of these is no longer the case? And then there was his characterization of multiregionalism as practically an updated version of polygenesis. Whatever else we think of Gould and his beliefs, I think we can agree that Gould didn’t do his antiracist cause a great favor.

    Poor Wolpoff.

    http://www.human-nature.com/nibbs/02/wolpoff.html

    Gould’s legacy continues.

    http://www.monthlyreview.org/0305york.htm

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  • “OoA with ~5% admixture means multiregionalism “wins”?”

    It (mostly) loses the battle of regional continuity in the case of H. sapiens but wins the larger war over speciation and the debate of what a species is. Is speciation about the splitting off of small geographic isolates (Mayr) and updated by the punctuated equilbrium model (Gould & Eldredge), or is it a more complicated and messy affair involving gene flow between populations of a widely dispersed species highly variable over time and space?

    The reception of Wolpoff’s multiregional model suffered due to unwarranted conflation with Carleton Coon’s model.

    Now racemongers like the commenter @29 are embracing the notion of superior archiac genes in Europeans but inferior archaic genes in Melanesians. How predictable. They’re nothing if not adaptable; not long ago top scientific racists tended to be hardline Out Of Africanists who argued that race differences were recent and the result of strong selection rather than the artifact of mixture with archaics.

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  • @19: OoA with ~5% admixture means multiregionalism “wins”? I guess the USSR won the cold war because Cuba’s still communist.

    @29: You either need to look up “parsimonious” or learn something about circular reasoning. It’s not racist to “entertain” any idea, but you’re getting close if you spend that much effort contorting any piece of data into your racial preconceptions.

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  • the literature on mammalian hybridization makes haldane’s rule implausible at the evolutionary distance hypothesized a priori. but, it’s a possible explanation certainly.

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  • For starters, it’s at least plausible that neo-Africans and Neandertals/Denisovans were not fully interfertile. In this case, generally the first thing to go is male fertility in the hybrid generations (Haldane’s Rule). If the male F1 offspring of Neandertals/African pairings were sterile, there’s no Y chromosome introgression. Autosomal and X loci can introgress via the female F1s.

    Cultural factors will have an impact too. Let’s hypothesise that in these early populations, children are deemed to belong to the mother’s tribe / social group. In that case, mitochondrial gene flow is restricted: Denisovan-derived mitochondria will stay within the Denisovan tribes and subsequently die out.

    It all looks to me quite like the developing story of speciation between house mouse subspecies (e.g. musculus/domesticus), and the hybrid origins of the lab mouse.

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  • could you say more? Ne is obviously lower for haploid uniparental lineages….

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  • Apologies if I sounded rude, I was posting more for the benefit of readers. Overall I would be very surprised if there *aren’t* significant differences between X, Y, autosomal and mitochondrial phylogenies.

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  • peter, i’m not a moron ;-) so yes, i was thinking of persistence of lineages with deep coalescence times.

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  • Finally, one wonders how this was missed. 7.5% is not trivial. And yet a generation of mtDNA and NRY studies have seemingly missed this.

    Y chromosomes don’t recombine: you couldn’t *make* an admixture of a Neandertal and neo-African Y chromosome if you tried. Either one haplotype ousts the other or both persist in the population.

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  • You said: …i am not so sure that its characteristics are distinctive in a way that derives from the particularities of Christianity…

    Given. It is hard to speculate from an example of one. We have one religion and one civilization that developed together and became what we consider liberal. None of the others did so outside of its influence, so we are left with basically no data. Much of what we see in recent social evolution appears due to chance.

    Similar to ‘exo-biologists’ who speculate on life outside the Earth environment and history. It’s fun, but pretty futile without a few more data points.

    I am certainly not claiming that Christianity will always lead to our current social values. Simply that Christianity’s values have a handful of central tenets, which the more thoughtful and honest Christians will eventually return to, regardless of the parent society. They may succeed, sometimes, in dragging society along with them. Or not. Modern American values have gone a very long way toward imitating Christian values.

    I could go Marxist on you, and claim that the unitary monarchies were a necessary step in social evolution…but I’m not gonna.

