Archive for December, 2007

Human ⇒ Ape?

A Human Ancestor for the Apes? Labels: Evolution

Neandertal lovin’

John Hawks, Bruce Lahn, and company have a fun paper in Trends in Genetics on the role of introgression of adaptive alleles from archaic Homo species in human evolution. The key point: [A]n allele with a 5% advantage has a 10% chance of fixation. In fact, selected alleles in an exponentially growing population have a […]

Malthus, innovation’s friend?

Since the previous post was about the tendency toward radical skepticism and subjectivism within cultural anthropology, I thought I would point to this piece in The Economist which highlights positive insights from various anthropological fields. The article emphasizes the possible role that population pressure and the quest for food might have had in spurring human […]

Get thee to the semiotics department!

Steve points me to this George Johnson piece. Regular readers of this weblog know that we have had our differences with Jared Diamond. That being said, Diamond’s ideas are clear & distinct, you can actually understand (and disagree) with what he is trying to say. A few years back when the Savage Minds weblog was […]

Virus problems with gnxp?

Received this email: It appears your website has been compromised. When visiting (as opposed to regular http) Firefox prompted me with a message that the security certificate for snakeoil.dom has expired. After some googling I found out it is likely an authentication certificate for a virus.– I didn’t have the same problem. I’m […]

Autism & yawning

Absence of contagious yawning in children with autism spectrum disorder: This study is the first to report the disturbance of contagious yawning in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Twenty-four children with ASD as well as 25 age-matched typically developing (TD) children observed video clips of either yawning or control mouth movements. Yawning video clips […]

Hairlessness, kin selection and sexual selection

Would it be possible that hairlessness and skin color evolved to allow fathers to identify their direct biological offspring, so as not to have to support another male’s genes. In many other species, when a new male/group of males takes over they kill the existing pups, so there seems to be pretty good evidence for […]

Jacques Barzun in WSJ

Jacques Barzun Turns 100.

Merry Christmas

I’m sure many of you will be busy getting to your “destinations” in the next day or two before Christmas. Hope all goes well. Also, my mother informed me it was Eid ul-Adha a few days ago, so best wishes to the Muslim readers (when I was a kid I didn’t know they were two […]

Sex ratio & preferences

The New York Times has a story, Where Boys Were Kings, a Shift Toward Baby Girls: …South Korea is the first of several Asian countries with large sex imbalances at birth to reverse the trend, moving toward greater parity between the sexes. Last year, the ratio was 107.4 boys born for every 100 girls, still […]

Coalescent theory

As background to a couple previous posts where I made somewhat technical comments about simulations in population genetics, I was in the middle of writing a rather lengthy primer on coalescent theory. Then I saw that RPM has an old post pointing to some of the same material I was planning on hitting. So instead […]

Scientific doping

Nature has a commentary on the use of “cognitive-enhancing drugs” in healthy and “diseased” individuals. They opine: The debate over cognitive-enhancing drugs must also consider the expected magnitude of the benefits and weigh them against the risks and side effects of each drug. Most readers would not consider that having a double shot of espresso […]

Hypotheses are overrated

So says the European Journal of Human Genetics, in response to the flood of data from genome-wide association studies and other genomic data in the field of human genetics: [O]ne might maliciously wonder if we are not (temporarily, in this field and pending subsequent functional studies) close to the ultimate consumption date of the Popperian […]

Cheaters beware

More ‘altruistic’ punishment in larger societies: …Second-party punishment is when you punish someone who defected on you; third-party punishment is when you punish someone who defected on someone else. Third-party punishment is an effective way to enforce the norms of strong reciprocity and promote cooperation. Here we present new results that expand on a previous […]

More notes on acceleration

In a previous post, I made the case that the evidence in Hawks et al. (2007)[pdf] should not convince you that human adaptive evolution is accelerating. This is a follow-up (again fairly technical) to that post. Again, I’ll reiterate that I find the theory large convincing. If that’s all you want to hear, don’t keep […]

The Sassanians

The Sassanian Empire this week on In Our Time. Kind of obscure, so worth it. Speaking of obscurity, some reading on the dynamics of Islamicization in Iran (Conversion to Islam) revealed the fact that there was a strong tendency for new Persian converts and their offspring to use very Arabic names during the first centuries, […]

KITLG makes you whiter

A few weeks ago p-ter posted on the fact that a gene that is implicated in blondeness in humans, KITLG, has a binding partner, KIT, within a similar affect in horses. There’s a new paper out which I blog about here that shows that KITLG has a major affect on pigmentation in stickleback fish as […]

Education and Social Mobility in the UK

The UK Times today has a report on new research into trends in social mobility and the effect of education and social class. The research finds that social mobility declined between 1958 and 1970, and has not improved since then (boo!). But the Times focuses on a peripheral part of the research, which looks at […]

UK Population Trends

The Office for National Statistics in the UK has released a report on fertility rates and population trends, including a breakdown by ethnic groups. Here is a report in the Times. I had some trouble finding the relevant material on the ONS website, so to save our readers the trouble, here is the main report […]

Mendel’s Garden #21

Mendel’s Garden #21. Labels: Blog