February 23, 2011

Domestication Genes

National Geographic has an article "Taming the Wild" by Evan Ratliff on the now famousunder-the-radar experiment by a renegade Soviet geneticist, who had been previously sent to the Gulag by the Lysenkoists, to breed a domesticated silver fox that would be a amiable as a dog
In fact, says Anna Kukekova, a Cornell researcher who studies the foxes, "they remind me a lot of golden retrievers, who are basically not aware that there are good people, bad people, people that they have met before, and those they haven't." These foxes treat any human as a potential companion, a behavior that is the product of arguably the most extraordinary breeding experiment ever conducted. ...

One number I've never seen in accounts of this experiment is what percentage of these domesticated silver foxes breed true. Do 99% of new kits grow up to act like Labradors or do a sizable percentage have to be shipped off to a fur farm?
Miraculously, Belyaev had compressed thousands of years of domestication into a few years. But he wasn't just looking to prove he could create friendly foxes. He had a hunch that he could use them to unlock domestication's molecular mysteries. Domesticated animals are known to share a common set of characteristics, a fact documented by Darwin in The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication. They tend to be smaller, with floppier ears and curlier tails than their untamed progenitors. Such traits tend to make animals appear appealingly juvenile to humans. Their coats are sometimes spotted—piebald, in scientific terminology—while their wild ancestors' coats are solid. These and other traits, sometimes referred to as the domestication phenotype, exist in varying degrees across a remarkably wide range of species, from dogs, pigs, and cows to some nonmammalians like chickens, and even a few fish.

Belyaev suspected that as the foxes became domesticated, they too might begin to show aspects of a domestication phenotype. He was right again: Selecting which foxes to breed based solely on how well they got along with humans seemed to alter their physical appearance along with their dispositions. After only nine generations, the researchers recorded fox kits born with floppier ears. Piebald patterns appeared on their coats. By this time the foxes were already whining and wagging their tails in response to a human presence, behaviors never seen in wild foxes. ...
The Soviet biology establishment of the mid-20th century, led under Joseph Stalin by the infamous agronomist Trofim Lysenko, outlawed research into Mendelian genetics. But Dmitry Belyaev and his older brother Nikolay, both biologists, were intrigued by the possibilities of the science. "It was his brother's influence that caused him to have this special interest in genetics," Trut says of her mentor. "But these were the times when genetics was considered fake science." When the brothers flouted the prohibition and continued to conduct Mendelian-based studies, Belyaev lost his job as director of the Department of Fur Breeding. Nikolay's fate was more tragic: He was exiled to a labor camp, where he eventually died. ...

Not all domestication researchers believe that Belyaev's silver foxes will unlock the secrets of domestication. Uppsala University's Leif Andersson, who studies the genetics of farm animals—and who lauds Belyaev and his fellow researchers' contribution to the field—believes that the relationship between tameness and the domestication phenotype may prove to be less direct than the fox study implies. "You select on one trait and you see changes in other traits," Andersson says, but "there has never been proven a causal relationship."

To understand how Andersson's view differs from that of the researchers in Novosibirsk, it's helpful to try and imagine how the two theories might have played out historically. Both would agree that the animals most likely to be domesticated were those predisposed to human contact. Some mutation, or collection of mutations, in their DNA caused them to be less afraid of humans, and thus willing to live closer to them. Perhaps they fed off human refuse or benefited from inadvertent shelter from predators. At some point humans saw some benefit in return from these animal neighbors and began helping that process along, actively selecting for the most amenable ones and breeding them. "At the beginning of the domestication process, only natural selection was at work," as Trut puts it. "Down the road, this natural selection was replaced with artificial selection."

Where Andersson differs is in what happened next. If Belyaev and Trut are correct, the self-selection and then human selection of less fearful animals carried with it other components of the domestication phenotype, such as curly tails and smaller bodies. In Andersson's view, that theory understates the role humans played in selecting those other traits. Sure, curiosity and lack of fear may have started the process, but once animals were under human control, they were also protected from wild predators. Random mutations for physical traits that might quickly have been weeded out in the wild, like white spots on a dark coat, were allowed to persist. Then they flourished, in part because, well, people liked them. "It wasn't that the animals behaved differently," as Andersson says, "it's just that they were cute." ...

These perspectives might also apply to the evolution of phenotypical racial differences. Some differences in looks might have just been unselected for side effects of traits that were selected for by the environment. Or, as Darwin suggested, sexual selection or, among children, what Judith Rich Harris calls selection for cuteness might have played major roles.

But delving into the DNA of our closest companions can deliver some tantalizing insights. In 2009 UCLA biologist Robert Wayne led a study comparing the wolf and dog genomes. The finding that made headlines was that dogs originated from gray wolves not in East Asia, as other researchers had argued, but in the Middle East. Less noticed by the press was a brief aside in which Wayne and his colleagues identified a particular short DNA sequence, located near a gene called WBSCR17, that was very different in the two species. That region of the genome, they suggested, could be a potential target for "genes that are important in the early domestication of dogs." In humans, the researchers went on to note, WBSCR17 is at least partly responsible for a rare genetic disorder called Williams-Beuren syndrome. Williams-Beuren is characterized by elfin features, a shortened nose bridge, and "exceptional gregariousness"—its sufferers are often overly friendly and trusting of strangers. ....

"They didn't select for a smarter fox but for a nice fox," says Hare. "But they ended up getting a smart fox." This research also has implications for the origins of human social behavior. "Are we domesticated in the sense of dogs? No. But I am comfortable saying that the first thing that has to happen to get a human from an apelike ancestor is a substantial increase in tolerance toward one another. There had to be a change in our social system."

