Post-Columbian Evolution – Holes

At this point, we have some decent examples of post-Columbian evolution, genetic changes in New World populations after 1492. There is evidence for selection for increased fertility in Quebec, along with increased mutational load due to relaxed selection. Something similar must have occurred in American colonial populations.

I think that the Amish are probably becoming plainer, thru the boiling-off process – which can’t be a common mechanism, because it requires very high fertility, enough to sustain a substantial defection rate.

HbS (sickle-cell) gene frequency has almost certainly decreased significantly among African-Americans – a simple model suggests by about half. There has probably been a decrease in other expensive malaria defenses.

There are a couple of recent papers that touch upon genetic changes that were caused by Old World diseases. Among Mestizos, there’s an excess of European ancestry at 1p36 and 14q32, and an excess of African ancestry at 6p22 (HLA region). Another paper, which looked at contemporary and ancient DNA among an Amerindian population from the northwest coast of North America, found a particular HLA-DQA1 variant went from 100% in pre-Columbian remains to 32% today, a far bigger change that you would see just from admixture. I think we’re talking about smallpox, although not that alone.

In principle, if you had an immune gene that defended against an Old World pathogen that didn’t cross into America, Amerindians would have gradually accumulated nonfunctional variants, just from mutational pressure. the percentage of people with such mutations in any particular immune defense gene would not be very high (not in only 500 generations) but since there are many such genes, the fraction of Amerindians with at least one such hole in their immunological armor might have been significant. Probably this would have been more of a problem in the Caribbean islands, where the Taino seem to have just melted away… Presumably most such holes are gone now in surviving populations, but you might be able to identify them in pre-Columbian DNA.

I see where some Kraut is saying that we now know that human evolution is continuing. I think that’s been an obvious conclusion for almost 160 years.

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83 Responses to Post-Columbian Evolution – Holes

  1. Purple Furple says:

    By increased fertility in Quebec, are you referring to the notion that the ethnic Europeans on the frontier in Canada who matured earlier and were more r-selected generally (validity of r/K-selection theory notwithstanding) were more fit, and that this open frontier led to a population in the New World (Canada specifically?) that is significantly divergent from the one in the Old World?

    Or is that bunk?

  2. IC says:

    “I see where some Kraut is saying that we now know that human evolution is continuing. I think that’s been an obvious conclusion for almost 160 years.”

    Totally agree.

    Nothing stay stasis in this universe, especially biological world. Just different speeds. Most stable species would be roaches and crocodiles. They just change very slowly.

    On the other hand, devolution seems inevitable for any genes when selection pressure is gone. Yes, holes.

  3. JayMan says:

    The boiling off effect seems to have happened across the Great Plains as well. I talk about it and a few other cases of post-Columbian evolution here:

    More Maps of the American Nations – The Unz Review

  4. AnonymousCoward says:

    Was there supposed to be a link to a Knaut paper?

  5. Dale says:

    It would be helpful if you gave references to the papers in question, or at least, the titles and authors.

  6. This seems obvious but some supposed experts like Sir David Attenborough say things like “natural selection stopped as soon as we started to be able to rear 95 to 99% per cent of our babies that are born.” Michio Kaku, another popularizer of science, tells us “mankind has stopped evolving.”

    OK…….when one third of this generation make two thirds of the next generation then they are completely wrong. Evolution is of course continuing with humans because approximately one third of this generation makes two thirds of the next generation. To believe that this one third that reproduces two thirds of the next generation is completely random is ridiculous and easily refuted. To also believe that we will stay exactly the same when their are no selection pressures removing the inferior is also obviously wrong to anybody with the slightest understanding of the principles of evolution.

    A farmer can tell you what happens when the herd stops being culled but apparently such basic assumptions cannot be applied to one and only one species, us.

    • j says:

      When the herd stops being culled… it tends to revert to the original phenotype.

      • No species besides modern man has ever had 95 to 99 percent of the babies being born reach reproduction age. None, not ever, only modern man. It is new territory. There has always been a weeding out process for any species so how we are going to revert to original phenotype by letting everyone succeed in reaching adulthood is beyond me.

        Evolution works, but it works cruelly. Soon we may see what happens to a species when there is no weeding out process of the inferior. It may be just as cruel.

