Monthly Archives: October 2013

Lost and Found

Marcus Terentius Varro  was called the most learned of the Romans.  But what did he know, and how did he know it? I ask because of this quote, from Rerum rusticarum libri III  (Agricultural Topics in Three Books): “Especial care … Continue reading

Posted in Low-hanging Fruit | 79 Comments

The First of the Mohicans

I talked about some pieces of this puzzle earlier: Patterson and Reich found an Amerindian-like component in Europeans, especially northern Europeans.  Their first calculations showed such admixture in all Europeans other than Sardinians and Basques: later calculations found that all Europeans … Continue reading

Posted in Amerindians, European Prehistory, Genetics | 135 Comments

Denisovans in Wallacea?

In Science, Cooper and Stringer discuss the distribution of Denisovan ancestry. Before I say anything else – their map is great. We don’t see any Denisovan ancestry in populations living in mainland Southeast Asia, or Indonesia, or indeed in any … Continue reading

Posted in Archaic humans, Denisovans | 44 Comments

Elves, Orcs, and all that

As I understand it, right-thinking people are supposed to act as if men who have undergone ‘sex-change’ surgery are really women. As opposed to crazy.  The thing is, there are other transitions that people may wish to make, and I’m … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 160 Comments

All One Species ?

There is a new paper about a recently discovered skull from Dmanisi, Georgia, an early Homo erectus.  Compared with a set of other erectus skulls from the same area and from about the same time, it looks as if this … Continue reading

Posted in Archaic humans, Denisovans, homo erectus, Neanderthals, Uncategorized | 40 Comments

Feelings, nothing more than feelings…

“It is a matter of ethical principle that individual and cultural accomplishment is not tied to the genes in the same way as the appearance of our hair.”

Posted in Uncategorized | 69 Comments

Distance from Harvard

Barry Marshall once said that if he had gone to Harvard, he would have known that stomach ulcers were caused by stress, and wouldn’t even have considered the possibility that they might be caused by a bacterium.  There are a … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 83 Comments

The Mamas and the Papas

A new paper in Science (Brandt et al) talks about genetic changes in European prehistory, mainly by looking at mitochondrial DNA.  They do this because mtDNA is easier to recover  and sequence than Y-chromosome or autosomal DNA.  The most complete … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Replacement: genes and language

In historical times, sometimes you see conquest followed by elite dominance: the winners are outnumbered by those they’ve conquered, but rule them for some time.  Usually they eventually dissolve into the majority population.  Sometimes the top dogs lose their language … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 58 Comments

The Old Breed

More and more it looks as if Robert Howard (as well as most of the physical anthropologists in the first half of the 20th century) had it right:  every now and then, invaders move in and largely replace the the … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 40 Comments