I'm not sure that the friendliest dogs are the smartest dogs. If Golden Retrievers don't distinguish between humans in terms of their intentions, which keeps them from biting your kid's friends but also makes them lousy guard dogs, that doesn't seem too smart.

There is also much else in the article, such as on nature-nurture adoption experiments with silver foxes. The keepers have also been breeding an Evil Twin breed of extremely nasty foxes. What happens when Nasty Fox is raised by a Nice Fox and vice-versa?

59 comments:

Anonymous said...

it's funny, you have two modes: you can speak objectively about biology and race. in this sense you are not picking sides,

and then tere is other mode u ooperate: that of spokesperson for white racialism natonalism.

Anonymous said...

"They didn't select for a smarter fox but for a nice fox," says Hare. "But they ended up getting a smart fox." This research also has implications for the origins of human social behavior. "Are we domesticated in the sense of dogs? No. But I am comfortable saying that the first thing that has to happen to get a human from an apelike ancestor is a substantial increase in tolerance toward one another. There had to be a change in our social system."

Aren't people with Williams-Beuren syndrome functionally retarded?

Mudpuppy said...

Steve, if you watch "The Secret Life of Dogs" BBC documentary on Youtube, I believe they mention that they did cross-parenting studies on the nice/mean foxes. Didn't affect the temperament.

Anon Old Fart said...

Never mind all that HBD. Let's keep our priorities straight: The important thing is that these foxes are beautiful, adorable, sweet, cute, furry creatures. Here's the website where you can buy one, although they do not give prices (which are very high, I believe):

http://www.sibfox.com/foxes/

Aren't they cute? Don't you just want to go out and buy one right now?

Anonymous said...

Maybe a little off-topic, but Canis lupus [wolves & dogs] have 78 chromosomes, and cannot breed with Urocyon cinereoargenteus [the Gray Fox], which has 66 chromosomes, or with Vulpes vulpes [the Red Fox], which has "approximately" 38 chromosomes.

On the other hand, C. lupus can breed with Canus latrans [coyotes], which also have 78 chromosomes.

You get something similar in winemaking, where Muscadine grapes [Vitis rotundifolia] have 38 chromosomes, and cannot be bred with the traditional European bunch grapes [Vitis vinifera], which have 38 chromosomes.

Anonymous said...

Oops - meant to say: "You get something similar in winemaking, where Muscadine grapes [Vitis rotundifolia] have 40 chromosomes, and cannot be bred with the traditional European bunch grapes [Vitis vinifera], which have 38 chromosomes."

Whiskey said...

Well, Anon, if you don't like White Identity/Interest Groupism, you should have thought of that before Whites became a minority in their own country. You'll get a bit of "Market Dominant Minority" (think Korean shopkeepers despising their Black customers in South Central) but mostly the "Born Fighting" Scots-Irish borderer stuff, Hillbilly willingness to fight non-Whites at the drop of a hat for resources, spoils, and everything else. Joe Bob Hillbilly is not going to be running with the cognitive elite. He *IS* descended from a long line of British borders who fought like crazy for around 4,000 years in Britain (Picts, Romans, Scots, Irish, Danes, Normans, English, Scots again, etc.) and then fought even *MORE* in Appalachia.

Consider the Scots-Irish the reverse Silver foxes. Bred by bloody conflict to be clannish, suspicious of outsiders, prone to folk magic, with a thin "Ascendancy" that generates only temporary personal loyalty not ideological stuff.

The Docility you admire among Puritan/Progressive Whites is likely to replaced by Diaspora Chinese model contempt; with Hillbilly conflict. Just wait till White union workers get split off from the Diversity racket by a stark choice -- nice pay/benefits and few really, really poor non-Whites, or welfare and the presence of lots of non-Whites and rock-bottom wages/benefits.

tommy said...

I'm not sure that the friendliest dogs are the smartest dogs. If Golden Retrievers don't distinguish between humans in terms of their intentions, which keeps them from biting your kid's friends but also makes them lousy guard dogs, that doesn't seem too smart.

When it came to learning new commands with the least number of repetitions, Golden Retrievers ranked 4th among 79 tested breeds. Border Collies were the quickest learners. As I recall, from a composite of several intelligence tests, including this one, Golden Retrievers continued to rank among the top five smartest breeds. Border Collies lost ground on some of these other tests.

Along with the Golden Retriever, I remember that German Shepherds, Dobermans, and Poodles were in the top five. Rottweilers made the top ten. Strangely, the Belgian Sheepdog breeds--like the Malinois--so popular among the police these days only ranked in the top 15 or 20 overall. I would assume, however, that the average police dog is a lot brighter than the typical representative of his breed.

Anonymous said...

There is a documentary on this, broadcast in the last year or two.

Welmer said...

I'm not sure that the friendliest dogs are the smartest dogs. If Golden Retrievers don't distinguish between humans in terms of their intentions, which keeps them from biting your kid's friends but also makes them lousy guard dogs, that doesn't seem too smart.

-Steve


The working german shepherds and border collies I've had encounters with were not very friendly at all. They inspired a great deal of respect, but were quite fierce toward outsiders. These are the smartest dogs of all.

Wolves are likewise very intelligent, and not particularly friendly.

My hunch is that domestication selects for neoteny, i.e. childlike traits, which encourages friendliness and openness to strangers or different species (humans). I think if our social engineers had their way they'd have us all be hairless, childlike and trusting. Retaining some of our wild and fierce characteristics is not always a bad thing -- do we really want to be like so many Jersey cows?

tommy said...

