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Selection for Height in Ancient Europe
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Screenshot - 10262015 - 05:22:41 PM Iain Matheison, first author of Eight thousand years of natural selection in Europe, has a short note up at his website, Selection on height in Europe. He concludes:

More generally, it seems strange that height is the only trait for which a robust signal of polygenic selection has been observed. It’s hard to imagine that traits like diabetes risk and lipid levels were not also under selection in this period. I think it’s mostly down to lack of power in the predictors for other traits. Possibly larger GWAS and better predictors will reveal more. Finally, most of the work in this area has focussed on Europe, since that’s where the large cohorts are. But similar dynamics must also have happened in the rest of the world and it’s only by looking at other populations that we’ll be able to understand more generally the process of human adaptation.

North Chinese are also taller than South Chinese. And there are many quantitative traits in humans. We’re living in a golden age of phylogenomic analysis of humans in particular, but at some point in the near future the lens will begin to turn back onto classical population genetic questions of the parameters which shape the nature of variation. The initial wave of enthusiasm for selection scans ~2005 seems to have abated somewhat, but I think it’s only a slight pause, as polygenic selection and “soft sweeps” come onto the radar of genomicists….

 
• Category: Science • Tags: Evolution, Genomics 
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  1. to be honest, I want to be 2 inches taller. simply because I would look better in certain clothes 🙂

  2. http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2013/07/height_and_longevity_the_research_is_clear_being_tall_is_hazardous_to_your.html

    Obviously there is limiting factor in this selection of height. No singularity. The question is whether this selection is near the end.

    • Replies: @Vijay
    "a study showing that each additional 4 inches of height increases the risk of all types of cancer by 13 percent among post-menopausal women"

    I will never click on lnks in comments evr again
  3. @AG
    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2013/07/height_and_longevity_the_research_is_clear_being_tall_is_hazardous_to_your.html

    Obviously there is limiting factor in this selection of height. No singularity. The question is whether this selection is near the end.

    “a study showing that each additional 4 inches of height increases the risk of all types of cancer by 13 percent among post-menopausal women”

    I will never click on lnks in comments evr again

  4. Height from Yamnaya ancestry seems to have one hard sell on Mathieson’s evidence because the LNBA don’t seem different in genetic height from the Early-Middle Neolithic Central European population (should be intermediate between them and Yamnaya?), and slightly lose height compared to the preceeding populations, if anything. This perhaps is just the noise of ancient samples, though, or because flow from Iberian / South European Neolithic->North-Central Europe during the Bronze Age confounds a relationship of more Yamnaya ancestry -> greater height.

    Robinson et al 2015 which Mathieson refers to had an interesting finding where genetic BMI correlates independently and inversely to height. That makes some intuitive sense if you consider that if it did not, the genetically taller populations would genetically be heavier the shorter ones.With the BMI correlation taken into account, European populations would genetically be expected to differ by about 0.2 kg, while without it, the taller ones would be 0.7 kg heavier. European populations were broadly at the same Malthusian Limit (IRC) so you might expect the taller populations to carry variants cutting bone, fat, muscle tissue density, to meet the same nutritional “budget” (poss with more disruption to that in modern times of nutritional plenitude, as you can accumulate mass through your whole life while height is very static and has a critical period).

    Apparently no similar signal of lower BMI with greater height in Yamnaya vs European farmers, so whether that’s because it is difficult to capture, or more because that is a recent effect (populations with taller genetic height from Yamnaya lost some genetic BMI more recently).

  5. Razib may I seek your indulgence for a somewhat off topic but related question in the sense that the reasoning is not very dissimilar….

    I put to JayMan, and now I put to you as probably the best qualified person I know, my speculation about that very important human variable characteristic which is the amount of sleep that individuals need to be healthy and function efficiently. My question arose out of the countless articles and broadcasts which tell us that most people are sleep deprived because they are not getting the 7.5 to 8.5 hours needed by adults.

    As it is notorious that some people have been successful in business, politics, the professions, even academe, while averaging much less than 7.5 hours sleep a night and without inevitable bad health striking early it occurs to me as obvious that the need for sleep is distributed normally, as for height or IQ. My estimate from observation would be that there might be a SD of about 50 minutes around an average of about 7.5 hours.

    Is anything known about this matter?

    It occurs to me that it is unlikely that particular individuals need the same amount of sleep for each of the several restorative or consolidating functions that sleep is apparently needed for. Thus some people may keep their brains working efficiently for 17 hours a day while their arteries or muscles are not getting the 7 hours sleep they need for longevity. Margaret Thatcher was famous for her mental stamina and need for only four hours sleep a night but her dementia in her 80s raises an obvious speculative question.

    What do you think? The pundits who speak about sleep seem to ignore the common observation that some people don’t need anything like the supposed standard sleep requirement…

  6. Ive read that Cro-Magnon men in Paleolithic Europe averaged about 6’4″ and that we’ve essentially only gone downwards from then. Yugoslavia and Northern Europe moved downward the least because they were out of the path of most of the Middle Eastern immigrants. Meanwhile, during the same time period, sub-Saharan Africans grew from less than 5 feet tall to about 6 feet tall … pygmies are the descendants of the ones who didnt blend in.

    • Replies: @notanon

    Ive read that Cro-Magnon men in Paleolithic Europe averaged about 6’4″ and that we’ve essentially only gone downwards from then.
     
    One thing with that is to compare males and females. If both males and females were bigger then that's one thing but if it was just the males then it may just be a reflection of a specific need at the time related to for example hunting, or mate competition.

    #

    Another thing with that is if they were so much bigger how did they feed?

    How did other large, very strong mammals at the time do it?

    Mammoth - tons of veggies
    Bears - eat everything - hibernate
    Big Cats - gorge on meat then sleep a lot

    I'd say gorging on meat and then sleeping a lot seems the most plausible option.
  7. @Sleep
    Ive read that Cro-Magnon men in Paleolithic Europe averaged about 6'4" and that we've essentially only gone downwards from then. Yugoslavia and Northern Europe moved downward the least because they were out of the path of most of the Middle Eastern immigrants. Meanwhile, during the same time period, sub-Saharan Africans grew from less than 5 feet tall to about 6 feet tall ... pygmies are the descendants of the ones who didnt blend in.

    Ive read that Cro-Magnon men in Paleolithic Europe averaged about 6’4″ and that we’ve essentially only gone downwards from then.

    One thing with that is to compare males and females. If both males and females were bigger then that’s one thing but if it was just the males then it may just be a reflection of a specific need at the time related to for example hunting, or mate competition.

    #

    Another thing with that is if they were so much bigger how did they feed?

    How did other large, very strong mammals at the time do it?

    Mammoth – tons of veggies
    Bears – eat everything – hibernate
    Big Cats – gorge on meat then sleep a lot

    I’d say gorging on meat and then sleeping a lot seems the most plausible option.

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