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Back in my April 11, 2018 Taki’s Magazine column “Ghosts of Africa,” I wrote about a draft scientific paper entitled “Recovering signals of ghost archaic admixture in the genomes of present-day Africans,” by Arun Durvasula and Sriram Sankararaman. Today it has finally been officially published in Science.

While introgression from Neanderthals and Denisovans has been documented in modern humans outside Africa, the contribution of archaic hominins to the genetic variation of present-day Africans remains poorly understood. We provide complementary lines of evidence for archaic introgression into four West African populations. Our analyses of site frequency spectra indicate that these populations derive 2 to 19% of their genetic ancestry from an archaic population that diverged before the split of Neanderthals and modern humans. Using a method that can identify segments of archaic ancestry without the need for reference archaic genomes, we built genome-wide maps of archaic ancestry in the Yoruba and the Mende populations. Analyses of these maps reveal segments of archaic ancestry at high frequency in these populations that represent potential targets of adaptive introgression. Our results reveal the substantial contribution of archaic ancestry in shaping the gene pool of present-day West African populations.

A ghost population is one for which we don’t have fossils yet, but for which we can impute its existence from later DNA. While East Africa has been the home to many famous fossils, the more humid parts of Africa are generally short of fossils.

In other news, researchers argue that most modern sub-Saharan Africans do actually have a fraction of one percent of their DNA tracing back to Neanderthals. Previously, it had appeared that sub-Saharans had virtually no Neanderthal DNA.

 
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  1. Anon[317] • Disclaimer says:

    This was conclusively proven years ago in Richard Fuerle’s magnum opus “Erectus Walks Amongst Us”:

    https://web.archive.org/web/20100615203223/http://erectuswalksamongst.us/

    • Replies: @Dan Hayes
  2. Sankararaman

    Does this surname refer to a grower of decaffeinated coffee?

  3. Veracitor says:

    OT: earlier today, Steve, you forwarded a Twitter message claiming armies with officers and men of different ethnicity don’t fight well. I just have to point out the exception: the famed Gurkha regiments from Nepal. (Insert obligatory reference to The Man Who Would Be King here, even though Huston got an Indian actor to portray Billy Fish.)

  4. @Veracitor

    Gurkhas are apparently of Tibetan ancestry.

    https://www.nature.com/articles/srep32494

    Neighbor Joining (NJ) tree and principal component analysis (PCA) plot clustered the Gorkhas with those of Nepal and other Tibeto-Burman population while lowlander Indian population formed separate cluster substantiating the closeness of the Gorkhas with the Tibeto-Burman linguistic phyla.

    Dalai Lama: Refugees should return to own homelands.

    Wise man.

    • Replies: @JohnPlywood
  5. @JohnnyWalker123

    Gorkhas are a multiracial nationality. Your study only used Tibeto-Burman speaking Gorkhas:

    The present study with autosomal STR markers is the first study conducted on Tibeto-Burman speaking Gorkhas from the Indian Armed Forces and substantiates the genetic affinity of the Gorkhas with the Tibeto-Burman linguistic phyla.

    Other Gorkhas (indeed, the most populous ethnicities in Nepal, the Chhetri and Thakur) speak Indo-Aryan languages and are Caucasoid.

    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s40798-017-0085-0

    Gorkhas (also spelled as Gurkhas Footnote1) are a sub-mountainous population of the Himalayan region (Nepal) and make excellent soldiers. During the Anglo-Nepalese war of 1814–1816, the British were greatly impressed by the bravery of the Nepalese soldiers and started recruiting Nepalese to the Gurkha regiments of the British Indian Army [1].

    The soldiers in the British army were mainly recruited from the “true Gorkha martial tribes” of Gurung, Magar, Rai, Limbu, Thakur, Chhetri and Sunawar [2]; the Indian Army continues to recruit from the same brigade of Gorkhas. 

    Gurungs, Magars, Rais, Limbus, Tamangs and Sherpas are associated with Tibeto-Burmese cultural traditions and physical features conventionally labelled as Mongoloid while Thakur (Brahmin) and Chhetri castes are associated with Aryan cultural traditions and have physical features conventionally labelled as Caucasoid [3].

  6. Anonymous[545] • Disclaimer says:

    The upshot is the ‘classic’ ‘Out of Africa Theory’ which took such a strong hold over the anthropological establishment at the turn of the millennium – which posited a universal uniform ancestry of all extant humans from a ‘single African population approximately 60,000 years ago’ – must be junked as an erroneous theory.

    From the evidence of fossil hominid remains, stretching over millennia, it was always apparent that the taxon ‘hominids’ had a very long – and very bifurcated and ramified – evolutionary history. So, simplistic answers to the ‘problem’ of human evolution can with hindsight be seen as delusionary and fallacious.

    • LOL: IHTG
    • Replies: @JohnPlywood
  7. @Anonymous

    Did you even read the paper?

    One interpretation of the recent time of introgression that we document is that archaic forms persisted in Africa until fairly recently (33).

    The introgression happened after Out of Africa, possibly as recently has 14,000 years ago. The archaic human remains that may possibly be linked to these ghost hominide (such as Iwo Eleru) are less than 40,000 years old.

    That doesn’t refute the classic Recent African Origin theory. If anything, it strengthens it (Africans and non-Africans would be even more closely related to eachother if Africans didn’t have this archaic ancestry).

