August 31, 2004

A different look at the Olympic Medal Count

The Athens Olympics are now over and Greece won 16 medals. The best-performing nations, according to the official medal count are the United States, China, Russia, Australia and Japan. A different look at the medal count of the Olympics comes from the Australian Bureau of Statistics which has compiled a world ranking based on population per gold medal. The Bahamas, Norway, Australia, Hungary and Cuba lead this ranking, with Greece placing 8th. At the bottom of the table, Syria, Mexico, Colombia, Nigeria and India.

Dutch Hair Color Preferences

Gentlemen prefer blondes, women go for black

5 August 2004

AMSTERDAM — Dutch men prefer blondes and over half of Dutch women want to be blond or blonder than their present shade, particularly in the summer, according to research published Thursday.

The study carried out by research bureau Blauw Research for shampoo manufacturer Andrelon also found that women find men with dark hair more attractive.

Some 71 percent of the 535 people, aged 18 to 55, polled said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their own hair colour. Men were more satisfied with their hair colour than women.

Two out of five women were natural blondes and a slightly higher number were brunettes. The same applies to the men, though more men than women were black haired. Red hair was the rarest colour, Novum Nieuws reported.

Several women polled no longer to know what their original hair colour was.

About half of the women said they coloured their hair regularly, with 35 percent admitting to using dye. Half of the women polled have used highlights to make their hair appear blonder.

Some 10 percent put their faith in nature, relying on the sun to make their hair blonder.

The survey found that men — more so than women — believe blond hair makes a person look younger.

Women, on the other hand, were more in favour of men with dark hair, with just 17 percent of females questioned saying blond men were very attractive.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]


August 28, 2004


AncestryByDNA has released a EURO-DNA test which reports percentages of "Northern European," "Southeastern European," "Middle-Eastern," and "South Asian" admixture based on a 320 ancestry-informative markers (AIMs).

The ad-hoc choice of the four ancestral groups and the rather confusing commentary and/or anomalous results (Iberians on average ~16% "South Asian"?) may discourage many from taking the test, especially at a price tag of $399. Still, EURO-DNA is a step towards personalized genetic archaeology, even though the theoretical assumptions and methodology leave much to be desired at this stage.


If you start with the a priori breakdown into 4 groups, then each individual will have 4 numbers that add up to 100%. One could just as easily have used a "Southwestern European", "Northeastern European", "Middle Eastern" and "South Asian" breakdown, and again each individual would have 4 numbers adding up to 100%.

The trick is to start with a collection of individuals, remove identifying tags and cluster them, thus identifying the real genetic components in the population, if any such components can be detected. This was the procedure followed by Rosenberg et al. [1]. In that analysis, wholly different clusterings emerged, with e.g., the specificity of Iberian Basques, who were allocated their own cluster, was discovered.

By contrast, an Iberian Basque taking the EURO-DNA test would perhaps get a score high in NOR/MED which however obfuscates the real genetic structure of the Basque population which is highly specific, as the Basques are an ancient ethnolinguistic isolate of the Iberian peninsula rather than the product of "admixture".

AncestryByDNA must show why its chosen four-group breakdown is used in lieu of other potential choices.

[1] Rosenberg et al (2002)

Update #2: Check out the comments for some additional information by Dr. Tony Frudakis of DNAPrint who is involved in the creation of EURO-DNA 1.0 and the AncestryByDNA tests.

August 24, 2004

The German Hyperbrachycephals

According to the Nordicist school, European achievement is primarily due to the tall, blond, dolichocephalic race. The only problem with this theory, which achieved such popularity in the 19th and early 20th centuries, is that when the skulls of prominent Europeans and Germans were measured there was no evidence of an overrepresentation of dolichocephals among them: indeed, most of them were brachycephalic, many of them tending to the extreme hyperbrachycephalic form, as the following passage illustrates.

Friedrich Hertz, Rasse und Kultur: eine kritische Untersuchung der Rassentheorien, 3. ed., Alfred Kröner, Leipzig, 1925, p.163

Sehen aber die Genies wirklich in der Regel so aus [DP: Germanisch Typus]? Genaue Feststellungen liegen leider nur selten vor. Immerhin können wir sagen, dass die Genies sehr häufig - vielleicht selbst in der Mehrzahl der Fälle - diesen Anforderungen nicht entsprechen. Vor allem ihr Schädel nähert sich meist ganz bedenklich der "Kreislinie tierischen Wohlbehagens", wie Chamberlain so schön sagt. Bismarck, Luther, Laplace, Napoleon, Pascal, Raphael, Beethoven, Haydn, Schubert sind einige Beispiele von Rundköpfen, ja, es scheint gerade die extreme Form der Rundköpfigkeit, die Hyperbrachycephalität, die man mit dem Index 85 beginnen lasst, unter ihnen sehr häufig zu sein). Schillers Schadel mit seinem Index von 84 steht knapp an inhrer Grenze, Kant mit seiner Indexnummer von 88.5 war ein ganz ausgesprochener Hyperbrachycephale. Hamerling hatte den Index 85.3, Schopenhauer den von 86, Leibniz gar einen von 90.3.

UPDATE (2 March 2008)

Franz Weidenreich, "The Brachycephalization of Recent Mankind", Southwestern Journal of Anthropology, Vol. 1, No. 1. (Spring, 1945), p. 9.

One can imagine the shock an intelligent German reader suffered when he remembered that many of the great German heroes from Bismarck down to Hindenburg and Hitler were brachycephalics and even hyperbrachycephalics, and that the three greatest philosophers Germany has produced-Leibniz, Kant, and Schopenhauer-had round heads in the most extreme form (Fig. 2, No. 4, Leibniz, skull index 90.3[!]; NO. 5, Kant, skull index 88.5; No. 6, Schopenhauer, head index 90.0 [!).

Y chromosomal haplogroup J as a signature of the post-neolithic colonization of Europe

A very important new paper about Y chromosome haplogroup J. I will have more to say once I have finished reading it carefully.


