April 29, 2006

Y chromosome variation of Finns

An interesting comprehensive new article on Finnish Y-chromosome variation. The main finding is that the arrival of Finno-Ugric speakers (possessing haplogroup N3) was later followed by Scandinavian migrations mainly into western Finland, which reduced the frequency of N3 there, bringing especially haplogroup I1a. Thus, within Finland, western Finns are close to Swedes, and eastern Finns are close to their Finno-Ugric brethren. Interestingly, Finns seem to lack haplogroup R1b which is found among Germanic-speaking Scandinavians. Thus, the most probable sequence of events is the following:

1. Movement of N3 into Finland
2. Movement of I1a into western Finland
3. Movement of R1b into Germanic Scandinavia

This seems to support a picture in which early Germanics had a high frequency of I1a, early Finns had a high frequency of N3, and R1b in Scandinavia is the result of foreign settlers, probably continental Germans, Britons etc.

Gene. 2006 Mar 18; [Epub ahead of print]

Regional differences among the Finns: A Y-chromosomal perspective.

Lappalainen T, Koivumaki S, Salmela E, Huoponen K, Sistonen P, Savontaus ML, Lahermo P.

Twenty-two Y-chromosomal markers, consisting of fourteen biallelic markers (YAP/DYS287, M170, M253, P37, M223, 12f2, M9, P43, Tat, 92R7, P36, SRY-1532, M17, P25) and eight STRs (DYS19, DYS385a/b, DYS388, DYS389I/II, DYS390, DYS391, DYS392, DYS393), were analyzed in 536 unrelated Finnish males from eastern and western subpopulations of Finland. The aim of the study was to analyze regional differences in genetic variation within the country, and to analyze the population history of the Finns. Our results gave further support to the existence of a sharp genetic border between eastern and western Finns so far observed exclusively in Y-chromosomal variation. Both biallelic haplogroup and STR haplotype networks showed bifurcated structures, and similar clustering was evident in haplogroup and haplotype frequencies and genetic distances. These results suggest that the western and eastern parts of the country have been subject to partly different population histories, which is also supported by earlier archaeological, historical and genetic data. It seems probable that early migrations from Finno-Ugric sources affected the whole country, whereas subsequent migrations from Scandinavia had an impact mainly on the western parts of the country. The contacts between Finland and neighboring Finno-Ugric, Scandinavian and Baltic regions are evident. However, there is no support for recent migrations from Siberia and Central Europe. Our results emphasize the importance of incorporating Y-chromosomal data to reveal the population substructure which is often left undetected in mitochondrial DNA variation. Early assumptions of the homogeneity of the isolated Finnish population have now proven to be false, which may also have implications for future association studies.


April 28, 2006

Early dates for Thera eruption

New papers in Science reveal early dates for the eruption of the Thera volcano which was responsible for the demise of the Minoan culture. A consequence of this finding is that the Minoan civilization reached its peak much earlier than thought, before the Egyptian New Kingdom (as was previously thought). From related MSNBC coverage:
Overall, the radiocarbon results indicate that the formation and high point of the New Palace period of Crete, the wall paintings of Akrotiri, the Shaft Grave period of the Greek mainland, and the political changes on Cyprus all occurred before approximately 1600 B.C. This is not only about 100 years earlier than thought; it also implies that the overall cultural era involved lasted much longer than researchers had assumed.
Science 28 April 2006:
Vol. 312. no. 5773, p. 548

Santorini Eruption Radiocarbon Dated to 1627-1600 B.C.

Walter L. Friedrich et al.

Precise and direct dating of the Minoan eruption of Santorini (Thera) in Greece, a global Bronze Age time marker, has been made possible by the unique find of an olive tree, buried alive in life position by the tephra (pumice and ashes) on Santorini. We applied so-called radiocarbon wiggle-matching to a carbon-14 sequence of tree-ring segments to constrain the eruption date to the range 1627-1600 B.C. with 95.4% probability. Our result is in the range of previous, less precise, and less direct results of several scientific dating methods, but it is a century earlier than the date derived from traditional Egyptian chronologies.


Science 28 April 2006:
Vol. 312. no. 5773, pp. 565 - 569

Chronology for the Aegean Late Bronze Age 1700-1400 B.C.

Sturt W. Manning et al.

