A recent paper in PNAS talks about the  evolution of the Pygmies – or, more exactly, the Pygmy phenotype, because it seems to have happened independently in the Biaka Pygmies (west Africa) and the Batwa pygmies of Uganda.  The two groups have different genetic mechanisms for being short. Their shortness really is genetic, of course. Pygmies are mixed, to a degree: the more Bantu ancestry they have, the taller they are. And although height really is affected by nutrition, Pygmies are about six standard deviations shorter: someone of normal potential height would have had to starve to death (twice!) to be that short, and there would be lots of other symptoms of malnutrition that Pygmies don’t have.

Still, there were those who thought otherwise, presumably because they’d stuck a crayon up their nose as a kid. Way up. Environment does matter!

I noticed an interesting comment on this in Science: Michael Balter said “scientists had not been sure to what extent Darwinian natural selection is actually responsible for the Pygmy body type and how many times it has arisen over the course of evolution.”  The bit about how many times it had arisen is reasonable – that takes looking at the genotype to be sure, and indeed it has occurred five or more times (in Africa and Southeast Asia).  But there was no reason to wonder whether those changes were a product of Darwinian natural selection: that was a sure bet. Not just because it has happened multiple times in similar rain-forest environments. Darwinian natural selection is always operating.

Natural selection is not an odd, unusual, poorly understood phenomenon like ball lighting.  It is not something that last occurred 50 million years ago, like a kimberlite pipe eruption.  And, of course, it applies to human behavioral traits, which are significantly heritable. Unless you think that the optimum mental phenotype (considering costs and payoffs) was the same in tropical hunter-gatherers, arctic hunter-gatherers, neolithic peasants, and medieval moneylenders (which would strongly suggest that you are an idiot), natural selection must have generated significant differences between populations. Differences whose consequences we see every day, and that have been copiously documented by psychometricians.

This notion that ongoing natural selection is not the default – that it only happens on national holidays or whatever – is fairly common among biologists.  Obviously untrue, because you can’t even have things stay the same without ongoing selection – otherwise mutations and drift would gradually ruin everything.  Only selection lets horseshoe crabs outlast mountain ranges.

Sure, some of this is because the topic of human psychological differences makes biologists upset, or threatens to impose unemployment and/or celibacy – but it also shows up in  topics that don’t seem to have much emotional or political charge. I think that only a few biologists reject those unexciting examples of ongoing natural selection because of a realization that they logically imply other, controversial conclusions.  They do have such implications, but I think that poorly understood neutral theory plays a bigger role.


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108 Responses to Pygmification

  1. Whyvert says:

    Does anyone have an idea when these pygmifications happened?

    • Robert Ford says:

      I believe it’s suggested that it is because they require less energy/sweat less in a rainforest environment. I don’t know how established that is though – they didn’t sound too certain because they included the “agility advantage” to better move through dense forest, which sounded kinda lame to me. (waiting patiently to be yelled at by Greg)

    • Robert Ford says:

      Woops! My bad, I read that as “why” instead of when

      • Jim says:

        As for one of the reasons why – Pygmies climb trees a lot. Probably helps to be lighter.

      • dave chamberlin says:

        It seems odd to call a tropical rainforest a food desert, but it is. Wonderful habitat for bugs but a green hell for humans whom require more calories than are easily obtainable in the jungle. So to survive there at all we shrunk. Homo Floresiensis is an archaic example of pygmification.

  2. peppermint says:

    threatens to impose unemployment and/or celibacy

    how long would this need to persist before biologists become constitutionally incapable of thinking these thoughts?

  3. FredR says:

    “Only selection lets horseshoe crabs outlast mountain ranges.”

    Great line.

  4. JayMan says:

    “Natural selection is not an odd, unusual, poorly understood phenomenon like ball lighting. It is not something that last occurred 50 million years ago, like a kimberlite pipe eruption. And, of course, it applies to human behavioral traits, which are significantly heritable.”

    I’ve noticed (and you can see hints of this line of thinking in this Twitter kerfuffle I had today that many biologists and other scientists that look at humans seem to have this mental conception that there is some sort of ontological barrier that insulates humans from the forces of selection (both natural and artificial) that acts upon all other forms of life on Earth. It’s akin to the creationists’ nonexistent barrier between “micro” and “macro”evolution. You can see that in the discussion on dog breeds that pops in the above Twitter convo.