The Russians have bred golden jackals and dogs to create a superior detector dog. Jackals themselves are rather submissive and are sometimes capable of being domesticated though they tend to wary of other canines.

Coyotes and wolves can, of course, be crossbred to domesticated dogs. (The latter cross can result in some minor social dilemmas as this woman found out.)

Judging by chromosome counts, it might just be possible to crossbreed dholes and African wild dogs to domesticated dogs. You would have to use in vitro fertilization since neither species will socialize with dogs voluntarily. Both would result in some half-breeds with interesting (and probably difficult) behavioral characteristics.

Anonymous said...

Tommy, see the latest research on police dogs at Reason online.

Bottom line is that a lot of convictions are being overturned.

slumber_j said...

"Piebald" brings to mind Gerard Manley Hopkins, whatever one thinks of God:

Pied Beauty

GLORY be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

Little John said...

As Cochran and Harpending point out in 10,000 Year Explosion, those who evolved outside agricultural society (e.g. blacks and Amerindians) never went through a selection process for docile behavior. This is why today Amerindians and especially blacks are so violent and aggressive.

Don said...

"These perspectives might also apply to the evolution of phenotypical racial differences. Some differences in looks might have just been unselected for side effects of traits that were selected for by the environment. Or, as Darwin suggested, sexual selection or, among children, what Judith Rich Harris calls selection for cuteness might have played major roles."

- This is true. There are alot of other ways it can happen too. Genes can be physically close to each other on the chromosome. Those that are, are often under selection together, due to the fact that homologous recombination (swapping pieces of homologous chromosomes in your gonads to increase genetic diversity in your offspring) is less likely to touch them. If you select for one trait you often get the other as a tag-along. Think blonde hair and blue eyes. In fact, linkage mapping was how, long before modern molecular techniques, that scientists mapped the relative locations of genes on chromosomes.

Also, a gene can play a role in regulating many traits, or a trait can be regulated by many genes.

People often think of traits as something that must either play a beneficial role, or have played one in the past, otherwise why are they still around? However, if a gene plays a role in a beneficial trait, and also a role in a weakly harmful trait, the gene can still be selected for, leading a harmful trait to increase in a population.

And the same trait can itself be beneficial in some environments and harmful in others.

Sideways said...

By this time the foxes were already whining and wagging their tails in response to a human presence, behaviors never seen in wild foxes. ...

Tail wagging? True as far as I know. Whining in response to a human presence is not particularly unusual in foxes that have been kept as pets, like a couple I knew were.

Of course, the two I'm thinking of would definitely be bred if you wanted to start another version of this experiment.

Kylie said...

"When it came to learning new commands with the least number of repetitions, Golden Retrievers ranked 4th among 79 tested breeds. Border Collies were the quickest learners. As I recall, from a composite of several intelligence tests, including this one, Golden Retrievers continued to rank among the top five smartest breeds."

That's specifically an obedience and working intelligence test. As with humans, dogs have other kinds of intelligence. I was amused to see the bulldog ranked 77 out of 79. Bulldogs do indeed lack obedience and working intelligence. They learn quickly what it is you want them to do. But they are born knowing they are cute enough that they'll rarely, if ever, have to do anything they don't want to do and stubborn enough not to want to do it just to please you.

By the way, I've often thought part of the appeal of the bulldog is the similarity of its head to that of a human baby; i.e., wide-set eyes, broad forehead, not too hairy, snub nose and a tendency to drool adorably.

Anonymous said...

"and then tere is other mode u ooperate: that of spokesperson for white racialism natonalism."

Put a sock in it. European Americans can either stand together or fall separately.

Anonymous said...

If Golden Retrievers don't distinguish between humans in terms of their intentions, which keeps them from biting your kid's friends but also makes them lousy guard dogs, that doesn't seem too smart.

That's an issue of temperament, not intelligence.

Nanonymous said...

Do 99% of new kits grow up to act like Labradors or do a sizable percentage have to be shipped off to a fur farm?

100% of them. It's a line now. There are tame foxes available for sale today: http://www.sibfox.com/

You can rationalize it by figuring that almost certainly more than just a few genes are involved. So once pretty thoroughly inbred, spontaneous revertants are very unlikely. Probably no more likely than Manchester Terrier puppy suddenly popping in a purebred Doberman Pinscher litter.

What happens when Nasty Fox is raised by a Nice Fox and vice-versa?

Nasty Fox raised by a Nice Fox is still nasty. Nice Fox raised by a Nasty Fox is still Nice. More than that: Nice Fox embryo implanted into Nasty Fox still gives rise to a Nice Fox:

"LYUDMILA TRUT [Dubbed]: We did an experiment with cross-fostering, where we gave aggressive cubs to tame mothers and vice versa. We found out that the mother's behavior does not influence that of the cub. This cub was brought up by a tame mother.

NARRATOR: The results are clear. The difference between tame and aggressive foxes is almost entirely genetic.

LYUDMILA TRUT [Dubbed]: We even took the experiment one stage further and transplanted embryos from aggressive mothers into tame mothers, but the results were the same. It proved that you can't change the gene of aggressiveness, and it will be kept and preserved for the next generation."
(From transcript for http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/nature/dogs-decoded.html )

Some of the paper on tame foxes mentioned similar experiments with rats. Genetically non-aggressive rats also tended to lose fur melanization. Aggressive foxes have much higher blood adrenaline than tame ones. For what it is worth (probably not much), melanine and adrenaline have common metabolic precursor.

