March 31, 2007

R1a1 frequencies in Southeastern Europe

I have compiled frequency data for haplogroup R1a1 in southeastern Europe and Ukraine, the putative source of the R1a1 expansion in Europe. Let me know if there are additional studies to be included here. Also, R1a frequencies were used from some older studies (e.g., Rosser), but this shouldn't be a problem since R1a and R1a1 are almost always equivalent. The sources are also listed, and in most cases you should be able to track down the relevant papers on PubMed using the lead researcher's last name. Post any corrections/additional info in the comments.

Ukrainians 45% Semino,Rosser,Kharkov,Varzari,Passarino
Slovenes 37% Rosser
Moldavians 29% Varzari
Croats 26% Marjanovic,Barac,Pericic
Romanians 20% Bosch,Rosser,Stefan,Varzari
Bosnians 19% Marjanovic,Pericic
Serbs 15% Marjanovic,Rosser,Pericic
Slav Macedonians 15% Bosch,Pericic
Bulgarians 14% Malaspina,Rosser
Herzegovinians 12% Pericic
Greeks 12% Firasat,Bosch,Martinez,Semino,Helgason,DiGiacomo,Rosser
Aromuns 10% Bosch
Albanians 7% Bosch,Pericic
Cypriots 6% Capelli,Rosser

March 30, 2007

Divergent X chromosome haplotype in Eurasians and East Africans

Yet another piece of evidence in favor of my idea that ancestral Africans were subdivided and did not form a single population. A widely divergent haplotype of the X chromosome was found in Eurasians and East Africans but not at all in the Sub-Saharan Africans of the CEPH Panel. If there was no population structure in Africa, then we would expect to see this hX haplotype in different African locations.

From the paper:
Designated hX, this haplotype was found once in Melanesia (Oceania) and 8 times in widespread locations in Eurasia, including the Orkney Islands, Pakistan, Algeria, Israel, and France. Contrary to the typical pattern found in many genes, in which the variation in non-African populations is a subset of the variation in sub-Saharan Africa, hX was not observed among the HGDP-CEPH males from sub-Saharan Africa (98 individuals).


One possible historical model that could generate this pattern supposes that differences between hX and other haplotypes arose in the presence of population structure that allowed for the divergence among Xp11.22 haplotypes. Even if we discount the possibility of a non-African archaic human population as the source of hX, the age and low frequency of the haplotype does suggest a history in which hX persisted and diverged in a separate refugium population (either a separate modern human population or possibly an archaic human population). Models of this type, which suppose the presence of old population strutcture among African populations, have been suggested based on evidence from other regions of the genome (Tishkoff et al. 1996Go; Harding et al. 1997Go; Labuda et al. 2000Go; Tishkoff et al. 2000Go; Zietkiewicz et al. 2003Go; Garrigan, Mobesher, Kingan, et al. 2005Go).

Molecular Biology and Evolution

Divergent Haplotypes and Human History as Revealed in a Worldwide Survey of X-Linked DNA Sequence Variation

Makoto K. Shimada et al.

The population genetic history of a 10.1-kbp noncoding region of the human X chromosome was studied using the males of the HGDP-CEPH Human Genome Diversity Panel (672 individuals from 52 populations). The geographic distribution of patterns of variation was roughly consistent with previous studies, with the major exception that 1 highly divergent haplotype (haplotype X, hX) was observed at low frequency in widely scattered non-African populations and not at all observed in sub-Saharan African populations. Microsatellite (short tandem repeat) variation within the sequenced region was low among copies of hX, even though the estimated time of ancestry of hX and other sequences was 1.44 Myr. The estimated age of the common ancestor of all hX copies was 5,230 years (95% consistency index: 2,000–75,480 years). To further address the presence of hX in Africa, additional samples from Chad and Tanzania were screened. Five additional copies of hX were observed, consistent with a history in which hX was present in Africa prior to the migration of modern humans out of Africa and with eastern Africa being the source of non-African modern human populations. Taken together, these features of hX—that it is much older than other haplotypes and uncommon and patchily distributed throughout Africa, Europe, and Asia—present a cautionary tale for interpretations of human history.


mtDNA analysis of ancient African lineages

New paper from Sarah Tishkoff's lab:

Molecular Biology and Evolution

Whole-mtDNA Genome Sequence Analysis of Ancient African Lineages

Mary Katherine Gonder et al.

Studies of human mitochondrial (mt) DNA genomes demonstrate that the root of the human phylogenetic tree occurs in Africa. Although 2 mtDNA lineages with an African origin (haplogroups M and N) were the progenitors of all non-African haplogroups, macrohaplogroup L (including haplogroups L0–L6) is limited to sub-Saharan Africa. Several L haplogroup lineages occur most frequently in eastern Africa (e.g., L0a, L0f, L5, and L3g), but some are specific to certain ethnic groups, such as haplogroup lineages L0d and L0k that previously have been found nearly exclusively among southern African "click" speakers. Few studies have included multiple mtDNA genome samples belonging to haplogroups that occur in eastern and southern Africa but are rare or absent elsewhere. This lack of sampling in eastern Africa makes it difficult to infer relationships among mtDNA haplogroups or to examine events that occurred early in human history. We sequenced 62 complete mtDNA genomes of ethnically diverse Tanzanians, southern African Khoisan speakers, and Bakola Pygmies and compared them with a global pool of 226 mtDNA genomes. From these, we infer phylogenetic relationships amongst mtDNA haplogroups and estimate the time to most recent common ancestor (TMRCA) for haplogroup lineages. These data suggest that Tanzanians have high genetic diversity and possess ancient mtDNA haplogroups, some of which are either rare (L0d and L5) or absent (L0f) in other regions of Africa. We propose that a large and diverse human population has persisted in eastern Africa and that eastern Africa may have been an ancient source of dispersion of modern humans both within and outside of Africa.


DNA8 Conference

From the program of the 8th International Conference on Ancient DNA and Associated Biomolecules which took place last October.

Greenblatt Charles L., Towards the Molecular Archaeology of the Holyland
The history of the Israelite origin and residence in the area of present day
Israel stretches back through a number of important archaeological periods;
from the Early Bronze Age (3,500 BC), through the Iron Age (1150 – 586 BC),
the Hellenistic (300 BC) and the late Roman period (70 – 400 CE). Several
major questions dominate the archaeology of the Holyland. They concern the
origin of the Israelites, the maintenance of their social structure (that is the
priestly class, the kings, prophets and rabbis), and the conquest of the land
from the Cannanites. More generally stated, how did these nomads with a
record of bad kings, corrupt priests, conquest by major enemies – Egyptians,
Assyrians, Arameans (Syrians), Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans,
persist and even become dominant in the land? Molecular biology and aDNA
research can lend insights into some of these questions. Central to the
successful settlement was plant and animal domestication. Recently we have
been able to do the evolutionary tree of the indigenous grape and traced its
relationship to those of the Mediterranean basin. Parchments from the Dead
Sea Scrolls provide molecular signatures of early goat domesticates. Y
chromosome analysis shows relatedness of the Jews to Mesopotamian
populations, and on the same chromosome gene clusters define the priestly
class’s origin as occurring before the separation of the mainstreams of the
Jews. We are also gaining a better idea of the diseases of the Biblical period,
with a recent finding of a member of the elite class co-infected with leprosy
and tuberculosis.
Baca M. et al, Was Inca from Ccopan genetically different from his subjects?
Polish archeological team headed by dr M. Ziolkowski discovered in Ccopan
site in Peru a rich grave dated for XV century. Most probably, the grave
belonged to an Inca of high rank. We have amplified and analyzed the 290 bp
mtDNA fragment from the remnants (teeth) found in this grave and from the
remnants of 4 individuals buried nearby in much poorer graves. The aim of
this study is to verify the hypothesis that Inca leaders were ethnically different
from their subjects. We are planning to analyze mtDNA sequences from the
greater number of individual and to extend our study on the chromosome Y
Cipollaro M., del Gaudio S., Pompeii and Murecine: tales from ancient DNA
Ancient DNA extracted from individuals found in three houses located in
Pompeii and Murecine has been studied. Mitochondrial DNA and single genes
analysis has been carried out beside histochemical evaluation of bone tissue.
Data are shown concerning: a possible pedigree of Polybius house
inhabitants, the mitochondrial hypervariable segment I sequences of Murecine
remains and a single gene fragment sequence of three equids found in "Casti
Amanti" house.
The following abstract seems to contradict directly the recent paper on recent selection of Europeans' capacity to digest milk.

Fulge M., Renneberg R., Hummel S., Herrmann B., Lactose persistence in prehistoric individuals
Introduction: The dietary habits of ancient populations are often issues of
stake. With the domestication of animals like cattle, sheep and goat these
habits changed. The question since when milk and its products were used as
daily life aliment is of special interest, because the normal condition in
mammals is that after the lactation period they are not able to digest lactose.
In 95% of the European individuals the state of lactose tolerance maintains,
whereas in Africa and Asia 95% are lactose intolerant.
The point of time and the place of development of the lactase persistence are
in request. Two different theories of it exist. One is that the lactose tolerance
developed in Anatolia in the Neolithic period and would have spread in Europe
8000 years ago. The other theory declares a nomadic tribe (Kurgan culture)
as population of origin. Following this theory the lactose tolerance would have
spread 4500-3500 years ago.
One method to detect the status of the digesting ability of lactose is to
determine the pointmutation C/T (-13910) which is linked to the lactase gene.
If a T is realized (homo- or heterozygote) you are able to digest lactose. In this
study we investigated this mutation in 38 individuals of the Bronze Age
Lichtenstein Cave and in nine Celtic individuals from Manching to get a clue
when the lactose tolerance was spread in Europe.
Materials and Methods: The DNA was extracted of femora and mandibles with
a silica-based method on the EZ1-extraction robot (Qiagen). For detecting the
pointmutaion a dye labelled primer was designed. The upper primer contained
a mismatch which permits the digestion with HinfI if thymidin is realized at the
position 13910. For proving the authenticity of the results the lactose Primer
was coamplified with six autosomal STRs.
Results and Perspective: The lactose genotype could be amplified and
authenticated in 27 Individuals of the Lichtenstein Cave. About 60% were
lactose tolerant and around 40% were intolerant. Similar results were detected
in the nine Celtic individuals: around 50% was lactose intolerant. These high
rates of intolerant individuals suggest that even if stock farming was done
consume of milk was not a daily habit. These results give a hint that lactose
tolerance was not only spread 8000 years ago. For proving this thesis earlier
and later populations should be analysed.