    But we can’t acknowledge that natural selection has acted on humans and continues to do so, that dog breeds are highly analogous to human populations, and most every sense, and that the selective breeding techniques that we use on farm animals would work perfectly well on humans. We can’t even think that… :\

    • Jim says:

      I think that it’s basically animism. Animism is the view that the world is fundamentally a moral structure governed by moral agents such as gods and spirits or maybe the Hegelian dialectic. So everything has to have a moral explanation. But the world is totally amoral and shit just happens according to the complex working out of natural law.

      So human history and evolution have no moral meaning – “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”.

    • kai says:

      Would it work as perfectly (or, more precisely, as efficently) on humans? It looks like dogs are strangely plastic, i.e. you can have a lot of variation in the body comformation, much more than cats for example.
      Maybe it’s a feature of the canine species to have large phenotypic variations for small genetic varations. Or maybe they have much-above-average genetic variations to begin with?
      Humans may be less plastic, at least for the body. For the behavior, it may be different, or it may the same.
      Canine have either solitary behavior (coyotes) or extremely hierarchical social behavior (wolves pack), while still being interfertile. This gives a lot of raw material to work with….
      But for cats….not so much.
      Humans, I am not sure, maybe the fact that I am one makes it more difficult to judge 😉

      • Anonymous says:

        Cats have never been subject to much novel selection pressure compared to dogs or humans. With limited human meddling dogs became races diverse as saluki, pinscher etc.

  5. Anonymous says:

    A brilliant post, full of quotable lines and, after breakfast, the best way to start a rainy English day.

  6. j says:

    Deep down, biologists and other Euro-Asians cannot accept Darwinian evolution because it is working against them. They are not equipped to think clearly about their personal and genetic death.

    BTW, pygmification proves that evolution has no direction nor purpose. Pygmies evolved from humans more intelligent than they. Evolved, not retrogressed.

    • dearieme says:

      “evolution has no direction nor purpose”: no purpose certainly; as for direction, anything can happen as long as it’s consistent with the Second Law.

    • Bob says:

      Biologists cannot accept Darwinian evolution? That is one of the most absurd statements I’ve read in quite a while. Who are these biologists? I am a biologist. I work with other biologists. I listen to and read the papers of other biologists every day. Some may disagree about whether or not a certain characteristic is actually the result of selection, but I cannot remember ever meeting any biologist who does not accept Darwinian evolution.

      • gcochran9 says:

        The fraction of biologists who understand much about Darwinian evolution is small: for example, few are familiar with the breeder’s equation. Few know much about population genetics. They may ‘believe’ in evolution, but they can’t use it to make predictions. As we used to say in physics – if you can’t do the problem sets, you don’t understand it. A lot of them picked up much of what they think they know from S. J. Gould, who was a liar and an idiot.
        This is all compounded by low average numeracy among biologists.

        In human genetics, I’d say that the situation is considerably worse. A lot of the practitioners come out of medicine: enough said. Moreover, most seem to think their political sensibilities can determine whether a conclusion is correct [usually, but not always, on questions related to human evolution].

        The Communists thought the same thing, and how did that work out?

        • Bruce says:

          When I was in college, more than one physics grad student told me that they respected chemists but not biologists.

        • j says:

          To illustrate what you are saying: Astrophysicists can and do predict that in about 6 billion years, our Milky Way galaxy will merge with the Andromeda galaxy, and that will be it. Biologists in toto will not/cannot predict the outcome of the introduction of a new species or type of Homo into an area already peopled by a different species or type. It is not that the law homo homini lupus has ever failed, they just dont like it so cannot be true.

  7. Sandgroper says:

    It’s just depressing – if people had been diligent in their reading of Phantom comics when they were kids, they would know all about the skull cave in the deep woods guarded by the deadly poison pygmy Bandar people, and none of this would be remotely mysterious.

    • Richard Sharpe says:

      I don’t believe you can get Phantom comics in more enlightened parts of the world, like Diana Palmer’s home town.

  8. turan says:

    So how did pygmies evolve? I don’t deny racial differences in intelligence etc. btw if you’re going to accuse me of being PC. No, I think natural qualities are heritable and races differ. I just don’t think these come about by natural selection.

    Present a model for how pygmies could have come about, present intermediary types, and I’ll believe you. Of course you can’t, either in this case or others. There never are intermediary types, there aren’t mutants among us, there isn’t the raw material for natural selection to work on in the first place.