Radiocarbon (carbon-14) data from the Aegean Bronze Age 1700–1400 B.C. show that the Santorini (Thera) eruption must have occurred in the late 17th century B.C. By using carbon-14 dates from the surrounding region, cultural phases, and Bayesian statistical analysis, we established a chronology for the initial Aegean Late Bronze Age cultural phases (Late Minoan IA, IB, and II). This chronology contrasts with conventional archaeological dates and cultural synthesis: stretching out the Late Minoan IA, IB, and II phases by ~100 years and requiring reassessment of standard interpretations of associations between the Egyptian and Near Eastern historical dates and phases and those in the Aegean and Cyprus in the mid–second millennium B.C.


April 27, 2006

Femininity/Masculinity predicts male but not female homosexuality

A new article illustrates that masculinity-feminity of adolescents predicts sexual orientation in adulthood for males, but not for females. In other words, effeminate adolescents tend to grow up to be gay but this is not the case for more masculine women.

This illustrates that male and female homosexuality are different phenomena, something which is also apparent by (a) the greater prevalence of male compared to female homosexuality, and (b) the much more obvious behavioral cues of male compared to female homosexuals.

As I wrote in the old Dodona forum in 2004, distinguishing between male and female homosexuality:
Some boys are naturally effeminate or girly and are more prone to develop an abnormal sexuality during their childhood. Homosexuality is a mental illness but one which is difficult to treat because it starts early on and becomes a part of a person's core personality by the time he becomes an adult. While most men learn to act like men as part of the growin up process, homosexuals must unlearn their whole development and relearn a sexual role, something which is virtually impossible.

For lesbians, the cause is probably ugliness or fear of men. While male homosexuals often have a 'normal' appearance, lesbians tend to be unattractive -- except in porn movies of course.
Journal of Biosocial Science (forthcoming)




Using the nationally representative sample of about 15,000 Add Health respondents in Wave III, the hypothesis is tested that masculinity–femininity in adolescence is correlated with sexual orientation 5 years later and 6 years later: that is, that for adolescent males in 1995 and again in 1996, more feminine males have a higher probability of self-identifying as homosexuals in 2001–02. It is predicted that for adolescent females in 1995 and 1996, more masculine females have a higher probability of self-identifying as homosexuals in 2001–02. Masculinity–femininity is measured by the classical method used by Terman & Miles. For both time periods, the hypothesis was strongly confirmed for males: the more feminine males had several times the probability of being attracted to same-sex partners, several times the probability of having same-sex partners, and several times the probability of self-identifying as homosexuals, compared with more masculine males. For females, no relationship was found at either time period between masculinity and sex of preference. The biological mechanism underlying homosexuality may be different for males and females.


Origin of Eastern Islanders

Annals of Human Genetics (Online Early)

Genetic Change in the Polynesian Population of Easter Island: Evidence from Alu Insertion Polymorphisms

E. González-Pérez et al.


The origin of Pacific islanders is still an open issue in human population genetics. To address this topic we analyzed a set of 18 Alu insertion polymorphisms in a total of 176 chromosomes from native Easter Island inhabitants (Rapanui). Available genealogical records allowed us to subdivide the total island sample into two groups, representative of the native population living in the island around 1900, and another formed by individuals with some ancestors of non-Rapanui origin. Significant genetic differentiation was found between these groups, allowing us to make some biodemographic and historical inferences about the origin and evolution of this geographically isolated island population. Our data are consistent with equivalent and recent contributions from Amerindian and European migrants to the 1900s Rapanui population, with an accelerated increase in the European gene flow during the 20th century, especially since the 1960s. Comparative analysis of our results with other available Alu variation data on neighbouring populations supports the "Voyaging Corridor" model of Polynesian human settlement, which indicates that pre-Polynesians are mainly derived from Southeast Asian and Wallacean populations rather than from Taiwan or the Philippines. This study underlines the importance of sampling and taking into account historical information in genetic studies to unravel the recent evolution of human populations.


mtDNA of ancient Inner Mongolian tribe

From the conclusions:
The present study shows that the genetic structure of the Wanggu tribe is a complex matriline, involving the admixture of Europeans and Asians, including East
Asian and Siberian groups. Moreover, the Asian lineage probably contributes more than the European lineage to the ancient tribe. The Wanggu tribe has closer affinities with the Uzbeks and Uighurs, which to some extent reflects that the Wanggu tribe has a recent common origin with the two groups. Nevertheless, our conclusions are inevitably constrained by the small sample size of the Wanggu tribe. More samples and more studies will sufficiently reveal the origin of the ancient tribe.