The main finding of the authors is that haplogroup J was not carried by a single advance from the Middle East into Europe. Rather, at least two expansions can be detected, a "Neolithic" one and a "Greek" one:

In summary, our data are in agreement with a major discontinuity for the peopling of southern Europe. Here, haplogroup J constitutes not only the signature of a single wave-of-advance from the Levant but, to a greater extent, also of the expansion of the Greek world, with an accompanying novel quota of genetic variation produced during its demographic growth. In the analysis by Cavalli-Sforza et al. (1994), the two peopling contributions can be distinguished, as they are caught in the first and the fourth principal component, respectively, but the relevance of the latter may have been underestimated. The two processes, widely spaced in time, are associated with dramatically different travel technologies. This implies that, in the central and west Mediterranean, the entry of J chromosomes may have occurred mainly by sea, i.e., in the south–east of both Spain and Italy.

Human Genetics
(online first)

Y chromosomal haplogroup J as a signature of the post-neolithic colonization of Europe

F. Di Giacomo et al.

Abstract In order to attain a finer reconstruction of the peopling of southern and central-eastern Europe from the Levant, we determined the frequencies of eight lineages internal to the Y chromosomal haplogroup J, defined by biallelic markers, in 22 population samples obtained with a fine-grained sampling scheme. Our results partially resolve a major multifurcation of lineages within the haplogroup. Analyses of molecular variance show that the area covered by haplogroup J dispersal is characterized by a significant degree of molecular radiation for unique event polymorphisms within the haplogroup, with a higher incidence of the most derived sub-haplogroups on the northern Mediterranean coast, from Turkey westward; here, J diversity is not simply a subset of that present in the area in which this haplogroup first originated. Dating estimates, based on simple tandem repeat loci (STR) diversity within each lineage, confirmed the presence of a major population structuring at the time of spread of haplogroup J in Europe and a punctuation in the peopling of this continent in the post-Neolithic, compatible with the expansion of the Greek world. We also present here, for the first time, a novel method for comparative dating of lineages, free of assumptions of STR mutation rates.


Higher female effective population size in recent human evolution

The common maternal ancestor of all living humans appears to be much older than the common paternal ancestor of all living men. It has been suggested that selection on the Y-chromosome is responsible for this discrepancy, that is, that a recent male line has wiped out older lines because of some unspecified advantage. This new study indicates that this is not the case, and rather that the female effective population size was higher than the male one, which is likely due to the practice of successful males to have many children with different wives (polygyny).

Mol Biol Evol. 2004 Aug 18 [Epub ahead of print]

Genetic Evidence for Unequal Effective Population Sizes of Human Females and Males.

Wilder JA et al.

The time to the most recent common ancestor (TMRCA) of the human mitochondria (mtDNA) is estimated to be older than that of the non-recombining portion of the Y chromosome (NRY). Surveys of variation in globally distributed humans typically result in mtDNA TMRCA values just under 200 thousand years (kya) while those for the NRY range between 46 and 110 kya. A favored hypothesis for this finding is that natural selection has acted on the NRY leading to a recent selective sweep. An alternate hypothesis is that sexbiased demographic processes are responsible. Here we re-examine the disparity between NRY and mtDNA TMRCAs using data collected from individual human populations--a sampling strategy that minimizes the confounding influence of population subdivision in global datasets. We survey variation at 782 bp of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit 3 gene as well as at 26.5 kb of non-coding DNA from the NRY in a sample of 25 Khoisan, 24 Mongolians, and 24 Papua New Guineans. Data from both loci in all populations are best described by a model of constant population size, with the exception of Mongolian mtDNA which appears to be experiencing rapid population growth. Taking these demographic models into account, we estimate the TMRCAs for each locus in each population. A pattern that is remarkably consistent across all three populations is an approximately two-fold deeper coalescence for mtDNA than for the NRY. The oldest TMRCAs are observed for the Khoisan (73.6 kya for the NRY and 176.5 kya for mtDNA) while those in the non-African populations are consistently lower (averaging 47.7 kya for the NRY and 92.8 kya for mtDNA). Our data do not suggest that differential natural selection is the cause of this difference in TMRCAs. Rather, these results are most consistent with a higher female effective population size.

Link (pdf)

mtDNA from Xinjiang

A new study quantifies the level of Caucasoid admixture in various populations of the Xinjiang province of China, which ranges from 0% in the Han Chinese to 43% in the Uygur.

Mol Biol Evol.
2004 Aug 18 [Epub ahead of print]

Different Matrilineal Contributions to Genetic Structure of Ethnic Groups in the Silk Road Region in China.

Yao YG

Previous studies have shown that there were extensive genetic admixtures in the Silk Road region. In the present study, we analyzed 252 mtDNAs of five ethnic groups (Uygur, Uzbek, Kazak, Mongolian, and Hui) from Xinjiang Province, China (where once was the via route of the Silk Road), together with some reported data from the adjacent regions in Central Asia. In a simple way, we classified the mtDNAs into different haplogroups (monophyletic clades in the rooted mtDNA tree) according to the available phylogenetic information and compared their frequencies to show the differences among the matrilineal genetic structures of these populations with different demographic histories. With the exception of 8 unassigned M(*), N(*) and R(*) mtDNAs, all the mtDNA types identified here belonged to defined subhaplogroups of haplogroups M and N (including R) and consisted of subsets of both the eastern and western Eurasian pools, thus providing direct evidence in supporting the suggestion that Central Asia be the place of the genetic admixture of the East and the West. Although our samples were from the same geographic location, a decreasing tendency of the western Eurasian-specific haplogroup frequency was observed, with the highest frequency present in Uygur (42.6%) and Uzbek (41.4%), followed by Kazak (30.2%), Mongolian (14.3%), and Hui (6.7%). No western Eurasian type was found in Han Chinese samples from the same place. The frequencies of the eastern Eurasian-specific haplogroups also varied in these samples. Combined with the historical records, ethno-origin, migratory history, and marriage custom might play different roles in shaping the matrilineal genetic structure of different ethnic populations resided in this region.

Link (pdf)

August 23, 2004

2,400BC golden mask of Thracian king

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Bulgarian archaeologist Georgi Kitov holds a 2,400-year-old golden mask he discovered Thursday in the tomb of a Thracian king in Shipka, Bulgaria. The solid gold mask “has no comparison in the world,” said Kitov, who believes it may depict the image of King Seutus III.

Toronto Star. Aug. 21, 2004. 01:00 AM.

