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51ABT97467L._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_ Three major events have shaped the distribution and abundance of modern humans across planet earth over the past 50,000 years. First, the “Out of Africa” event. Second, the Last Glacial Maximum ~20,000 years ago. And third, the changes wrought by the Holocene, foremost amongst them agriculture, but also including other developments, such as the utilization of the horse to increase human mobility.

There are two major phylogenetic and population genetic consequences of these dynamics. First, human phylogeny is highly reticulated. That is, it can be better thought of as a graph rather than a branching tree over the past ~50,000 years, due to repeated pulses of massive gene flow between tips of the diversifying human lineages. Second, abiotic and biotic selection pressures in the context of population turnover mean that adaptation has been a continuous process. Additionally, the complex feedback loops engendered by cultural evolution mean that biological evolution through adaptation is driven by endogenous forces, emerging from changes within human societies, rather than simply external exogenous shocks.

Two new papers on Australian archaeology and genetics illustrate this. First, today, Cultural innovation and megafauna interaction in the early settlement of arid Australia:

Elucidating the material culture of early people in arid Australia and the nature of their environmental interactions is essential for understanding the adaptability of populations and the potential causes of megafaunal extinctions 50–40 thousand years ago (ka). Humans colonized the continent by 50 ka1, 2, but an apparent lack of cultural innovations compared to people in Europe and Africa3, 4 has been deemed a barrier to early settlement in the extensive arid zone2, 3. Here we present evidence from Warratyi rock shelter in the southern interior that shows that humans occupied arid Australia by around 49 ka, 10 thousand years (kyr) earlier than previously reported2. The site preserves the only reliably dated, stratified evidence of extinct Australian megafauna5, 6, including the giant marsupial Diprotodon optatum, alongside artefacts more than 46 kyr old. We also report on the earliest-known use of ochre in Australia and Southeast Asia (at or before 49–46 ka), gypsum pigment (40–33 ka), bone tools (40–38 ka), hafted tools (38–35 ka), and backed artefacts (30–24 ka), each up to 10 kyr older than any other known occurrence7, 8. Thus, our evidence shows that people not only settled in the arid interior within a few millennia of entering the continent9, but also developed key technologies much earlier than previously recorded for Australia and Southeast Asia8.

The paper is archaeology, with a lot of stuff on dating and stratigraphy, which I can’t add much to. But, it confirms hints that modern humans really spread rapidly once they had a chance. It does seem that the pulse of migration out of the fringe of Africa that resulted in all non-Africans (or most of their ancestry) moved very rapidly across the world once it got a head of steam going. The genetic and archaeological evidence seems to indicate that movement did not predate 50,000 years B.P. by that much (this doesn’t mean there weren’t earlier waves which were absorbed or died off from the same region of a similar ancestral population).

Then, from a few months ago, A genomic history of Aboriginal Australia:

The population history of Aboriginal Australians remains largely uncharacterized. Here we generate high-coverage genomes for 83 Aboriginal Australians (speakers of Pama–Nyungan languages) and 25 Papuans from the New Guinea Highlands. We find that Papuan and Aboriginal Australian ancestors diversified 25–40 thousand years ago (kya), suggesting pre-Holocene population structure in the ancient continent of Sahul (Australia, New Guinea and Tasmania). However, all of the studied Aboriginal Australians descend from a single founding population that differentiated ~10–32 kya. We infer a population expansion in northeast Australia during the Holocene epoch (past 10,000 years) associated with limited gene flow from this region to the rest of Australia, consistent with the spread of the Pama–Nyungan languages. We estimate that Aboriginal Australians and Papuans diverged from Eurasians 51–72 kya, following a single out-of-Africa dispersal, and subsequently admixed with archaic populations. Finally, we report evidence of selection in Aboriginal Australians potentially associated with living in the desert.

There are a few things going on in this paper. First, they had a lot of whole genomes, rather than just SNP data. They used this whole genome data to get a really good sense that once you correct for excess Denisovan ancestry the “two-wave” model out of Africa is just not that well supported in comparison to a single expansion.

Second, because the Australians and Papuans were isolated from other populations for most of history, it turns out you can see evidence of gene flow between Sub-Saharan Africans and Eurasians, in particular West Eurasians, after the divergence of the non-African groups. This is not entirely surprising. And, that gene flow is found in the Dinka and Yoruba samples, but not the San. Again, not surprising. Note, more recent Holocene gene flow form Eurasians into Sub-Saharan populations is clear in Nilotic populations, such as the Masai. This is something different. Perhaps it is older gene flow back into Africa, or, perhaps it is evidence of substantial African gene flow into Eurasia, possibly during the Pleistocene.