American Journal of Physical Anthropology (Early View)

Molecular genetic analysis of Wanggu remains, Inner Mongolia, China

Yuqin Fu et al.


The Wanggu tribe, which contributed significantly to the foundation of the Yuan Dynasty, was one of the groups living on the Mongolian steppes during the Jin-Yuan period (AD 1127-1368) of Chinese history. However, there has been both archaeological and historical dispute regarding the origin of the ancient tribe. Recently, we discovered human remains of the Wanggu tribe in the Chengbozi cemetery in the Siziwang Banner of Inner Mongolia, China. To investigate the genetic structure of the Wanggu tribe and to trace the origins of the tribe at a molecular level, we analyzed the control-region sequences and coding regions of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from the remains by direct sequencing and restriction-fragment length polymorphism analysis. In combination with mtDNA data of 15 extant Eurasian populations, we performed phylogenetic analysis and multidimensional scaling analysis. Our results show that the genetic structure of the Wanggu tribe in the Jin-Yuan period is a complex matriline, containing admixture from both Asian and European populations. In addition, we reveal that on the basis of mtDNA data, the ancient tribe may share a recent common ancestor with the Turkic-speaking Uzbeks and Uighurs.


April 25, 2006

It's hard to identify people from another race

Racial feature similarity in eye of beholder

by Iris Kuo

But such misidentifications aren't due to racism, said Roy Malpass, a psychology professor at the University of Texas at El Paso who has published widely on the cross-race effect. "People make about 50 percent more errors" when they're asked to remember other-race faces, he said.


Steve Casteel, a vice president at Vance International, a worldwide security firm based in Oakton, Va., who also worked with U.S. Iraq envoys Paul Bremer and John Negroponte, saw that problem in real life among U.S. screeners on the Syrian border.

They'd ask admission-seekers who turned out to be foreign fighters, "'Where are you from?'" Casteel recalled, "and they'd say 'Mosul,' and they'd let them in.

"An Iraqi would know they weren't from Iraq immediately" from their faces and from other cultural cues, Casteel said.


Malpass theorizes that the brain becomes less malleable in the area responsible for recognition and that people try to remember faces by focusing on the physical traits that vary in their own race -- hair, eye color and noses among Caucasians, for example.

When those traits don't vary much in another race, such as Asians, they're stymied. Or they fix on traits that differ in other races, such as eye folds among Asians, which don't help them tell Asians apart.

"We're looking for things that distinguish them for us," Malpass said, "but not the things that distinguish them from each other."

Origin of the Shompen

"The Shompen are the "other Nicobaris", an enigmatic tribe living in the densely forested interior of Great Nicobar. There number has been roughly estimated at 300 in 2001. Very little is known about them. Recent unpublished genetic studies have indicated that the Shompen have different origins from the "ordinary" Nicobaris, although both groups have Mongolid ancestry. The ancestral Shompen came to Great Nicobar from Sumatra, more (maybe much more) than 10,000 years ago. The Nicobaris, on the other hand, came from the east, from mainland southeast Asia many thousands of years later. There is some genetic and linguistic evidence that the two groups mixed to a limited extent. Earlier suspected links to Negrito populations, however, have not been found. A peculiarity of the Shompen discovered in 1967 was that all of 55 individuals then screened turned out to have blood group O in the ABO system."

J Hum Genet. 2006;51(3):217-26. Epub 2006 Feb 2.

Molecular insights into the origins of the Shompen, a declining population of the Nicobar archipelago.

Trivedi R, Sitalaximi T, Banerjee J, Singh A, Sircar PK, Kashyap VK.

The Shompen, one of the most isolated and poorly understood contemporary hunter-gatherer populations, inhabit Great Nicobar Island, the southernmost island of the Nicobar archipelago. Morphological imprints in the Shompen were interpreted to favour a mixed Indo-Chinese, Malay, Negrito and Dravidian origin. Analyses of the mitochondrial, Y-chromosomal and autosomal gene pool of contemporary Shompen have revealed low diversity, illustrating a founder effect in the island population. Mitochondrial sequence analyses revealed the presence of two haplogroups of R lineage: B5a, and a newly defined clade, R12. Y-chromosomal analyses demonstrated the occurrence of a single lineage found predominantly in Austro-Asiatic speakers across Asia. With the different types of genetic markers analysed, the Shompen exhibit varying levels of genetic relatedness with the Nicobarese, and Austro-Asiatic speakers of mainland India and Southeast Asia. These genetic analyses provide evidence that the Shompen, an offshoot of the Nicobarese, are descendants of Mesolithic hunter-gatherers of Southeast Asian origin, deriving from at least two source populations.