        • Joachim Strobel says:

          True since 120 years, but then wars played their role 70 years ago. But now it is as you said – everybody survives. Is this what people feel is different now?

          • Evolution is sometimes defined as survival of the fittest. Now everybody survives and more than that the less fit average more children. The stats are out there to support this contention. They have been discussed multiple times here.

            It is a worry. Are we not men? We are devo. We can hope for the genetic engineering white knight to come and save us from de evolution but who knows what will happen next. Once we had plain serious men running for president, now we have odd looking game show hosts. It ain’t good.

  7. dearieme says:

    Just google “human evolution continuing is”.

  8. Right now, I’d figure Americans are under strong selection against being city-living hipsters.

  9. marcel proust says:

    So, is this kraut happy about the continuation of human evolution, or pissy and sauer about it?

    • gcochran9 says:

      Sarazzin acknowledges it.

      • JoachimStrobel says:

        You make a mistake here. Mr S seems not to understand the depth of our arguments. So he can not argue against any smart journalists and makes a joke about this ideas and nobody in Germany gets it. German ” Ewig-Gestrige ” are not your friends and will not help to convey any of your great idea and muddling with them will push people off and none of the very good things said here will survive evolution.

        • gcochran9 says:

          I have no idea who “Ewig-Gestrige” are, and I’ve never communicated with Sarrazin. I wouldn’t mind talking to him though.

          The one German-origin person I’ve talked to much on such things (an ex-particle physicist) understood everything I had to say, even started running ahead…

          Come to think, I once talked for a quite a while to another person of sorta-German origins, but that was because she was cute. I think we discussed cannibalism.

          • gcochran9 says:

            I certainly had professors (good ones) from Germany, but mostly I just listened to them. Except for the time that I whistled “Lili Marlene” – from an undisclosed location, just to make one jump.

          • Joachim Strobel says:

            So T Sarrazin got bis beating during an interview two weeks ago in the FAS. Last Week a Professor Karl-Friedrich Fischbach wrote an article in the FAS against the ideas that emigrant could possibly have inherited non optimal behavior, as TS hinted on. The FRankfurterAllgemeineZeitung (S for Sunday edition) is a good paper similar to the Washington Post. The trouble is, that TS is probably the only person in Germany who has read T10kye and publicly said so and even expressed sympathy. The only other book within the circle of “WhoAreWe” books ( if I may shorten the range between human palaeontology and genetics a bit) that has been translated into German is YN Harari’s book. So one feels a bit like in the thirties searching for the BBC. Also with a lot of other stuff too, like global warming, bioengineering and fracking. I love that, as I now get a sense of how it was then.
            Inbetween all the Kraut sentences and other remarks I sense that some people still have some sympathy to these time as somebody seemed to have been a pioneer of evolutionary thoughts then. Do not do that. The bright ideas entertained here loose all credibility in that context and that would be real shame. A German translation of t10kye ( and a book from N Wade ( pls excuse me for that thought)) would help. I try a letter to the FAS tomorrow.

            • gcochran9 says:

              Sounds as if I should make a trip Over There and give a few talks.

            • Michael Daxhammer says:

              And that says enough about scientific and public debate when a German economist who still believes in a lot of social stuff as SPD member like Sarrazin. Thilo Sarrazin was and is economically a classical liberal, socially a conservative with stress on achievments but also lot of social democratic stuff like Pre-K for children. In 2010 with the publication of his “Deutschland schafft sich ab” he was to my knowledge the first political influential person ever to state in Germany that IQ and educational achievements are highly or at least partly heritable and that Turkish migrants, the needed Gastarbeiter des Wirtschaftswunders, in 3rd generation are just ineffably fucked up in all socioeconomic affairs. He also talked about demographic issues e.g. and the massive effects of high fertility differentials in German and migrant populations, even when Germans theoretically and magically had a rate of 2.1 or even higher. Of course he also added cultural and social explanations to all that talk etc. But linking migrants to IQ and heritability was the reason Angela Merkel got him out of the Bundesbank as board member at that time. Whole media and politics got crazy. Prof. Heiner Rindermann and Detlef Rost, Sarrazin cited them in his 2010 book, got attacked for the usual Isms an so on. He was near retirement age back then. I think that’s the only reason he did this publication. His new book “Wunschdenken”, where he also refers to Dr. Cochrans and Harpendings work together with other evo, anthropo and genetic studies, suggests that Sarrazin spent some time digging a bit deeper in human nature in his retirement. He plainly states that Africans and Arabs are just bad for Germany because of their low “cognitive capital” on average, as he calls IQ elusivly. He even mentions the problems of cousin marriage. Not that bad for an economist but too good and polite. He still insists that he is a classical conservative Sozialdemokrat. Some still want to get him out of the SPD after some attempts to exclude him from the party had failed.