Krause S., Scholten A., Hummel S., Cystic Fibrosis and Hemochromatosis in a Bronze Age population
Introduction: In present day Central European populations, Cystic Fibrosis
(CF) and Hereditary Hemochromatosis (HH) are the most common genetically
determined inherited diseases. Both defects are inherited in an autosomal
recessive mode. While for CF the rate of homozygosity is about 1:2000, the
value is even higher in HH (1:400). Possible reasons for the high incidence
are heterozygous advantages. In case of CF, individuals heterozygous for the
ΔF508 mutation do not suffer from dehydration in relation to diarrhoea, which
may have positively influenced the survival rate for newborn and infant
individuals in historic times. In case of HH which arises from SNPs called
C282Y and H63D women are less prone to suffer from the consequences of
iron loss due to menstrual bleeding and enhanced iron requirements during
pregnancy and lactation. Deviating alleles are thought to have accumulated
comparatively recently in European populations. Methods: The well preserved
Bronze Age skeletal remains of the Lichtenstein Cave from the Harz
mountains, which proved to be an invaluable genetic archive already in other
contexts (e.g. Δ32 ccr5, Hummel et al. 2005) now enabled to investigate the
genetic markers responsible for CF and HH. DNA extracts were processed
from bone powder of all 39 individuals with the help of the EZ1 Biorobot
(Qiagen) (cf. Poster of Wenzel et al.). The primers for the detection of the 3
bp-deletion ΔF508 on chromosome 7 indicating CF were co-amplified with the
STR typing kit Profiler Plus (Applied Biosystems). Therefore, each result for
ΔF508 is accompanied by a full genetic fingerprint ensuring the authenticity of
the amplification result. In case of HH the primers for C282Y and H63D were
each co-amplified with an octaplex STR amplification system, again
generating genetic fingerprint data. The determination of the SNPs were then
carried out through RFLP analysis of the entire amplification product. Results:
None of the Lichtenstein cave individuals revealed the 3bp deletion at the
ΔF508 locus. This result indicates that the increased allele frequencies of
ΔF508 in present day populations may indeed be a result of the younger
European history. In contrast, the typing of C282Y and H63D for HH indicates
that at least the polymorphism for C282Y must be older than the 2000 years
assumed since we found 8% of the 3000 years old Lichtenstein cave
individuals being heterozygous. However, none of the individuals is suspect to
have suffered from HH which requires the compound heterozygous state for
both loci. Although we found 36,5% of the individuals being either
homozygous (13,5%) or heterozygous (23%) for the mutation in H63D none of
these individuals is showing the mutation for C282Y as well. Again, the results
prove that the polymorphism H63D is much older than 3000 years.

Ovchinnikov I. et al., The Pleistocene Horse mtDNA Diversity in Sungir, Russia

Renneberg R. et al., Ancient DNA analysis of bones and textiles of prehispanic
populations settled in the Palpa Valley/Peru

Zawicki P. et al., Presence of Δ32CCR5 in medieval specimens from Poland

ESHG 2007

In this summer's European Society of Human Genetics conference one of the presentations will be on "Origin of the Etruscans: novel clues from the Y chromosome lineages". I wonder if my prediction of a high representation of Y haplogroup J1 (almost equivalent to J*(xJ2)) among the ancient Etruscans will be supported by this research. Unfortunately, I did not see an abstract posted yet. Another interesting title is "Epidemics of viral haemorrhagic fever in Medieval times as a possible selection pressure for CCR5del32 in Europe: new insights from Croatian island isolates". This involves an allele which confers resistance to the HIV virus and which is found frequently particularly in Northern Europeans, so perhaps its presence may be the result of some past selection effect against a different disease.

March 28, 2007

Binge-drinking in the European Union

The full report has more data.

Mediterranean diet in Greco-Roman and Byzantine writers

Obes Surg. 2007 Jan;17(1):112-6.

Greco-Roman and Byzantine views on obesity.

Papavramidou N, Christopoulou-Aletra H.

This paper focuses on the Greco-Roman views on obesity with certain extensions to the Byzantine era. The writers reported hereby are Aulus Cornelius Celsus (circa 25 BC), Dioscorides Pedanius (40-90 AD), Soranus of Ephesus (98-138 AD) whose writings on the subject survived through Caelius Aurelianus (5th c. AD), Claudius Aelianus (3rd C. AD), Oribasius (324-400 AD), Aetius of Amida (circa 450 AD), Alexander Trallianus (6th c. AD), Paulus Aegineta (7th c. AD), and Theophilus Protospatharius (9th C. AD). All of the authors treat the subject of etiology, clinical manifestations and treatment, while the Hippocratic and Galenic views seem to be taken into consideration. The most important observation made on the basis of the studied texts is the emersion of the notion of the "Mediterranean diet" that was advised as an extremely successful conservative way to treat obesity. The Greco-Roman and Byzantine writers continue the long tradition of treating obesity and set the foundations for modern methods of treatment.


March 27, 2007

Genetics of Cambodia

Ann Hum Biol. 2006 Sep-Dec;33(5-6):620-7.

Genetic ancestries in northwest Cambodia.

Black ML, Dufall K, Wise C, Sullivan S, Bittles AH.

A survey of the genetic ancestry of 125 Cambodian children resident in Siem Reap province was undertaken, based on eight Y-chromosome binary polymorphisms and sequencing of the mtDNA HV1 region. The data indicated a largely East Asian paternal ancestry and a local Southeast Asian maternal ancestry. The presence of Y-chromosomes P* and R1al* was suggestive of a small but significant Indo-European male ancestral component, which probably reflects the history of Indian, and later European, influences on Cambodia.


Preferred traits across nations and sexual orientations

I will try to get a hold of this study to comment further. The finding that "heterosexual more than homosexual participants assigned importance to religion, fondness for children, and parenting abilities" should give pause to those who claim that heterosexuals and homosexuals are equally likely to make good parents.

Arch Sex Behav. 2007 Mar 23; [Epub ahead of print]

The Preferred Traits of Mates in a Cross-National Study of Heterosexual and Homosexual Men and Women: An Examination of Biological and Cultural Influences.

Lippa RA.

Department of Psychology, California State University, Fullerton, California, 92834, USA,

BBC Internet survey participants (119,733 men and 98,462 women) chose from a list of 23 traits those they considered first, second, and third most important in a relationship partner. Across all participants, the traits ranked most important were: intelligence, humor, honesty, kindness, overall good looks, face attractiveness, values, communication skills, and dependability. On average, men ranked good looks and facial attractiveness more important than women did (d = 0.55 and 0.36, respectively), whereas women ranked honesty, humor, kindness, and dependability more important than men did (ds = 0.23, 0.22, 0.18, and 0.15). Sexual orientation differences were smaller than sex differences in trait rankings, but some were meaningful; for example, heterosexual more than homosexual participants assigned importance to religion, fondness for children, and parenting abilities. Multidimensional scaling analyses showed that trait preference profiles clustered by participant sex, not by sexual orientation, and by sex more than by nationality. Sex-by-nation ANOVAs of individuals' trait rankings showed that sex differences in rankings of attractiveness, but not of character traits, were extremely consistent across 53 nations and that nation main effects and sex-by-nation interactions were stronger for character traits than for physical attractiveness. United Nations indices of gender equality correlated, across nations, with men's and women's rankings of character traits but not with their rankings of physical attractiveness. These results suggest that cultural factors had a relatively greater impact on men's and women's rankings of character traits, whereas biological factors had a relatively greater impact on men's and women's rankings of physical attractiveness.


Mycobacterium bovis in Iron Age Siberian

Microbiology. 2007 Apr;153(Pt 4):1243-9.

First report of Mycobacterium bovis DNA in human remains from the Iron Age.

Taylor GM, Murphy E, Hopkins R, Rutland P, Chistov Y.

Tuberculosis has plagued humankind since prehistoric times, as is evident from characteristic lesions on human skeletons dating back to the Neolithic period. The disease in man is due predominantly to infection with either Mycobacterium tuberculosis or Mycobacterium bovis, both members of the M. tuberculosis (MTB) complex. A number of studies have shown that when conditions permit, surviving mycobacterial DNA may be amplified from bone by PCR. Such ancient DNA (aDNA) analyses are subject to stringent tests of authenticity and, when feasible, are invariably limited by DNA fragmentation. Using PCRs based on single-nucleotide polymorphic loci and regions of difference (RDs) in the MTB complex, a study was made of five Iron Age individuals with spinal lesions recovered from the cemetery of Aymyrlyg, South Siberia. A sensitive screening PCR for MTB complex mycobacteria was positive in four out of the five cases. Genotyping evidence indicated that all four cases were due to infection with M. bovis rather than M. tuberculosis and the data were consistent with the proposed phylogenetic model of the MTB complex. This is believed to be the first report of M. bovis causing Pott's disease in archaeological human remains. The study shows that genotyping of ancestral strains of MTB complex mycobacteria from contexts of known date provides information which allows the phylogeny of the model to be tested. Moreover, it shows that loss of DNA from RD4, which defines classic M. bovis, had already occurred from the genome over 2000 years before the present.