April 24, 2006

Male-female differences in general intelligence

Note the difference between males and females in the right tail of the distribution.

Intelligence (Article in Press)

Males have greater g: Sex differences in general mental ability from 100,000 17- to 18-year-olds on the Scholastic Assessment Test

Douglas N. Jackson and J. Philippe Rushton


In this study we found that 17- to 18-year old males averaged 3.63 IQ points higher than did their female counterparts on the 1991 Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT). We analysed 145 item responses from 46,509 males and 56,007 females (total N = 102,516) using a principal components procedure. We found (1) the g factor underlies both the SAT Verbal (SAT-V) and the SAT Mathematics (SAT-M) scales with the congruence between these components greater than 0.90; (2) the g components predict undergraduate grades better than do the traditionally used SAT-V and SAT-M scales; (3) the male and the female g factors are congruent in excess of .99; (4) male–female differences in g have a point-biserial effect size of 0.12 favoring males (equivalent to 3.63 IQ points); (5) male–female differences in g are present throughout the entire distribution of scores; (6) male–female differences in g are found at every socioeconomic level; and (7) male–female differences in g are found across several ethnic groups. We conclude that while the magnitude of the male–female difference in g is not large, it is real and non-trivial. Finally, we discuss some remaining sex-difference/brain-size/IQ anomalies.


April 23, 2006

Happy Easter

Though you descended into the tomb, O Immortal, yet you destroyed the power of Hades; and you arose as victor, O Christ God, calling to the Myrrh-bearing women: Rejoice! and giving peace to your Apostles, O you who grant resurrection to the fallen.

Eι και εν τάφω κατήλθες, αθάνατε, αλλά του άδου καθείλες την δύναμιν, και ανέστης ως νικητής, Χριστέ ο Θεός, γυναιξί μυροφόροις φθεγξάμενος. Χαίρετε, και τοις σοις αποστόλοις ειρήνην δωρούμενος, ο τοις πεσούσι παρέχων ανάστασιν.

April 22, 2006

mtDNA of Polish Roma

Ann Hum Genet. 2006 Mar;70(2):195-206.

Mitochondrial DNA Diversity in the Polish Roma.

Malyarchuk BA, Grzybowski T, Derenko MV, Czarny J, Miscicka-Sliwka D.

Mitochondrial DNA variability in the Polish Roma population has been studied by means of hypervariable segment I and II (HVS I and II) sequencing and restriction fragment-length polymorphism analysis of the mtDNA coding region. The mtDNA haplotypes detected in the Polish Roma fall into the common Eurasian mitochondrial haplogroups (H, U3, K, J1, X, I, W, and M*). The results of complete mtDNA sequencing clearly indicate that the Romani M*-lineage belongs to the Indian-specific haplogroup M5, which is characterized by three transitions in the coding region, at sites 12477, 3921 and 709. Molecular variance analysis inferred from mtDNA data reveals that genetic distances between the Roma groups are considerably larger than those between the surrounding European populations. Also, there are significant differences between the Bulgarian Roma (Balkan and Vlax groups) and West European Roma (Polish, Lithuanian and Spanish groups). Comparative analysis of mtDNA haplotypes in the Roma populations shows that different haplotypes appear to demonstrate impressive founder effects: M5 and H (16261-16304) in all Romani groups; U3, I and J1 in some Romani groups. Interestingly, haplogroup K (with HVS I motif 16224-16234-16311) found in the Polish Roma sample seems to be specific for Ashkenazi Jewish populations.


April 18, 2006

Mediterranean diet lowers risk of Alzheimer's

Alzheimer's Risk Lowered by Mediterranean Diet in Study

For each additional point to Mediterranean diet scores (indicating increased adherence to the diet), Alzheimer's risk dropped by 9 to 10 percent.

Compared with the subjects in the least adherent group that adhered to a Mediterranean diet the least, subjects in the middle had 15 to 21 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, and those in the highest group had a 39 to 40 percent lower risk, suggesting a significant dose response effect.

The association remained significant even after adjusting for potential confounders such as age, gender, ethnicity, education, caloric intake, BMI, smoking and comorbid conditions.

