Glossary 1

Adaptive – behavior or traits that increase fitness, the likelihood of passing on alleles.
Adult – an individual who is (or was) capable of reproducing.
Allele – a variety of a gene; the particular A-C-G-T sequence of a gene.
Allen’s Rule – mammals and birds from colder climates usually have shorter and bulkier limbs than the equivalent animals from warmer climates.
Altruism – reducing individual fitness to increase inclusive fitness.
Amino acid – an organic compound that has at least one amine group (-NH2) and at least one carboxylic acid group (-COOH). They are the monomers that link
    together to form proteins.
Artifact – something made or used by long deceased humans.
Assortative mating – the tendency to mate non-randomly, typically with someone who is similar.
Atavism – the expression of an allele that had been long ago turned off; a “throwback.”
Autosomes – chromosomes other than the X and Y chromosomes.
Balanced polymorphism – a situation where the optimal percentage of each of two or more alleles of a gene in a population is greater than 0 and less than 100.
    (Wikipedia, “Balancing Selection”). See “environmental heterogeneity,” “frequency-dependant selection,” and “heterozygote advantage.”
Bergmann’s Rule – within a species, the body mass increases with latitude and colder climate.
Biogenetic Law – “Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny,” i.e., the fetal stages of an organism reveal its evolution. Formulated by Ernst Haeckel, it is now believed to
    be more accurately stated as “Ontogeny recapitulates the fetal stages of phylogeny.”
Bipedal – walking on two feet.
BP – before present, taken as the year 1950.
Bottleneck – a large reduction in population size, followed by a large increase in their numbers.
Brachiator – an animal that moves through trees by swinging from its arms.
Brow ridge – a bony ridge over the eyes that strengthens the skull and protects the eyes.
Capoid – Bushmen and the remnants of the Hottentots, who presently reside near the Cape of Africa.
Carrying capacity – the maximum biomass or number of individuals of a population that can survive in a territory.
Chromosome – a strand of DNA entwined with a histone; it is passed on to the next generation during fertilization.
Cline – a gradual change of the incidence of a trait between contiguous populations.
Coalescence – a reduction of genetic variety as one moves back in time.
Codon – three linked nucleotides that code for an amino acid.
Congoid – Africans who reside around the Congo River and Niger basins.
Copy number variant (CNV) – a difference in the number of copies of a string of DNA.
Cross-over – in a pair of chromosomes, the transfer of chunks of DNA from one chromosome to the other during the preparation of an egg or sperm.
Culture – behavior that is not inherited.
DNA – deoxynucleic acid; a large polymer made by stringing together four nucleotides. It is a carrier of hereditary information.
    Junk DNA – nuclear DNA that does not code for a gene.
    Mitochondrial DNA – DNA that is inside a mitochondrion.
    Nuclear DNA – DNA that is inside a nucleus.
    Y Chromosomal DNA – nuclear DNA that is in the Y chromosome, which males have and females do not have.
Drift – the tendency for a population that splits into two populations to become genetically different.
Egalitarian – someone who believes that all people are essentially genetically the same and therefore genetically equal; a bioegalitarian.
Environmental heterogeneity – a situation where the environment changes periodically and having a trait that is partially
    advantageous in each environment is more advantageous than having a trait that is more advantageous in one environment and less advantageous in another,
    i.e., where generalized is better than specialized.
Epicanthic fold – a fatty fold of skin over the upper portion of the eyes.
Epigenetics –the study of heritable changes in gene expression that are not due to changes in DNA.
Equilibrium – the genome a population would have in a completely stable environment after an infinite amount of time.
Erectine – having traits characteristic of Homo erectus.
Ethny – a group whose solidarity is based on common descent; a group in between blood relatives and race.
Exaptation – using a trait to do something other than what it evolved to do.
Evolutionary psychology – the study of the selection of heritable behavior.
Fitness, inclusive – the likelihood of increasing the number of copies of an individual’s alleles in the next generation.
    individual – the likelihood of increasing the number of copies of an individual’s alleles in the next generation by an individual himself reproducing.
Fixed – an allele is “fixed” in a population if everyone has it.