              • tautology123 says:

                I think maintaining the SPD position is largely due to him not wanting to affiliate with the German far right. Looking at at certain elements of the AFD (though definitely not all), I cannot blame him. He tries to further his opinion and he will not squander anything that will lend them credibility.

              • Joachim Strobel says:

                Thanks for that Summary. I may have misjudged him. Seems like an honest guy. That is the problem right now – people get pressed in corners when they simply say Evolution without giving them credit for their reasons. After all, he still us in the party of the Willy Brands, there must be hope…

        • tautology123 says:

          Sarrazin starts his new book with citing the 10000 year explosion. He knows.

      • Frau Katze says:

        Sarrazin seems to sense what’s happening but he has zero science background. He’s a former banker. He was hounded of his last job after revealing his thoughts.

        • tautology123 says:

          From reading his recent book, I have the strong impression that Sarrazin is definitely aware of HBD style ideas and is using his considerable reach to try influence public discourse in this direction. He cites James Thompson and Rinderman regarding cognitive competence of migrants, high heritability of Intelligence is a theme and he starts off the book with citing the 10000 year explosion. Definitely a very interesting development, since while he is persona non grata in polite society, he effectively defended himself from associations with the far right and his books will be read by massive amounts of Germans. One will see what comes of it.

          • Frau Katze says:

            Good to hear. Perhaps he has been studying the subject. Great that he cites The 10,000 Year Explosion. He has a large following in Germany. That means that non-German readers will soon be treated to a new article criticizing him, in English, by Der Spiegel. They really went after him after his first book.

  10. ohwilleke says:

    One lesson from both from Columbian contact with the Americas and from Neanderthal admixture, is that the immune system, in general, is particularly likely to be a focus of selective pressure, even when few other phenotypes seem so consistently impact selective fitness. For example, skin color evolves much less dramatically than malaria based disease resistance.

    • gcochran9 says:

      The rate of skin color changes in Europe was perhaps comparable: people there have gotten a lot paler over the past few thousand years.

      • Frank says:

        Is the evolution of lighter skin tightly linked with the desire to lay out in the sun?

        I know it has been very fashionable to have light skin at many points in the past (and present), yet the lightest skinned people seem to WANT to lay in the sun the most anyway.

        Even if they get burned, and know it promotes cancer, white people get addicted to soaking up the sun’s rays.

        Maybe darker skinned people just can’t feel the high that comes from sunbathing?

        • JayMan says:

          Only one of the two light-skinned races likes being in the sun. Light skin by itself isn’t the thing.

          • Tim says:

            It could be related to a dopamine synthesis pathway. Melanin and dopamine share large parts of their metabolic pathways.

            There could be some kind of feedback loop where only with the European light skin alleles do the pathways interact.

          • Tom Bri says:

            Japanese do a lot of tanning, the young ones at least. Old women still use parasols and wear gloves.

        • Sandgroper says:

          People blame Coco Chanel for making it fashionable for Europeans to want to get a ‘good sun tan’.

          Having had several skin cancers cut out of me, including a particularly nasty squamous cell carcinoma on the back of my knee, too close to the lymph node for comfort (which got nicked and started leaking – I had never seen lymph before – it’s like sticky water, and having a leaking leg is both very inconvenient and socially embarrassing), I wish the wretched woman had never been born. But in fairness to Coco, I grew up in Western Australia where, in Greg’s inimitable language “there is enough solar radiation to roast a goat”, and you just can’t avoid excessive exposure to the stuff. (He was actually talking about Ethiopia, but if you ever go to Perth, the capital of Western Australia, the daylight will blind you. There’s a reason why in the 1920s Australia had a bigger film industry than Hollywood – the quality of the natural light.)