Golden mask `sensational'

Artifact unearthed in Bulgaria

Find may depict ancient king

SHIPKA, Bulgaria—A Bulgarian archaeologist has unearthed a 2,400-year-old golden mask in the tomb of an ancient Thracian king — a find he says is unrivalled in the study of classical antiquity.

"It is sensational," said Georgi Kitov, who found the mask Thursday near the village of Shipka, 200 kilometres east of Sofia.

He believes it may depict King Seutus III, a 5th century BC leader of the Thracians, the dispersed tribes who once lived in parts of what is now modern-day Bulgaria, Romania, Macedonia, Turkey and Greece.

Kitov said the mask "has no comparison in the world," and may be a more significant find than the Mask of Agamemnon, the Greek hero described by Homer in the Iliad. It's one of the most famous images of Greek antiquity, and the centrepiece of the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.

"The Mask of Agamemnon was made of gold foil and weighs only 60 grams, while this mask weighs 690 grams (24 oz.) and is of solid gold," Kitov said.

The burial place was covered with six stone slabs, each weighing at least two tonnes. The king's remains have not yet been found, but excavations at the tomb continue.

The Thracians lived on the fringes of the Greek and Roman civilizations, often intermingling and clashing with the more advanced cultures until they were absorbed around 45 AD. Archaeological finds have provided most of what is known of the culture.

August 21, 2004

Richard Lynn's Massaged IQ Data

Anyone who uses Richard Lynn's national IQ values should be aware that this data is "massaged"; either that, or Lynn doesn't know elementary arithmetic. Of course, I did not have time to go through all of the studies referenced by Lynn, so I manually checked his reported numbers from Buj (1981), a study on national European IQ levels, which I have personally read when writing my Greek and European IQ page.

The first column below are the original numbers from Buj (1981) taken from [1] and cross-checked against my own reading of the original paper. The second column are the numbers reported in IQ and the Wealth of Nations. Lynn rounds most numbers to the closest integer, but Italy's score is rounded down (0.8->0), Austria's score is rounded down (0.5->0), Ireland's score is "rounded" up (0.2->1), Norway's score is 1.8 lower than the real one, Greece's score is 2.4 lower than the one reported by Buj (1981). All in all, 5 errors in 19 numbers from a single study.

Holland 109.4 109 rounded
Germany 109.3 109 rounded
Poland 108.3 108 rounded
Sweden 105.8 106 rounded
Italy 103.8 103 truncated
Austria 103.5 103 truncated
Switzerland 102.8 103 rounded
Portugal 102.6 103 rounded
Norway 101.8 100 -1.8
Denmark 100.7 101 rounded
Hungary 100.5 101 rounded
Czechoslovakia 100.4 100 rounded
Spain 100.3 100 rounded
Belgium 99.7 100 rounded
Greece 99.4 97 -2.4
Ireland 99.2 100 +0.8
Finland 98.1 98 rounded
Bulgaria 96.3 96 rounded
France 96.1 96 rounded


Buj, V., 1981, Average IQ values in various European countries, Personality and Individual Differences, 2, 168-169.

August 19, 2004

Large breasts and narrow waists indicate reproductive potential

Proceedings: Biological Sciences
Volume 271, Number 1545, Pages: 1213 - 1217

Large breasts and narrow waists indicate high reproductive potential in women

Grazyna Jasienska et al.


Physical characteristics, such as breast size and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), function as important features used by human males to assess female attractiveness. Males supposedly pay attention to these features because they serve as cues to fecundity and health. Here, we document that women with higher breast-to-underbreast ratio (large breasts) and women with relatively low WHR (narrow waists) have higher fecundity as assessed by precise measurements of daily levels of 17-β-oestradiol (E2) and progesterone. Furthermore, women who are characterized by both narrow waists and large breasts have 26% higher mean E2 and 37% higher mean mid-cycle E2 levels than women from three groups with other combinations of body-shape variables, i.e. low WHR with small breasts and high WHR with either large or small breasts. Such gains in hormone levels among the preferred mates may lead to a substantial rise in the probability of conception, thus providing a significant fitness benefit.


August 18, 2004

Season of birth and sensation seeking

I had previously posted about a study (American Journal of Human Biology, 16(1): 31 - 42) which found a month-of-birth effect in height and weight for Polish school children. This new study indicates that psychological makeup is also affected by the season in which one is born.

Personality and Individual Differences (Article in Press)

Season of birth variation in sensation seeking in an adult population

Carol Joinson et al.


Previous research has identified a relationship between season of birth and level of novelty seeking (Chotai, Lundberg, & Adolfsson, 2003). The current study investigates whether level of sensation seeking is also related to birth season in individuals from the Northern Hemisphere. Participants were 448 students of The Open University, UK (125 males, 323 females, age range 20–69 years, mean = 39.2, SD = 9.8). The Sensation Seeking Scale V and a demographic questionnaire including month of birth were completed by participants either on the World-Wide Web (n = 284) or on paper (n = 164). A significant interaction of age and season of birth on level of sensation seeking was found, similar to previous findings for novelty seeking. Individuals aged 20–45 years born during October to March had a higher level of sensation seeking than those of the same age born in the other six months, while the opposite association was found for individuals aged 46–69 years. Results suggest an age-related difference in level of sensation seeking between individuals born during different seasons. Possible reasons for the seasonal difference are discussed, including development of the sensation seeking trait across the lifespan in relation to dopamine turnover.


August 17, 2004

Ancient DNA of Neolithic skeleton from NE Siberia

A skeleton from northeastern Yakutia (east Siberia) dating to the Neolithic period (3,600 years BP) belongs to mtDNA haplogroup C and the combined mtDNA and autosomal analysis shows its similarity to modern east Siberian/Native American populations.

American Journal of Physical Anthropology (Early View)

Ancient DNA analysis of human Neolithic remains found in northeastern Siberia

François-Xavier Ricaut et al.


We successfully extracted DNA from a bone sample of a Neolithic skeleton (dated 3,600 ± 60 years BP) excavated in northeastern Yakutia (east Siberia). Ancient DNA was analyzed by autosomal STRs (short tandem repeats) and by sequencing of the hypervariable region I (HV1) of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region. The STR profile, the mitochondrial haplotype, and the haplogroup determined were compared with those of modern Eurasian and Native American populations. The results showed the affinity of this ancient skeleton with both east Siberian/Asian and Native American populations.