March 26, 2007

How Greek theaters filter out noise

Excerpt from Nature story:
The wonderful acoustics for which the ancient Greek theatre of Epidaurus is renowned may come from exploiting complex acoustic physics, new research shows.

The theatre, discovered under a layer of earth on the Peloponnese peninsula in 1881 and excavated, has the classic semicircular shape of a Greek amphitheatre, with 34 rows of stone seats (to which the Romans added a further 21).

Its acoustics are extraordinary: a performer standing on the open-air stage can be heard in the back rows almost 60 metres away. Architects and archaeologists have long speculated about what makes the sound transmit so well.

Now Nico Declercq and Cindy Dekeyser of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta say that the key is the arrangement of the stepped rows of seats. They calculate that this structure is perfectly shaped to act as an acoustic filter, suppressing low-frequency sound — the major component of background noise — while passing on the high frequencies of performers' voices1.

It's not clear whether this property comes from chance or design, Declercq says. But either way, he thinks that the Greeks and Romans appreciated that the acoustics at Epidaurus were something special, and copied them elsewhere.


In the first century BC the Roman authority on architecture, Vitruvius, implied that his predecessors knew very well how to design a theatre to emphasize the human voice. "By the rules of mathematics and the method of music," he wrote, "they sought to make the voices from the stage rise more clearly and sweetly to the spectators' ears... by the arrangement of theatres in accordance with the science of harmony, the ancients increased the power of the voice."

March 24, 2007

Genetic structure of chimpanzee populations

This cleverly titled paper echoes the 2002 paper on the Genetic structure of human populations. From the paper:
We have carried out the largest analysis of chimpanzee genetic variation to date, which shows that the western, central and eastern chimpanzee subspecies designations correspond to clusters of individuals with similar allele frequencies that can be defined from the genetic data without regard to the population labels.
I wonder which closely related species has groups whose members can be identified from the genetic data without regard to the population labels...

Interestingly, some individuals from this study were found to be admixed from the different subspecies, and these were invariable domesticated:
Moreover, we find little evidence for admixture between groups in the wild.
Can you guess which closely related species has been recently domesticated?

PLoS Genetics (online early)

Genetic structure of chimpanzee populations

Celine Becquet et al.

Little is known about the history and population structure of our closest living relatives, the chimpanzees, in part because of an extremely poor fossil record. To address this, we report the largest genetic study of the chimpanzees to date, examining 310 microsatellites in 84 common chimpanzees and bonobos. We infer three common chimpanzee populations, which correspond to the previously defined labels of "western", "central" and "eastern", and find little evidence of gene flow between them. There is tentative evidence for structure within western chimpanzees but we do not detect distinct additional populations. The data also provide historical insights, demonstrating that the western chimpanzee population diverged first, and that the eastern and central populations are more closely related in time.


March 23, 2007

Tumulus Burials from Albania

American Journal of Archaeology

Excavations at the Prehistoric Burial Tumulus of Lofkënd in Albania: A Preliminary Report for the 2004–2005 Seasons

John K. Papadopoulos, Lorenc Bejko, and Sarah P. Morris

Exploration of an Early Iron Age burial tumulus at Lofkënd in Albania offered a unique opportunity to examine the formative period immediately preceding the founding of Greek colonies on the coast and how such a prominent burial place functioned in relation to a particular group, or groups, of people in Illyria. We anticipated that the investigation of a major burial site predating both the colonial foundations and the majority of the so-called protourban centers in the region would lead to a better understanding of the processes that contributed to the rise of urbanism in Illyria. This report presents a preliminary account of the 2004 and 2005 excavation seasons, during which time more than 60 burials were cleared. Mortuary customs are discussed and a brief account of a DNA study is presented. Various finds from the fill of the tumulus and a soil analysis provide important new evidence on tumulus formation. We review the chronology of the site and present the preliminary results of a fully textured three-dimensional model of the mound and its tombs. Comparison with sites to the north and south, particularly in Epirus, may have far-reaching implications for Early Iron Age Albania and Greece.


Admixture and disease in African Americans

Human Genetics (online early)

Genetic ancestry, population sub-structure, and cardiovascular disease-related traits among African-American participants in the CARDIA Study

Alexander P. Reiner et al.

Abstract African-American populations are genetically admixed. Studies performed among unrelated individuals from ethnically admixed populations may be both vulnerable to confounding by population stratification, but offer an opportunity for efficiently mapping complex traits through admixture linkage disequilibrium. By typing 42 ancestry-informative markers and estimating genetic ancestry, we assessed genetic admixture and heterogeneity among African-American participants in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) cohort. We also assessed associations between individual genetic ancestry and several quantitative and binary traits related to cardiovascular risk. We found evidence of population sub-structure and excess inter-marker linkage disequilibrium, consistent with recent admixture. The estimated group admixture proportions were 78.1% African and 22.9% European, but differed according to geographic region. In multiple regression models, African ancestry was significantly associated with decreased total cholesterol, decreased LDL-cholesterol, and decreased triglycerides, and also with increased risk of insulin resistance. These observed associations between African ancestry and several lipid traits are consistent with the general tendency of individuals of African descent to have healthier lipid profiles compared to European-Americans. There was no association between genetic ancestry and hypertension, BMI, waist circumference, CRP level, or coronary artery calcification. These results demonstrate the potential for confounding of genetic associations with some cardiovascular disease-related traits in large studies involving US African-Americans.


March 21, 2007

Cranial anatomy and population history or climate adaptation

The Anatomical Record Part A: Discoveries in Molecular, Cellular, and Evolutionary Biology Volume 288A, Issue 12 , Pages 1225 - 1233

Human cranial anatomy and the differential preservation of population history and climate signatures

Katerina Harvati, Timothy D. Weaver


Cranial morphology is widely used to reconstruct evolutionary relationships, but its reliability in reflecting phylogeny and population history has been questioned. Some cranial regions, particularly the face and neurocranium, are believed to be influenced by the environment and prone to convergence. Others, such as the temporal bone, are thought to reflect more accurately phylogenetic relationships. Direct testing of these hypotheses was not possible until the advent of large genetic data sets. The few relevant studies in human populations have had intriguing but possibly conflicting results, probably partly due to methodological differences and to the small numbers of populations used. Here we use three-dimensional (3D) geometric morphometrics methods to test explicitly the ability of cranial shape, size, and relative position/orientation of cranial regions to track population history and climate. Morphological distances among 13 recent human populations were calculated from four 3D landmark data sets, respectively reflecting facial, neurocranial, and temporal bone shape; shape and relative position; overall cranial shape; and centroid sizes. These distances were compared to neutral genetic and climatic distances among the same, or closely matched, populations. Results indicate that neurocranial and temporal bone shape track neutral genetic distances, while facial shape reflects climate; centroid size shows a weak association with climatic variables; and relative position/orientation of cranial regions does not appear correlated with any of these factors. Because different cranial regions preserve population history and climate signatures differentially, caution is suggested when using cranial anatomy for phylogenetic reconstruction.


March 20, 2007

Reversal of Flynn effect in Denmark

Danish IQ appears to have become lower over a 5-6 year period, providing some evidence that the Flynn effect (secular increase in IQ) not only has ceased to operate but may have actually reversed.

Intelligence (Article in Press)

Secular declines in cognitive test scores: A reversal of the Flynn Effect

Thomas W. Teasdale and David R. Owen


Scores on cognitive tests have been very widely reported to have increased through the decades of the last century, a generational phenomenon termed the ‘Flynn Effect’ since it was most comprehensively documented by James Flynn in the 1980's. There has, however, been very little evidence concerning any continuity of the effect specifically into the present century. We here report data from a population, namely young adult males in Denmark, showing that whereas there were modest increases between 1988 and 1998 in scores on a battery of four cognitive tests–these constituting a diminishing continuation of a trend documented back to the late 1950's–scores on all four tests declined between 1998 and 2003/2004. For two of the tests, levels fell to below those of 1988. Across all tests, the decrease in the 5/6 year period corresponds to approximately 1.5 IQ points, very close to the net gain between 1988 and 1998. The declines between 1998 and 2003/4 appeared amongst both men pursuing higher academic education and those not doing so.


March 17, 2007

Origin of Slavs in the Ukraine

This is a significant new paper covering Slavic genetic origins. I will have much more to say on it shortly.

UPDATE (March 17):

From the paper:
The most outstanding populations were those of Poland and northern Belarus, while populations of central Belarus, southern Belarus and Slovakia were genetically indistinguishable.


The most apparent genetic distance was found between the northern (Eastern and Western) and Southern Slavs, who at the end of the 9th century were separated by the invasion of Finno-
Ugric Hungarians [...] The observed northern Slavic Y-STR genetic homogeneity extends from Slovakia and Ukraine to parts of Russia and Belarus, but also involves Southern-Slavic populations of Slovenia and western Croatia, and is the most probably due to a homogeneous genetic substrate inherited from the ancestral Slavic population. However, due to the Y-STR proximity of linguistically and geographically Southern-Slavic Slovenes and western Croats to the northern Slavic branch, the observed genetic differentiation cannot simply be explained by the separation of both Slavic-speaking groups by the non-Slavic Romanians, Hungarians, and Germanspeaking Austrians [...] Thus, the contribution of the Y chromosomes of peoples who settled in the region before the Slavic expansion to the genetic heritage of Southern Slavs is the most likely explanation for this phenomenon. On the other hand, our results indicate no significant genetic traces of pre-sixth-century inhabitants of present-day Slovenia in the Slovene Y chromosome genetic pool.


