African-American ancestry

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Steve Sailer reports on the search for the genetic ancestors of African-Americans. An interesting snippet:

He told UPI that he found, “My female line goes back to Northern Nigeria, the land of the Hausa tribe. I then went to Nigeria and talked to people and learned a lot about the Hausa’s culture and tradition. That gave me sense about who I am. In a way, it grounded me.”

“Two people there looked like cousins I have — they even behaved like them!” Kittles laughed. [my emphasis -r]

The human mind is great at making connections and the geneticist in question might not have noticed the similarity of these Hausa to his cousins in physique & personality if he did not already know he had a blood tie to these people-even a distant one. On the other hand-we are often likely to associate mannerisms & behavior to environmental influences, but we should not neglect the importance of genetics on our behavioral patterns, especially when lower level instincts help form higher complexity emergent tendencies.

9 Comments

  1. I have a question if anybody would like to take a stab at it: Would the Iceman (~5000 yrs old) be distinguishable from modern humans? How far back in time would you have to go to find people who looked different from modern humans?

  2. “The body of “Otzi the Iceman” was discovered by hikers in 1991 as ice melted in the Schnalstal glacier, high in the Italian Alps.”

    I don´t suppose he would have looked different from modern day Europeans. Maybe his genotype will reveal peculiar characteristics. Remember we do have records, sculptures and paintings of his southern coevals (Egyptians, Summerians, etc)!And those ancient peoples were modern in every way.
    As for humans who look different from modern humans, we don´t necessarily have to look back in time: check out modern Pygmies and maybe Bushmen and Australian Aborigines! Some scholars have termed them “archaic”.Of course, being contemporary to “mainstream” humans and fully “sapiens” might rule them out… You would have to look back in time over 25,000 or 30,000 years to find Neanderthals and archaic Homines Sapientes.

  3. By the way, the u.P.I. article about the search for african ancestry also reported the same individual had been found German ancestry through his paternal side…. No comments on going to Germany and sympathising with the locals…

  4. the assumption i’m assuming is that the german ancestor inserted his DNA via rape to be graphically clinical about it. as far as differences between “moderns” and “archaics,” that is a tricky question, and you can write a book on it (people have).

    the first “modern looking” humans were probably extent in southern/eastern africa 100,000 years ago, but the cultural explosion that we associate with h. sapiens did not really occur until around 35,000 years ago, when “we” overran europe and displaced neandertals. though the replacement thesis has not be “proven,” i think even multiregionalists will have concede that the neandertal contribution is probably less than that of the newcomers from the middle east (if there was intermixing).

    henry harpending points out that australian aborigines did not bring with them “modern” technology that we associate with our humanity. similarly, as i said there were “modern” looking people in africa for tens of thousands of years before they seem to have exploded out to northern eurasia….

    additionally, as has been noted, human phenotype is pretty diverse. the tall nilotic ppl and short twa pygmies live rather close to each other geographically.

  5. “I don´t suppose he would have looked different from modern day Europeans”

    Yes, he just has 5.000 years and in that time the Europeans looks very similar to their current descendants.

    Otzi’s photos:

    http://majimena.hp.infoseek.co.jp/oleada/images/otzi2.jpg

    http://majimena.hp.infoseek.co.jp/oleada/images/otzi3.jpg

    http://majimena.hp.infoseek.co.jp/oleada/images/otzi4.jpg

    http://majimena.hp.infoseek.co.jp/oleada/images/otzi.jpg

  6. “The body of “Otzi the Iceman” was discovered by hikers in 1991 as ice melted in the Schnalstal glacier, high in the Italian Alps.”

    I don´t suppose he would have looked different from modern day Europeans. Maybe his genotype will reveal peculiar characteristics. Remember we do have records, sculptures and paintings of his southern coevals (Egyptians, Summerians, etc)!And those ancient peoples were modern in every way.
    As for humans who look different from modern humans, we don´t necessarily have to look back in time: check out modern Pygmies and maybe Bushmen and Australian Aborigines!
    —————————-
    Aren’t all these groups modern humans just by virtue of being in existence today ? How can they be “different from modern humans” ?
    I think you want to point out that these groups are very distinct from most humans and that they branched out of the common tree very early. Yet which one of those groups has preserved the appearance of archaic humans ? It’s hard to say because australian aborigenes, pygmies, bushmen and andamanese islanders (another interesting group using the same criteria) all look pretty different. So we still don’t know what those early east-africans looked like.
    ——————————————

    Some scholars have termed them “archaic”.Of course, being contemporary to “mainstream” humans and fully “sapiens” might rule them out… You would have to look back in time over 25,000 or 30,000 years to find Neanderthals and archaic Homines Sapientes.
    ———————————-
    Posted by Eufrenio at April 29, 2003 09:18 PM
    By the way, the u.P.I. article about the search for african ancestry also reported the same individual had been found German ancestry through his paternal side…. No comments on going to Germany and sympathising with the locals…
    ————————–
    Like most african-americans, this man is probably much more african than european. Between northern nigeria and germany, just where do you think he’d meet the more genetically similar people ? That’s going by genetics alone, but since we ‘re talking about real people living in the real world, let’s not forget other factors which might have influenced this man’s choice to focus on nigeria :
    The germans don’t have a reputation for being fond of mixed race people . Just how likely is it that his remote “cousins” in germany would make him feel part of the family or even acknowledge his existence ? Anyways, i’m not saying that germans have some kind of obligation to him (they don’t) but the man chose rationally, imho, in deciding to focus on nigeria rather than germany.
    ———————-
    Posted by Eufrenio at April 29, 2003 09:27 PM

  7. Of course, his decision to relate to Africans is rational. I am not sure, however, all African-European interbreeding ocurred throug rape. Back then, servants would be supposed to warm their masters´beds in Europe as well.It is only a general case of serfdom.
    I do not know to what degree Pygmies, Aborigines, Bushmen and the like preserved archaic traits or genes. But it is certainly worthy of study.
    I remember reading in a recent text-book that Australian Aborigines have a simpler brain cortex.

  8. From what I’ve read, pygmies are very small but otherwise genetically not too unusual, whereas Bushmen, and I think Australians aborigines, have many peculiar traits. As I remember, the aborigines separated from the rest in the pre-neolithic period ~40000 years ago, and were culturally the most distinctive people (since all other contemporary and recent hunter-gatherers were symbiotic with neolithic cultures).

  9. I found this on the “Human races” site:

    “(…) results indicate that anatomically modern humans were present in Australia before the complete fixation of the mtDNA lineage now found in all living people. Sequences from additional ancient humans may further challenge current concepts of modern human origins.”

    Allowing a couple of thousand years for humans to reach Australia, that would point to a second wave from Eurasia 35,000 yrs ago as the common origin of all other humans (“mainstream” for want of a better word). As for Bushmen, they remained too close geographically not to interbreed with this wave, both ways, crucially with those populations who ventured south into the African Continent.

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