Athens 2004

Dae Sung Moon, right, from Korea, competes against Alexandros Nikolaidis, from Greece, in the men's over 80 kg taekwondo gold medal match at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, Sunday, Aug 29, 2004. Moon won the gold medal. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

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Gold medallist Moon Sung Dae (C) of South Korea (news - web sites), silver medallist Alexandros Nikolaidis (L) of Greece and bronze medallist Pascal Gentil of France wave during the medal ceremony for the over 80kg taekwondo tournament final at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games August 29, 2004. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

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China's Luo Wei (L) is kicked by Greece's Elisavet Mystakidou during the women's under 67 kg gold medal taekwondo match at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, August 28, 2004. China's Luo Wei won the taekwondo women's under 67kg gold medal at the Olympics on Saturday, Greece's Elisavet Mystakidou took the silver and South Korea's Hwang Kyung-sun the bronze. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

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ATHENS - AUGUST 28: Elisavet Mystakidou of Greece shows her silver medal after the medal for the women's under 67 kg Taekwondo event on August 28, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at the Sports Pavilion part of the Faliro Coastal Zone Olympic Complex. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

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Greece's Mirela Manjani competes in the women's javelin throw final at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games August 27, 2004. Manjani won the bronze medal. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

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Cuban women's javelin gold medalist Osleidys Menendez, centre, is flanked by Germany's Steffi Nerius, silver, left, and Greece's Mirela Manjani, bronze, following the medal presentation ceremony at the 2004 Olympic Games in The Olympic Stadium in Athens, Friday Aug. 27, 2004.(AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

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Italy's Alexandra Araujo (L) and Evangelia Moraitidou of Greece fight for position during the women's Olympic water polo gold medal match in Athens, August 26, 2004. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh

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Greece players celebrate their silver medal placing in the women's Olympic water polo gold medal match against Italy during the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, August 26, 2004. Greece were beaten 10-9 by Italy in extra-time. REUTERS/Andy Clark

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Fani Halkia of Greece celebrates crossing the line to win the gold medal in the 400-meter hurdles at the 2004 Olympic Games Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2004 in Athens, Greece. Jana Pittman, 2nd left, of Australia, and silver medalist Ionela Manolache, right, of Romania, follow. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

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ATHENS - AUGUST 25: Gold medalist Fani Halkia of Greece celebrates on the podium during the medal ceremony of the women's 400 metre hurdle event on August 25, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in the Sports Complex in Athens, Greece. Ionela Tirlea-Manolache of Romania came second and Tetiana Tereshchuk-Antipova of Ukraine came third. (Photo by Mark Dadswell/Getty Images)

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Greece's Artiom Kiouregkian (top) grapples with Ukraine's Olesksiy Vakulenko (bottom) on his way to win the bronze medal in their men's Greco-Roman (under 55kg) wrestling bout at the Athens 2004 Olympics August 25, 2004. REUTERS/Yves Herman

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Greece's Bronze medallist Artiom Kiouregkian, Hungary's gold medallist Istvan Majoros and Russia's silver medallist Gueidar Mamedaliev (R-L) stand on the podium during the award ceremony for the men's Greco-Roman (under 55kg) wrestling at the Athens 2004 Olympics August 25, 2004. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

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Greece's Nikolaos Kaklamanakis pumps his sail in light winds on his way to winning the silver medal in the men's mistral class at the Olympic Sailing venue during the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, August 25, 2004. REUTERS/Nigel Marple

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Greece's Nikolaos Kaklamanakis sailing in men's windsurfer mistral shows thumbs up at award ceremony after wining silver medal in the Athens 2004 Olympic Games regatta August 25, 2004.

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Greece's Hrysopiyi Devetzi competes in the women's triple jump at Olympic Stadium at the 2004 Olympic Games August 23, 2004. Devetzi won the silver medal in the event. REUTERS/Jason Reed

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Medalists for the women's triple jump (L-R) Greece's Hrysopiyi Devetzi, silver medal winner, Cameroon's Francoise Mbango Etone, gold medal winner and Russia's Tatana Lebedeva, bronze medal winner, pose during the medals ceremony at Olympic Stadium at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games August 23, 2004. REUTERS/Mike Blake

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Greece's Athanasia Tsoumeleka celebrates after winning the women's 20km walk. Russia's Olimpiada Ivanova won the silver and Australia's Jane Saville won bronze.(AFP/Jeff Haynes)

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Greece's Athanasia Tsoumeleka carries her national flag as she wears her gold medal for the women's 20 km walk at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games August 23, 2004. Tsoumeleka won the gold in a time of one hour 29.12 minutes ahead of Russia's Olimpiada Ivanova and Australia's Jane Saville. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Greece's Dimosthenis Tampakos performs his gold medal routine on the rings during the men's gymnastics individual apparatus finals at the 2004 Summer Olympic Games (news - web sites) in Athens, Sunday, Aug. 22, 2004. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)

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Dimosthenis Tampakos of Greece (C) celebrates his gold medal with silver medallist Jordan Jovtchev of Bulgaria (L) and bronze medallist Yuri Chechi of Italy, after their rings event at the gymnastics competition at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games August 22, 2004. REUTERS/Reinhard Krause

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Greek rower Vasileios Plymeros (L) raises his arm in victory after he and team mate Nikolaos Skiathitis won their heat in the lightweight men's double sculls during competition at the Athens 2004 Olympics August 15, 2004. The Greek team had a time of six minutes 15.22 seconds. REUTERS/Andy Clark

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Silver medalists Pascal Touron, left, and Frederic Dufour of France, gold medalists Tomasz Kucharski, third from right, and Robert Sycz of Poland, and bronze medalists Vasileios Polymeros and Nikolaos Skiathitis of Greece, right, wave on the podium after the Men's Lightweight Double Sculls event at the 2004 Olympic Games in Schinias near Athens, Greece, Sunday, Aug. 22, 2004. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

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ATHENS, Greece: Anastasia Kelesidou of Greece competes in the women's discus throw final, 21 August 2004, during the Olympic Games athletics competitions at the Olympic Stadium in Athens.Sadova won the gold. Kelesidou won the silver medal, Natalya Sadova of Russia won the gold and Irina Yatchenko of Belarus won the bronze. AFP PHOTO/JAVIER SORIANO (Photo credit should read JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)