Frequency-dependant selection – a situation where having an allele is advantageous only if less than a certain percentage of people in the population have it, e.g.,
Founder effect – the lesser genetic diversity of a population that was founded by a sub-set of another population.
FST - the numerical genetic distance or variaance between individuals or populations.
Gause’s Law of Competitive Exclusion – two subspecies of the same species do not for long occupy the same territory.
Gene – a string of DNA that codes for one or more biologically useful molecules, usually polypeptides.
Gene pool – a population’s combined genetic heritage.
Generalized – lacking traits for functioning better in particular environments.
Genetic distance – a measurement of the extent that the genetic material of an individual or population differs from that of another individual or population.
Genetic drift – random changes in the genome of an isolated population.
Genetic similarity theory – the theory that people prefer mates, friends, etc. who are genetically similar to themselves.
Genome – the full complement of heritable genetic information in an individual or a population.
Genotype – heritable genetic information.
Germline cell – an egg or sperm, or a cell that makes eggs or sperm.
Gloger’s rule – birds and mammals that live in a humid environment are more heavily pigmented.
Gracile – having less bone and muscle; not robust.
Gyrus – (pl, gyri) the raised portions of the cerebral cortex in between sulci.
Haplogroup – a group of haplotypes.
Haplotype – a collection of alleles in a region of a single strand of a chromosome that are inherited as a unit and are the same in most members of a population.
Heterozygote – an individual who receives different alleles of a gene from his mother and father.
Heterozygote advantage – a situation where having one copy of an allele is advantageous, but having two copies is not, e.g., sickle-cell anemia.
Histones – proteins that entwine the DNA strands in chromosomes.
Hitchhiking – an increase in the frequency on an allele because it is linked to an allele that is being positively selected.
Holocene – the last 11,600 yrs.
Hominid – a bipedal primate.
Hominin – a member (living or extinct) of the genus Homo.
Hominoid – resembling or related to man.
Homo – the genus of man.
Homozygote – an individual who receives the same allele of a gene from both his mother and his father.
Human – a member of the genus Homo.
    Archaic – a member of the species Homo sapiens who is not yet anatomically modern.
    Early – a member of the genus Homo but not the species sapiens.
    Modern – a member of the sub-species Homo sapiens sapiens.
Hybrid – the offspring of two (genetically different) populations.
Introgression – the movement of an allele from one population into another population by interbreeding.
Inversion – a rearrangement of a chromosome where a segment is reversed end-to-end. An inversion occurs when a chromosome breaks and recombines in a
    different arrangement.
Kinship – kinship (f) is half the value of the coefficient of relatedness (r), f = r/2.
Last Common Ancestor (LCA) – the LCA of two individuals (or two populations) is the most recent individual (or population) that includes an ancestor of both of
    them, aka Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA).
Lewontin’s fallacy – the assumption that because individuals within a population differ in their alleles more than the average differences between races over all their
    genes, the concept of “race” is meaningless.
Lineage sorting – the loss of an allele that occurs in a population when all the individuals who have that allele fail to have any progeny. The Y chromosomes of males
    are lost when they have no sons and the mtDNA of females is lost when they have no daughters.
Locus (pl, Loci) – a particular base pair (nucleotide) in an identifiable string of DNA.
Macrohaplogroup – a group of haplogroups.
Maladaptive – behavior that reduces fitness. Melanin – a pigment that colors skin, hair, and eyes, and protects against ultraviolet rays from the sun. There are two
    primary pigments: Eumelanin – a dark brown or black pigment, and
    Phenomelanin – a red-gold pigment.
Meme – an idea that induces those who believe it to engage in behavior to induce others to believe it.
Mirror Neurons – neurons in the brain that enable a person to understand what another person is feeling and empathize with him.
Monomer – a compound that can react with itself or a different monomer to form a polymer.
Mt. Toba – a volcano located in Indonesia that exploded 73,000 ya, darkening the atmosphere and killing large numbers of humans in Europe and Asia, as well as
    other species.
Multiculturalism – the doctrine that a desirable society consists of a mixture of many different (and often conflicting) cultures, each legally equal and equally worthy.
Neoteny – the retention of childlike features (other than sexual features) into adulthood.