    Natural selection, the stupidity of the English biologists in thinking about nature.

  9. Sandgroper says:

    I think I am beginning to see part of the problem – the British have been totally deprived of any knowledge of Phantom lore at all, in what clearly amounts to a national education crisis.

  10. ckp says:

    Article is paywalled – what selective advantages do they say Pygmification brings?

  11. Harold says:

    Gregory Clarke showed that in England the rich had more surviving offspring than the poor. This went on for many centuries. Some sons and daughters of the rich remained rich some became poor. Those that managed to remain rich, in turn had more surviving offspring than those who became poor, and so the cycle continued. Each generation up against the offspring of the winners of the previous generation. To deny this caused genetic change in the English is to deny there was any influence of genes in who remained rich and who became poor. It is to deny the very ability of evolution to create an Englishman better able to remain rich in the English society of those times. An absurd proposition.

    I made a comment to the effect of the above over at Jerry Coyne’s site. It didn’t make it through moderation.

    • dearieme says:

      But it must have happened in many other countries too, surely? It even seems to have happened in medieval Ireland, with land being reserved for nine generations for the descendants of the local Big Man, presumably with children of the poor – if they had any – falling off the bottom of the ladder. What distinguished England in this regard?

      • Harold says:

        Yes, something similar all over Europe to be sure.

        But as a wise man once said, “Unless you think that the optimum mental phenotype (considering costs and payoffs) was the same in tropical hunter-gatherers, arctic hunter-gatherers, neolithic peasants, and medieval moneylenders…”

        • Lars Grobian says:

          It’s strange and sad to try to imagine the kind of environment where the optimum mental phenotype is a pugnacious megalomaniacal alcoholic, wracked by black despair and inexpressible poetic yearnings. Maybe an economy based entirely on cattle rustling.

          Creationists bore me (“name a number between two and three! I mean, 2.5 and 3! No, I said 2.75 and…”), but if anybody’s got a plausible hypothesis explaining the existence of idiots like my ancestors, I’d love to hear it.

          • Lars Grobian says:

            Somehow I forgot to mention I was talking about the Irish, not that it wasn’t pretty clear already.

          • gcochran9 says:

            “a pugnacious megalomaniacal alcoholic, wracked by black despair and inexpressible poetic yearnings”

            And, all too often, under a geas that forces you to kill your own son.

          • Brett says:

            The Celts are the men
            that the good God made mad
            for their wars are all merry
            and their songs are all sad.

      • Patrick L. Boyle says:

        What distinguished England in this regard?

        I think it was simply that the English had the best records.

        • j says:

          The English have the best records because England is an amazingly stable and ordered country. In that society, Clarke’s selection proceeded most efficiently. In a more chaotic place there is much random selection.

        • dave chamberlin says:

          When you live on island you are far less likely to be overrun and have all your records destroyed. That is one of the reasons Clark gave for records from wills surviving from the middle ages.

  12. Henbane says:

    I think it’s worth noting that Darwin distinguished at least three types of evolutionary selection: artificial (selective breeding), natural and sexual. He never explicitly stated this, but it’s clear on several grounds that he may have given a lot more weight to sexual selection as a factor in human evolution as his thought matured. It’s entirely possible that sexual selection might have played a role in pygmy evolution. (Note, that I’m not saying it did.) If shortness became a sexually desirable trait this could have speeded up pygmification enormously. Another interesting aspect of sexual selection in humans is that, unlike natural selection, it can be directed. A medieval Jewish maiden most likely would have preferred the intelligent and forward looking-suitor over the brainless hunky one. Situations like this would impose a trajectory that is lacking in purely natural selection. Sexual selection in humans, for this very reason, is somewhat less likely to end in the dead-ends that are typical in other species, e.g., the Irish Elk. (It’s still unclear whether too much intelligence is a good idea from a purely evolutionary perspective.)

    • j says:

      The Jewish maidens I know prefer the hulk. Could it have been so different in the past?

    • Harold says:

      Given that all pygmies live in dense rainforest, I imagine there’s a clue in that, somewhere.

    • ASR says:

      I’d argue that there’s also a fourth form of evolutionary selection in human populations; call it socio-political selection. As one example, some have argued that medieval institutions might have selected against intelligence. To grossly simplify their argument, the Roman Catholic Church attracted intelligent young men because it offered them great opportunities for social, political, and economic advancement but clerical celibacy then removed their genes from the gene pool. Currently, powerful economic forces in this country discourage high fertility among the more intelligent strata of the population but the government provides our below-average-intelligence underclass with a variety of economic inducements to over-breed.