          I think Swedes do it to try to counteract their terrible depression-and-alcoholism-inducing winters. Watch them – just show them the sun and they start peeling off their clothes. There’s a reason why the largest natural disaster in Swedish history happened in southern Thailand – they were all there on holiday soaking up the sun when the Indian Ocean tsunami hit. We were also supposed to be there, but cancelled at the last minute because my daughter was freaking out about needing to study for exams.

          There never was a Chinese Coco Chanel, so Chinese people have much more sensible attitudes to excessive sun exposure, even though they are less susceptible to sunburn and skin cancer than Europeans. No, I can’t cite any references, but they’re not.

          • JayMan says:

            “People blame Coco Chanel for making it fashionable for Europeans to want to get a ‘good sun tan’. … I wish the wretched woman had never been born.”

            Look, how dumb is that? Lots of people – peoples – saw Coco Chanel. Yet only one race of people today likes to tan. Why?

            • gcochran9 says:

              They didn’t like to tan in 1880.

              • JayMan says:

                There is that.

              • Frank says:

                Rich white people in 1880 didn’t think it was cool to tan. The poor people either had to spend all day outside anyway, or wished they could. Or… wished they were rich.

                I don’t think the fashion of the time changes whether or not people like to be in the sun. Most people who sunbathe today slather themselves over with SPF 90 sunscreen first. They aren’t out for a tan, their brain wants some component of the light.

              • Sandgroper says:

                In fact, they didn’t like to tan until Coco Chanel made it fashionable in Europe for elite-status women to appear out-doorsy and sporty in the 1920s. Rather than just branding what I said as dumb, you need to think about the process whereby she changed the fashionable image of high status European women from being fair skinned delicate indoor flowers to outdoor sporty types who allowed their skin to be exposed to sunlight. You need to remember that she was the leading fashion icon In Europe at the time, and rich young women in Europe were keen to emulate her ‘look’ and her lifestyle.

                There was no mechanism in place for that to transfer itself to East Asia. Even if there were, it’s one thing to expose your skin to the sun in Europe, and entirely another to do it in Shanghai, which is much hotter and more humid in summer than Saint-Tropez. You don’t want to hang around in it, it’s very uncomfortable.

              • JayMan says:

                Because nobody in the world – and especially not East Asians –has ever adopted Western fashions…

                Life is global today.

                Coco just had the luck of being the one to get noticed. If it wasn’t her, someone else would have done it. It seems there is something distinct about Europeans that at least today gives them an affinity for the sun. What it is and why, and I don’t have much of a clue.

            • Sandgroper says:

              This was not today, it was the 1920s, which were hardly ‘global’.

  11. I don’t understand why you referred to Thilo Sarrazin as ‘some Kraut’. Do you dislike him? If so, why? The fact that he is a politician and economist might excuse him for not being on the cutting edge of evolutionary theory and at least he got it right that evolution is continuing, which is more than you can say for several alleged experts.

    • John Hostetler says:

      You know the score: takes a real Edgelord, someone to throw all PC caution to the winds, to risk insulting the Deutsch/Germans/Nemci/Allemands.

      • gcochran9 says:

        I was reading about the Das Reich SS Panzer division recently and it may have put me in a mood. Turns out that when they put the women and children of Oradour-sur-Glane into the church and burned them alive, they had the wrong Oradour ! – the Resistance bands came from another town, Oradour-sur-Vayres.

        When the SS found out, they laughed and laughed about it. Let no one say that the Nazis were without a sense of humor.

        • tautology123 says:

          Well that is stomach churning…

        • John Hostetler says:

          Even the Wiki entry on Oradour has a crack in the edifice: the crucified baby, mentioned in only one account, but then accepted on face. The problem with statements about such hyperbolic, and unlikely, atrocities as Nazi-crucified babies in WW2 France, is that every serious person now knows several such items have been sheer propaganda inventions all along, and were lifted wholesale from WWI lore to WW2, and from the Franco-Prussian War before that, and so on back into recesses of the human brain as primitive as the barbaric parts.

          Yet they keep cropping up in the Reader’s Digest versions of history, hydra-headed. Creating serious doubts about much else.

          But Greg, I’m not even that opposed to taunting of my distant kin – anything, if it can help rouse them. Wachet auf, ruft uns die stimme.