Annals of Neurology (Early View)

Mediterranean diet and risk for Alzheimer's disease

Nikolaos Scarmeas, MD et al.

Previous research in Alzheimer's disease (AD) has focused on individual dietary components. There is converging evidence that composite dietary patterns such as the Mediterranean diet (MeDi) is related to lower risk for cardiovascular disease, several forms of cancer, and overall mortality. We sought to investigate the association between MeDi and risk for AD.

A total of 2,258 community-based nondemented individuals in New York were prospectively evaluated every 1.5 years. Adherence to the MeDi (zero- to nine-point scale with higher scores indicating higher adherence) was the main predictor in models that were adjusted for cohort, age, sex, ethnicity, education, apolipoprotein E genotype, caloric intake, smoking, medical comorbidity index, and body mass index.

There were 262 incident AD cases during the course of 4 (±3.0; range, 0.2-13.9) years of follow-up. Higher adherence to the MeDi was associated with lower risk for AD (hazard ratio, 0.91; 95% confidence interval, 0.83-0.98; p = 0.015). Compared with subjects in the lowest MeDi tertile, subjects in the middle MeDi tertile had a hazard ratio of 0.85 (95% confidence interval, 0.63-1.16) and those at the highest tertile had a hazard ratio of 0.60 (95% confidence interval, 0.42-0.87) for AD (p for trend = 0.007).


Neandertal and modern human lower jaw

From the paper:
Consistent with our hypothesis 1A, the present study
found geographic patterning in recent human mandibular
shape, despite considerable overlap. Classification
success for the 10 geographic samples was higher than
that found by Humphrey et al. (1999) (83.9% of the total
sample correctly classified by resubstitution, compared
to 74.3%), but was still lower than that observed with
cranial linear measurements (Howells, 1973). As noted
by Humphrey et al. (1999), greater classification success
may be related to the larger number of variables: 13 in
Humphrey et al. (1999), 70 in Howells (1973), and 28
3-D landmarks in this study. However, our results may
not be directly comparable with those of Humphrey
et al. (1999), as our samples do not represent biological
entities in the sense of demes.

American Journal of Physical Anthropology (Early View)

Quantitative analysis of human mandibular shape using three-dimensional geometric morphometrics

Elisabeth Nicholson, Katerina Harvati

Human mandibular morphology is often thought to reflect mainly function, and to be of lesser value in studies of population history. Previous descriptions of human mandibles showed variation in ramal height and breadth to be the strongest difference among recent human groups. Several mandibular traits that differentiate Neanderthals from modern humans include greater robusticity, a receding symphysis, a large retromolar space, a rounder gonial area, an asymmetric mandibular notch, and a posteriorly positioned mental foramen in Neanderthals. Nevertheless, the degree to which these differences are part of modern human variation and/or are related to size and function remains unclear. The aim of this study was to document geographic and functional patterning in the mandibular shape of recent humans, to assess the effects of allometry on mandibular form, and to quantitatively evaluate proposed Neanderthal mandibular traits through comparison with samples of geographically diverse recent humans. Data were collected in the form of three-dimensional coordinates of 28 landmarks. Unlike previous studies, this analysis found that modern human mandibular shape exhibits considerable geographic patterning, with some aspects of mandibular morphology reflecting a climatic gradient, and others, a functional specialization. Population history is also reflected in mandibular form, albeit relatively weakly. Proposed Neanderthal traits were found to separate Neanderthal from modern human mandibles successfully in the statistical analysis. Of these, the retromolar gap was found to be related to increased mandibular size in modern humans. The status of this trait as a Neanderthal autapomorphy should therefore be treated with caution.


April 17, 2006

Fathers who aren't really the fathers of their children

Does father know best? (EurekAlert):
Anderson compared the paternity test results for men with high paternity confidence to the results for men with low paternity confidence in an effort to determine how perceptions of fatherhood correlate to fact. He found that, overall, men who were confident about their fatherhood going into the test were only wrong 1.7 percent of the time, that is, they were indeed the child's father more than 98 percent of the time. Men who were dubious about their fatherhood – specifically men who contested paternity through paternity tests – were more frequently not the father of the child, but only in 29.8 percent of cases. More than 70 percent of the time, men who doubted their paternity were wrong.

Anderson also organized the data geographically, breaking down nonpaternity rates in different countries according to high and low paternity confidence. Among those for who paternity confidence was relatively high, actual nonpaternity is highest in Mexico and lowest among the Kohanim lineages of Sephardic Jews.
More on this when the study appears in the Current Anthropology website.