      • Toddy Cat says:

        “clerical celibacy then removed their genes from the gene pool”

        If the Borgia Popes are any indication, it didn’t remove all of them.

    • ckp says:

      It’s entirely possible that sexual selection might have played a role in pygmy evolution. (Note, that I’m not saying it did.) If shortness became a sexually desirable trait this could have speeded up pygmification enormously.

      If Pygmies were a weird one-off curiosity this might have some weight. The point is they’ve independently evolved in several similar environments. It’s unlikely that sexual selection would go in the same direction in each case.

  13. Jim says:

    Yes, it is utterly amazing that many biologists seem to believe that more than 50,000 years in the past humans had evolved a behavioral suite that is perfectly adapted to both life as a Kalahari desert hunter-gatherer and life as a Tokyo salaryman.

    • Toddy Cat says:

      Than must have been one Hell of a savanna…

    • Anonymous says:

      Not sure there is perfect adaptation of life as a Tokyo salaryman …

    • dave chamberlin says:

      i remember John Hawk’s discussing that the human brain has shrunk 2 standard deviations since approximately 50,000 years ago. Now if you wanted to believe that evolution stopped cold right when we became modern (we should call this the Jared Diamond school of wishful thinking) than this would be a difficult pill to swallow. I would guess this happened with what I’m assuming was a minimal loss of intelligence for the same reason pygmification happened and why humans became shorter and thinner after the agricultural revolution. A more efficient body requiring less calories was a more advantageous so that is what evolved.

    • Anonymous says:

      Jim doesn’t realise that belief in one EEA was only ever stated for reasons of political correctness. By talking about a single origin in which the universal mind of man appeared (see also: Out of Africa) racial differences other than the skin deep could be removed completely off the table.

  14. Jabberwocky says:

    I realize this is off topic, but how should/could one consider the “mouse utopia” result, in terms of selection? Given the human population explosion since the industrial revolution and harnessing of fossil fuels, are constraints imposing their will on our wills?

  15. Bruce says:

    I have an off topic question too. If a trait’s genotype is polygenic, is it true that, in general, it’s phenotype will be normally distributed in a population?

    • Jim says:

      An approximately normal distribution would be expected for any trait which is the result of a fairly large number of causes ( could be genetic or environmental ) which are not strongly correlated with one another and none of which are of much greater than average magnitude compared to the others..

      • Bruce says:

        Thanks for the reply, Jim.

        • Jim says:

          Note though that a normal approximation is an over-all approximation and may not work very well for extreme values. For example if height were truly exactly normally distributed there wuould be a non-zero probablity of people of negative height.

          • Bruce says:

            Absolutely. We say something is “approximately normal.”

          • Bruce says:

            I wonder what fraction of people over 7 feet tall have pathological abnormalities like acromegaly. I bet it’s a small fraction. Angus MacAskill is supposed to have been the largest “true giant” i.e. no pathological abnormalities but his growth pattern and parents’ heights make this seem unlikely. Then again, maybe he got the perfect roll of the dice wrt height allelles.

          • dearieme says:

            How do you know there aren’t any? After all, you couldn’t see them.

      • DrBill says:

        You also need their effect to be additive. No important interactions/non-linearities.

      • Russ says:

        You said what I would if I could.

  16. TWS says:

    Have there ever been any pygmy/pygmy mixtures. I mean type A pygmy from the Congo and type B from Asia. I wonder if you’d wind up with a double pygmy or someone normal height or something in between because the genes for height from pygmy A lose out to the genes for growth from pygmy B etc.

    • Erik Sieven says:

      but where could they meet? maybe at some UN meeting?

      • dave chamberlin says:

        Maybe we could breed them to be twelve standard deviations smaller and Paris Hilton could carry one around in her purse. Our energy problems would all go away if we just shrunk everybody.

    • TWS says:

      Or to put it in other terms. What about Ashkenazi married to a high IQ East Asian? Do they have the same genes for IQ and how will these genes interact? Will we get two and a half SD kids (minus regression to mean) or will we get 100 IQ kids because they aren’t the same genes for IQ. Yes I am exaggerating for effect.

      • jb says:

        I guess we’ll soon know.