Neutral – having no effect; an allele is neutral if it changes no traits.
Nucleotide – a compound of phosphoric acid, a sugar (ribose for RNA and deoxyribose for DNA), and one of five bases (adenine, cytosine, thymine, and uracil
    for RNA and adenine, cytosine, thymine, and guanine for DNA).
Occipital bun – a bulge at the back of the skull, principally in Neanderthals.
Ontogeny – the developmental history of an organism from embryo to adult.
Peptide – a short string of amino acids linked together.
Phenotype – the traits expressed when genes are read.
Phylogeny – the evolutionary history of an organism.
Plasmid – circular DNA in mitochondria.
Pleistocene – the period from about 1.8 mya to about 11,600 ya.
Polymorphism – a gene having more than one allele.
Polypeptide – a string of linked peptides.
Population – a group of interbreeding individuals who have shared alleles that distinguish them from other groups; a politically correct term for race or ethny.
Population genetics – the study of the distribution and frequency of alleles in different populations and how they have changed over time.
Primate – a mammal that has five fingers, an opposable thumb, and fingernails.
Promiscuous altruism – altruism that is not limited to those who are closely genetically related to the giver; sacrificing for others without regard to increasing one’s
    own fitness.
Protein – a large polypeptide; a polymer formed from amino acids monomers.
Pseudogene – a gene that has been turned off.
Race – a group of individuals all expressing a set of independent genetically-controlled traits, where that set is not possessed by individuals in other groups of that
    species; a partly inbred extended family; a breed.
Race-denier – someone who denies the existence of biological human races.
Race-realist – someone who believes that there are racial differences that are real and significant.
Random – not predictable by any rule.
Recombination – (1) the recombining of chromosomes from the egg and the sperm after fertilization, thereby restoring the chromosome number that was halved
    during meiosis; (2) the “undoing” of a mutation by one or more subsequent mutations that restores the original condition; (3) the process in which two
    pairs of chromosome combine and exchange pieces to form hybrid chromo- somes during the formation of an egg or a sperm cell (“cross-over”).
Relatedness – the coefficient of relatedness, r, is the portion of genes that two individuals receive from their LCA; generally, r = (½)n, where “n” is the number of
    generations between two related people.
Reproductive success – placing one’s alleles in the genome of the next generation.
Retrovirus – an RNA virus that converts its RNA to DNA when it infects a cell.
    Endogenous – a retrovirus whose DNA has become part of its host’s germline.
    RNA – ribonucleic acid, a large polymer identical to DNA, except that ribose replaces deoxyribose and uracil replaces guanine.
Robust – having large bones and muscles; not gracile.
Saggital keel (or crest) – a bony ridge extending along the center of the top of the skull from the forehead back for attaching chewing muscles and strengthening the
Selection – increasing or decreasing the frequency of a trait in a population according to whether individuals who possess that trait have increased or decreased
    reproductive success.
Selection pressure – the additional reproductive success that could be achieved by increasing the frequency of an allele or combination of alleles in a population.
Selective sweep – the replacement of a group of alleles in a population when an advantageous mutation occurs and the individual with that mutation is so
    reproductively successful that not only does the new allele become common, but so do his other alleles, even though they are not more advantageous.
Selector – any factor that increases or decreases an individual’s reproductive success depending on whether or not he possesses a particular trait.
Sexual dimorphism – the extent that males differ from females, other than in genital or reproductive traits.
Simian shelf – a bony reinforcing ridge behind the lower incisors.
SNP – single nucleotide polymorphism, a single base (A, C, G, or T) difference in a string of DNA.
Sociobiology – the study of the biological basis for social behavior.
Specialized – having traits for superior functioning in particular environments.
Species – an interbreeding group of individuals who differ significantly from other interbreeding groups within the same genus.
Sub-species – a race or a classification in between species and race.
Sulcus – (pl, sulci) a groove in the cerebral cortex of the brain.
Synonymous – having a different A-C-G-T sequence, but coding for the same amino acid.
Tajima’s D – a statistic used to infer whether positive selection of an allele has occurred.
Trait – a heritable property of a living thing; a phenotype.

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1. For a technical glossary see THIS Back