Genetic evidence for self-domestication in humans

There’s an interesting recent paper on the genetic basis of the changes we see in domestication – and the extent to which humans exhibit similar genetic changes. domesticated species end to have depigmentation, floppy ears, shorter muzzles, curly tails, smaller teeth, smaller cranial capacity, neotenous behavior, reduced sexual dimorphism, docility, and more frequent estrous cycles: the ‘domestication syndrome’. There is reason to think that this syndrome arises from a mild deficit of neural crest cells.

They talk about a number of loci that look to be involved in such changes in in anatomically modern humans, and show evidence of selection (when compared to archaic humans like Neanderthals and Denisovans). They discuss a number of such genes and gene pathways.

I noticed something interesting about one of the genes mentioned [ ERBB4] & the other genes it interacts with. ERBB4 (the neuregulin receptor) negatively regulates ERK, which plays a critical role in neural crest development and regulates neuronal gene expression in both the neocortex and hippocampus. Closely related is BRAF, upstream of ERK. BRAF interacts with YWHAH (selected in dogs), PPP2CA (selected in horses), while ERBB4 shows selection in anatomically modern humans and cattle. Upstream of BRAF, SOSI has been selected in domesticated foxes.

ERBB4 binds with NRG1, NRG2, NRG3, NRG4, and ADAM17. NRG2 was selected in cats, cattle, and dogs. NRG4 was selected in cattle, NRG3 in AMH.

But there’s more: there is evidence for recent regional selection of variants in the ERBB4 pathway [ work from Joe Pickrell] . ERBB4 shows strong signals of selection in all non-African populations, NRG3 shows strong signs of selection in West Eurasian populations, while NRG1, NRG2, and ADAM17 show signs of selection in East Asians.

It is not necessarily the case that all humans are equally domesticated, or became domesticated in exactly the same way. We know that some populations split off as long as a quarter of a million years ago. Although the earliest known AMH skeletons already show signs of the domestication syndrome ( the childlike flat face), their skulls were a good deal more robust than those of any people today. Probably the process has continued over time, quite possibly it even accelerated in dense agriculture agricultural populations in the Holocene. But that wouldn’t have taken the same course everywhere.

Members of populations that have gone further down the path of self-domestication should be easier to enslave.

For all I know, some populations moved into new environments that effectively reversed these selection pressures (feral humans] .

And with rapidly improving genetic technology, we could probably create truly feral humans.

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105 Responses to Genetic evidence for self-domestication in humans

  1. Js123 says:

    Looks like east Asians are the most domesticated

    • Ben Gunn says:

      Hmm, how about Western Europeans as the prime candidate? “neotenous behavior, reduced sexual dimorphism, docility,” =gullibility, – they fell for the nazi’s, communists, welcome less domesticated 3rd worlders who admit they want to destroy them, the Europeans. Gender bending too. etc.

      • Colin McColinater says:

        If you consider the effect of the contraceptive pill on who women choose for partners then domestication must have accelerated over the last 40 years, with docile baby faced men being preferred over the bad boy square jawed variety.

    • Domestication = Less Fear says:

      Though read the article and consider what neural crest malfunctions actually do:

      Per article: “Docility results partly from a slowed pace of neural development, that would in turn cause a relatively immature emotional response to social threat, in particular a reduced fear–startle response, involving a chain of events which, in this case, was initiated by a mild neurocristopathy. While there must surely be other paths to docility, the relatively large genetic target for partial or mild neurocristopathic conditions, given the large number of genes involved and required for neural crest cell biology, could make this a favored route.”

      In humans we’re talking about extroversion and social comfort and lower social stress, rather than submission. Less activity in adrenals and sympathetic ganglia.

      To say East Asians are the most domesticated is to effectively more or less the same thing as that they’re the least socially anxious. (Which on the face of it, not so many people would expect?).

      Neural crest deficits don’t just magically make an animal sort of wimpy and submissive. They actually seem to reduce social anxiety, social fear and raise positive affect. That is what allows the taming process to go on with much less effort than in a wild type – it’s easier for the animal to learn that humans will treat it well, if you do, but if you whip a dog, these aren’t mutations that magically make it into a willing “slave”.

      Pre-domesticated humans would be standoffish, wary and probably seem pretty uncharismatic and scared of everything, rather than the “tough guys” we might imagine. (Or re-pre-domesticated humans, courtesy of CRISPR).