Map_of_Sunda_and_Sahul But big inferences were about the timing and divergence of Australian and Papuan groups. As noted in the paper Australia was not separate from New Guinea for much of the Pleistocene. They were one continent, Sahul. But the divergence between modern Australians and Papuans seems to predate the rising of the sea levels by tens of thousands of years. Part of this is probably some level of ecological isolation, as the highlands of New Guinea would always have been very distinct from the much drier Australian landmass. But I suspect that part of is that there was a lot of ancient structure in Sahul. The existence of two major lineages is probably simply a function of the fact that meta-population dynamics in humans are subject to a lot of local extinction events, and most of the deeply diverged lineages are gone.

Modern Australians seem to date from a common population which may have arisen around the Last Glacial Maximum. This comports with the model above. Basically, a lot of the other groups in the broader family of Australian populations probably went extinct for various reasons. This means ancient DNA from Australia which is substantially old enough will be from highly diverged lineages with no modern descendants. Think of the ancient samples from Siberia and Romania which seem to have had minimal impact on the modern Eurasian populations.

 
• Category: Science • Tags: Australians 
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  1. Razib,

    A somewhat unrelated question about the native Australian population: I believe that it is undisputed that they possess exceptional tracking and others skills for surviving in desert conditions. Is it known to what extent these skills are “learned” vs. “inherited”? In other words, if I had been adopted as an infant by aboriginals, would I now have these same skills?

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  2. terryt says:

    “But the divergence between modern Australians and Papuans seems to predate the rising of the sea levels by tens of thousands of years.”

    For a number of years now I have suspected that land now below sea level in SE Asia was not exactly dry land, but heavily forested swamp. Basically impassable to humans, or at least undesirable habitat. That holds for the land between Australia and New Guinea along with the stretch between Borneo and the rest of island SE Asia. The reason I think this is that it explains the distribution of haploid genes through the region.

    “The existence of two major lineages is probably simply a function of the fact that meta-population dynamics in humans are subject to a lot of local extinction events, and most of the deeply diverged lineages are gone”.

    That is possible, even likely to some extent. But with mt-DNA, for example, we find basal N haplotypes in Australia but none in New Guinea. And the New Guinea R-derived mt-DNA almost certainly is immigrant in the form of a fundamentally Australian P and Philippines B4a. The distinction is even more obvious with Y-DNA. There is no basal Y-DNA C1b2 in New Guinea yet it forms a basal branch in Australia (C1b2b). New Guinea C1b2 is derived from southern Wallacean C1b2a, in fact fundamentally just one branch within that: C1b2a1c. On the other hand the main Australian Y-DNA K (K2b1a1) is a single branch within a diverse New Guinea/Melanesian group, K2b1a.

    The distribution of Y-DNA haplotype in island SE Asia suggests C arrived at a time when Borneo was connected to Java/Bali/Sumatra but K spread through the latter islands when they were connected but had to cross the sea to reach Borneo, which it reached at the same time as it reached the Philippines, the remainder of Wallacea and New Guinea.

    “Is it known to what extent these skills are “learned” vs. “inherited”?”

    Extremely doubtful it is genetically inherited. That is the sort of thing that is learned.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Difference maker
    While assuming you are correct and have done good work about the ancient environment and migration,

    "Learned" vs "inherited"

    Aptitude is, quite naturally, inherited
  3. “Is it known to what extent these skills are “learned” vs. “inherited”?”

    All Aboriginal trackers are men, and not all Aboriginal men have the ability to track, only the occasional person. So it seems it is a learned skill, but with (at least one) genetically inherited prerequisite.

    It is a matter of medical record and common knowledge among medical eye specialists that, in the absence of eye disease (trachoma occurs at high frequency among Aboriginal populations, probably due to infection spread by flies, which are ubiquitous in high numbers and an absolute curse in Australia), Aboriginal people have exceptional eyesight. It is not just a bit better than most other humans, it is seven times better. An Aboriginal person can discern with the naked eye something on the horizon that a person of European ancestry needs binoculars to see. No big deal is made about this among the medical profession because they all know it, and it is not in dispute.

    Greg Cochran has commented that Central Asians also have better than normal eyesight, but not as good as Aboriginal people. I don’t know anything about that, but I do know about Aboriginal eyesight.

