If I haven’t made it clear, I highly recommend The First Farmers of Europe: An Evolutionary Perspective. A very readable book. One thing I haven’t emphasized is that the early European farmers seem to have been big consumers of cheese. This is curious as it doesn’t look like they have the modern European lactase persistence allele. Cheese is different from milk because the proportion of sugar is lower, as the fermenting process exhausts some of it. But cheese-base agro-pastoralism seems to have been common in many places before the arrival of Indo-Europeans.
David Reich is on giving talks in India. He has stated that the draft of the Indian ancient DNA paper is complete. This doesn’t speak to when it will be posted on bioRxiv, but we’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Also, I assume the Iberian paper showing mass male-mediated migration ~2000 BC will arrive at some point this year.
A friend pointed me to a new book by Edward Dutton on J. Phillipe Rushton. After watching clips of Dutton speak about the contents of the book, it is not a flattering portrayal. Dutton depicts Rushton as a bit of a general sociopath (though he seems to couch it as part of Rushton’s individual “life history strategy” of being a “user”). More concerning than his personal life is that Rushton was clearly willing to fudge facts in regards to his science, which was of such a controversial nature regarding race and life history that ultimately he should have been much more careful than is the norm. Dutton documents some instances apparently in his book, but I can give another specific example.
In 2007 it came to my attention he was citing History and Geography of Genes to present a phylogenetic model of the relatedness of West and South Eurasia, where Europeans are one clade, and West Asians and South Asians another clade. In the book, L. L. Cavalli-Sforza explicitly mentions that this classification was due to the relatively smaller number of samples and data from West and South Asians. That is, phylogenetically they did not form a natural clade, but for the purposes of statistical power he pooled them together artificially. The reality had already become clear by the middle 2000s with microsatellite and the earliest high-density SNP arrays that West Asians and Europeans were a more natural clade.
I emailed Rushton to correct his misimpression. He explained that he was only citing what was in the book, and I quoted back to him what Cavalli-Sforza said in his note to show he was transmitting a misunderstanding, at which point Rushton sputtered and admitted it was beyond his ken as a psychologist to evaluate. Less than one year later I saw Rushton assert the exact same thing I had told him was just wrong, again citing History and Geography of Genes. Dutton has uncovered much more egregious scientific misconduct, but this is one case I have first-hand knowledge of. This is not the behavior of a scientist following the facts where they led….
This is an important paper. I’ve heard rumors of this finding for a long time. Direct estimation of mutations in great apes reconciles phylogenetic dating:
The human mutation rate per generation estimated from trio sequencing has revealed an almost linear relationship with the age of the father and the age of the mother, with fathers contributing about three times as many mutations per year as mothers. The yearly trio-based mutation rate estimate of around 0.43 × 10−9 is markedly lower than previous indirect estimates of about 1 × 10−9 per year from phylogenetic comparisons of the great apes calibrated by fossil evidence. This suggests either a slowdown in the accumulation of mutations per year in the human lineage over the past 10 million years or an inaccurate interpretation of the fossil record. Here we inferred de novo mutations in chimpanzee, gorilla, and orangutan parent-offspring trios. Extrapolating the relationship between the mutation rate and the age of parents from humans to these other great apes, we estimated that each species has higher mutation rates per year by factors of 1.50 ± 0.10, 1.51 ± 0.23, and 1.42 ± 0.22 for chimpanzee, gorilla, and orangutan, respectively, and by a factor of 1.48 ± 0.08 for the three species combined. These estimates suggest an appreciable slowdown in the yearly mutation rate in the human lineage that is likely to be recent as genome comparisons almost adhere to a molecular clock. If the nonhuman rates rather than the human rate are extrapolated over the phylogeny of the great apes, we estimate divergence and speciation times that are much more in line with the fossil record and the biogeography.
Plan to enact the leaky gated model for February.