AMOVA revealed significant differences in Y-STR distribution between Slavic and Baltic populations (P < 0.005 for all pairwise comparisons), which is
likely to result from the previously observed different Ychromosomal
haplogroup distribution (Rosser et al. 2000). The Baltic populations are characterised by the high incidence of the Y-chromosomal haplogroup N3 (47% among Lithuanians, 32% among Latvians) (Rosser et al. 2000; Zerjal et al. 2001). Its distribution pattern in Slavic populations indicates that Proto-Slavs did not carry this lineage at a substantial frequency, since it is relatively rare among Slavs and at high frequency was observed only in some Russian subpopulations (Malyarchuk et al. 2004).


we estimated haplogroup N3 frequencies in the three Belarusian subpopulations. The results suggest that the uniqueness of the northern Belarusian population is most likely due to the high incidence of Y chromosomes from the haplogroup N3 (18.9%), which has half the frequency in central and southern Belarus (8.8 and 8.1%, respectively). Therefore, although the early ethnogenesis of the Belarusian nation has customarily been linked to the gradual Slavicisation of the homogeneous Baltic substrate on the territory of present-day Belarus (Sedov 1970), only northern Belarus seems to be a transient area for the Baltic and Slavic settlement.


Because Slavs unequivocally enter the records of history as late as the sixth century AD, when their expansion in Eastern Europe was already advanced, different theories concerning the Slavs’ geographic origin based on archaeological, anthropological and/or linguistic data have been formulated. Two such theories have gained the largest support among the scientists (Schenker 1995), one placing the cradle of Slavs in the watershed of the Vistula and Oder rivers (present-day Poland), and the other locating it in the watershed of the middle Dnieper (present-day Ukraine). Our results indicate that using the population-of-origin approach based on the AMOVA, as many as nine (P > 0.05) or ten (P > 0.01) populations can be traced back to the lands of present-day Ukraine, including Eastern-Slavic Russians and Belarusians, Western-Slavic Poles and Slovaks, and Southern-Slavic Slovenes and Croats.


Results of the interpopulation Y-STR haplotype analysis exclude a significant contribution of ancient tribes inhabiting present-day Poland to the gene pool of Eastern and Southern Slavs, and suggest that the Slavic expansion started from present-day Ukraine, thus supporting the hypothesis that places the earliest known homeland of Slavs in the basin of the middle Dnieper.


The paper confirms some points that were already known by previous work, namely the Y chromosomal homogeneity of Slavs. Some Slavic groups such as Czechs are missing from the analysis. The homogeneity is less visible in groups that have absorbed significant substrata, i.e., in some Balkan populations and in populations that have absorbed Finno-Ugrian elements characterized by haplogroup N3.

The interpretation of the homogeneity would benefit greatly by an estimation of time depth. There are not dates in the paper, so it is not clear (although possible) that the homogeneity is due to the medieval Slavic dispersal.

The use of Y-STRs is useful for estimating historical relationships, but a limited number of these is used for most populations except for the core group where 18 STRs were used. The use of binary haplogroup data - used in the paper only for the presence of haplogroup N3 - would help determine the elements present in the different populations. The chosen approach gives no insight about the genetic identity of the population of Proto-Slavs.

The paper does make a good case for Ukraine being the Proto-Slavic homeland, since Poland emerges clearly as a destination of a subset of Y chromosome diversity rather than as a unifying source of diversity observed in all major Slavic sub-groups. But, the date of the Out-of-Ukraine expansion, likely to be reflected in specific haplogroup R1a1 subclades is not established and must await further research.

Journal of Human Genetics (online early)

Y-STR variation among Slavs: evidence for the Slavic homeland in the middle Dnieper basin

Krzysztof Rębała, Alexei I. Mikulich, Iosif S. Tsybovsky, Daniela Siváková, Zuzana Džupinková, Aneta Szczerkowska-Dobosz and Zofia Szczerkowska

Abstract A set of 18 Y-chromosomal microsatellite loci was analysed in 568 males from Poland, Slovakia and three regions of Belarus. The results were compared to data available for 2,937 Y chromosome samples from 20 other Slavic populations. Lack of relationship between linguistic, geographic and historical relations between Slavic populations and Y-short tandem repeat (STR) haplotype distribution was observed. Two genetically distant groups of Slavic populations were revealed: one encompassing all Western-Slavic, Eastern-Slavic, and two Southern-Slavic populations, and one encompassing all remaining Southern Slavs. An analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) based on Y-chromosomal STRs showed that the variation observed between the two population groups was 4.3%, and was higher than the level of genetic variance among populations within the groups (1.2%). Homogeneity of northern Slavic paternal lineages in Europe was shown to stretch from the Alps to the upper Volga and involve ethnicities speaking completely different branches of Slavic languages. The central position of the population of Ukraine in the network of insignificant AMOVA comparisons, and the lack of traces of significant contribution of ancient tribes inhabiting present-day Poland to the gene pool of Eastern and Southern Slavs, support hypothesis placing the earliest known homeland of Slavs in the middle Dnieper basin.


Anthropological Evidence and the Fallmerayer Thesis

In a recent program on Greek television about the teaching of history in Greece and neighboring countries, a Turkish historian exalted the theory of J.P. Fallmerayer repeating his claims about the alleged Slavic/Albanian descent of the modern Greeks. Nothing could please me more, since I was already working on my article on Anthropological Evidence and the Fallmerayer Thesis just posted on the Anthropological Research Page.


Και στα Ελληνικά: Ανθρωπολογικά στοιχεία για τη θεωρία του Φαλμεράυερ

March 16, 2007

Muslim and Christian Lebanese or Hasty Conclusions in Human Population Genetics

On my post on Genetic Palimpsests, I argued that genetic interpretations about historical events are often suspect when done with very old markers:
Often, this historical reasoning can be shaky. For example, Spencer Wells has made tall claims about the Phoenicians, the Sea Peoples, and the Carthaginians in a National Geographic article which were based on the analysis of haplogroup J and E distribution in the Levant and North Africa.
The reason for this is the following. Suppose a marker is very old, much older than the historical phenomenon under study. In the case of the above-mentioned documentary, the ages of the markers used were about 7 times greater than either the appearance of the Sea Peoples or the Carthaginians. Thus, if we observe similarity between two populations based on such old markers, we cannot conclude that they have a common recent historical origin. This is why Spencer Wells' inspired study on The Phoenicians was wrong when it claimed:
The tests could confirm that men of Tyre-Christians and Muslims alike--are related to the ancient traders. Wells and Zalloua also took samples in other parts of the Phoenician world, where results may reveal the same lineage in areas of former colonies like Sardinia and Malta.


During the bloody civil war of the 1970s and 1980s, some groups used the name Phoenician as an ideological weapon. Certain Maronites, the dominant Christian sect in Lebanon, claimed a direct ancestry from the Phoenicians, implying that they held a more legitimate historical claim on Lebanon than later immigrants from the Arabian Peninsula. This inflamed many Muslims. The term Phoenician had turned into a code word for Christian rather than Muslim.


Could genetics show that modern Lebanese, both Christians and Muslims, share the same Phoenician heritage? That's one question this project, funded by the National Geographic Society, hopes to resolve.


That result delights Zalloua; it supports his belief that both Muslim and Christian Lebanese populations share an ancient genetic heritage.

"Maybe now we can finally put some of our internal struggles to rest," he says.

It is clear from this article that the two possible outcomes of the study were not treated equally: the idea that Muslims and Christians are alike "delights", while the idea that they are not is demonized as contributing to sectarian violence and civil war in Lebanon.

Science should be about the facts, not about wishful thinking. The science of population genetics does have the potential to be used for political reasons, but that is no excuse for drawing unsubstantiated conclusions based on what is politically useful.

The results of the National Geographic study were never published in a peer reviewed journal, so they did not undergo the normal process of scientific scrutiny. However, it is clear why the results were not sufficient: the markers used were ancient. One cannot conclude a recent origin of two populations sharing a common ancient marker, because differences can be revealed when other, more recent, markers are used.

Indeed, in a different study (pdf) which studied more derived markers, the difference between Christian and Muslim Lebanese was made apparent:
The PC plot suggested the presence of four main groups (Fig. 3a): 1) North Africa, Figure 2 Genealogical relationships of the selected UEPs. Nomenclature as suggested by YCC (2002). 2) Near East/Arabs (including Muslim Lebanese and Ashkenazi Jews), 3) Central-East Mediterranean grouping, including Christian Lebanese and 4)West Mediterranean.
What is the reason for these conclusions? The most striking difference between the Christian and Muslim Lebanese is within haplogroup J, i.e., the haplogroup supposed to reflect their common heritage. Muslims have 56.4% of J, while Christians have 44.2%, but this is distributed 30.8%/25.6% among haplogroups J*(xJ2) and J2 in Muslims and 9.3%/34.9% among Christians. It is the high frequency of J*(x2) which indicates the substantial Arab ancestry among the Muslims compared to the Christians. So, indeed Christians appear to descend more from the pre-Arab populations of Lebanon, and presumably the Phoenicians, compared to the Muslims who are more similar to other Arabs.

The literature is full of similar hasty conclusions. The Cohen Modal Haplotype debacle is another case in point. In this case, a simple 6-locus STR haplotype in a YAP- background was taken to be indicative of Aaronic biblical ancestry, a conclusion which did not withstand further scrutiny. At present, 10 years after the Y-DNA Aaron proposition made its appearance, no evidence in support of this theory has been presented; customers of genetic testing companies dabbling in "Jewish ancestry" are expectedly at a loss.

Similarly, haplogroup R1a1 has been proposed as indicative of Viking, Slavic, Kurgan, Ukranian Paleolithic, Indo-Aryan, etc. expansions although very little is known about its phylogeny since the Upper Paleolithic.

Of course R1a1 may have hidden phylogenetic structure that could be linked to the various proposed population expansions, and Aaron's Y chromosome may have been inherited by some bearers of the CMH. But the case needs to be made.