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  • Christian ideology has gradually worked through the structure, reforming one small area then another, until it is now so ingrained in western societies that most people agree with Christian morality even if they consciously deny its supernatural claims. I can think of only a few modern liberal values that conflict with traditional Christian thought.

    i don’t think christian ethical ideology is particularly distinctive. rather, i believe it is a specific case of a cluster of ethical-religious systems, most of whom have some root back in the ‘axial age.’ there is a school of thinking which contends that western (universal) liberalism is really just a descendant of christianity specifically. i do think that it is a descendant of christianity, but, i am not so sure that its characteristics are distinctive in a way that derives from the particularities of christianity. the sociologist-turned-religious apologist rodney stark does claim that basically all liberalism, science, etc., are all contingent upon christianity specifically of all religions. but, he admits that christianity is a necessary but not sufficient condition. this is natural because for most of its history christianity did not support liberal values at all (its spread into northern europe was concomitant with the rise of unitary monarchies), and only the northwestern christian tradition specifically has given rise to the positive attributes which stark claims for christianity. in other words, i am saying that in an alternate universe i can see a civilization with a different world religion at its heart giving rise to liberalism. the main difference i see is not between christianity and other religions, but islam and christianity and indian and east asian religions, insofar as islam and christianity historically established much tighter condominiums with their political orders and enforced a more thorough religious monopoly.

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  • Razib, perhaps I was a bit harsher than I should have been. Actually, I figured that paragraph, tangential to the main post, was a throw-away, something you were pitching out to draw a reaction.

    Civilized behavior is progressing, becoming more universal. Christianity has always had a fine moral code, but damned difficult for someone brought up under a different code, living in a society that universally admired a different set of behaviors, to follow. When the barbarians of Europe were christianised, they remained barbarians, with a gloss of christian values painted thinly on top.

    It is structural and ideological. Christian ideology has gradually worked through the structure, reforming one small area then another, until it is now so ingrained in western societies that most people agree with Christian morality even if they consciously deny its supernatural claims. I can think of only a few modern liberal values that conflict with traditional Christian thought. Abortion, for example. Few of the others are anywhere central to Christian theology, however dear to conservative Christians.

    Sorry to drag this in, if it is too far away from the main point of the post.

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  • #29, Miley Cyrax, I don’t see much evidence that intelligence plays a great part in the relative advancement of any particular civilization. Are the Egyptians notably more intelligent than the Germans or Swedes?

    As soon as the Holocene hit, just about everywhere began to civilize, if the material prerequisites were there. We are still finding new, massively elaborate civilizations, for example, those recently discovered in the Amazon, that we had no knowledge of until very recently. We can’t know what arc of development the Melanesians would have taken had other, slightly more advanced cultures not intervened. Certainly they had agriculture, art, not inferior to my ancestors in northern Europe a mere thousand years earlier, who got a lot of their skills from more advanced neighbors.

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  • Come on. I find it very hard to believe that you believe this. Regardless of the actual existence of God, our beliefs sharply affect our actions. Plunk a man with the religious beliefs of an ancient Roman, Norseman or Apache into modern North America, and he would likely be dead, shot by police, or in jail in short order. Romans believed fathers had the right to murder disobedient sons, for example. You seem to be arguing for a very broad and strong innate set of moral norms, in spite of the disclaimer in the first line of that paragraph. By current standards, most ancients were psychopaths, and this includes the early fathers of the faith I follow. Rape, murder and theft were all perfectly acceptable behaviors in many ancient (and modern) cultures, as long as a few rules, governing who was on the receiving end, were followed.

    my views are a bit more subtle than that paragraph you are responding to. in any case, i disagree with your assertions. i am not convinced that your understanding of roman mores is so superior to mine that i should weight your opinion highly (you may or may not be right). therefore, i do not. i have written extensively about the difficulty of mapping avowed beliefs to operational behaviors, so you must know about my concern of drawing lines as you just did. i do believe that we are more civilized than we once were, but i think the question of whether it is structural or ideology (e.g., economics vs. religion for example) is complex and not easily addressed.

    merry xmas!

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  • @ Colugo

    “5. Some racists want it both ways and simultaneously claim that neandertal admixture makes Europeans more evolutionarily advanced than Africans but Denisovan admixture makes Melanesians more evolutionarily primitive than Europeans. Stupid is as stupid does.”

    Yes, because anyone who even entertains the possibility that genetic differences can manifest itself in behavioral differences must be a bonafide racist. Typical PC shrieking that helps nothing.