    • Replies: @John Carter
  8. Dan Hayes says:
    @Anon

    In an otherwise laudatory review, Jared Taylor ruefully admitted that he had qualms about the cover of “Erectus Walks Amongst Us”.

  9. Africa is so huge, at almost 12,000,000 square miles, that we’re just beginning to know its past.

    While East Africa has been the home to many famous fossils, the more humid parts of Africa are generally short of fossils.

    This is a problem. The most livable regions are the places things are most likely to rot away. Not to mention that shorelines have risen something like 300 feet since 12,000 years ago. Coastlines were almost certainly inhabited.

  10. So sub-Saharan Africans are generally 1% Neanderthal.
    So they had slavers back then?

  11. In other news, researchers argue that most modern sub-Saharan Africans do actually have a fraction of one percent of their DNA tracing back to Neanderthals.

    Does it go the other way around? Do Neanderthals have any Sub-Saharan DNA?

  12. @JohnPlywood

    “That doesn’t refute the classic Recent African Origin theory. If anything, it strengthens it (Africans and non-Africans would be even more closely related to eachother if Africans didn’t have this archaic ancestry).”

    Uh, no. This blows OoA out of the water.

    The only model compatible with the pattern of admixture is eurasian origin. An original founding population of anatomically modern humans developed in Eurasia, then spread to Africa and Australia. The ones who stayed in Eurasia mixed with Neanderthals (and Denisovans, in Asia); the ones who went into Micronesia mixed with Denisovans; and the ones who migrated to Africa had sex with monkeys.

  13. Lurker says:
    @Veracitor

    Billy Fish was not played by an Indian. The actor is of Jordanian extraction.

    Nadim Sawalha.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nadim_Sawalha

    He’s sometimes described as an Arab but I don’t know if this is true since he was apparently raised Christian, in other words perhaps the descendant of Byzantine types of some kind?

    His lovely (half-English) actress daughter Julia:

    In these woke times she has never claimed to be an oppressed poc, and always plays white presenting characters. Saffie in Absolutely Fabulous for example.

    • Replies: @JohnPlywood
  14. @Lurker

    Lovely? It looks like a crackhead.

    • Disagree: Lockean Proviso, Lurker
  15. songbird says:

    diverged before the split of Neanderthals and modern humans.

    Sounds pretty archaic, just like I expected.

    But what was that business about “ghost modern?” Is that in the same paper, or was that a different group?

    Any estimate for when the ghosts and moderns admixed?

    • Replies: @JohnPlywood
  16. “So when we were doing ‘Africa’ I set up a bass drum, snare drum and a hi-hat, and Lenny Castro set up right in front of me with a conga. We looked at each other and just started playing the basic groove. […] The backbeat is on three, so it’s a half-time feel, and it’s sixteenth notes on the hi-hat…. We played for five minutes on tape, no click, no nothing. We just played. And I was singing the bass line for ‘Africa’ in my mind, so we had a relative tempo. Lenny and I went into the booth and listened back to the five minutes of that same boring pattern. We picked out the best two bars that we thought were grooving, and we marked those two bars on tape…. Maybe it would have taken two minutes to program that in the Linn, and it took about half an hour to do this. But a Linn machine doesn’t feel like that!” – Jeff Porcaro

  17. @songbird

    Ghost modern is the highly evolved population of archaic humans with which modern Africans interbred with ca. 20,000 years ago.

    • Replies: @songbird
  18. songbird says:
    @JohnPlywood

    Thanks.

    The BBC seems to be reporting an admixture event of around 43,000 years ago, which is earlier than I thought.

    I was confused because I was wondering exactly how they came up with the term “ghost modern.” My impression – purely speculative – was that they used differences in DNA to calculate a date of divergence which was around 200,000-250,000 years ago, meaning that they were on the fuzzy edge of being anatomically modern humans, based on the math but not necessarily on comparative anatomy.

    But this paper seems to suggest that the divergence happened much earlier, before the split with Neanderthals, so it was hard to square that with my theory. Though, since the break was so early, I guess that it makes sense to use two terms.

  19. Congratulations. This is a solid argument for equality: Both Africans and Europeans have Neanderthal blood. You are a great crusader for social justice.

  20. Andy says:

    To even an armchair anthropologist it is obvious that East Africans have some non-trivial non-subsaharan African admixture. And certainly many of the languages are non-Bantu (for instance Somali, Amharic belong to the Afroasiatic language family, the same as Arabic and Hebrew, though this comes from a much later event than those found in the ghost archaic admixture)

  21. @Veracitor

    The German general Von Lettow-Vorbeck and his African riflemen defeated all comers in East Africa during WW I.

    Von Lettow Vorbeck’s unit kept fighting until after the Armistice of November 1918.

    More recently, the 32 Battalion of the South African Defence Force with white officers and black soldiers was regarded as an elite unit which did a disproportionate amount of fighting during the South African border campaigns.

  22. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:

    More recently, the 32 Battalion of the South African Defence Force with white officers and black soldiers was regarded as an elite unit which did a disproportionate amount of fighting during the South African border campaigns.

    WN/ self described NS author and commentator Eric Thomson stated that in Rhodesia the best units were white troops with white officers, but the second best were black troops with white officers. Both were highly competent. But mixed race units and individuals of mixed heritage he had little regard for operationally.

    I’m inclined to take Thomson’s observations seriously.

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