March 15, 2007

The script of the Philistines

Philistines, but Less and Less Philistine
In recent years, excavations in Israel established that the Philistines had fine pottery, handsome architecture and cosmopolitan tastes. If anything, they were more refined than the shepherds and farmers in the nearby hills, the Israelites, who slandered them in biblical chapter and verse and rendered their name a synonym for boorish, uncultured people.

Archaeologists have now found that not only were Philistines cultured, they were also literate when they arrived, presumably from the region of the Aegean Sea, and settled the coast of ancient Palestine around 1200 B. C.


Dr. Cross said in an interview that several signs in the Ashkelon inscriptions “fit in with well-known Cypro-Minoan,” in particular from artifacts recovered at sites in Cyprus and at Ugarit, in Syria. He said the script had some characteristics of Linear A, the writing system used in the Aegean from 1650 B. C. to 1450 B. C. This undeciphered script was supplanted by another, Linear B, which was identified with the Minoan civilization of Crete and was finally decoded in the mid-20th century.


The two researchers and other scholars said it was not surprising that the Ashkelon inscriptions were in an Aegean type of writing. The biblical Philistines are assumed to have been a group of the mysterious Sea Peoples who probably originated in the Greek islands and migrated to several places on the far eastern shores of the Mediterranean.

March 14, 2007

Cruciani et al. on Y haplogroups E-M78 and J-M12

This is a very important new paper, and I am sure I will have much to say about it once I digest the information within the advance access manuscript.

UPDATE (March 14)

  • The first important conclusion of this paper is that haplogroup E-M78 originated in northeastern Africa and its presence in eastern Africa and Eurasia is the result of diffusion from that region.
  • Second, the phylogeny of E-M78 has been refined further since the most recent paper by Cruciani.
  • Haplogroup E-M78 arrived in Europe by two routes: through the Middle East and directly from North Africa. According to the authors "Several lines of evidence suggest that E-M78 sub-haplogroups E-V12, E-V22 and E-V65 have been involved in trans-Mediterranean migrations directly from Africa. These haplogroups are common in northern Africa, where they likely originated, and are observed almost exclusively in Mediterranean Europe, as opposed to central and eastern Europe (table 1, fig. 2). Also, among the Mediterranean populations, they are more common in Iberia and south-central Europe than in the Balkans, the natural entry-point for chromosomes coming from the Levant. Such findings are hardly compatible with a south-eastern entry of E-V12, E-V22 and E-V65 haplogroups into Europe."
  • According to the authors: "Considering both these E-M78 sub-haplogroups (present study) and the E-M81 haplogroup (Cruciani et al. 2004), the contribution of northern African lineages to the entire male gene pool of Iberia (barring Pasiegos), continental Italy and Sicily can be estimated as 5.6%, 3.6%, and 6.6%, respectively." The occurrence of E-V12, E-V22 and E-V65 in the Greek samples of the study are 1.36% (Continental Greeks), 0.93% (Greeks from Crete), 1.41% (Greeks from Aegean Islands)
  • By contrast to the above sub-haplogroups, E-V13 came to Europe from Western Asia and diffused from the Balkans into Europe: "As to a western Asia-Europe connection, our data suggest that western Asians carrying E-V13 may have reached the Balkans anytime after 17.0 ky ago, but expanded into Europe not earlier than 5.3 ky ago." This sub-haplogroup makes the majority of European E-M78 (and indeed all E) Y chromosomes.
  • Haplogroup J2 is divided into two main clades J-M410 and J-M12. The latter sub-haplogroup shows the same signal of expansion as E-V13 in Europe: "Thus, the congruence between frequency distributions, shape of the networks, pair-wise haplotypic differences and coalescent estimates point to a single evolutionary event at the basis of the distribution of haplogroups E-V13 and J-M12 within Europe, a finding never appreciated before."
  • The intrusion of E-V13 and J-M12 into northern Europe from the Balkans occurred at the time of the Balkan Bronze Age: "Our estimated coalescence age of about 4.5 ky for haplogroups E-V13 and J-M12 in Europe (and their C.I.s) would also exclude a demographic expansion associated with the introduction of agriculture from Anatolia and would place this event at the beginning of the Balkan Bronze Age, a period that saw strong demographic changes as clearly testified from archeological records (Childe, 1957; Piggott, 1965; Kristiansen, 1998). The arrangement of E-V13 (fig. 2D) and J-M12 (not shown) frequency surfaces appears to fit the expectations for a range expansion in an already populated territory (Klopfstein, Currat and Excoffier 2006). Moreover, similarly to the results reported by Peričić et al. (2005) for E-M78 network α, the dispersion of E-V13 and J-M12 haplogroups seems to have mainly followed the river waterways connecting the southern Balkans to north-central Europe, a route that had already hastened by a factor 4-6 the spread of the Neolithic to the rest of the continent (Tringham, 2000; Davison et al. 2006)." The frequency map of E-V13 shows the traces of this expansion:

  • The discovery of the young age of the E-V13/J-M12 pair in Europe, its diffusion into the greater part of Europe from the southern Balkans after the Neolithic are, in my opinion, an excellent candidate for the dispersal of IE languages into Europe. I don't reject, however, the possibility that the earlier farming dispersals may have also played a part in this process. Certainly, the uncertainties in the time estimates make the E-V13/J-M12 spread in Europe compatible with D'iakonov's earlier Balkan IE homeland argument. This was probably a secondary center of diffusion.
Molecular Biology and Evolution (advance access)

Tracing Past Human Male Movements in Northern/Eastern Africa and Western Eurasia: New Clues from Y-chromosomal Haplogroups E-M78 and J-M12

Fulvio Cruciani et al.

Detailed population data were obtained on the distribution of novel biallelic markers that finely dissect the human Y chromosomal haplogroup E-M78. Among 6501 Y chromosomes sampled in 81 human populations worldwide, we found 517 E-M78 chromosomes and assigned them to ten sub-haplogroups. Eleven microsatellite loci were used to further evaluate sub-haplogroup internal diversification.

The geographic and quantitative analysis of haplogroup and microsatellite diversity is strongly suggestive of a north-eastern African origin of E-M78, with a corridor for bidirectional migrations between north-eastern and eastern Africa (at least two episodes between 23.9-17.3 ky and 18.0-5.9 ky ago), trans-Mediterranean migrations directly from northern Africa to Europe (mainly in the last 13.0 ky) and flow from north-eastern Africa to western Asia between 20.0 and 6.8 ky ago.

A single clade within E-M78 (E-V13) highlights a range expansion in the Bronze Age of south-eastern Europe, which is also detected by haplogroup J-M12. The phylogeography, pattern of molecular radiation and coalescence estimates for both haplogroups are similar and reveal that the genetic landscape of this region is, to a large extent, the consequence of a recent population growth in situ rather than the result of a mere flow of western Asian migrants in the early Neolithic.

Our results not only provide a refinement of previous evolutionary hypotheses, but also well defined time frames for past human movements both in northern/eastern Africa and western Eurasia.


March 12, 2007

300 and history

Zach Snyder's 300 based on Frank Miller graphic novel is a very good film that ranks up there with Andrei Konchalovsky's made-for-TV The Odyssey as one of the best film dramatizations about ancient Greece in the English language. This is no effeminate and whiny Alexander but a fairly accurate portrayal of Spartan spirit, although visually highly stylized and fairly loose with history as one might expect in a 2-hour dramatization. Thankfully, we get no downright laughable "Port of Sparta" moments as in Troy and the major distortion, i.e., the negative portrayal of the Spartan ephors can be forgiven as a dramatic device.

The major departure from the graphic novel is the creation of a "Gorgo in Sparta" subplot which does not take much screen time but envelops the main story and makes the final and anticipated catharsis more rewarding. The historical Gorgo would have known that she would not see Leonidas again; his last words to her are said to be "to marry a good man and have good children".

Many of the lines in the film can be traced to the ancient sources either directly or indirectly. For example, "tonight we dine in hell" is found verbatim in Plutarch who records that Leonidas urged his men to "have breakfast for tonight we dine in Hades" (αριστάτε ως εν άιδου δειπνήσομεν). Gorgo manages to fit in two classic lines, "this shield or on it" (η ταν η επι τας) which was generally attributed to Spartan women, as well as her own "because only Spartan women bear men", which was, however given not to Persian envoys but to an Athenian woman.

Leonidas' exhortation to "come and get them" (μολών λαβέ) when asked for his weapons is preserved, as is Dienekes' wisecrack about fighting in the shade, followed by a stunning visual display of how Persian arrows could obscure the sun. So is the Simonidean epigram, "Stranger go tell the Spartans that here obedient to their words we lie" (ω ξειν αγγέλλειν λακεδαιμονίοις ότι τήδε κήμεθα τοις κείνων ρήμασι πειθόμενοι).

Leonidas' line on "we brought more soldiers" was actually uttered by King Agesilaus:
He gave orders that all the allies, of whatever country, should sit down promiscuously on one side, and all the Lacedaemonians on the other: which being done, he commanded a herald to proclaim, that all the potters of both divisions should stand out; then all the blacksmiths; then all the masons; next the carpenters; and so he went through all the handicrafts. By this time almost all the allies were risen, but of the Lacedaemonians not a man, they being by law forbidden to learn any mechanical business; and now Agesilaus laughed and said, "You see my friends, how many more soldiers we send out than you do."

The festival of the Carneia did in fact result in the Spartans missing out on the Battle of Marathon; they marched from Sparta after the festival was over and arrived after the Athenians had defeated the Persians. This festival was also the reason why only Leonidas and his 300 were dispatched to Thermopylae. There is no mention in the ancient sources of Spartan treachery in this particular instance, either in Sparta itself or by Ephialtes, who in reality was not a Spartan.