    Neanderthals and Denisovans group together genetically to the exclusion of humans, but it is possible that substantial decoupling of Neanderthals and Denisovans (with Neanderthals growing more “advanced” over time relative to Denisovans or Denisovans less “advanced” to the Neanderthals) could manifest itself in differences in their human descendants. There is no evidence to support this particular scenario, but it would be a parsimonious narrative to explain the disparities between the cultural achievements and cognitive abilities (as empirically demonstrated by a myriad of standardized tests) of modern human populations.

    It’s not unthinkable that Neanderthals were more “advanced” then contemporaneous early humans who were then smarter than Denisovans. Humans could have easily displaced a smarter population (Neanderthals)–smarter doesn’t always “win” evolutionarily.

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  • Thank you, Razib. Posts like this one explain why I read here almost daily. I have only a handful of sites I read daily; between a new job, family, and my own writing, there simply is no time.
    I have never interested myself in how this site is funded, but I hope to God you are getting paid and paid well for all of the work you put in here. I was amused when above you said “I can’t say I understand it very well.” Pretty often I have the same feeling reading here. I appreciate the effort you make to put all of this forth in a way those of us not educated in this field can follow, if we put in the mental effort to keep up.

    I do have a big problem with one side issue in the above post. You said: …Similarly, I have met many conservative Christians and Muslims who admit that they would rape, murder and steal if they didn’t believe in God. In other words, if God doesn’t exist they would become psychopaths, because “why not.” This is ludicrous. God doesn’t exist, and they aren’t psychopaths. They may believe that they aren’t sodomizing their sister because the Lord God declared from On High believes that such behavior is forbidden…

    Come on. I find it very hard to believe that you believe this. Regardless of the actual existence of God, our beliefs sharply affect our actions. Plunk a man with the religious beliefs of an ancient Roman, Norseman or Apache into modern North America, and he would likely be dead, shot by police, or in jail in short order. Romans believed fathers had the right to murder disobedient sons, for example. You seem to be arguing for a very broad and strong innate set of moral norms, in spite of the disclaimer in the first line of that paragraph. By current standards, most ancients were psychopaths, and this includes the early fathers of the faith I follow. Rape, murder and theft were all perfectly acceptable behaviors in many ancient (and modern) cultures, as long as a few rules, governing who was on the receiving end, were followed.

    By the way, am I the only one who googled ‘Melanesian’ to look at pictures of them, after reading this post? Silly, no way to simply look and see any particular ‘archaic’ trait. But this is just so cool. I have always regretted the extinction of Neanderthals and other ancient races, and here we find some of them never did go extinct. They Live!

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  • Old post on kingless Romans & Muslims.

    I ceased believing in morality once I ceased believing in God. But trying to accommodate what I knew of science with the religion I had professed to hold resulted in an imagining of God as something like Azathoth.

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  • Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year from another lurker, too. I might find the time occasionally to run your posts through a spell checker, tell good from bad suggestions and do other little things. My English is funny sometimes, but it should do. I could post them somewhere else password protected, with the HTML source for copy & paste and a diff so you see the changes marked red.

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  • Excellent post, Razib — easily the best science blog post of the year. Thank you.

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  • Cochran calls the emerging new paradigm: “Out of Africa, with Benefits.”

    By the way, Wolpoff’s book “Race and Human Evolution” has some excellent stuff on the class and ethnic side of the culture war between physical and cultural anthropologists. The physical anthropologists, such as Carleton Coon, tended to be WASP’s of “good blood, good bone” old rich families, with close connections to the Old Protestant Establishment, including in some cases the OSS, CIA, etc. For example, Howells, who died recently at about 100, was a direct descendant of novelist William Dean Howells, who was Mark Twain’s best friend. And there lots of other prominent Protestant upper crust figures in Howells’ family tree. It was not surprising that the physical anthropologists put a lot of emphasis on heredity.

    Wolpoff, who is Jewish and a physical anthropologist, argues that the cultural anthropologists who denounced the physical anthropologists tended to be from rising classes and/or Jewish.

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    • Replies: @Staffan
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZt-pOc3moc
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  • #5 – “Most mainland Chinese scientists” (really? I would have said “some”) have taken a political/nationalist/racial position, which is why they are not taken seriously. My sense is that this is changing.

    In any case, instead of speaking on their behalf, you should give some references. You are not the only superior being in the blogosphere who can read Chinese.

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  • Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and a thousand more archaic teeth and pinky bones with preserved DNA to you all.