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ATHENS, Greece: Anastasia Kelesidou of Greece holds up her national flag after she won silver in the women's discus throw final, 21 August 2004, during the Olympic Games athletics competitions at the Olympic Stadium in Athens.Kelesidou won the silver medal, Natalya Sadova of Russia won the gold and Irina Yatchenko of Belarus won the bronze. AFP PHOTO/TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (Photo credit should read TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)

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Pyrros Dimas of Greece looks to the crowd of his countrymen while lifting 375 lbs (170 kg) in the snatch during the Men's 187 lb (85 kg) event at the Nikaia Olympic Weightlifting Hall during the Summer Olympics in Athens, Saturday Aug. 21, 2004. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

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Georgia's George Asanidze (C),lanked by silver medallist Belarus' Andrei Rybakou (L) and Greece's bronze medallist Pyrros Dimas, celebrates on the podium after he won the gold medal in the men's weightlifting 85kg event. REUTERS/Andrea Comas

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Greek skipper Sofia BEKATOROU (L) and crew member Emilia TSOULFA as they cross the finish line, during the Women's Double-handed Dinghy-470 race nine, 19 August 2004, at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. The Greek pair went on to win the gold Medal.

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Greek 470 class skipper Sofia Bekatorou, right, and crew Aimilia Tsoulfa wave during the medal ceremony of the women's double-handed 470 dinghy sailing event at the 2004 Olympic Games (news - web sites) in Athens, Greece, Saturday, Aug. 21, 2004. The Greek team won the Gold medal. (AP Photo/Herbert Knosowski)

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Greece's Olympic champion Ilias Iliadis (R) grapples with Ukraine's Roman Gontyuk (L) on his way to win the gold medal in their men's judo half-middleweight (under 81kg) competition at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games August 17, 2004. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

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Medal winners pose together during the victory ceremony after the Judo men's half-middle weight (-81 kg) event during the Summer Olympics in Athens, Tuesday Aug. 17, 2004. From left is silver medalist Roman Gontyuk of the Ukraine, gold medalist Ilias Iliadis of Greece, bronze medalists Robert Krawczyk of Poland and Flavio Canto of Brazil. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

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Greece's Nikolaos Siranidis and Thomas Bimis dive in the men's synchronised 3-metre diving final to take the gold medal at the Athens 2005 Olympic Games, August 16, 2004. Host nation Greece won its first gold medal of the Athens Olympics on Monday when Siranidis and Bimis triumphed in the men's synchronised 3-metre diving. REUTERS/Arko Datta

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Gold medal winners in the men's Olympic synchronised diving 3 metre springboard final Thomas Bimis (L) and Nikolaos Siranidis of Greece (C) stand on podium and wave to the crowd during the medal ceremony in Athens, August 16, 2004. REUTERS/Toby Melville

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August 14, 2004

Celtic Origins on the Atlantic Facade of Europe

A new study re-evaluates mtDNA evidence, in conjunction with Y-chromosomal and autosomal DNA, to trace the origins of Celtic-speaking populations of Western Europe. The main conclusion is that while some Central European origin can't be ruled out using genetic data, current and former Celtic speakers seem to share a common ancestry with other non-Celtic populations of the Atlantic zone of Europe.

Am. J. Hum. Genet., 75:000, 2004

The Longue Durée of Genetic Ancestry: Multiple Genetic Marker Systems and Celtic Origins on the Atlantic Facade of Europe

Brian McEvoy et al.

Celtic languages are now spoken only on the Atlantic facade of Europe, mainly in Britain and Ireland, but were spoken more widely in western and central Europe until the collapse of the Roman Empire in the first millennium A.D. It has been common to couple archaeological evidence for the expansion of Iron Age elites in central Europe with the dispersal of these languages and of Celtic ethnicity and to posit a central European "homeland" for the Celtic peoples. More recently, however, archaeologists have questioned this "migrationist" view of Celtic ethnogenesis. The proposition of a central European ancestry should be testable by examining the distribution of genetic markers; however, although Y-chromosome patterns in Atlantic Europe show little evidence of central European influence, there has hitherto been insufficient data to confirm this by use of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Here, we present both new mtDNA data from Ireland and a novel analysis of a greatly enlarged European mtDNA database. We show that mtDNA lineages, when analyzed in sufficiently large numbers, display patterns significantly similar to a large fraction of both Y-chromosome and autosomal variation. These multiple genetic marker systems indicate a shared ancestry throughout the Atlantic zone, from northern Iberia to western Scandinavia, that dates back to the end of the last Ice Age.


August 12, 2004

Face of Anglo-Saxon princess revealed

Forensic reconstruction of a 6th c. Anglo-Saxon woman buried with a rich collection of grave woods.

Link (BBC)

Cradle-to-Grave EU stats dendrogram

Some interesting statistics on the lives of EU citizens from different countries over at Racial Reality blog. To better visualize these statistics, I calculated the distance matrix and plotted the corresponding UPGMA dendrogram:

Samaritan mtDNA and Y chromosomes

Hum Mutat. 2004 Sep;24(3):248-60.

Reconstruction of patrilineages and matrilineages of Samaritans and other Israeli populations from Y-Chromosome and mitochondrial DNA sequence Variation.

P. Shen et al.

The Samaritan community, which numbered more than a million in late Roman times and only 146 in 1917, numbers today about 640 people representing four large families. They are culturally different from both Jewish and non-Jewish populations in the Middle East and their origin remains a question of great interest. Genetic differences between the Samaritans and neighboring Jewish and non-Jewish populations are corroborated in the present study of 7,280 bp of nonrecombining Y-chromosome and 5,622 bp of coding and hypervariable segment I (HVS-I) mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequences. Comparative sequence analysis was carried out on 12 Samaritan Y-chromosome, and mtDNA samples from nine male and seven female Samaritans separated by at least two generations. In addition, 18-20 male individuals were analyzed, each representing Ethiopian, Ashkenazi, Iraqi, Libyan, Moroccan, and Yemenite Jews, as well as Druze and Palestinians, all currently living in Israel. The four Samaritan families clustered to four distinct Y-chromosome haplogroups according to their patrilineal identity. Of the 16 Samaritan mtDNA samples, 14 carry either of two mitochondrial haplotypes that are rare or absent among other worldwide ethnic groups. Principal component analysis suggests a common ancestry of Samaritan and Jewish patrilineages. Most of the former may be traced back to a common ancestor in the paternally-inherited Jewish high priesthood (Cohanim) at the time of the Assyrian conquest of the kingdom of Israel.


