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 Entire ArchiveHuman Evolution Items

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When did humans first become human? The answer is far from simple, because the question assumes that sometime in the past, humans achieved modernity and were locked within an evolutionary loophole where natural selection no longer applies. Despite the absurdity of this scenario, and in stark contrast to empirical data, it is widely believed that... Read More
According to a new paper in Nature, Ancient gene flow from early modern humans into Eastern Neanderthals, a basal population of anatomically modern humans mixed with eastern Neanderthal populations on the order of ~100,000 years ago. The figure above is from the paper, and shows (on the left) the proportions and direction of gene flow... Read More
In a recent post, Fred Reed asks: The short answer is that any killing, for whatever reason, increases the likelihood of killing for other reasons. One exception is self-defence, but that's not done for pleasure. Another exception is capital punishment, but that, too, is not done for pleasure. More to the point, no single citizen... Read More
\"FranzBoas\". Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
The anthropologist Franz Boas is remembered for moving the social sciences away from genetic determinism and toward environmental determinism. In reality, he felt that genes do contribute substantially to mental and behavioral differences ... and not just between individuals. Most of us identify with certain great teachers of the past: Christ, Marx, Freud … Though... Read More
Citation: Human paternal and maternal demographic histories: insights from high-resolution Y chromosome and mtDNA sequences
Sebastian Lippold, Hongyang Xu, Albert Ko, Mingkun Li, Gabriel Renaud, Anne Butthof, Roland Schroeder, Mark Stoneking
bioRxivdoi: 10.1101/001792
A new paper posted on bioArxiv surveys Y chromosomal and mtDNA diversity using over 600 males from the HGDP data set. Their goal is to compare differences in variation and long term demography between the two sexes. This is not an unimportant topic, sex specific demographics are relevant to mating patterns, and effective population size... Read More
A new paper in Nature fleshes out some details about the relationships between Denisovans, Neanderthals, and modern humans, as well as possible others. I believe the figure above gives the flavor of the general findings in terms of phylogenetics, though if you want more I recommend Carl Zimmer in The New York Times. It has... Read More
Well, the paper is finally out, New insights into the Tyrolean Iceman’s origin and phenotype as inferred by whole-genome sequencing. In case you don't know, Ötzi the Iceman died 5,300 years ago in the alpine region bordering Austria and Italy. His seems to have been killed. And due to various coincidences his body was also... Read More
In my post below I quoted my interview L. L. Cavalli-Sforza because I think it gets to the heart of some confusions which have emerged since the finding that most variation on any given locus is found within populations, rather than between them. The standard figure is that 85% of genetic variance is within continental... Read More
John Hawks illustrates what can be gained at the intersection of old data and analysis and new knowledge, Quote: Boyd on New World pigmentation clines: Looking at what was said about pigmentation generations ago is of interest because it's a trait which in many ways we have pegged. See Molecular genetics of human pigmentation diversity.... Read More
"...the occupation of Australia/New Guinea is momentous in that it demanded watercraft and provides by far the earliest evidence of their use in history. Not until about 30,000 years later (13,000 years ago) is there strong evidence of watercraft anyway else in the world, from the Mediterranean. Initially, archaeologists considered the possibility that the colonization... Read More
It is often assumed that black Africans, out of all human populations, most closely resemble our common ancestral state. After all, is not Africa the cradle of humanity? And did not modern humans spread ‘out of Africa’ some 50,000 or so years ago? Indeed, we are all offspring of Africa. What is less true is... Read More