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  • “Out of Africa was mostly right but multiregionalists still win.”

    Science isn’t politics. It’s not about who is right or who wins. Multiregionalism and Out-of-Africa weren’t properly differentiated from each other in the first place. Out-of-Africa agreed with Multiregionalism that there was continuity in Africa. Multiregionalists always acknowledged that continental populations share a lot of biological and cultural features with each other. The two theories have always been pretty inadequate theoretically and now this primary confusion between the two is simply getting worse. Now we have the modern chin in Zhirendong (south China) at 100K and an erectine finger and molar at Denisova (south Siberia) at 30K. Now we have two bottlenecks out of Africa AND two archaic admixture events outside of Africa. Neither the bottlenecks nor the admixture events have counterparts in the fossil record. In addition, according to paleontologists, Neanderthals apparently replaced African AMH in Levant (Tabun) but then, according to genetics, they admixed mostly with Cambodians and not at all with Africans.

    Both theories lost. Nobody won.

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  • 3. Out of Africa was mostly right but multiregionalists still win. Because even though OaA was mainly correct on the details multiregional was right on the theory. Admixture and a single evolving variable species rather than allopatric speciation of small isolate.

    hm.

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  • 1. The very terms ‘archaic’ and ‘modern’ are misleading and prejudicial. Not simply in a politically correct way, but more importantly in an analytical way.

    2. The most parsimonious explanation is that all sapiens (neandertals, Kabwe, Denisovans, amhs etc.) are a single chronospecies with regional variants.

    3. Out of Africa was mostly right but multiregionalists still win. Because even though OaA was mainly correct on the details multiregional was right on the theory. Admixture and a single evolving variable species rather than allopatric speciation of small isolate.

    4. A lot of paleoanthro narratives and reconstructions are either too ludicrously minimalist – not too far from The Onion’s ‘skeleton people’ – or way too fancifully speculative. See Lewin’s Bones of Contention. Things haven’t changed that much since earlier misadventures like Ramapithecus, the too humanlike reconstructions of habilis, and the too apelike reconstructions of neandertals.

    5. Some racists want it both ways and simultaneously claim that neandertal admixture makes Europeans more evolutionarily advanced than Africans but Denisovan admixture makes Melanesians more evolutionarily primitive than Europeans. Stupid is as stupid does.

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  • click the supplements and look for D statistic.

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  • How was your classification table calculated? I didn’t see a label for this graph, but it was described as “Top Left”.

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  • Thanks for the very detailed blog. I feel much more informed about the “Eve” story.

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  • Apologies
    wrong link given in last post

    corrrect version

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2010.10.003

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  • Quothe Razib, “This is a great time to be alive if you’re a hominin natural history nerd.”

    So true.

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  • Another blow to Neandertal orthodoxy may be missed in the Denisova wave…Face not cold adapted

    The Neanderthal face is not cold adapted
    Todd C. Rae, Thomas Koppe, Chris B. Stringer Original Research Article
    Journal of Human Evolution

    http://dx.doi.org.libproxy.ucl.ac.uk/10.1016/j.jhevol.2010.10.003

    In Press, Corrected Proof, Available online 22 December 2010

    PS Razib..Thanks for many fine articles over the year

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  • Most mainland Chinese scientists also strongly believe multiregionalism since I can read Chinese blogs. Even during the peak time of `out of africa’,

    you’re still 95% neo-african. the main issue from what i know is that many want to claim descent from peking man, which is not plausible. if there is more nuanced discussion in the chinese language media, sad that we don’t have access to it.

    mark, i spent most of yesterday reading through the supplements and then wanted to finish the post before i went to sleep. by 3 AM i did my edit, and collapsed ;-) but the moral is not to edit when you’re exhausted.

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  • Great post, Razib! Thanks!

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  • Buddy can you s’paradigm, can you ever.
    Thanks for teasing out the subtlety and
    nuance for us uneducated retired laypeople.
    The cultural sensitivities were navigated
    particularly well, the inevitable
    ululating notwithstanding.

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  • Very nice essay..very helpful for non-specialists like us.
    And Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, etc. etc.

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  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by carlzimmer, ResearchBlogging.org, Edward J. Edmonds and others. Edward J. Edmonds said: Mitochondrial DNA and human evolution: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2010/12/the-paradigm-is-dead-long-live-the-paradigm/ [...]

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