Second Class American said...

There aren't any dogs that distinguish between humans based on their intentions because it's not possible. Guard dogs are simply suspicious of everyone, while Golden and Labrador Retrievers are friendly towards everyone.

Abdullah Ibrahim Yamaguchi-O'Leary said...

I wonder how the predatory instincts of these foxes were affected by domestication? Will they still kill small animals for food, as will certain semi-domesticated canines like Carolina dogs, dingoes, or New Guinea Singing dogs?

Abdullah Ibrahim Yamaguchi-O'Leary said...

Incidentally, I've never seen anyone touch upon the domestication of the ferret, which is thought by some to have been domesticated as a ratter by Europeans prior to the coming of the housecat.

Anonymous said...

"This is why today Amerindians and especially blacks are so violent and aggressive."

I think Amerindian violence is more socio-economic than bio-racial. If you talk with a lot of Mexicans of Indian descent, they are actually very Asiatic. Many tend to be kinda 'humble'.
In fact, your average Mexican Indian seems less aggressive than Asian-Indians who've had a long history of agriculture.
And though American Indians led a savage existence and could be brutal, they were not a funky out-of-control people.
But drug wars and poor governance have made many Mexicans violent. It's like China was hellish during the warlord era that followed the fall of the Ching dynasty in 1911. More social/historical than biological.

I think climate played a key role in cooling the aggression(at least the individualistic kind) of the Asiatics, and this includes Amerindians. In cold climate, people have to huddle closely and learn to cooperate. Troublemakers in such a close-knit community would have been cast out and died of exposure or hunger(where food was often meager). Also, cold climate required conservation of fat in the human body. More fat meant less muscle mass, which meant less testosterone. Less testosterone also meant smaller penises, which was an advantage since having a long penis could lead to painful death by frostbite and gangrene. Just look at the little penis of the Eskimos in FAST RUNNER. In that cold, it was surely a blessing.

Also, Asiatics had to learn to be still and self-controlled through long periods because if you acted all funky and stuff, you would burn away too many calories and not get through the long cold winter. So, people with temperament like Eddie Murphy would have been weeded out since he would have been flipping out all the time and burning too many calories. This may explain why Asiatic expressions became more rigid and clunky. It's like the Japanese are pretty stiff and American Indians stick their hands out and say 'How' or say really earnest stuff like "I feel pain between my ears" in LITTLE BIG MAN. And this may explain why Asians are less good at musical improvisation and driving automobiles. And Japanese pilots were pretty stiff compared to American cowboy pilots. In China, Southern Chinese of warmer climates seem to be relatively 'looser'.

Anonymous said...

Temperament isn't intelligence, but the intelligence of even-tempered animals is easier to gauge than that of out-of-control ones. An out-of-control intelligent dog may be too hyper to use its intelligence properly,and so its intelligence potential will be overlooked by people(unless that hyperactivity is useful in the service of intelligence, as is the case with sheep herding collies who just love run and run and run)while the intelligence of an even-tempered dog would be much easier to gauge and harness.
Of course, the intelligence of an overly shy or timid dog is also hard to gauge or use since the dog is afraid all the time.

Anonymous said...

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,30198-3,00.html

Chimps may or may not be smarter than orangutans, but their different temperaments shape their uses of intelligence.

Chimps, more aggressive and outgoing, may be said to be more engagingly intelligent with quick tasks.
Orangutans, more gentle and passive, may be said to be more elliptical in their intelligence. Less good at tasks that require quick thinking but better at tasks that require some degree of 'reflection'.

Anonymous said...

A study should be done where black students in a problem school are all medicated on ritalin, thus making them less hyper. They might actually pay better attention, behave better, and learn more. (Of course, it would help if their parents were put on ritalin too).
Intemprigence could be the science of the future.

Anonymous said...

Suppose we were to match the personalities of certain people to dogs.

Mozart. Collie.

Beethoven. Doberman.

Tony Blair. Poodle of course.

Dick Cheney. Bulldog.

Rumsfeld. Pug.

Obama. Mutt.

Little John said...

"If you talk with a lot of Mexicans of Indian descent, they are actually very Asiatic."

Amerindians have been separated from Asians long enough that they no longer cluster genetically with Asians:

http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2010/08/connect-dots.html


The big difference between the two groups, as pointed out by Cochran and Harpending, is that North Asians evolved over the last 10,000 years in agricultural societies, while Amerindians did not. Amerindians were still in the hunter-gatherer stone age when found by Europeans.


Amerindian / Mestizo countries today have quite low average IQs:

Equador, 80
Guatemala, 79
Mexico, 87

And I don't know what Amerindian / Mestizo Mexicans you're hanging out with, but the gangbangers in my city are just as violent and aggressive as any blacks I've known.

FF said...

Daisy is mostly Jersey and she likes to interact with you and lick the salt off your wrists. She can be willful and moooved herself into the top paddock this evening without authorization.
Buttercup however is more circumspect as she is a Hereford. She can be very stand-offish.

Sideways said...

Speaking again about tamed (not domesticated) foxes, the big difference is that they like having people around. They'll run up to you when you show up, rub against your leg almost like a cat, urinate on you with incredibly stinky urine, and appear to be almost as affectionate as a domesticated canine, but if you try to pet it, it will snap at you and some of them will really bite.

The big difference is that domesticated canines treat humans as companions+parent type figures, while the undomesticated ones merely treat us as friends and allies at best

Anonymous said...