April 12, 2006

Disease mongering

PLoS Medicine has a collection of articles on Disease Mongering (freely available). From The Fight against Disease Mongering: Generating Knowledge for Action by guest editors Ray Moynihan and David Henry:
The problem of disease mongering is attracting increasing attention [1–3], though an adequate working definition remains elusive. In our view, disease mongering is the selling of sickness that widens the boundaries of illness and grows the markets for those who sell and deliver treatments. It is exemplified most explicitly by many pharmaceutical industry–funded disease-awareness campaigns—more often designed to sell drugs than to illuminate or to inform or educate about the prevention of illness or the maintenance of health. In this theme issue and elsewhere, observers have described different forms of disease mongering: aspects of ordinary life, such as menopause, being medicalised; mild problems portrayed as serious illnesses, as has occurred in the drug-company-sponsored promotion of irritable bowel syndrome (see pp. 156–174 in [2]; [4]) and risk factors, such as high cholesterol and osteoporosis, being framed as diseases.

See also Prevalence of depression has been greatly exaggerated

The ugly side of genetic ancestry testing

From a New York Times article title Seeking Ancestry in DNA Ties Uncovered by Tests :
Given the tests' speculative nature, it seems unlikely that colleges, governments and other institutions will embrace them. But that has not stopped many test-takers from adopting new DNA-based ethnicities — and a sense of entitlement to the privileges typically reserved for them.

Prospective employees with white skin are using the tests to apply as minority candidates, while some with black skin are citing their European ancestry in claiming inheritance rights.

One Christian is using the test to claim Jewish genetic ancestry and to demand Israeli citizenship, and Americans of every shade are staking a DNA claim to Indian scholarships, health services and casino money.

"This is not just somebody's desire to go find out whether their grandfather is Polish," said Troy Duster, a sociologist at New York University who has studied the social impact of the tests. "It's about access to money and power."


Ashley Klett's younger sister marked the "Asian" box on her college applications this year, after the elder Ms. Klett, 20, took a DNA test that said she was 2 percent East Asian and 98 percent European.

Whether it mattered they do not know, but she did get into the college of her choice.

"And they gave her a scholarship," Ashley said.


Mr. Haedrich, a nursing home director who was raised a Christian, found through a DNA ancestry test that he bears a genetic signature commonly found among Jews. He says his European ancestors may have hidden their faith for fear of persecution.

Rabbis, too, have disavowed the claim: "DNA, schmeeNA," Mr. Haedrich, 44, said the rabbi at a local synagogue in Los Angeles told him when he called to discuss it.

Undeterred, Mr. Haedrich has hired a lawyer to sue the Israeli government. As in America, he argues, DNA is widely accepted as evidence in forensics and paternity cases, so why not immigration?

Read the whole thing.

April 10, 2006

mtDNA of ancient Cumanians

A few years ago, I had proposed a mechanism for the arrival of Mongoloid genes into Europe. A paper on the Cumanians illustrates how these Mongoloid invaders turn out to be Caucasoid in terms of their mtDNA:
This study is the first aDNA characterization of one of the many historically attested eastern pastoral nomad populations that migrated into Europe—in this case, into the Carpathian basin during the 13th century. These archeological Cumanian samples belong to six haplogroups. One of these haplogroups belongs to the M lineage (haplogroup D) and is characteristic of Eastern Asia, but this is the second most frequent haplogroup in southern Siberia too. All the other haplogroups (H, V, U, U3, and JT) are West Eurasian, belonging to the N macrohaplogroup. Out of the eleven remains, four samples belonged to haplogroup H, two to haplogroup U, two to haplogroup V, and one each to the JT, U3, and D haplogroups. Modern Hungarian samples represent 15 haplogroups. All but one is a West Eurasian haplogroup [the remaining one is East Asian (haplogroup F)], but all belong to the N lineage. Four haplogroups (H, V, U*, JT), present in the ancient samples, can also be found in the modern Hungarians, but only for haplogroups H and V were identical haplotypes found. Haplogroups U3 and D occur exclusively in the ancient group, and 11 haplogroups (HV, U4, U5, K, J, J1a, T, T1, T2, W, and F) occur only in the modern Hungarian population. Haplogroup frequency in the modern Hungarian population is similar to other European populations, although haplogroup F is almost absent in continental Europe; therefore the presence of this haplogroup in the modern Hungarian population can reflect some past contribution.