    I don’t know, but my thought is that exceptionally acute eyesight is one of the faculties required for tracking – a tracker needs to be able to see things that other people simply can’t see. If I’m right, that means the ability to track is partly inherited and partly learned.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Difference maker
    Can we simulate this eyesight virtually? I.e. With computer graphics
    , @iffen
    Aboriginal people have exceptional eyesight

    Has anyone tried to teach these guys how to hit a baseball?
  4. (Apology for serial posting.)

    From Wikipedia: “Australia is the only developed country to still have endemic blinding trachoma. In 2008, trachoma was found in half of Australia’s very remote communities at endemic levels.”

    Those “very remote communities” are of course Aboriginal communities.

    Read More
  5. @terryt
    "But the divergence between modern Australians and Papuans seems to predate the rising of the sea levels by tens of thousands of years."

    For a number of years now I have suspected that land now below sea level in SE Asia was not exactly dry land, but heavily forested swamp. Basically impassable to humans, or at least undesirable habitat. That holds for the land between Australia and New Guinea along with the stretch between Borneo and the rest of island SE Asia. The reason I think this is that it explains the distribution of haploid genes through the region.

    "The existence of two major lineages is probably simply a function of the fact that meta-population dynamics in humans are subject to a lot of local extinction events, and most of the deeply diverged lineages are gone".

    That is possible, even likely to some extent. But with mt-DNA, for example, we find basal N haplotypes in Australia but none in New Guinea. And the New Guinea R-derived mt-DNA almost certainly is immigrant in the form of a fundamentally Australian P and Philippines B4a. The distinction is even more obvious with Y-DNA. There is no basal Y-DNA C1b2 in New Guinea yet it forms a basal branch in Australia (C1b2b). New Guinea C1b2 is derived from southern Wallacean C1b2a, in fact fundamentally just one branch within that: C1b2a1c. On the other hand the main Australian Y-DNA K (K2b1a1) is a single branch within a diverse New Guinea/Melanesian group, K2b1a.

    The distribution of Y-DNA haplotype in island SE Asia suggests C arrived at a time when Borneo was connected to Java/Bali/Sumatra but K spread through the latter islands when they were connected but had to cross the sea to reach Borneo, which it reached at the same time as it reached the Philippines, the remainder of Wallacea and New Guinea.

    "Is it known to what extent these skills are “learned” vs. “inherited”?"

    Extremely doubtful it is genetically inherited. That is the sort of thing that is learned.

    While assuming you are correct and have done good work about the ancient environment and migration,

    “Learned” vs “inherited”

    Aptitude is, quite naturally, inherited

    Read More
  6. @John Massey
    “Is it known to what extent these skills are “learned” vs. “inherited”?”

    All Aboriginal trackers are men, and not all Aboriginal men have the ability to track, only the occasional person. So it seems it is a learned skill, but with (at least one) genetically inherited prerequisite.

    It is a matter of medical record and common knowledge among medical eye specialists that, in the absence of eye disease (trachoma occurs at high frequency among Aboriginal populations, probably due to infection spread by flies, which are ubiquitous in high numbers and an absolute curse in Australia), Aboriginal people have exceptional eyesight. It is not just a bit better than most other humans, it is seven times better. An Aboriginal person can discern with the naked eye something on the horizon that a person of European ancestry needs binoculars to see. No big deal is made about this among the medical profession because they all know it, and it is not in dispute.

    Greg Cochran has commented that Central Asians also have better than normal eyesight, but not as good as Aboriginal people. I don't know anything about that, but I do know about Aboriginal eyesight.

    I don't know, but my thought is that exceptionally acute eyesight is one of the faculties required for tracking - a tracker needs to be able to see things that other people simply can't see. If I'm right, that means the ability to track is partly inherited and partly learned.

    Can we simulate this eyesight virtually? I.e. With computer graphics

    Read More
  7. I don’t see why not. But it seems that more goes into being a good tracker than just exceptionally good eyesight. Aboriginal people also appear to have enhanced visual-spacial awareness and memory, but this is harder to test than finding someone who can read the bottom line of a simple eyesight test chart without any difficulty. It is not clear how much of this spacial awareness stuff is real and how much is just magical thinking.

    I have never heard of an Aboriginal tracker volunteering to explain how he does what he does; I’m not sure they could verbalise it clearly even if they were willing to try, and I think they would have a lot of resistance to even talking about it. I would imagine there would be a lot of somewhat incoherent rambling about how they know their ‘country’, etc.