"I think climate played a key role in cooling the aggression(at least the individualistic kind) of the Asiatics, and this includes Amerindians. In cold climate, people have to huddle closely and learn to cooperate. "

I'm surprised no one ever considers brain damage caused by an aggressive parent or sibling as a possible source of aggression in someone who may not actually carry an aggression gene. Some family violence goes way beyond being hit on the legs with a belt. Considering new studies on concussions in football players, I think commenters at iSteve should be thinking forensically as well as genetically.

Thomas said...

My hunch is that domestication selects for neoteny, i.e. childlike traits, which encourages friendliness and openness to strangers or different species (humans). I think if our social engineers had their way they'd have us all be hairless, childlike and trusting. Retaining some of our wild and fierce characteristics is not always a bad thing -- do we really want to be like so many Jersey cows?

Neoteny is actually a theory of how the human species developed in the first place. We do look like very young apes. And we are "hairless" and "trusting" compared to other apes. Even our huge head compared to bodysize fits the embryonic profile.

Manuel said...

"..just look at the little penis of the Eskimos in FAST RUNNER. In that cold, it was surely a blessing."

No thanks, I'll just take your word for it...

slumber_j said...

@Little John

I haven't read the Cochran/Harpending book, but I don't understand how one can work from the assumption that Amerindians were hunter-gatherers. Mexico City was significantly larger than any city in Europe at the time of the Conquest, for example. Then there's Inca culture, Cahokia, the Anasazi, etc. etc. What's the thinking here?

neil craig said...

I think you are right that when people say a fox that interacts with us is smarter they aren't saying anything about its brains but just that it interacts better. I suspect that the same fox would be less "smart" in surviving in the wild.

Paul said...

And though American Indians led a savage existence and could be brutal, they were not a funky out-of-control people.

You don't know the first thing about American history and American Indians, do you?

Nanonymous said...

when people say a fox that interacts with us is smarter they aren't saying anything about its brains but just that it interacts better.

Experiments with tame foxes seem to show that they are truly "smarter". They respond to human cues about hidden food - much like dogs do. Notably, as a rule chimps fail to do so.

Truth said...

"This is why today Amerindians and especially blacks are so violent and aggressive."

I don't know what "Amerindians" you are refering to, but I live in New Mexico, and the Native Americans here and in Arizona and Oklahoma are possibly the most passive group of people I have ever met (I've worked in Gallup and Famington NM, which are Indian towns).

Any aggressivness the mestisos have must come from their white heritage.

Anonymous said...

smaller penises, which was an advantage since having a long penis could lead to painful death by frostbite and gangrene.

That's funny. I once worked in the Emergency Room at SF General Hospital. I don't remember any cases of frostbite of the dick.

Albertosaurus

On Neoteny: said...

Neoteny is actually a theory of how the human species developed in the first place. We do look like very young apes. And we are "hairless" and "trusting" compared to other apes. Even our huge head compared to bodysize fits the embryonic profile.

Depends on how you think about it. Cranially, humans are neotenous in some ways compared to ancestral hominids, but not in others:

-Midfacial shortening is neotenous.
-Cranial globularisation is not neotenous (contrary to repeated assertion - ).
-Lower facial (nose down) flattening and smaller teeth are neotenous.
-Human jaw shape is not neotenous.
-The formation of an external and less flat nose during the evolution of Homo Erectus from his -predecessors is not neotenous.
-Chins are not neotenous.
-Secondary sexual hair (sexually dimorphic) in humans is not neotenous at all, but derived (this seems likely when we weight humans, chimps AND bonobos).

-Human adult bodies are not really well described neotenous AFAIK - compare a young chimpanzee neonate body to an adult human body. It's a really bad description to try and call the long legged, short armed, narrow torsoed adult human body in any way like a chimp neonate. The only thing in common is the large brain to body ratio.

-Human cranial gracility seems neotenous, but this isn't really a linear trend in human evolution - Erectus is more robust than his predecessor, for example.

So it's a mixed bag. Obviously it's OK to generally describe humans as neotenous, or we wouldn't do it (we're more neotenous than we're not!), but I think it's less illuminating than describing humans as simply having broken things which allowed them to develop as apes and broken the off switches for certain things that apes stop developing when younger, with some elements which are wholly new to humans.

Which makes sense, when you think about it, as most rapid evolution (which our evolution from our chuman predecessors was) proceeds simply by quickly and dirtily breaking some things while exaggerating others. It's really hard to evolve new developmental pathways de novo (possibly slightly easier now that the "10,000 Year Explosion" in population numbers has happened, but not majorly). For a break, think of skin colour in Eurasian peoples (outside South Eurasia) - the melanin storage/production mechanism is simply broken - and the break in the switch which turns lactase production off in Europeans (and to a lesser extent other pastoral and semi-pastoral populations). While for an exaggeration/increase in expression, think of the increase in copy number of amylase producing genes in agricultural populations.

When we think about differences in neoteny in human populations which exist in the present day, I'd place high weight on the features of neoteny that show long trends in the human lineage (cranial globularity, short midface, lower facial flatness, small teeth) and low weight on the parts that while neotenous, don't (body hair, flat nose, broadness of face, chin size, cranial rugosity, &c.).

Anonymous said...

I haven't read the Cochran/Harpending book, but I don't understand how one can work from the assumption that Amerindians were hunter-gatherers. Mexico City was significantly larger than any city in Europe at the time of the Conquest, for example. Then there's Inca culture, Cahokia, the Anasazi, etc. etc. What's the thinking here?