        • Sandgroper says:

          Well, the elder one is a shallow, empty headed moron who spouts a never ending stream of cheesy drivel designed to impress the slobbering, mouth-breathing masses. Have you ever read her blog? Jeee-sus. The younger one is the one who rebelled against her shamelessly self-centred, self-promotional, pea-brained mother, so I guess there might be some hope for her, although I wouldn’t hold my breath.

      • candid_observer says:

        According to a study cited by Jensen in The g Factor, there’s actually some hybrid vigor in the children of couples one of whom is of Japanese ancestry, and the other of European ancestry — about .2 to.3 SD.

        I’d be surprised if Jews were different from Europeans in this respect — there’s got to be a lot of genes for IQ in common between Jews and Europeans, though presumably with different frequencies.

  17. Richard Sharpe says:

    What is the collective noun for a group of pygmies?

  18. Bruce says:

    You all need sensitivity training. Polite society hasn’t called them “pygmies” for a long time now.
    Does anyone remember the pygmies from the Johnny Quest cartoon? TV used to be so un-PC.

    • Toddy Cat says:

      If you put a person who gained their understanding of human biodiversity by watching
      “Johnny Quest” up against some who obtained their understanding from an “education” in a modern American University, I have no doubt who would come out ahead.

      By the way, just what the Hell was Hadji supposed to be? Muslim? Sikh? Hindu? Never could figure that out…

      • TWS says:

        He doesn’t carry the Five K’s and certainly hasn’t been eating halal probably Hindu? Probably something low caste that would account for him being purchased or kidnapped by the Quests (or however they acquired a foreign orphan) without any repercussions.

  19. Patrick L. Boyle says:

    Considering how many women and men long to be taller it’s odd that great stature doesn’t seem to be favored by nature. Before the Age of Discovery there were many accounts of strange people and beasts in the world’s unexplored regions. Mill and Hume speculated on ‘men whose heads grew below their shoulders’.

    There were fanciful tales of pygmies and giants but giants I believe were present in more myths. But in the nineteenth century explorers discovered real pygmies – possibly Dr. Livingston was the first. But no one has ever discover a tribe of giants. Except the Irish Giants.

    The Irish Giants – I learned today after reading this blog on pygmies – are a cluster of families in Northern Ireland who have inherited a propensity for pituitary tumors. This is a disease cluster not a true adaptation. There doesn’t seem to be anywhere in the world where really large size has an environmental advantage. Or is there?

    So how do we explain the healthy market for elevator shoes?

    • strongsloth says:

      Imagine a human population where all have identical genes for height. In that population people would be different heights for entirely environmental reasons. A tall person would signal good health, wealth, nutrition etc. So height would be an attractive characteristic and simulating it with elevator shoes might be a good strategy.

      More generally it is because of this environmental effect on heights being correlated with other desirable characteristics that we consider it strange that a group could be selected for shortness.

    • dave chamberlin says:

      It probably isn’t a coincidence that the tallest people in the world are in places where lactose tolerance has occurred as a mutation. Both in those areas of northern Africa and Northern Europe where people are taller than anywhere else in the world, lo and behold different genes for lactose tolerance are prevalent. It isn’t surprising this should happen. Some guys named Cochran and Harpending have thrown out the idea that dairy farming just happens to be 5 times more efficient than just eating the milk producing animal. So its good old evolution doing it’s thing. Stable high protein food supply, people evolve to get bigger. Make them survive in a jungle or make them press right up to the malthusian limit as dirt farmers and they shrink. When I was young i used to think, wow, wait till they teach the Africans how to play basketball, they will swamp the NBA. I was ignorant. A very small percentage pf the African population is lactose tolerant and a small percentage of Africans are freakishly tall. Those tribes that are really really tall just happen to be cattle farmers, and they are by large lactose tolerant. It is just another example of evolution at work.

      i should include there are other variables influencing height as well, we look up to our burger fed children as soon as they stop growing, but that is another story for another thread.

      • anon says:

        Not sure about the factual accuracy here. The average height of blacks living in first world countries approximates that of NW Europeans. And blacks have a notably larger standard deviation.

      • ckp says:

        It probably isn’t a coincidence that the tallest people in the world are in places where lactose tolerance has occurred as a mutation. Both in those areas of northern Africa and Northern Europe where people are taller than anywhere else in the world, lo and behold different genes for lactose tolerance are prevalent.

        Is that why the Dutch were among the shortest people in the civilized world up until the 19th century?

