Monthly Archives: July 2012

Lost Colony

Madagascar was originally settled by Indonesians, specifically people from South Borneo, possibly as early as 300 BC.   Recent genetic work on their mtDNA suggests that the number of founding mothers was small, around 30, and those researchers have speculated that … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 16 Comments

Joseph Greenberg and the Amerindians

Joseph Greenberg believed that the native languages of the Americas fell into three macro-families: Eskimos-Aleut, Na-Dene (mainly the Athabaskan languages, spoken in Western Canada and the American Southwest), and Amerind (all of the rest).  Often this theory was paired with … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 24 Comments

Presidential Transportation

 There has been, over the past couple of generations, a gradual tendency for the Presidency to acquire power and the trappings of power to an almost Imperial extent.  Certainly Presidential transportation is one of the most spectacular examples: having two of … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 31 Comments

Changes in Attitudes

Concerning the notion that there may be important regional differences in genetic load:   guys, at this point they’re not hypothetical. Last year they were, and I kept my suspicions to myself, but now they’ve been seen, been measured. It … Continue reading

Posted in Genetics | 62 Comments

Pre-term Births

The model that Greg is dancing around suggests (1) that there is variation in mutation rate dependent on temperature or something correlated with temperature, (2) higher mutation rates cause a higher genetic burden in human populations, (3) leading to IQ … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 52 Comments

Too Darn Hot?

Several recent papers  give me the impression that there is regional variation in mutational load.   One can slice this a number of ways. A recent Science article looked at mutations that knocked out genes – loss-of-function or LOF mutations.  Mutational … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 22 Comments


In Robert Heinlein’s book Starship Troopers, he mentioned a planet called Sanctuary.  It was retarded: given favorable conditions and similar amounts of time, life had not  gotten very far.  The most advanced animal was a proto-insect, the most advanced plant … Continue reading

Posted in Genetics | 23 Comments

Pygmy Sommelier

You’ve almost certainly heard about red-green color blindness.  It’s terribly common – in occurs in ~8% of  European men.   That is a surprisingly high frequency for a genetic problem, but the fundamental cause is a weirdly high mutation rate, due … Continue reading

Posted in Genetics | 35 Comments

Fascinatin’ rhythm

At the recent SMBE meeting in Dublin, there was an interesting talk (judging from the abstract) about archaic genes in modern humans.  The  authors were Sriram Sankararaman, Nick Patterson, Swapan Mallick,, Svante Paabo, and David Reich. They believe that they … Continue reading

Posted in Genetics, Neanderthals | 11 Comments

I Want a New Drug

Big pharma has taken a new course over the past few years.  In the past, most useful drugs originated in some kind of living organism – penicillin,  quinine, insulin, etc etc.   Nowadays, big pharmaceutical companies use combinatorial chemistry and computer … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 28 Comments