I may get 10,000 Year Explosion down from my bookcase later, but if I remember correctly I think Cochran and Harpending sort of conflate for the purposes of a brief discussion large and agriculturally intensive states with strong states that ruthlessly punish and otherwise discourage violence (i.e. states with a strong degree of control over violence within them and strong power to ruin the Darwinian fitness of murderers and bravos) and technologically complex states to some degree.

Which works fine in Eurasia and in the broad abstract because these three things tend to have a fairly uniform correlation, but can be a bit more fuzzy close up.

Anonymous said...

"I haven't read the Cochran/Harpending book, but I don't understand how one can work from the assumption that Amerindians were hunter-gatherers. Mexico City was significantly larger than any city in Europe at the time of the Conquest, for example. Then there's Inca culture, Cahokia, the Anasazi, etc. etc. What's the thinking here?"

It's like in the movie APOCALYPTO. There were civilizations in the pre-Columbian Americas, but they were surrounded by primitive hunter-gatherer folks. I heard many of the human sacrifices carried out by Aztecs involved primitives captured by the Aztecs.
So, before white civilization destroyed Aztec civilization, Aztecs were destroying they primitives.
If Christianity sought to save souls among Germanic barbarians, Aztecs sought to steal the hearts of primitive savages.

Anonymous said...

"If you talk with a lot of Mexicans of Indian descent, they are actually very Asiatic."

"Amerindians have been separated from Asians long enough that they no longer cluster genetically with Asians:
http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2010/08/connect-dots.html
The big difference between the two groups, as pointed out by Cochran and Harpending, is that North Asians evolved over the last 10,000 years in agricultural societies, while Amerindians did not. Amerindians were still in the hunter-gatherer stone age when found by Europeans."

One thing about Amerindians. They may be inept, into crime, and have a host of other problems, but they are not as 'dangerous' as groups such as Germans, Jews, blacks, or Chinese.
Though no people like to be oppressed and/or dispossessed, some people could probably bear it better than other peoples. I think this has a lot to do with self-perception based on cultural, intellectual, and physical factors.

The most 'dangerous' kind of people are those who are convinced of their greatness/specialness but who feel oppressed, marginalized, or wronged.

Take the Jews. Since the beginning, they saw themselves as the Chosen People. Even the poorest Jew felt he was special, favored by the one and only God. So, when Jews were wronged or oppressed by other people, their anger and rage were bound to be much more intense. Jews, like their God, were likely to be very vengeful. Another reason for Jewish anger is the perception that they are more intelligent than goyim--which is true enough. So, the fact that Jews had to live under the thumb of less inteligent goyim filled them with anger too.

Now, take the Germans. A very proud people with great history and cultural achievement. Also, a people who consider themselves to be handsome and healthy. This later became the basis of German nationalism. In the 19th century, Germans were pissed that they didn't have a proper place in the sun. So, they sought an empire of their own. When that failed with WWI, it led to the rise of Hitler who played on humiliation of the Weimar period. Many nations were defeated and humiliated, but Germans took it especially hard cuz they regarded themselves as a great people. So, Nazism sought to counter the humiliation with a very vengeful German Power Ideology.

Now, take the blacks. If blacks had the physiques and musical stiffness of South American Indians, they might have accepted their lot in the white-controlled order with resignation. But blacks felt that they are stronger than the 'slow white boy', more charismatic with bellowing voices, more musical with rhythm and funk. So, black rage isn't only about the denial of equality by white 'racists' but about how an inferior punkass race of white boys kept the superior black man down. Black rage seeks not so much equality with whites as domination over whites. A rapper doesn't wanna be the equal of a polka player or country singer. He wants to show the world that he be da greatest.

Anonymous said...

Now, take China. Traditionally the Middle Kingdom, so great that it had nothing to learn from the barbarians. But Chinese were humiliated in the 19th and 20th centuries, and this led to a lot of anger. Though many Chinese learned to blame their own culture/history for the decline, there is a lot of nationalist rage abou how barbarian races had humiliated the great civilization/people of China. Many Americans don't understand the nature of this rage, no more than whites understand the real nature of Jewish and black rage. And many Anglos in the 1920s and 30s didn't understand the nature of German rage. They thought Germans under Nazi rule just wanted to be like everyone else, when in fact, Germans were once again looking to secure their rightful 'place in the sun'.
Maybe Muslims feel a similar kind of rage. They believe their religion to be the best and Muhammad to be the final and most perfect prophet, yet the Muslim world has been getting its ass whupped by Christians, western decadents, and Jews/Zionists.

Though Amerindians in North and South Americas have been among the most oppressed and dispossessed people on Earth, there hasn't been much in the way of Amerindian uprising though in some Latin American nations, the indigenous folks outnumber the whites.
Maybe it's because Amerindians never developed a culture of superiority like the Jews, Chinese, and Germans. Though some Amerindian civilizations may have had a supremacist ideology, the pride rested with the elites--warrior chieftains and priestly caste--than with the entire population(as with Jews, Chinese, or nationalistic Germans). So, when the elites were overthrown by the Europeans, the masses just bowed down to the new masters.

Also, Amerindians don't have an intellectual basis for superiority(like Jews) or physical basis for superiority(like blacks).
When a smart Jew had to work under a less smart white goy, he felt anger. When a strong black slave had to take orders from a white guy, he felt anger. But when a mediocre Amerindian takes orders from a white man, he feels it makes perfect sense.
There has been some political activism in Latin America, but most of the leaders were whites like Che Guevara or Guzman(of Peru). There is Morales in Bolivia but his impact has proven to be less serious than expected.

A humiliated wolf or wolvernine is more dangerous than a humiliated dog.