    There have been some notable tracking successes, where a tracker will find e.g. a lost child in the bush really quickly, just go straight to them like an arrow, where conventional police searches have drawn a blank, and other cases where they bumble around in the bush for weeks and find nothing. Different people, different ‘country’, differing levels of ability, different circumstances. Who knows? In a case where the police have drawn a total blank and time is of the essence before a lost person dies of thirst or exposure, there is no harm in calling in a tracker, if there is one available in the area who knows the ‘country’. Sometimes it works like magic, other times it doesn’t work at all.

    Writing an algorithm for it would be the really hard part.

    It is not at all evident to me that a legendary tracker has a clear, logically thought through understanding of how he does what he does; not in terms we would understand anyway. Plus it is probably regarded as part of ‘sacred men’s business’ that doesn’t get talked about.

    I once bumped into a group of middle aged Aboriginal women at about 3.00pm on a very hot summer day, like 40 degrees Celsius. They were from a remote community and were visiting the city I lived in to attend some missionary religious gathering. To be polite, I stopped to talk to them, and to be polite they had engaged me in small talk. They said they had been into the central business district of the city, had a look around, went up in an elevator in a high rise building (which they clearly did not enjoy – this building was fully 7 storeys high) and, uncomfortable in that environment, they had returned and were now just resting. I asked them how they had got into town and back. They said they had just walked there in the morning (no map required, they just knew the general direction and headed for it), looked around and walked back again in the afternoon. We were 7.5 miles as the crow flies away from where they had walked to, so they had walked more than 15 miles, on a day that most people would find it very uncomfortable just to be out in the sun, plus whatever walking around they had done in town. When I expressed surprise that they had comfortably walked that distance and back again on such a hot day, they just looked at me the way I imagine Terence Tao would look at some idiot who couldn’t grasp his obsession with prime numbers, or whatever. To them, no explanation was needed for perfectly normal behaviour.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Karl Zimmerman
    I know I read recently (perhaps in Joe Henrich's new book) that the area of our brain used for reading was co-opted, with the original use being tracking. It makes sense, because learning to spot tiny differences in letters is in some ways analogous to spotting tinyou changes in the environment. Apparently literacy reduces the natural tracking ability to some extent. This could explain essentially all of the aboriginal tracking advantage, unless you're arguing they're better than other hunter gatherers like the San.
  8. iffen says:
    @John Massey
    “Is it known to what extent these skills are “learned” vs. “inherited”?”

    All Aboriginal trackers are men, and not all Aboriginal men have the ability to track, only the occasional person. So it seems it is a learned skill, but with (at least one) genetically inherited prerequisite.

    It is a matter of medical record and common knowledge among medical eye specialists that, in the absence of eye disease (trachoma occurs at high frequency among Aboriginal populations, probably due to infection spread by flies, which are ubiquitous in high numbers and an absolute curse in Australia), Aboriginal people have exceptional eyesight. It is not just a bit better than most other humans, it is seven times better. An Aboriginal person can discern with the naked eye something on the horizon that a person of European ancestry needs binoculars to see. No big deal is made about this among the medical profession because they all know it, and it is not in dispute.

    Greg Cochran has commented that Central Asians also have better than normal eyesight, but not as good as Aboriginal people. I don't know anything about that, but I do know about Aboriginal eyesight.

    I don't know, but my thought is that exceptionally acute eyesight is one of the faculties required for tracking - a tracker needs to be able to see things that other people simply can't see. If I'm right, that means the ability to track is partly inherited and partly learned.

    Aboriginal people have exceptional eyesight

    Has anyone tried to teach these guys how to hit a baseball?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anon
    They are exceptionally good at sports. See Aussie Rules Footy, one of the most exciting ball games to watch anywhere. few of them play cricket but about a century ago an all aboriginal team toured England where they enjoyed beating the (then considered unbeatable) English teams time and time again.

    They are also good at fighting, the bare knuckles kind, despite being generally quite skinny people.

    I once broke down near Marble Bar (middle of nowhere) in intense heat on a deplorable "road". Engine mounts were stuffed. Along came an aboriginal guy in a truck, he stopped and ingeneously made an intricate hammock for the engine out of multiple strands of rope enabling me to make it to the next town (a gas station and a pub).

    When we fixed the car a fellow Englishman asked if there was anywhere we could get a cup of tea. The response was, "This is Australia, mate. We drink beer here. Over there".

