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A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
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Male figurine, pottery, c. 7,000–5,000 years ago, Greece, Archaeological Museum of Heraklion. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
This is one of several findings with a common theme: the farther back in time we go, the less familiar people look. And we don't have to go very far. This fact came up in a column I wrote about the Americas. If we turn back the clock, Amerindians look more and more European, yet... Read More
Mary Magdalene, Frederick Sandys (1829-1904). Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Is the physical appearance of Europeans solely or even mainly an adaptation to climate?
Most humans have black hair, brown eyes, and brown skin. Europeans are different: their hair is also brown, flaxen, golden, or red, their eyes also blue, gray, hazel, or green, and their skin pale, almost like an albino's. This is particularly the case in northern and eastern Europeans. How did this color scheme come about?... Read More
Kostenki Man, reconstructed by Mikhail Gerasimov (1907-1970). An early European who was not yet phenotypically European.
Who were the first Europeans? We now have a better idea, thanks to a new paper about DNA from a man who lived some 38,700 to 36,200 years ago. His remains were found at Kostenki, a well-known Upper Paleolithic site in central European Russia (Seguin-Orlando et al., 2014). Kostenki Man tells us several things about... Read More
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The physical appearance of Europeans seems to result from a selection pressure that acted primarily on women and only secondarily on men. This is especially true for highly visible traits on or near the face—the focus of visual attention. I have just published a paper on "The puzzle of European hair, eye, and skin color."... Read More
T?t?roaice – Petre Iorgulescu-Yor (source). Today, the steppes north of the Black Sea lie within the European world—politically, culturally, and demographically. Not so long ago, they were home to nomads of Central Asian origin. A new study shows that Europeans underwent strong selection for white skin, non-brown eyes, and non-black hair … during historic times!... Read More
The skin color is about right. Not so sure about the eyes (source: Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)). There seems to have been a succession of changes to hair, eye, and skin color within a relatively restricted area of Europe. These changes then spread outward, the changes to eye color being apparently the earliest. Ancient... Read More
Venus of Willendorf (30,000 – 27,000 BP). Is that a special headdress … or peppercorn hair? (source: Matthias Kabel) Europeans already had blue eyes while still hunter-gatherers. This is what we’ve learned after retrieving ancient DNA from two Mesolithic individuals, one from Luxembourg, dated to 8,000 years ago, and another from Spain, dated to 7,000... Read More
When did early Europeans acquire their palette of eye colors? And their palette of hair colors? That question may soon be answered with retrieval of ancient DNA. (source: Dipoar) As the new year begins, I’m particularly interested in the following topics. When did Europeans begin to look European? It seems that this evolution took place... Read More
She looks nice in a long skirt. Source: Ted Talks The year is ending, and it’s time to take stock. Which posts interested you the most? Here are the five most popular ones, with the number of visits to each post: White skin privilege – 6923 The other slave trade – 5948 Eye color, face... Read More
Inheritance of eye color doesn’t follow a simple Mendelian model. Although the blue-eye allele (C) is less dominant than the brown-eye allele (T), CT heterozygotes aren’t necessarily brown-eyed and CC homozygotes aren’t necessarily blue-eyed. Even TT homozygotes are sometimes blue-eyed. There is also a sex difference, with women having a more diverse palette of eye... Read More
How to hyperstimulate a sex-recognition algorithm. Women have higher luminous contrast between their facial skin and their lip/eye color. This contrast effect is influenced not only by degree of lightness but also by degree of redness (source). Women are fairer in complexion because their skin has less melanin and less blood (Edwards and Duntley, 1939).... Read More
Of all humans, male and female, European women have the whitest skin and the most diverse range of hair and eye colors. Are European physical characteristics really female characteristics? (source) People of European origin have an unusually diverse palette of hair and eye colors. This diversity is commonly ascribed to their unusually white skin. Ancestral... Read More
Averaged face of blue-eyed male subjects (left). Averaged face of brown-eyed male subjects (right). Czech population. (Kleisner et al., 2010) Karel Kleisner’s team is continuing its work on eye color, face shape, and perceived personality traits: We tested whether eye color influences perception of trustworthiness. Facial photographs of 40 female and 40 male students were... Read More
No, that’s not a climatic adaptation (actress Lily Cole - source) “European skin turned pale only recently”—such was the headline in Science five years ago. The report had been presented by a postdoc, Heather Norton, at the annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (Norton & Hammer, 2007). Over the following years, I... Read More
Hair and eye color diversity is unusual in two ways. It’s confined to Europeans. And it seems to be linked to prenatal feminization. Europeans are distinguished from other humans by a diverse palette of eye and hair colors. I’ve argued that these color traits arose from intense sexual selection of women in ancestral European environments... Read More
Child making Nike shoes (source). Western business now has access to labor under conditions not seen since the days of Charles Dickens. My predictions from last year: It won’t be such a bad year. Stock markets will reach record highs and pundits will say we’ve entered a sustained boom. For many people, life will never... Read More
Although blue eyes are more recessive than brown eyes, eye color does not follow a simple recessive/dominant mode of inheritance. There is a wide range of intermediate hues. As discussed in my last post, one puzzle of human evolution is the diverse palette of European hair and eye colors. Although these two polymorphisms have largely... Read More
Averaged face of blue-eyed male subjects (left). Averaged face of brown-eyed male subjects (right). Czech population. (Kleisner et al., 2010) If sexual selection of women diversified the eye color of early Europeans, the new colors should tend to be sex-linked, since the selection targeted women more than men. There is now evidence that blue eyes... Read More
I’ve been fascinated by a puzzle of modern human evolution: the diverse palette of hair and eye colors that has developed in some populations (Frost, 2006; Frost 2008). Hair may be black, brown, flaxen, golden, or red, and eyes may be brown, blue, gray, hazel, or green. Both polymorphisms are largely confined to Europeans, especially... Read More
The human mind seems to use facial color to determine whether a person is male or female. A man has a relatively dark facial color that contrasts poorly with his lip and eye color. Conversely, a woman has a relatively light facial color that contrasts sharply with her lip and eye color (Russell, 2003; Russell,... Read More
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