Anonymous said...

"it's funny, you have two modes: you can speak objectively about biology and race. in this sense you are not picking sides,

and then tere is other mode u ooperate: that of spokesperson for white racialism natonalism."


Whereas you are Johnny One Note pointing out (again and again and again) this alleged "contradiction" where there is none. Hint: it is normal for people to have different "modes" and there's no contradiction involved. Also it is rather laughable to call Steve a "spokesperson for white racialism nationalism".

Also, learn to spell, capitalize, punctuate, etc., properly. If you are going to be a troll, try to at least act like a literate troll.

Tom Tucker said...

"and then tere is other mode u ooperate: that of spokesperson for white racialism natonalism.""


European Americans can either stand together or fall separately.

All other racial groups have powers lobbying on their behalf. Blacks have the NAACP, mestizos have La Raza, Asians have the 80-20 Initiative, Indians have USINPAC, etc. What do European Americans have?

Michael Farris said...

If you want undomesticated people look no farther than Eastern European Roma (gypsies).

Almost all the problems they have (and cause) come down to the fact that they're not domesicated in the way that their host populations are.

I remember seeing two gypsy girls (probably no more than 10 years old each) distract and flank an overwhelm a 20 something male body builder, take his food (Mickey D) from him and send him running away like a frightened 6 year old. Then it hit me - I'd seen exactly the same tactics used by predators who feed on ungulates on the discovery channel a few days before).

I assume that gypsies lose a fair amount of pre-pubescent children to various predators and accidents but there's no population in Europe that tests (with no conscience) the survival skills of their children like gypsies who reoutinely leave them in the middle of urban (predator rich) enivornments for hours or days at a time.

In my weaker moments I almost feel sorry for western governments that want to treat gypsies as post-modern equals.

Steve Wood said...

That's funny. I once worked in the Emergency Room at SF General Hospital. I don't remember any cases of frostbite of the dick.

Well, how much frostbite of any kind did you see in temperate San Franciso?

I know you were joking, but it doesn't seem unreasonably speculative to think that penises could be frostbitten during prolonged exposure to very cold air. If that never happens, then presumably we evolved to keep the blood and the warmth flowing to our genitals even when freezing to death. That's sort of comforting, I guess.

Samuel said...

"Though Amerindians in North and South Americas have been among the most oppressed and dispossessed people on Earth, there hasn't been much in the way of Amerindian uprising though in some Latin American nations, the indigenous folks outnumber the whites."

- Pretty much all peoples on earth have been dispossesd and opressed to an extreme degree at some point in their history. It just serves the left's purpose of pretending American white men are some kind of special evil for overemphasizing the narrative of Amerindians, to suppress the resistance to dispossession of whites by the Elites. The Celts were heavily decimated by the Romans. The Turkic people were wanderers because they were pushed from their lands. They in turn stole Constantinople. The Chinese feel oppressed by barbarian peoples, the British were invaded numerous times through the ages, to the point where much of the current British DNA is invader. The list goes on and on. No Amerinds were not docile little dogooders who were crushed by the evil white man. Amerindians ruthlessly attacked each other, and attacked the white man from practically day 1 here,with brutal savagery,through any way possible, no matter how much whitey tried to make peaceful deals with them. The first recorded instance of biological warfare in the Americas was by Amerinds intentionally poisoning the wells of European soldiers who were their allies against other Europeans. Its pretty much a given that all groups of people feel special in some way, even if they maintain it by delusions. Even the Amerind tribes tended to refer to themselves as "the people" in their own languages, with the implicit meaning that everyone else was inhuman.

Anonymous said...

"Pretty much all peoples on earth have been dispossesd and opressed to an extreme degree at some point in their history."

Of course, of course. My point is that some people develop a powerful and longlasting grudge over having been oppressed. Romans oppressed lots of different peoples, but the only people who still retain a victim-mentality from that period are the Jews. We don't hear modern Egyptians, Syrians, Germans, etc gripe about how the Romans mistreated them, but there is still a Jewish memory of the fall of Jerusalem and exile. Jews are like elephants. With a long continuous historical/spiritual mindset, they never forget.

Fernandinande said...

When it came to learning new commands with the least number of repetitions,

Interesting list, and not too surprising.

But they also say:

"According to S. Coren, author of "The Intelligence of Dogs", there are three types of dog intelligence:
- Adaptive Intelligence (learning and problem-solving ability). This is specific to the individual animal and is measured by canine IQ tests.
- Instinctive Intelligence. This is specific to the individual animal and is measured by canine IQ tests.
- Working/Obedience Intelligence. This is breed dependent."

The last one - Working/Obedience Intelligence - is the one listed in your tables.

Our dog averaged out to 70th place, because she's not obedient; not real smart, either, but much smarter when obeying-against-impulse isn't involved.
We used to have a Malamute that seemed incapable of learning anything she didn't want to do, but I'd vote her the dog most likely to suvive in the wild because she seemed to know how to act - like a coyote - with porcupines, snakes and skunks...before killing them. Two much smarter dogs (hunting lab and alsatian) got stuck with quills because they were too trusting.

Anonymous said...

Robert Sapolsky: Are Humans Just Another Primate?

http://fora.tv/2011/02/15/Robert_Sapolsky_Are_Humans_Just_Another_Primate#What_Separates_Us_from_Chimps_As_It_Turns_Out_Not_Much

Anonymous said...

A larger issue embracing this matter is the general lack of a clear, well-illustrated history
of the effects of selective breeding of animals (animal
husbandry). Such a history would include reliable estimates of how selective breeding increased both the volume and quality of cow's milk, for example; egg production, etc.