  9. @John Massey
    I don't see why not. But it seems that more goes into being a good tracker than just exceptionally good eyesight. Aboriginal people also appear to have enhanced visual-spacial awareness and memory, but this is harder to test than finding someone who can read the bottom line of a simple eyesight test chart without any difficulty. It is not clear how much of this spacial awareness stuff is real and how much is just magical thinking.

    I have never heard of an Aboriginal tracker volunteering to explain how he does what he does; I'm not sure they could verbalise it clearly even if they were willing to try, and I think they would have a lot of resistance to even talking about it. I would imagine there would be a lot of somewhat incoherent rambling about how they know their 'country', etc.

    There have been some notable tracking successes, where a tracker will find e.g. a lost child in the bush really quickly, just go straight to them like an arrow, where conventional police searches have drawn a blank, and other cases where they bumble around in the bush for weeks and find nothing. Different people, different 'country', differing levels of ability, different circumstances. Who knows? In a case where the police have drawn a total blank and time is of the essence before a lost person dies of thirst or exposure, there is no harm in calling in a tracker, if there is one available in the area who knows the 'country'. Sometimes it works like magic, other times it doesn't work at all.

    Writing an algorithm for it would be the really hard part.

    It is not at all evident to me that a legendary tracker has a clear, logically thought through understanding of how he does what he does; not in terms we would understand anyway. Plus it is probably regarded as part of 'sacred men's business' that doesn't get talked about.

    I once bumped into a group of middle aged Aboriginal women at about 3.00pm on a very hot summer day, like 40 degrees Celsius. They were from a remote community and were visiting the city I lived in to attend some missionary religious gathering. To be polite, I stopped to talk to them, and to be polite they had engaged me in small talk. They said they had been into the central business district of the city, had a look around, went up in an elevator in a high rise building (which they clearly did not enjoy - this building was fully 7 storeys high) and, uncomfortable in that environment, they had returned and were now just resting. I asked them how they had got into town and back. They said they had just walked there in the morning (no map required, they just knew the general direction and headed for it), looked around and walked back again in the afternoon. We were 7.5 miles as the crow flies away from where they had walked to, so they had walked more than 15 miles, on a day that most people would find it very uncomfortable just to be out in the sun, plus whatever walking around they had done in town. When I expressed surprise that they had comfortably walked that distance and back again on such a hot day, they just looked at me the way I imagine Terence Tao would look at some idiot who couldn't grasp his obsession with prime numbers, or whatever. To them, no explanation was needed for perfectly normal behaviour.

    I know I read recently (perhaps in Joe Henrich’s new book) that the area of our brain used for reading was co-opted, with the original use being tracking. It makes sense, because learning to spot tiny differences in letters is in some ways analogous to spotting tinyou changes in the environment. Apparently literacy reduces the natural tracking ability to some extent. This could explain essentially all of the aboriginal tracking advantage, unless you’re arguing they’re better than other hunter gatherers like the San.

    Read More
    • Replies: @John Massey
    I don't know anything about San eyesight. I know San HGs are animal trackers, but don't know how they would stack up against the best Australian Aboriginal trackers, especially trackers tracking humans in vegetated and wooded areas. Australian Aboriginal women can track a perentie in the desert, but then so can I.

    The literacy argument is interesting, but learning to read doesn't reduce the exceptional eyesight of Aboriginal people. I would guess that most if not all of the trackers can read, at least at a basic level, which doesn't seem to have reduced their tracking ability, but I don't see a way to test that. They have to go to school, it's compulsory up to a certain level. I'm skeptical, it sounds a bit like a 'just so' story to me and not falsifiable. If Joe Henrick knows better, it would be of interest to know what he knows and how. If it's just an unfalsifiable theory, I'm definitely skeptical.
  10. Not that I know of, but baseball is definitely a minority sport in Australia. They play cricket, but are much more enthusiastic about playing Australian football, in which they are over-represented at the elite level. Australian football is thought to have been developed from an indigenous ball game called Marngrook that Aboriginal people played in the western part of the state of Victoria. (I digress a bit, but one of the current outstanding stars of Australian football is a giant Fijian called Nic Naitanui. Look him up on YouTube – he’s quite a revelation. I think he could have gone really well in the NBA, but he had to choose between basketball and football, and chose football.)

    I had the thought that they should use them as line judges in important tennis matches like the US Open, Australian Open, Wimbledon and Roland Garros. They could hardly do worse on line calls than the people they currently use, and could conceivably do very much better.

