Thursday, September 04, 2008

Culture, genes and civilization   posted by Razib @ 9/04/2008 01:00:00 PM

Significance Of Milk In Development Of Culture To Be Studied:
"The oldest pottery shards shown to contain milk were found in southeastern Europe, more precisely in what today is northeastern Greece. We believe that the mutation once grew common there and then became fundamental to the development of agrarian culture," says Anders Gotherstam, who will be coordinating the project.

The researchers will follow the tracks of milk throughout Europe, making use of a model for the spread of genes in order to follow the dissemination of the mutation. In this model the frequency of the mutation increases along the 'frontline' of the dissemination-that is, we in Scandinavia, on the periphery, should thus have the highest frequency of the specific gene.

OK, if I'm reading this right...the hypothesis is that lactase persistence due to a mutation around LCT will be highest frequency in regions which experience agriculture, but haven't experienced it that long? In other words, perhaps the "end state" of agriculture societies is more like China, as milk culture gets squeezed on the Malthusian margins? If this is what they're saying I doubt I believe it.

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