JSM said...

"Any aggressivness the mestisos have must come from their white heritage."

Huh.

The pueblo Indians of the Desert Southwest, being settled, were much more domesticated than the Apache / Comanche who, as nomadic Plains Indians, lived, at least in part, by raiding settled tribes.

Many of the mestizos from Mexico are part Euro Spanish and Aztec.
The bloodthirsty Aztecs committed human sacrifice by ripping out the still-beating heart -- which is a good part of the reason Cortez could conquer them with just a few men and horses. The tribes living near the Aztecs were darn tired of being volunteered for sacrificing to the gods, so when Cortez showed up, they helped him.

....

I wonder, Steve, how much effect the last 120 years on reservations has had in "taming" the Plains Indians? Drunkenness is rampant, but theft levels aren't shocking, contrary, it seems to me, to what you'd expect amongst people who raided for a living just a handful of generations ago.

Suicide, however, IS shockingly common, which I think is surprising.

Suicide is something you'd expect in high-shame, high-compliance societies like Japan, not amongst peoples who actively sought glory in war, as did the Plains Indians. Warriors don't kill themselves. They kill other people.


Is it possible that the reservations have already selected for, to a small extent, domestication?

Anonymous said...

The most 'dangerous' kind of people are those who are convinced of their greatness/specialness but who feel oppressed, marginalized, or wronged.

Take the Canadian province of Quebec. All this applies here too, after the English conquest of 1769, and the founding of anglo-dominated Canada in 1867.

As conquered peoples go, the Quebecois were fairly well-treated by the Anglo-Canadians. They had, at least on full rights to their greatly-esteemed French language and Catholic religion. But there was a high degree of petty humiliation leading to massive resentment.

There was no genocide, slavery, or mass starvation. Nobody rammed English or Protestantism down their throats. The Anglo elites at most failed to recognize the Franco elites as their equals. But if you speak to some Quebecois you will find they sound just like - or worse than - Holocaust survivors!

Resentment here is the result of perceived humiliation combined with the lack of real physical oppression.

Anonymous said...

"It's like in the movie APOCALYPTO. There were civilizations in the pre-Columbian Americas, but they were surrounded by primitive hunter-gatherer folks. I heard many of the human sacrifices carried out by Aztecs involved primitives captured by the Aztecs."

The Aztecs themselves came from that primative hunter-gatherer group not long before they built their empire. I believe they originated in Nothern Mexico or even the SW United States, migrated southwards and conquered the more advanced peoples living in Central Mexico. They appropriated the conquered people's advanced culture, but also added their own particular brand of primitive brutality into the mix (human sacrifice, cannibalism).

Anonymous said...

"Robert Sapolsky: Are Humans Just Another Primate?
http://fora.tv/2011/02/15/Robert_Sapolsky_Are_Humans "

A somewhat related issue.

http://nationalinterest.org/bookreview/of-skulls-and-buttocks-3388?page=4

"MODERN GENETICS has demonstrated conclusively that no such thing as race exists. Thanks to the mapping of the human genome, we now know that each person shares 99.99 percent of his or her genetic material with everyone else...
Fingerprints link Europeans, black Africans and East Asians together in one group; Mongolians and Australian Aborigines, in another. Cerumen (earwax) is of two types-wet and sticky, controlled by a dominant gene; and dry and waxy, controlled by a recessive gene."

If race doesn't exist, how can new species develop through evolution? No species can just turn into another species. It has to first turn into a different racial variation of its original self before eventually turning into a separate species.

Also, focusing on fingerprints--sticky or dry or whatever--seems to miss the broader picture. True, Mongol fingerprints may be closer to that of Australoids, but don't Mongols have more in common with most respects with East Asians than with Australoids?

After all, a similar argument could be made to argue that species also don't exist. For example, most of us believe that monkeys are, as a species, closer to humans than to dogs. But monkeys and dogs have tails, humans do not. So, are we to assume that the whole category of specie-groups of primates and canines is bunk? If monkeys are closer as a species to humans, how can they have tails like dogs?
And chimps seem to have fur than human-like hair. Chimps are very close to humans but possess fur akin that those of non-primates. So, are we to toss out the entire concept of species and groups of species(such as primates, rodents, canines, etc)since some members of one species group seem to share more in common with members of other species groups than with others within the same group?

This is like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Because Mongols share a very trivial trait with Austraolids than with other East Asians, we are to toss out the entire category of race even though Mongols have much more in common with Chinese than with Australoids? Ridiculous.

(Not sure on this, but could it be possible that cats' eyes are closer to those hawk's eyes than to eyes of certain mammals such as mice or whales? If so, how can a mammal have a feature more in common with a bird than with other mammals. I suppose it means the whole concept of mammals and birds is also false.)

Anonymous said...

Excuse my ignorance but isn't the DNA like a piano keyboard while RNA is like instructions for playing the notes? So, the idea that 'race doesn't exist' cuz everyone is 99.99% the same in their DNA seems to ignore the power of the RNA. After all, suppose there are two nearly identitical pianos. But one is played by RNA that is jazzy and another is played RNA that is classical. They will play different music.

Also, since men and women are 99.99% the same in their DNA, I guess sexual differences are a myth too(also because some men have 'tits' while some women are flatter than most men). And since the DNA of adults and children are the same, there are no adults and children either.

PS. Is it true that shrews have virtually no eyes? Yet they are mammals. As mammals, they are closer to cats than to birds, but cats and birds have eyes. There's proof that species is a myth just like race.