    In the military, they are used in coastal watch teams guarding the northern coastline of Australia, partly because they can stand the climate, partly because they are adept at living off the land and are not discomforted by spending long periods of time out in remote areas, and partly because of their eyesight. They’ll see an Indonesian fishing boat or people smuggler’s boat sneaking into Australian territorial waters long before a white guy will see it.

    Read More
    • Replies: @iffen
    I was keying on the eyesight prowess. Supposedly better than average eyesight can give a baseball hitter a leg up. Left eye dominant for a left handed hitter, being able to see the stitches and rotation of the ball sooner, etc.
  11. @Karl Zimmerman
    I know I read recently (perhaps in Joe Henrich's new book) that the area of our brain used for reading was co-opted, with the original use being tracking. It makes sense, because learning to spot tiny differences in letters is in some ways analogous to spotting tinyou changes in the environment. Apparently literacy reduces the natural tracking ability to some extent. This could explain essentially all of the aboriginal tracking advantage, unless you're arguing they're better than other hunter gatherers like the San.

    I don’t know anything about San eyesight. I know San HGs are animal trackers, but don’t know how they would stack up against the best Australian Aboriginal trackers, especially trackers tracking humans in vegetated and wooded areas. Australian Aboriginal women can track a perentie in the desert, but then so can I.

    The literacy argument is interesting, but learning to read doesn’t reduce the exceptional eyesight of Aboriginal people. I would guess that most if not all of the trackers can read, at least at a basic level, which doesn’t seem to have reduced their tracking ability, but I don’t see a way to test that. They have to go to school, it’s compulsory up to a certain level. I’m skeptical, it sounds a bit like a ‘just so’ story to me and not falsifiable. If Joe Henrick knows better, it would be of interest to know what he knows and how. If it’s just an unfalsifiable theory, I’m definitely skeptical.

    Read More
  12. iffen says:
    @John Massey
    Not that I know of, but baseball is definitely a minority sport in Australia. They play cricket, but are much more enthusiastic about playing Australian football, in which they are over-represented at the elite level. Australian football is thought to have been developed from an indigenous ball game called Marngrook that Aboriginal people played in the western part of the state of Victoria. (I digress a bit, but one of the current outstanding stars of Australian football is a giant Fijian called Nic Naitanui. Look him up on YouTube - he's quite a revelation. I think he could have gone really well in the NBA, but he had to choose between basketball and football, and chose football.)

    I had the thought that they should use them as line judges in important tennis matches like the US Open, Australian Open, Wimbledon and Roland Garros. They could hardly do worse on line calls than the people they currently use, and could conceivably do very much better.

    In the military, they are used in coastal watch teams guarding the northern coastline of Australia, partly because they can stand the climate, partly because they are adept at living off the land and are not discomforted by spending long periods of time out in remote areas, and partly because of their eyesight. They'll see an Indonesian fishing boat or people smuggler's boat sneaking into Australian territorial waters long before a white guy will see it.

    I was keying on the eyesight prowess. Supposedly better than average eyesight can give a baseball hitter a leg up. Left eye dominant for a left handed hitter, being able to see the stitches and rotation of the ball sooner, etc.

    Read More
    • Replies: @John Massey
    Yes, I got that, plus they have quick reactions. I think it would work, but they may lack the power to regularly knock the ball out of the park.
  13. @iffen
    I was keying on the eyesight prowess. Supposedly better than average eyesight can give a baseball hitter a leg up. Left eye dominant for a left handed hitter, being able to see the stitches and rotation of the ball sooner, etc.

    Yes, I got that, plus they have quick reactions. I think it would work, but they may lack the power to regularly knock the ball out of the park.

    Read More
  14. Anon says: • Disclaimer
    @iffen
    Aboriginal people have exceptional eyesight

    Has anyone tried to teach these guys how to hit a baseball?

    They are exceptionally good at sports. See Aussie Rules Footy, one of the most exciting ball games to watch anywhere. few of them play cricket but about a century ago an all aboriginal team toured England where they enjoyed beating the (then considered unbeatable) English teams time and time again.

    They are also good at fighting, the bare knuckles kind, despite being generally quite skinny people.

    I once broke down near Marble Bar (middle of nowhere) in intense heat on a deplorable “road”. Engine mounts were stuffed. Along came an aboriginal guy in a truck, he stopped and ingeneously made an intricate hammock for the engine out of multiple strands of rope enabling me to make it to the next town (a gas station and a pub).

    When we fixed the car a fellow Englishman asked if there was anywhere we could get a cup of tea. The response was, “This is Australia, mate. We drink beer here. Over there”.

    Read More

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