August 11, 2004

Korean-American Woman's Face

Arch Facial Plast Surg. 2004;6:244-252.

The Korean American Woman's Face : Anthropometric Measurements and Quantitative Analysis of Facial Aesthetics

Kyle S. Choe et al.


Objectives To assess the differences in facial proportions between Korean American (KA) women and North American white (NAW) women and to quantitatively describe aesthetic facial features in the KA women.
Design Anthropometric survey and facial aesthetic evaluation.
Participants Volunteer sample of KA women (n = 72) who served as models for part 1 of the study and a different sample of KA women (n = 5) and men (n = 5) who served as judges for part 2 of the study. All subjects were between ages 18 and 35 years and had Korean parents and no previous facial surgery or trauma.
Intervention For part 1 of the study, standardized and referenced frontal and lateral photographs were taken of the models, and 26 standard anthropometric measurements were determined. Results were compared with published NAW standards. For part 2 of the study, 10 judges evaluated frontal views of the models for facial aesthetics using a visual analog scale. Quantitative analysis was done of the faces of attractive KA women (>90th percentile in aesthetic scores) and comparisons were made with the faces of NAW women and average KA women.
Results The KA woman's face did not fit the neoclassical facial canons. Compared with NAW women, 24 of the 26 facial measurements in KA women were significantly different. Only 9 of the 26 facial measurements were significantly different when the attractive KA women were compared with the NAW women. Nine of the 17 nonsignificant facial measurements were very similar to those of the NAW women; many of these facial features centered around the midface.
Conclusions Although the average KA woman's facial anthropometric measurements were very different from those of the NAW woman, attractive KA women reflected many of the facial features of NAW women. These findings support the need for ethnically sensitive facial canons and further research into transcultural aesthetics.

Figure 1. Frontal (A), lateral (B), and basal (C) views of the average Korean American woman's face. ac indicates alar curvature point; al, alare; al', alar rim; c, highest point of the columella; ch, cheillion; en, endocanthion; ex, exocanthion; g, glabella; gn, gnathion; mf, maxillofrontale; n, nasion; prn, pronasale; sa, superaurale; sba, subaurale; sn, subnasale; tr, trichion; and zy, zygion.

Table 1. Comparison of Anthropometric Facial Measurements in Korean American and North American White Women

August 10, 2004

Large-scale variation in the human genome

Researchers have found that large regions of the human genome may be duplicated or missing in individuals, and that these regions often overlap with gene-coding regions. This has important consequences as previously it was thought that most human variation was in "small-scale" mutations that affected single or a few nucleotides. But, the researchers have now found that these new variations "involve gains or losses of several kilobases to hundreds of kilobases of genomic DNA among phenotypically normal individuals."

Nature Genetics, Published online: 01 August 2004; doi:10.1038/ng1416

Detection of large-scale variation in the human genome

A John Iafrate et al.

We identified 255 loci across the human genome that contain genomic imbalances among unrelated individuals. Twenty-four variants are present in > 10% of the individuals that we examined. Half of these regions overlap with genes, and many coincide with segmental duplications or gaps in the human genome assembly. This previously unappreciated heterogeneity may underlie certain human phenotypic variation and susceptibility to disease and argues for a more dynamic human genome structure.


Health and Behavior Risks of Adolescents with Mixed-Race Identity

The following study discovers elevated levels of risk in mixed-race adolescents. The authors postulate that this is due to stress.

American Journal of Public Health. Vol 93(11), Nov 2003, pp. 1865-1870

Health and Behavior Risks of Adolescents with Mixed-Race Identity

J. R. Udry et al.


Objectives. This study compared the health and risk status of adolescents who identify with 1 race with those identifying with more than 1 race. Methods. Data are derived from self-reports of race, using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), which provides a large representative national sample of adolescents in grades 7 through 12. Respondents could report more than 1 race. Results. Mixed-race adolescents showed higher risk when compared with single-race adolescents on general health questions, school experience, smoking and drinking, and other risk variables. Conclusions. Adolescents who self-identify as more than 1 race are at higher health and behavior risks. The findings are compatible with interpreting the elevated risk of mixed race as associated with stress.

August 09, 2004

I1a Haplogroup Site

A very good site linked from the Y-Haplogroups page is dedicated to haplogroup I1a. The page, built by Ken Nordtvedt, is a very good resource for all those interested in this -mainly NW European/Germanic- clade of Haplogroup I.

August 07, 2004

Male-Female differences in chess achievement

This paper looks at relative achievement of men and women in chess to test whether or not male-female differences in achievement diminished over time. The main conclusion is that they have remained fairly constant. In my opinion, this indicates either that (i) men are more likely to have exceptional levels of ability than women, or (ii) women are less motivated to devote the necessary time and effort to become really good chess players, or both.

Journal of Biosocial Science (2004)
DOI 10.1017/S0021932004006868




Males traditionally predominate at upper achievement levels. One general view holds that this is due only to various social factors such as the ‘glass ceiling’ and lack of female role models. Another view holds that it occurs partly because of innate ability differences, with more males being at upper ability levels. In the last few decades, women have become more achievement focused and competitive and have gained many more opportunities to achieve. The present study examined one intellectual domain, international chess, to quantify its gender differences in achievement and to see if these have been diminishing with the societal changes. Chess is a good test domain because it is a meritocracy, it has objective performance measures, and longitudinal data of a whole population are available. Performance ratings overall and in the top 10, 50 and 100 players of each sex show large gender differences and little convergence over the past three decades, although a few females have become high achievers. The distribution of performance ratings on the January 2004 list shows a higher male mean and evidence for more male variation, just as with traits such as height. Career patterns of players first on the list between 1985 and 1989 show that top males and females entered the list at about the same age but females tend to play fewer games and have shorter careers. In this domain at least, the male predominance is large and has remained roughly constant despite societal changes.

August 05, 2004

Anthropology of Peloponnesians

Anthropol Anz. 1986 Sep;44(3):215-25.