The Spartans did consult the oracle at Delphi, who was however usually an old woman rather than the most beautiful young one. It is said that on account of this oracle Leonidas marched to his death, for it was said that Sparta would be destroyed or lose a king. It is ironic that -in accordance to modern sensibilities- Leonidas' obedience to the oracle has been re-interpreted in this version as part of a struggle against mysticism. This is a minor quibble though, and not at all distracting as the "Rome was founded as a Republic" nonsense of Gladiator.

In reality, the Spartans would have been fully armed, and long-haired. The long hair made them look more terrible, but also served a practical purpose of cushioning the head as it was used as "padding" within the helmet. They would all wear their red capes -which made blood more difficult to see and fostered courage- while officers would have transverse horse plumes, their own distinguishing mark. They would also have beards but no moustaches; the ephors fined those who grew a moustache.

It is understandable that scenes of Spartans single-handedly and out of rank slaughtering many enemies were included in the movie, but as King Demaratus said to Darius, Sparta's strength lay not in the enormous power of its individual men, who could be matched by other men, but in their unity. This strength of the phalanx is shown nicely in the first battle scene and explained laconically in Leonidas' speech to Ephialtes.

Many "progressive" critics have complained about the lack of any homosexual hints in this movie. Contrary to modern belief, and according to the best ancient sources, the Spartans abhorred homosexuality; practicing homosexuals as well as effeminate men suffered a fate in Sparta that would be little envied by the modern "gay" movement. The Spartans did encourange chaste pederasty of a non-sexual nature; unlike modern societies where young people fraternize only with their peers, in the context of ancient warfare, bonds other than familial ones had to be fostered, since the phalanx included young and old alike.

The 300 is not the best movie about Thermopylae that could be done, but it is certainly a fine effort. Let's hope that someone will be inspired to dramatize other tales from the Persian Wars in the future.

The Evolution of adult height in Europe

From the paper:
From the evidence in Figure 3 and Figure 4 we can conclude for the Southern European countries that Greeks are the tallest for both males and females and Portuguese are the shortest ones in both cases. Both countries show a similar evolution profile in the period under consideration. At contrast, Spanish males and females for the last cohorts are growing more significantly than those in the other Southern European countries.

Economics & Human Biology In Press, Accepted Manuscript, Available online 1 March 2007,

The Evolution of Adult Height in Europe: A Brief Note

Jaume Garcia


This paper presents new evidence on the evolution of adult height in 10 European countries for cohorts born between 1950 and 1980 using the European Community Household Panel (ECHP), which collects height data from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. Our findings show a gradual increase in adult height across all countries. However, countries from Southern Europe (Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain) experienced greater gains in stature than those located in Northern Europe (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, and Sweden).

The evolution of human speech

CURRENT ANTHROPOLOGY Volume 48, Number 1, February 2007

The Evolution of Human Speech
Its Anatomical and Neural Bases

by Philip Lieberman

Human speech involves species-specific anatomy deriving from the descent of the tongue into the pharynx. The human tongue's shape and position yields the 1:1 oral-to-pharyngeal proportions of the supralaryngeal vocal tract. Speech also requires a brain that can "reiterate"—freely reorder a finite set of motor gestures to form a potentially infinite number of words and sentences. The end points of the evolutionary process are clear. The chimpanzee lacks a supralaryngeal vocal tract capable of producing the "quantal" sounds which facilitate both speech production and perception and a brain that can reiterate the phonetic contrasts apparent in its fixed vocalizations. The traditional Broca-Wernicke brain-language theory is incorrect; neural circuits linking regions of the cortex with the basal ganglia and other subcortical structures regulate motor control, including speech production, as well as cognitive processes including syntax. The dating of the FOXP2 gene, which governs the embryonic development of these subcortical structures, provides an insight on the evolution of speech and language. The starting points for human speech and language were perhaps walking and running. However, fully human speech anatomy first appears in the fossil record in the Upper Paleolithic (about 50,000 years ago) and is absent in both Neanderthals and earlier humans.


March 10, 2007

Male physical attractiveness ratings by British and Greek women

I would appreciate it if someone e-mailed me a copy of this article, since I can't seem to locate it online.

UPDATE. Never mind, I have found a copy of the paper:
In particular, researchers think that women prefer men whose torsos have the shape of an inverted triangle--that is, a narrow waist and a broad chest and shoulders--which is consistent with physical strength and muscle development in the upper body. This finding is comparable with findings of other studies in which researchers used line drawings that show that women prefer men with a V shape (wider shoulders than chest, which is wider than the hips; Frederick & Haselton, 2003; Furnham & Radley, 1989; Lavrakas, 1975). This set of findings is in marked contrast with those of studies of female bodily attractiveness, which have indicated the possibility that body weight is overwhelmingly the most important determinant of attractiveness, with the WHR playing a minor role (Swami, in press; Swami & Furnham, 2006; Swami & Tovee, 2005a; Swami, Antonakopoulos, Tovee, & Furnham, 2006; Swami, Caprario, Tovee, & Furnham, 2006; Wilson, Tripp, & Boland, 2005).


The total variance that was explained by this model for the relationship between WCR and attractiveness ratings was 44.8% for the Greek participants and 54.6% for the British participants, indicating the possibility that WCR was the primary component of attractiveness ratings for both groups. Figure 2 shows the corresponding relationship for attractiveness and BMI, with both sets also being significantly explained by BMI, p < .05. However, the total variance that was explained by the relationship between BMI and attractiveness was noticeably smaller: 26.7% for the Greek group and 19.7% for the British group. This finding indicates the possibility that although BMI is an important additional component of attractiveness ratings for both groups, its importance is not as great as that of WCR. Finally, the relationship between attractiveness ratings and WHR was not significant for either group, ps > .05.


First, it is noticeable from Figure 1 that the gradient of the relationship between attractiveness and WCR is different between the two groups: -13.88 for the Greek participants and -7.56 for the British participants. That is, the Greek participants appeared to judge a body that was more V-shaped (lower WCR) as more attractive than did British participants.


To explore this possibility, we followed Swami and Tovee (2005b) in fitting second-order polynomials for BMI to the attractiveness ratings made by all participants in both groups, allowing us to calculate the BMI at peak attractiveness for each participant. The peak was 21.34 kg/[m.sup.2] for the Greek group and 23.07 kg/[m.sup.2] for the British group. A one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) showed that there was an overall significant difference between the two peak BMIs, F(1, 75) = 28.80, p < .05. This result suggests that although Greek women may prefer men with a more muscular body build, they also seem to differ from British women in preferring a thinner male physique.


This explanation indicates the possibility that individuals who adopt traditional gender roles tend to have preferences for body shapes that are defined as attractive in the traditional sense, namely hour-glass shapes for women and muscular V shapes for men. In contrast, individuals who adopt liberated gender roles have less stereotyped preferences. Although we did not explicitly measure gender-role stereotyping in the two cultures that we sampled in the present study, there is some evidence indicating the possibility that Greece has more gender-role stereotyping than does Britain (e.g., Apparala, Reifman, & Munsch, 2003). Thus, it is possible that Greek women place greater importance on a low WCR than do British women because they inhabit a culture where gender roles are more strongly differentiated.
Interestingly from Carleton S. Coon, The Races of Europe about the modern Greeks:
"Their mean stature, 168 cm., is moderately tall; their bodily proportions are for the most part intermediate; the shoulders arc broad, the trunk length moderate, as shown by a relative sitting height of 52.9; the relative span is 104."

J Soc Psychol. 2007 Feb;147(1):15-26.

Male physical attractiveness in Britain and Greece: a cross-cultural study.

Swami V, Smith J, Tsiokris A, Georgiades C, Sangareau Y, Tovee MJ, Furnham A.

Department of Psychology, University College London.

The waist-to-chest ratio (WCR), body mass index (BMI), and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) are the major cues to women's ratings of men's bodily attractiveness (J. T. Fan, W. Dai, F. Liu, & J. Wu, 2005; D. M. Maisey, E. L. E. Vale, P. L. Cornelissen, & M. J. Tovee, 1999; V. Swami & M. J. Tovee, 2005b). The authors examined the relative importance of each of these cues cross-culturally in Greece and Britain. Participants were 36 British and 40 Greek women who rated a set of images of real men with known WCR, BMI, and WHR. The results showed that, regardless of the cultural setting, WCR was the primary determinant of men's physical attractiveness to women, with BMI playing a minor role. However, there were also cross-cultural differences: The Greek women showed a stronger preference for a lower WCR and smaller overall body weight than did the British women. The authors considered possible explanations of these findings.


March 07, 2007

More on the "Jesus Family Tomb"

I finally saw the Discovery channel documentary about the so-called Jesus Family Tomb. I had questioned before why DNA samples were retrieved from only two individuals, "Jesus" and "Mary Magdalene". The thesis of the documentary is that there are specific familial relations between the individuals buried in the Talpiot Tomb. For example, an mtDNA study could reject the hypothesis that "Jesus" and "Jose" were brothers, that "Maria" was the mother of "Jesus", that "Judah" was the son of "Mary Magdalene" etc. Why were there just two DNA tests performed?

After watching the documentary, I realized that the DNA was not extracted from the bones found within the ossuaries themselves but rather from scrapings of bone fragments from the ossuaries, because the bones contained in the ossuaries were reburied for religious reasons.

It is sad that religion and science are at odds in this instance, just as they are when Native American "elders" demand the reburial of prehistoric Americans or British "pagans" do the same for prehistoric Britons. Of course I don't know whether the bones were buried in a way that makes their identification possible, but I suspect that it is not. Otherwise, why would they choose to extract DNA from bone scrapings rather than the original bones themselves?

It is scientifically criminal to rebury ancient human remains in a way that makes their future scientific use impossible. I am not against the reburial of persons whose religious faith can be reasonably ascertained, but the demands of individuals who have no direct family relationship with the deceased cannot be absolute. Their religious interest cannot take first place ahead of the scientific interests.