Our results suggest that the Cumanians, as seen in the excavation at Csengele, were far from genetic homogeneity. Nevertheless, the grave artifacts are typical of the Cumanian steppe culture; and five of the six skeletons that were complete enough for anthropometric analysis appeared Asian rather than European (Horváth 1978, 2001), including two from the mitochondrial haplogroup H, which is typically European. It is interesting that the only skeleton for which anthropological examination indicated a partly European ancestry was that of the chieftain, whose haplotype is most frequently found in the Balkans.

Added to the Ancient DNA Compendium.

Human Biology
Volume 77, Number 5, October 2005

Bogácsi-Szabó, Erika. et al.

Mitochondrial DNA of Ancient Cumanians: Culturally Asian Steppe Nomadic Immigrants with Substantially More Western Eurasian Mitochondrial DNA Lineages

The Cumanians were originally Asian pastoral nomads who in the 13th century migrated to Hungary. We have examined mitochondrial DNA from members of the earliest Cumanian population in Hungary from two archeologically well-documented excavations and from 74 modern Hungarians from different rural locations in Hungary. Haplogroups were defined based on HVS I sequences and examinations of haplogroup-associated polymorphic sites of the protein coding region and of HVS II. To exclude contamination, some ancient DNA samples were cloned. A database was created from previously published mtDNA HVS I sequences (representing 2,615 individuals from different Asian and European populations) and 74 modern Hungarian sequences from the present study. This database was used to determine the relationships between the ancient Cumanians, modern Hungarians, and Eurasian populations and to estimate the genetic distances between these populations. We attempted to deduce the genetic trace of the migration of Cumanians. This study is the first ancient DNA characterization of an eastern pastoral nomad population that migrated into Europe. The results indicate that, while still possessing a Central Asian steppe culture, the Cumanians received a large admixture of maternal genes from more westerly populations before arriving in Hungary. A similar dilution of genetic, but not cultural, factors may have accompanied the settlement of other Asian nomads in Europe.


April 06, 2006

Population origins of Mongolians

More on this after I get a chance to read the paper...

Am J Phys Anthropol. 2006 Apr 4; [Epub ahead of print]

Population origins in Mongolia: Genetic structure analysis of ancient and modern DNA.

Keyser-Tracqui C, Crubezy E, Pamzsav H, Varga T, Ludes B.

In the present study, nuclear (autosomal and Y-chromosome short tandem repeats) and mitochondrial (hypervariable region I) ancient DNA data previously obtained from a 2,300-year-old Xiongnu population of the Egyin Gol Valley (south of Lake Baikal in northern Mongolia) (Keyser-Tracqui et al. 2003 Am. J. Hum. Genet. 73:247-260) were compared with data from two contemporary Mongolian populations: one from the same location (Egyin Gol Valley plus a perimeter of less than 100 km around the valley), and one from the whole of Mongolia. The principal objective of this comparative analysis was to assess the likelihood that genetic continuity exists between ancient and present-day Mongolian populations. Since the ancient Xiongnu sample might have been composed of some of the ancestors of the present-day Yakuts, data from a present-day Yakut population, as well as published data from Turkish populations, were also included in the comparative analysis. The main result of our study was the genetic similarity observed among Mongolian samples from different periods and geographic areas. This result supports the hypothesis that the succession over time of different Turkic and Mongolian tribes in the current territory of Mongolia resulted in cultural rather than genetic exchanges. Furthermore, it appears that the Yakuts probably did not find their origin among the Xiongnu tribes, as we previously hypothesized.


The deep mitochondrial origin of Australian aboriginals

Am J Phys Anthropol. 2006 Apr 4; [Epub ahead of print]

Mitochondrial genomics identifies major haplogroups in Aboriginal Australians.

van Holst Pellekaan SM, Ingman M, Roberts-Thomson J, Harding RM.