        • dave chamberlin says:

          hello ckp and anon
          I figured my comment would get well deserved criticisms because what I blurted in a short blog post doesn’t begin to explain the complex workings of what controls height. You both have good points. I’ll stick by what I said “it probably isn’t a coincidence that the tallest people in the world are where lactose intolerance has occurred as a mutation.” Give a population 5000 years with a genetic advantage that gives them a big leg up in nutrition and common sense tells me they will be bigger. That is all I’m saying. Lots and lots of other variables come into play of course. The Dutch which were the shortest people, in Europe, not the world, in the 19th century, are now the tallest people in the world. The Dutch are rebounding to their actual genetic height, after generations of eating well. Allow me now to exit this subject as I admit I am no expert.

      • Matt says:

        The idea that LP leads to growth hormone and calcium and maturity delay and whatnot that increases height is attractive.

        On the other hand, people in Northwest India, Arabia and East African have pretty high LP, numbers ostensibly similar to many Northern Eastern Europeans. They’re not particularly large though.

        (Compared to say the gigantic Northern Han who people have anecdotal accounts where it is apparently difficult to meet women shorter than 6 foot tall!

        But then height cannot be a simple climatic consequence of colder climates leading to general size increase either, as the Mongolians and generally Siberian people are pretty short.)

  20. strongsloth says:

    As for selection for intelligence lower than the human average, why is that such a surprise? We don’t find it strange in chimps, prawns or carrots. It is the section of the human race which was selected for high intelligences which require an explanation.

  21. Don’t be silly. Pygmies are shorter because we expect them to be. Rosenthal and Jacobson proved that back in the 1960’s.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Of interest?
    Parallel selective pressures afected elephants in the same region, and not all African pygmy elephants are related. So its same with eles and humans.

  23. John Hostetler says:

    “Unless you think that the optimum mental phenotype (considering costs and payoffs) was the same in tropical hunter-gatherers, arctic hunter-gatherers, neolithic peasants, and medieval moneylenders (which would strongly suggest that you are an idiot), natural selection must have generated significant differences between populations.”

    In a section from chapter 5 of Wade’s ATI – ‘Arguments against the existence of race’ – the only three proponents he mentions are Jared Diamond, Richard Lewontin and Ashley Montagu; the only two opponents, Sewall Wright and Anthony Edwards.

    Let’s see – what could Diamond, Lewontin and Montagu have in common as opposed to Wright and Edwards? Idiocy? In their public statements at least, the first three always expressed views along the lines of the optimum mental phenotype being the same in tropical hunter-gatherers, arctic hunter-gatherers, neolithic peasants, and medieval moneylenders. If they were idiotic, it was ‘idiotic like a fox,’ even allowing for a generous dose of self-deception.

    We know exactly what the three have in common, and how it relates to the last of Greg’s four mental phenotype examples. Either these three were idiots, which they were not, or they have been lying to themselves, or lying to us. I favor a combination of the latter two. Look, some of us just can’t dance playfully around with this forever, the way Wade himself clearly does (he could not have missed this), balancing sections like the above against a tepidly apologetic defense of Montague in chapter 4. We have been sold a great and masterful lie, the application of Darwinism to the human sphere has been pushed back three generations so far, our universities exhibit many signs of a new Dark Age and we have lost control of our destiny.

    And I am using ‘we’ in a restrictive sense; a sense let’s say, related to the name of this blog.

  24. John Hostetler says:

    Thanks – good links. The field is known as epigenetics, and not paragenetics, for a reason. It shows promise in explaining how humans can rapidly, by evolutionary standards, increase the inheritance of basic traits like height (‘on-demand heritability’), and how small differences in DNA, eg between us and Neanderthals, can have major phenotypic effects. Let’s see: rapid and significant heritable variation in phenotypic traits between closely related groups, eg races – seems like a big help in explaining a ten thousand year explosion.

  25. Kenn Teoh says:

    “Still, there were those who thought otherwise, presumably because they’d stuck a crayon up their nose as a kid. ”

    Greg, I’d strongly suggest that you restrict your writing to scientific speculation. or else fire your gag writer.

  26. adadwa says:

    I think you’re exaggerating just how genetic pygmy height is. Certainly there’d be a considerable height differential with all things equalized between danes and them, but virtually none of them have lived outside of anything but isolated jungle environments with the most meager modern amenities. I doubt you’d get a pygmy population with a peak height any higher than like 5’6, but even still, the way you frame this is a little over the top.

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