Of course, one could argue that no one knew back then that this controversy would arise in 2007, and that is a valid point. But, the real issue is not whether these remains belong to Jesus' family, but that all the genetic information that could be extracted from that well-preserved multi-person tomb now appears to have been almost completely lost.

If the remains in the different ossuaries were disposed in a way that did not destroy all hope of their scientific study, then it is curious why they were not studied by the documentary makers. If they were, then the Israeli authorities should rethink their policies about the treatment of ancient osteological material.

March 06, 2007

BBC poll on countries' influence

Israel, Iran top 'negative list'
A majority of people believe that Israel and Iran have a mainly negative influence in the world, a poll for the BBC World Service suggests.

It shows that the two countries are closely followed by the United States and North Korea.

The poll asked 28,000 people in 27 countries to rate a dozen countries plus the EU in terms of whether they have a positive or negative influence.

Canada, Japan and the EU are viewed most positively in the survey.
The pdf of the poll contains more details.

Debate on skin-color sexual dimorphism

A letter and a response were published online in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology (no abstracts). Skin-color sexual dimorphism is the lighter pigmentation of women (of a population) relative to the men.

Human skin-color sexual dimorphism: A test of the sexual selection hypothesis. Reply to Frost (2007) (p NA)
Lorena Madrigal, William Kelly

Human skin-color sexual dimorphism: A test of the sexual selection hypothesis (p NA)
Peter Frost
Women have lighter skin than men do across a wide range of populations, even on the unexposed skin of the upper inner arm, possibly because of sexual selection by men for lighter-skinned women. If this hypothesis is true, human skin color should become more sexually dimorphic with increasing distance from the equator, since sexual selection for lighter skin in women would be less constrained by natural selection for darker skin in both sexes. Yet when Madrigal and Kelly (2006) analyzed skin reflectance data from 53 different samples, they found that the most dimorphic human populations were actually those of medium skin color at medium latitudes.

There is a discussion about this issue in the older blog post about Madrigal and Kelly's study with some comments from Peter Frost himself. That article also contains a very useful table of skin reflectance data in the end. Some Caucasoid (incl. some Indian ones) data points from the table (at wavelength 685), with females first, males second, and higher values designating lighter skin (more reflectance). In these data points it looks to me that Iranians and Kurds have the highest sexual dimorphism. Are Iranian males really much darker than females?

Punjab 53.64 54.52
Sikh 55.52 53.2
Jirel 56.64 49.12
Yemen 56.94 53.15
Algiers 58.04 58
Iran 60.1 51.2
Kurdish 60.02 54.89
Europeans 63.1 61.5
Belgians 63.65 64.51
Viscaya (Basques) 65.78 65.25
Belgians 65.9 67.3
Guipuzcoa (Basques) 66.38 65.53

UPDATE (March 7): Racial Reality also had a table of skin reflectance data.

March 03, 2007

AAPA 2007 abstracts

The 2007 meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists will be held in about a month. As in previous years, here are some interesting abstracts to be presented at the meeting (pdf).

(up to page 94)

Homo floresiensis Cranial and Mandibular Morphology
J.Y. Anderson, University of New Mexico
These results suggest the Flores material does not represent a population derived from Australomelanesians, and do not represent a non-pathological dwarfed population of Homo sapiens. These results do not completely rule out a representation of a microcephalic dwarfed population, at the same time it is suggested possible affinities to earlier hominin groups is equally parsimonious.

Do Qafzeh and Skhūl represent the ancestors of Upper Paleolithic modern humans? A dental perspective.
S.E. Bailey et al.
If these fossils represent the source of early Upper Paleolithic people, there is no need to invoke admixture with Neandertals to explain archaic dental features observed in some early Upper Paleolithic humans.

Ancient Cemetery Social Patterning Project: Ancient DNA in Tirup Cemetery.
L.E. Baker et al.

Reconstructing the settlement history of the central Andes from mitochondrial DNA analyses.
K. Batai et al.
We found that among central Andean ancient and modern population samples, haplogroup B frequencies increased through time, while haplogroup A frequencies declined. At this point, we do not yet have sufficient data to determine whether these patterns indicate different population histories between ancient coastal and modern highland populations, or a larger temporal trend in entire central Andes region

Analysis of Genetic Diversity in Ethnic Populations of Afghanistan
P. Bermudez et al.
The Middle East has the distinction of being a major crossroads of human migration. The genetic diversity of Afghanistan, however, has long remained a missing piece to this rich and complex puzzle. To explore both the diversity within Afghanistan and to understand the relative genetic contributions from various groups throughout the Eurasian continent, buccal swabs were collected from 252 unrelated Afghani men for mitochondrial DNA analysis. Each of these men hailed from
one of four major ethnic groups inhabiting the region: the Pashtun, Hazara, Tajik or
Nooristani. The Indo-Iranian speaking Pashtun represent the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan; the Tajiks have a complex genetic history that likely involves admixture between Turkic groups and smaller distinct ethnic groups within Afghanistan; the Hazara, on the other hand, are thought to represent remnants of Ghengis Khan’s army left behind as it expanded through Asia; and the Nooristani have biological links to populations in northern Pakistan and the
claim of descent from Alexander the Great’s army. All samples were analyzed for HVS1
and SNP variation. In all of these populations, Western Eurasian haplogroups (H, HV, R, J, I, U, X) were most common, with the highest frequency occurring in the Nooristanis, while the remaining East Eurasian haplogroups including D, G, and various other M types. The results of this study will be instrumental in expanding our knowledge of Afghani genetic history, in addition to broadening our understanding of population migrations throughout West and Central Asia.

Dental variation in Holocene Khoesan populations.
W. Black et al.

Are the Koh an indigenous population of the Hindu Kush? II: a dental morphology investigation.

S. Blaylock and B.E. Hemphill

Little is known about the population history of the ethnic groups in Chitral District, Pakistan, an area long been regarded as the “crossroads of Asia.” Some scholars emphasize that the Koh lifeway is the consequence of long-standing indigenous isolation. Others stress the equestrian
tradition among Koh villagers indicate they are descendants of Central Asians who emigrated across the Hindu Kush Mountains during the second millennium BC. To still others, an array of Persian linguistic inclusions indicates the Koh are more recent emigrants from the Iranian Plateau. This investigation tests these hypotheses for Koh origins through assessment of dental
morphology variations of the permanent dentition scored as 17 tooth-trait combination in accordance with the Arizona State University Dental Morphology System in a sample of 134 Kho school children from Chitral City. These data were contrasted with 17 additional samples. Comparisons are in two stages and include cluster analysis, multidimensional scaling and principal coordinates analysis. First, sex-pooled and sex-specific data compared Koh to six contemporary ethnic groups from India. Results indicate the Koh share equidistant affinities to Indo-European speaking west-Central Indian and Dravidianspeaking South Indian ethnic groups.
Second, sex-pooled data compared the Koh to 13 prehistoric samples from Neolithic to Early Iron Age sites located in the Indus Valley, Central Asia and the Iranian Plateau. Results indicate that the Koh share little affinity to prehistoric Indus Valley groups. Rather, the Koh share nearly equal affinities to prehistoric inhabitants of the Iranian Plateau and Central Asia.

A Howells grasp on prehistoric and recent Japan: A precursor to the Kennewick connection.
C. L. Brace, N. Seguchi.
Using many more samples, our results are compatible with what Howells showed for his Japanese comparisons, and,using the neighbor-joining technique, we can go on to show that Kennewick ties with the Ainu who are the descendants of the Jōmon.The Jōmon then are the probable ancestors of
the first inhabitants of the western hemisphere.

Admixture in Mexico City: implications for admixture mapping.
E. Cameron et al.
"The average proportions of Native American, European and West African admixture were estimated as 65%, 30% and 5% respectively."

"In a logistic model with higher educational status as dependent variable, the odds ratio for higher educational status associated with an increase from 0 to 1 in European admixture proportions was 9.4 (95% credible interval 3.8 – 22.6). This association of socioeconomic status with individual admixture proportion shows that genetic stratification in this population is
paralleled, and possibly maintained, by socioeconomic stratification."

Intracontinental Distribution of Haplotype Variation: Implications for Human Demographic History.
M.C. Campbell et al.
"These results suggest that diverse African populations were more subdivided with lower levels of gene flow during human history."

Social stratification in a Christian cemetery? An assessment of stress indicators and social status at Anglo-Saxon Raunds.
E.F. Craig, J.L. Buckberry
"The occurrence of statistically more individuals with both cribra orbitalia and tibial periostitis in plain graves rather than graves with stone arrangements, and LEH in plain graves rather than graves with a cover or marker, suggests that individuals buried in more elaborate graves enjoyed better levels of health and may been of higher social status than those buried in plain graves."

Variability of the Stature of the Central European Population from the Neolithic Age to Present
M. Dobisíková, S. Katina, P. Velemínský
The aim of our contribution is to characterize the changes of the stature in adult populations that have lived in Central Europe from the Neolithic period up to the present. Our sample consisted of 802 male and 704 female skeletons. The evaluation was conducted taking into account the demographic structure of the groups studied. We confronted the findings with the living
conditions of the populations known to have a significant impact on human stature, in
addition to genetic factors. We thus considered the socioeconomic status of the populations that might have influenced the quality of nutrition. We focused our attention on the socioeconomic aspect of populations of the early Middle Ages and the recent population. We compared socially higher placed part of the society with socially poorer classes (agricultural groups) (177 male, 178 female) in the early-medieval population of Great Moravia. No statistically significant
differences were found among individual social groups. To calculate the stature of last populations we used the regression equations developed by Breitiger (1937) and Bach (1965). The
calculation was based only on the length of the femur that is directly involved in body length. The impact of the secular trend was evaluated in the recent population. We compared two autopsy skeletal samples from the beginning and ends of the 20th century (107 male, 53 female). Statistically significant differences between them was found. Finally, we proposed regression equations for calculating the stature of the contemporary Czech population usable in forensic practice.