          • gcochran9 says:

            You don’t know what you’re talking about, but you sure know what you like.

            A lot of Germans were displeased with what had happened at Oradour-sur-Glane. Rommel, for one. Even the SS leadership thought that it had gone too far, which implies that Das Reich had actually violated the laws of physics.

        • RCB says:

          A book?

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      When I was a kid the boys would show affection by hitting their friends in the back or upper arm.

  12. Greying Wanderer says:


    There’s an idea (which seems plausible to me) that females developed more neoteny in the far north for selective reasons but that tends to be couched in terms of sexual attractiveness. After I put down my hammer it seems to me the point of neoteny is to instill protectiveness not arousal which makes more sense in the context of a harsh environment where the men need to be motivated by stuff like that.

    If correct then after the contraceptive pill maybe it made sense for women who wanted recreational sex to tone down the neoteny with tanning?

    (although i think there’s a physical sensation involved as well)

    • It’s just a fashion thing. Before the 1920’s having “a tan” would be equatable to having a “farmer’s tan” today (gross). Around then rich people starting taking beach vacations. There’s not really more to it than that.

      (Besides, tastes vary. I have dark hair and green eyes, so I run across guys who like that combination, but there’s probably as many that don’t.)

      • JayMan says:

        Then why do some peoples like to tan today and not others?

        • Sandgroper says:

          Think ‘beach’. Plus the tanning response is somewhat of a protective mechanism – once a white person’s skin has tanned to a certain extent, it is more resistant to being burned. On first exposure to the sun at the beginning of summer, I would burn after 15-20 minutes. By the end of summer, I could be exposed to the sun for 3-4 hours and not burn.

          So if you are a ‘white’ person who wants to hang out at the beach for half a day, the first thing you need to do is either get your skin tanned (which turns out to be a really bad idea for some people) or you need to keep covering yourself in disgusting greasy cream, which makes you feel hotter and more uncomfortable, plus the beach sand sticks to it.

          Chinese skin is more resistant to sunburn, so they don’t need to acquire a ‘protective’ sun tan so they can go to the beach without getting burned.

        • Sandgroper says:

          The other thing to think about is that white females are attracted to darker skinned males, but socio-economic status and family pressure interferes with that. So then the ideal becomes a high socio-economic status white guy with a good sun tan. Except for the odd case of melanoma at young age, which is actually pretty rare, skin cancer doesn’t really kick in until later in life, so tanning in your 20s is a trade-off.

      • Greying Wanderer says:

        Yes, I used to think it was fashion and I still mostly do but I wonders…

        • JayMan says:

          Where does fashion come from? 😉

          • Sandgroper says:

            Something else to think about – white men are most attracted to East Asian women. The really smart white guys are after an intelligent, fair skinned, high status Chinese woman. But they know that for Chinese, dark skin is a real turn-off. So if a white guy is after a high quality Chinese wife, he avoids tanning.

          • Sandgroper says:

            Where does fashion come from today? Gay male clothing designers.

        • I’m just going to guess the ancestors of most people who “tan” actively avoided it, either for cosmetic or practical reasons. Also, spray tanning exists, and I highly doubt there is any evolutionary precedent for people covering themselves with orange goo.

          • Greying Wanderer says:

            well the test would be showing men a lot of pictures of very pale skinned vs tanned women and seeing if they rate the paler ones as waifu material and the tanned ones more sexually

            • Greying Wanderer says:

              even better if it was the same women before and after orange goo

              it’s just an idea but as it now appears sexual selection may be a bigger deal than previously thought it would be interesting to know what is being selected: sexual attraction or protective attraction?

  13. JayMan says:

    Off topic, but in case you didn’t see it, discussion of twins discordant for Zika induced microcephaly

  14. Joachim Strobel says:

    Music: the clue to all.
    I play the piano. I hit some chords and chain them and have a kind of groovy sound. Bach had the same keyboard, he for sure hit the same chords – but he felt that this was not groovy and composed other stuff. Why? What has changed since 400 years so I play chords he did not? I really am not getting that. This must be evolution, not society or? Is it decelerating? Miles Davis played like what’s on smooth now, but did Count Basie? Frank Sinatra sung the same for 50 years, but Eminem is new. What is that? I believe it is Evolution in the making and understanding this is the key.

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