[Anthropologic study of the population of Peloponnesus with special reference to the Arwanites and Tsakones]

Pitsios TK.

A total of 1582 individuals of the indigenous population of the Peloponnesus was investigated anthropologically. 1465 of these individuals are males, 117 females in the age between 20 and 60 years. The mean age of the males is 40 years, that of the females 30 years. Altogether 19 metric and 42 morphognostic characters could be considered. In order to study the geographical variability of these characters 90 distribution maps were drawn. Furthermore, multivariate statistical analysis was done, using Hiernaux's distance method, which allows to consider metric and morphognostic characters simultaneously. According to the distribution pattern of the anthropological characters under study and the results of Hiernaux's distance method two anthropological types can be discerned. The first of these two types covers the largest part of the country and is found mainly in the Western and Southern parts of the Peloponnesus, whereas the other one is dominating in Northeastern and Central Peloponnesus. The Western-Southern type is characterized by a relatively dark skin, straight nose, brown-grey eyes, marked eye-brows, and a marked torus supraorbitalis as compared to the Northeastern-Central type. An ethnohistorical interpretation of these differences is not yet possible.


mtDNA analysis of Neolithic Siberians

This study shows that modern Siberians are partly descended from the Mongoloid Neolithic Siberians.

Anthropol Anz. 1998 Mar;56(1):1-6.

Siberian population of the New Stone Age: mtDNA haplotype diversity in the ancient population from the Ust'-Ida I burial ground, dated 4020-3210 BC by 14C.

Naumova O Y et al.

On the basis of analysis of mtDNA from skeletal remains, dated by 14C 4020-3210 BC, from the Ust'-Ida I Neolithic burial ground in Cis-Baikal area of Siberia, we obtained genetic characteristics of the ancient Mongoloid population. Using the 7 restriction enzymes for the analysis of site's polymorphism in 16,106-16,545 region of mtDNA, we studied the structure of the most frequent DNA haplotypes, and estimated the intrapopulational nucleotide diversity of the Neolithic population. Comparison of the Neolithic and modern indigeneous populations from Siberia, Mongolia and Ural showed, that the ancient Siberian population is one of the ancestors of the modern population of Siberia. From genetic distance, in the assumption of constant nucleotide substitution rate, we estimated the divergence time between the Neolithic and the modern Siberian population. This divergence time (5572 years ago) is conformed to the age of skeletal remains (5542-5652 years). With use of the 14C dates of the skeletal remains, nucleotide substitution rate in mtDNA was estimated as 1% sequence divergence for 8938-9115 years.


Population Genetics of Estonians

A genetic study on Estonians agrees with a multivariate craniometric study (Homo. 2002;52(3):240-53.) in proposing that the Finno-Ugrians were originally a separate race from both Caucasoids and Mongoloids.

Anthropol Anz. 2000 Jun;58(2):137-54.

A population genetic characterization of Estonians.

Heapost L.

This paper discusses the genetic characterization of Estonians on the basis of eight blood group systems, and the traits of PTC tasting and colour blindness in 40 Estonian population samples from various parts of the country. The allele frequencies for the total Estonian population and for the four most different regions are presented. The survey shows genetic heterogeneity within the Estonians; the greatest genetic differences were observed in West-East direction. The West-Islands, West, and North Estonia differ from the other regions (East, South-East, also South-West and Central Estonia--which form a compact cluster). The mean allele frequencies of the Estonians are comparable to those typical for populations from North and East Europe, but the allele frequencies of Estonians are characterized by tendencies in two opposite (western and eastern) directions, like in other Finno-Ugric populations and concerning other anthropological traits. Estonians reveal closest similarities to the nearest neighbouring populations, regardless of their language group. The genetic heterogeneity and antagonistic traits in Estonians seem to be traces of the original genetic structure of Finno-Ugric ancestor populations which were neither Mongoloid nor Caucasoid.


The Finno-Ugrian Suicide Hypothesis

This study discovers that suicide rates in Europe are strongly correlated with geography. Countries with high suicide rates form a belt from Finland to Austria which corresponds with the genetic zone of cold adaptation and ancient Uralic language dispersion. The authors suggest that genetic risk factors in this region are responsible for high suicide rates.

Percept Mot Skills. 2003 Oct;97(2):401-6.

The Finno-Ugrian suicide hypothesis: variation in European suicide rates by latitude and longitude.

Voracek M et al.

The marked variation regarding the suicide rate in 34 European countries is well described by regressing the national suicide rate on the capital cities' latitudes and on an interaction term of squared latitude multiplied with longitude. The interaction term explains 40.8% and 29.1% of men's and women's suicide rate, respectively, and latitude explains a further significant increment of 10.9% and 10.6% variance of men's and women's suicide rate, respectively. This regression model quantifies the Finno-Ugrian suicide hypothesis of Kondrichin and of Marusic and Farmer. The European countries highest in suicide rate constitute a contiguous, J-shaped belt, spanning from Finland to Austria. This area maps onto the second principal component identified for European gene distribution, representing ancestral adaptation to cold climates and the Uralic language dispersion. Thus, population differences in genetic risk factors may account for the spatial pattern in European suicide rates.


August 04, 2004

mtDNA and Y chromosomes of Yakuts

In agreement with a recent autosomal DNA study on the Yakuts, this ethnic group is characterized by mainly Mongoloid mtDNA haplogroups (A, B, C, D, G, and F) as well as the Uralic-Mongoloid Y-haplogroup N3.

Genetika. 2003 Jul;39(7):975-81. Related Articles, Links

[MtDNA and Y-chromosome lineages in the Yakut population]

Puzyrev VP et al.

The structure of female (mtDNA) and male (Y-chromosome haplotypes) lineages in the Yakut population was examined. To determine mtDNA haplotypes, sequencing of hypervariable segment I and typing of haplotype-specific point substitutions in the other parts of the mtDNA molecule were performed. Y haplogroups were identified through typing of biallelic polymorphisms in the nonrecombining part of the chromosome. Haplotypes within haplogroups were analyzed with seven microsatellite loci. Mitochondrial gene pool of Yakuts is mainly represented by the lineages of eastern Eurasian origin (haplogroups A, B, C, D, G, and F). In Yakuts haplogroups C and D showing the total frequency of almost 80% and consisting of 12 and 10 different haplopypes, respectively, were the most frequent and diverse. The total part of the lineages of western Eurasian origin ("Caucasoid") was about 6% (4 haplotypes, haplogroups H, J, and U). Most of Y chromosomes in the Yakut population (87%) belonged to haplogroup N3 (HG16), delineated by the T-C substitution at the Tat locus. Chromosomes of haplogroup N3 displayed the presence of 19 microsatellite haplotypes, the most frequent of which encompassed 54% chromosomes of this haplogroup. Median network of haplogroup N3 in Yakuts demonstrated distinct "starlike phylogeny". Male lineages of Yakuts were shown to be closest to those of Eastern Evenks.