A phylogeographic analysis of haplogroup D5 and its implications for the peopling of East Asia.
M.C. Dulik
While genetic studies have focused on the Altai region of South Siberia as a possible place of origin for Native Americans, it is also possible that it played a similarly significant role in the peopling of East Asia. A Siberian connection to other East Asian populations has already been proposed based on archaeological, linguistic and classical genetic marker evidence. In this study, we examined a rare and ancient haplogroup, D5c, in an effort to elucidate early population movements in East Asia. Previous studies suggested that D5 first emerged in China and
spread northwards from there. However,given the number of D5c individuals (12) and the range of variation in D5 from the Altai region, it is conceivable that this haplogroup instead originated in South Siberia and spread from there during the initial movements of Paleolithic peoples. To est this hypothesis, we obtained complete mtDNA sequences for individuals represented by aplogroups D4 and D5 and acquired additional sequences available through GenBank and published literature. We then analyzed the entire dataset with the reduced median network approach and
phylogeographic modeling. Our results suggest that Southern Siberia did play a
critical role in the spread of the D5 haplogroup. This focus on relatively unique
mtDNA lineages specific to certain populations allowed us to better understand
the processes of ancient settlement and subsequent population movements that helped shape the current genetic landscape of East Asia.

More than meets the eye: LB1, the transforming hominin.
R.B. Eckhard et al.

LB1 is not a microcephalic.
D. Falk1 et al.

Is there biological meaning to “Hispanic” in New Mexico?
H.J.H. Edgar, C.M. Willermet

Establishing the nature of the differences between skull samples from two populations.
S.P. Evans et al.
A sample of 1188 skulls from the Romano-British site at Poundbury shows differences from the 18th century sample of 822 skulls from Spitalfields. Both sites are in the south of England, but 1400 years apart in time. The differences between the sites could be due to immigrations over time and/or to adaptation to the environment. The aim of the study was to establish the nature of the differences, in particular the relative importance of genetic and acquired traits.
Frequencies of 22 selected non-metric traits in juvenile, female and male skulls were analysed. Initial logistic regression analyses established that there was a substantial difference between the two sites and between juveniles and adults, with some sexual dimorphism. The modified mean
measure of divergence, used to calculate overall distances between the groups, showed the juvenile groups to be closer to each other than to adults from their respective sites. Across sites, males were most distant from each other. The largest distance was between Spitalfields juveniles and males. Principal coordinate analysis, followed by a jackknife stability analysis, revealed a pattern indicating that this came about through growth and adaptation. Omitting traits in turn, procrustes methods were used to identify the most influential, all of which
were acquired through ageing or lifestyle. Without these traits there was no significant
difference between the two juvenile groups and no sexual dimorphism. These results show the importance of the behavioural environment in determining morphology, and the resilience of populations to genetic change.

Peopling of the Pacific: resolving the controversy.
J.S. Friedlaender et al.
"Our survey of mitochondrial DNA, Ychromosome, and over 600 short tandem repeat polymorphisms and 200 insertiondeletions from over 40 Pacific populations indicates Polynesians have their genetic
origins to both Melanesian and Taiwanese (Southeast Asian) populations in significant degrees. In Island Melanesia, there is a small but clear ancient genetic footprint in certain Oceanic-speaking populations (i.e., linguistically related to Polynesian). The survey results underscore the extraordinary diversity of Island Melanesian populations from one language group to another, and from island to island. This is the result of the small sizes of the populations and the very long extent of modern human settlement there (over 30,000 years)."

Multivariate studies of cranial form: the impact of Howells' research on defining Homo sapiens.
J.B. Gaines et al.

Demographic simulations of the admixture between foragers and farmers in central European Neolithic.
P. Galeta, J. Bruzek.

William White Howells: A physical anthropologist in the making.
E. Giles

The relationship of Nubians with their neighbors, the Egyptians.
By, K. Godde.

The Phylogeography of Haplogroup N1a
Gokcumen O et al.
Recent studies have revealed a complex geographic distribution of haplogroup N1a. This rare and distinctive lineage is widely distributed across Eurasia and Africa, but always found at very low frequencies. However, despite its rarity, the genetic diversity within N1a has remained relatively high (h=0.9605). The reduced median network of N1a haplotypes not only reflects
this level of diversity, but also exhibits several relatively well-defined branches. The
distribution of N1a is intriguing because of revealing previously unrecognized connections between populations. What makes N1a even more interesting is the prevalence of this lineage in ancient European populations. Haak et al. (2005) found that 25% of their European Neolithic
samples belonged to N1a and dated to ~5000 BCE, whereas the frequency of this lineage in contemporary Europeans is only ~0.2%. In addition, an Iron Age skeleton from Kazakhstan had an N1a haplotype, suggesting the existence of this lineage in the Altai Republic in ~500BCE (Ricaut et al. 2004). Indeed, we found several haplogroup N1a mtDNAs in indigenous Altaians and Altaian Kazakhs. To further elucidate the phylogeography of this lineage in Central Asia, we sequenced the whole mtDNA genomes of our N1a haplotypes, and analyzed the resulting data with several quantitative methods and simulation programs to estimate their expansion times and spatial
distribution in Eurasia. Our findings suggest that there are two well-defined sublineages
within N1a, and that the dispersal of this haplogroup could be associated with the Neolithic expansion and with prehistoric interactions between Central Asian and European populations.

Understanding human races: the retreat of neutralism.
Henry Harpending
Discussion and debate about human races has been dominated for decades by neutral theory and statistics. Since this literature never posed a real question, it has never produced an answer. Lewontin's 1972 paper with its claim that a value of 1/8 of a statistic like Fst is “small” and that this means that human race differences are insignificant is a staple of our textbooks. Recently geneticists have had a closer look and pointed out that Fst of 1/8 describes differences among sets of half sibs and few claim that half sibs are insignificantly related. Anthony Edwards has shown that the significance of differences is in the correlation structure of a large number of traits, again denying the Lewontin assertion that human differences are small. Alan Templeton in 1998 claimed that human races were less differentiated that races of some other large mammals, but he compared human nuclear DNA statistics with statistics from mtDNA in the other species. An appropriate comparison shows that human are more, not less, differentiated than other large mammal species. Since neutral differences are a passive
record of demographic history they are not very significant for issues of functional biology. Newly available data sources allow us to study the natural selection of race differences instead of their drift. It appears that there is a lot of ongoing evolution in our species and the loci under strong selection on different continents only partially overlap. Human race differences may be increasing rapidly.

Acceleration of adaptive evolution in modern humans.
J. Hawks and G. Cochran
Humans vastly increased in numbers during the past 40,000 years. Recent surveys of human genomic variation have suggested a large surplus of recent positive selection, indicated by excess linkage disequilibrium and skewed SNP frequency spectra. We applied estimates of prehistoric and historic population sizes to estimate the importance of population growth in explaining the number of recent adaptive mutations. Our estimates are consistent with genomic evidence in suggesting that the rate of generation of positively selected genes has increased as much as a hundredfold during the past 40,000 years.

Do skeletal features reflect this genomic evidence of selection? Under positive
selection, rapid appearance of new variants during the terminal Pleistocene and early
Holocene would cause maximal phenotypic change during the last 2000-4000 years. We compared original and published series of Holocene cranial data from Europe, Jordan, Nubia, South Africa, and China, in addition to Late Pleistocene samples from Europe and West Asia, to test the hypothesis that the genomic acceleration in positive selection correlates with phenotypic evolution during this time period. A constellation of features in the face and cranial vault, notably including endocranial volume, changed globally during this time period and documents common patterns of selection in different regions. Holocene changes were similar in pattern and chronologically faster than those at the archaic-modern transition, which themselves were rapid compared to earlier hominid evolution. In genomic and craniometric terms, the origin of modern humans was a minor event compared to more recent evolutionary changes.

Patterns of admixture in Mexican Americans assessed from 101,150 SNPs.
M.G. Hayes et al.
"No significant differences were observed between the 10 subsets, allowing us to average the admixture estimates across the subsets: 68% European, 27% Asian (as a proxy for Native American), and 6% African."

Gender, wealth, and status in Bronze Age Central Asia: a dental pathology investigation.
B.E. Hemphill.

Sahara passage: the post-glacial recolonisation of North Africa by mitochondrial L* haplotypes.
AD Holden. P Forster.

Secular trends of the European male facial skull from the Migration Period to the present.
E. Jonke et al.
We examined secular trends in the facial skull over three Central European samples spanning more than 13 centuries. Data are 43 conventional cephalometric landmark points for samples dating from 680–830 CE, from the mid-19th Century, and from living Austrian young adult males. Methods of geometric morphometrics demonstrate shape differences across the samples, and also
differences in allometry. There is a stronginteraction between these, so that group mean differences are different for small and large individuals (equivalently, allometry is
different from period to period). The oldest sample, from the Migration Period, exhibits
allometric features that may possibly be Turkic
. There are implications for the
craniofacial biologist interested in growth trends or growth predictions in ethnically
mixed populations. There are also implications for the discussion concerning the morphology of the Avars (an ethnic group of probably Central Asian origin who conquered large parts of Central Europe during the Migration Period and who interbred with other incoming groups after their conquest by Charlemagne), and also the relation of these findings to current thinking on gnathic reduction trends.

Roman Gladiators - The Osseous Evidence.
F. Kanz, K. Grossschmidt

Paternal heritage for the Indonesian peoples.
T. M. Karafet et al.

Feeding the children: Isotopic evidence for weaning practices in the ancient Greek colony of Apollonia (5th-2nd centuries BC).
C. Kwok, A. Keenleyside.

Misconceptions about the postcranial skeleton of Homo floresiensis.
S.G. Larson et al.

A comparison of mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosome DNA variation on Manus Island.
K.E. Latham et al.