We classified diversity in eight new complete mitochondrial genome sequences and 41 partial sequences from living Aboriginal Australians into five haplogroups. Haplogroup AuB belongs to global lineage M, and AuA, AuC, AuD, and AuE to N. Within N, we recognize subdivisions, assigning AuA to haplogroup S, AuD to haplogroup O, AuC to P4, and AuE to P8. On available evidence, (S)AuA and (M)AuB are widespread in Australia. (P4)AuC is found in the Riverine region of western New South Wales, and was identified by others in northern Australia. (O)AuD and (P8)AuE were clearly identified only from central Australia. Our eight Australian full mt genome sequences, combined with 20 others (Ingman and Gyllensten 2003 Genome Res. 13:1600-1606) and compared with full mt genome sequences from regions to the north that include Papua New Guinea, Malaya, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands, show that ancestral connections between regions are deep and limited to clustering at the level of the N and M macrohaplogroups. The Australian-specific distribution of the five haplogroups identified indicates genetic isolation over a long period. Ancestral connections within Australia are deeper than those reflected by known linguistic or culturally based affinities. Applying a coalescence analysis to a gene tree for the coding regions of the eight genomic sequences, we made estimates of time depth that support a continuity of presence for the descendants of a founding population already established by 40,000 years ago.


April 03, 2006

Religious affiliations of famous people

I just discovered the Famous Adherents site which lists the religious affiliation of many famous people. It looks like an interesting source of information on the subject. There are some very unexpected listings there (Carole Lombard: Baha'i, Tom Hanks: Greek Orthodox, Jean-Luc Goddard: Calvinist/Huguenot (lapsed); devout Maoist, Dwight D. Eisenhower: raised Jehova's Witness).

Mansfield on Manliness

Harvey Mansfield's new book titled "Manliness" is drawing quite a discussion in the blogosphere. The book description:

This book invites—no, demands—a response from its readers. It is impossible not to be drawn in to the provocative (often contentious) discussion that Harvey Mansfield sets before us. This is the first comprehensive study of manliness, a quality both bad and good, mostly male, often intolerant, irrational, and ambitious. Our “gender-neutral society” does not like it but cannot get rid of it.
Drawing from science, literature, and philosophy, Mansfield examines the layers of manliness, from vulgar aggression, to assertive manliness, to manliness as virtue, and to philosophical manliness. He shows that manliness seeks and welcomes drama, prefers times of war, conflict, and risk, and brings change or restores order at crucial moments. Manly men in their assertiveness raise issues, bring them to the fore, and make them public and political—as for example, the manliness of the women’s movement.
After a wide-ranging tour from stereotypes to Hemingway and Achilles, to Nietzsche, to feminism, and to Plato, the author returns to today’s problem of “unemployed manliness.” Formulating a reasoned defense of a quality hardly obedient to reason, he urges men, and especially women, to understand and accept manliness, and to give it honest and honorable employment.

On the same subject, a 1998 commentary by the author:

Reproductive Health Matters
Volume 6, Issue 12 , November 1998, Pages 116-121

The partial eclipse of manliness

Harvey Mansfield


Our society as adopted, quite without realising the magnitude of the change, a practice of equality between the sexes that has never een known before in all human history. It is true that, until recently, most men have held a confident belief in male superiority. But thoughtful men of all kinds have almost all had something to say about manliness and what they ave said has been critical to one degree or another. Women, today, are caught between declaring their ambition to do what men do and affirming themselves as women. Men wonder how they can do justice to women and still be manly. This paper concludes that the price of humanising manliness, of raising it from quality to virtue, is allowing women to participate in it.


April 01, 2006

East-west cranial differences of South Americans

HOMO - Journal of Comparative Human Biology (Article in Press)

East–West cranial differentiation in pre-Columbian human populations of South America

Héctor M. Pucciarelli et al.


South Amerindians are frequently thought of as a rather biologically homogeneous megapopulation. However, when native South Americans are assessed by information coming from DNA variability analysis, they resolve into two, major distinct entities of Eastern and Western zones. The purpose of this study is to investigate if the same dual pattern emerges from craniometric data. We approached this question by means of functional craniometric variables. We found strong evidence that Westerners and Easterners constitute two distinct and independent microevolutionary universes when cranial morphology is assessed. The existence of a third universe, Northwest, cannot be completely ruled out, but needs further investigation. We also discovered that Westerners and Easterners present similar degrees of internal variation, contrary to the findings of geneticists and molecular biologists. Palaeoamericans seem to be more similar to Easterners than to Westerners and North-Westerners. Our results suggest that this East–West cranial differentiation is more probably the result of differential rates of genetic drift and gene flow acting on each side of the Cordillera. However, different intensities of gene flow between Palaeoamericans and Amerindians in the highlands and in the lowlands cannot be completely dismissed as a possible explanation for the differentiation found.