Mongoloid origin of Yakuts

Results from a recent paper indicate that the Turkic-speaking Yakuts from Siberia were originally racially Mongoloid and experienced genetic admixture with Indo-European speaking Sakas approximately 1,500-1,750 years ago.

Genetika. 2004 Apr;40(4):560-4. Related Articles, Links

Published data on two cases of linkage disequilibrium in Yakuts are analyzed. These are the disequilibria between loci HLA-A and HLA-B and between the mutation of gene SCA1 responsible for type 1 spinocerebellar ataxia and its flanking microsatellites D6S274 and D6S89. Both cases are regarded as consequences of the founder effect. The genetic archeological approach has been used to calculate the historical period when the mutant SCA1 gene and the HLA-A1\B17 haplotype spread in the population. It has been found that this was approximately 60-70 generations (1500-1750 years) ago in both cases. The time of the segregation of haplotype HLA-A1\B17 has also been calculated for some other populations. Caucasoids have proved to be the oldest carriers of this gene, which agrees with the well-known notion that HLA-A1 originated in Indo-Europeans. The general distribution of HLA genes in Yakuts is similar to that in east-central Asian Mongoloids; therefore, it is concluded that that Yakuts are east-central Asian Mongoloids by origin, except for the founder that had haplotype A1\B17. Historically, the time of the appearance of this haplotype coincided with the period when Saks conquered east-central Asia; therefore, it is hypothesized that the aforementioned founder was a Sak.


The Ideal Female Nose

A recent study looks at the "ideal nose", discovering that patients who seek a nose reduction and the general public generally agree on what constitutes such a nose:

Both groups preferred a nasal profile with a slight scoop (P = .005 for the public and P<.001 for the rhinoplasty group), slight overrotation (P = .08 for the public and P<.001 for the rhinoplasty group), and slight underprojection (P<.001 for both groups). However, the degree of underrotation preferred by the public did not differ significantly from that of the averaged nose.

While the results are not very surprising, one look at the computer-manipulated images in the paper, shows that they do not only deviate from the average, but appear to be unnatural and unconvincing.

Arch Facial Plast Surg. 2004;6:257-262.

The Ideal Nasal Profile : Rhinoplasty Patients vs the General Public

David C. Pearson et al.

Objectives To evaluate whether patients seeking reduction rhinoplasty hold a different concept of the ideal nose than does the general public, and to determine what features characterize the ideal nasal profile.

Methods Twenty-seven patients seeking reduction rhinoplasty and 15 randomly selected members of the public evaluated a series of computer-manipulated photographic profiles using a pictorial visual analogue scale to rate their preferences for several variables. Center-scale images were created from mesh-warped ("morphed") computer averaging of 12 white women. Differences between the rhinoplasty group and the public group were then compared, as was each group's deviation from the center of the scale.

Results Both groups preferred narrowly distributed differences from the "average" profile to a high degree of significance. No statistically significant difference was found between the ideal nasal profiles selected by the rhinoplasty group and the public group.

Conclusions Reduction rhinoplasty patients do not appear to have a different concept of the ideal nose than does the public at large. The ideal nose, as it pertains to the ideal white female profile, has characteristics that differ from a mathematically averaged nasal profile.


August 03, 2004

Racial Reality Blog

Racial Reality Blog, a companion to the Racial Reality website has just been launched with a post applying reverse Nordicist "logic" to document the existence of a North-South divide in England, while at the same time documenting the vast underground economy in Southern Italy, which should be taken into account when discussing the economic performance of the region.

mtDNA of Russians from Novgorod Oblast

Russian Journal of Genetics 40 (7): 795-799, July 2004 doi:10.1023/B:RUGE.0000036530.09850.70

Mitochondrial DNA Variation in Two Russian Populations from Novgorod Oblast

A. V. Lunkina et al.

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) polymorphism was examined in two Russian populations of Novgorod oblast, from the city of Velikii Novgorod (n = 81), and the settlement of Volot (n = 79). This analysis showed that the mitochondrial gene pool of Russians examined was represented by the mtDNA types belonging to 20 haplogroups and subhaplogroups distributed predominantly among the European populations. Haplogroups typical of the indigenous populations of Asia were found in the population sample from Velikii Novgorod with the average frequency of 3.7% (haplogroups A, Z, and D5), and with the frequency of 6.3% (haplogroups Z, D, and M*) in the Volot population. It was demonstrated that the frequency of the mitochondrial lineages combination, D5, Z, U5b-16144, and U8, typical of the Finnish-speaking populations of Northeastern Europe, was somewhat higher in the urban population (7.4%) compared to rural one (3.8%). The problem of genetic differentiation of Russians from Eastern Europe inferred from mtDNA data, is discussed.


Spread of the Scythians after c. 850BC

A new paper proposes that reduced solar activity after 850BC resulted in the transformation of formerly desert-like regions into herbivore-friendly wet steppes. According to this theory, the Scythian culture expanded after this time, taking advantage of the newly created steppe regions.

Journal of Archaeological Science
Article in Press, Corrected Proof

Climate change and the expansion of the Scythian culture after 850 BC: a hypothesis

B. van Geel et al.


In south-central Siberia archaeological evidence suggests an acceleration of cultural development and an increase in the density of nomadic populations around 850 BC. We hypothesize a relationship with an abrupt climatic shift towards increased humidity caused by a decline of solar activity. Areas that initially may have been hostile semi-deserts changed into attractive steppe landscapes with a high biomass production and high carrying capacity. Newly available steppe areas could be invaded by herbivores, making them attractive for nomadic tribes. The central Asian horse-riding Scythian culture expanded, and an increased population density was a stimulus for westward migration towards southeastern Europe.