      Our more effective “hero” and “leader” types probably combine high levels of domestication with aggression.

      • TWS says:

        Scandinavians are famously anti social in public with everything from government ‘smile’ campaigns to people spacing themselves ten feet apart to wait for a bus.

      • Bert says:

        Maybe pre-domesticated humans were very aggressive, especially to weaker humans, and spent their days playing dominance games. I don’t know how large primates behave.

  2. Art Mooney says:

    “Members of populations that have gone further down the path of self-domestication should be easier to enslave.”

    Like schnauzers in coyote territory. Makes me wonder how nature checks domestication attributes. Just look our pathetic responses to modern savagery.

    • NobodyExpectsThe... says:

      “how nature checks domestication attributes”

      Things like some 13th century mongol, having 16mill+ descendants today mby?

  3. Halvorson says:

    For the period from September 1946 through May 1951, however, the official record cites 441,161 letters and cards processed by Allied Translator and Interpreter Service (ATIS)….

    As vetted for the supreme commander, these communications certainly fed his vanity, for he was addressed with veneration and profusely thanked for his boundless generosity. Writers praised the general’s “exalted and godlike benevolence” and called him “a living savior”. An elderly man in Aomori wrote of worshiping MacArthur’s portrait mornings and evenings just as he had done previously with the emperor’s portrait. A local cultural association in the Kobe area commissioned a Japanese-style painting of Christ delivering the Sermon on the Mount and presented this to MacArthur with a letter equating his leadership with this sublime moment…

    It was not always a pretty picture and one ATIS translator, a Japanese-American who family originally came from Okinawa, told Professor Sodei that reading such letters actually made him despise the Japanese. They seemed to be weather vanes, many felt, turning as the wind blew…

    Like the United States generally, MacArthur was perceived to be a dominant albeit magnanimous masculine figure by men as well as women. (Even the supposedly enlighted Asahi newspaper referred to himas “our father”)…Most blatant in this regard was a distinctive strain of letters written to the general by women that bemused analysts dubbed the “I-want-to-have-your-baby” genre.

  4. Anonymous says:

    “And with rapidly improving genetic technology, we could probably create truly feral humans” I think we are doing that already on a massive scale.

  5. NobodyExpectsThe... says:

    “Self-domestication”

    “depigmentation”

    Cough SLC24A5 in Ethiopia Cough

  6. ziel says:

    Kind of ironic that the peoples one would think among the least domesticated of Eurasians would lend their name to the very term “slave”.

  7. Cantman says:

    Looks like the future of the Eurasians is as a slave race for the Subsaharans then.

  8. I’m sorry but I object to your interest in this object. There’s this believe that Europeans and East Asians are ‘more evolved’ and less savage than Africans. This believe silently influences how everyday people in American society think about race. Then there are also people interested in anthropology who try to find proof this is the case using genetics.

    Here’s why I object, at least in the case of Europeans being inherently more civilized. This idea Europeans are a inherently more docile, intelligent, more calm, civilized race began with a false narrative about European history/origins that began to be taught in the 1600s.

    It began in the 1500/1600s for obvious reasons. Europeans explored the world, found much less civilized people, and conquered/dominated them. At the time Europeans were much more civilized than anyone but did they inherit it biologically, is there a long history of European dominance over the world? No but understandably Europeans created a view of history which made it look that way.

    In ancient historical records all Europeans could find was the Bible, ancient Greece, and ancient Rome. That was the ancient past to them: the Bible, Greece, and Rome. The Bible, Greece, and Rome became the predecessor of the white man, the predecessors of Western Civilization.

    In their own day there was a collective Western Civilization, a collective European cultural sphere. They assumed that well there must of been a collective Western Civilization in the past as well. But that wasn’t the case. Ancient Greek Civilization only resided within Greece, parts of Alexander’s empire, and Greek colonies along the Mediterranean. People in Germany, Russia, Spain, and so on weren’t living in the same Western cultural sphere 2,500 years ago. Rome and Greece gave the currently superior Western Civilization an ancient superior ancestor, a long history of white dominance.

    Then Darwinism and evolution made the situation even worse. The became the new narrative of (white) human history: First (white) man evolved from stupid savage apes to (white) humans, then (white) human culture evolved from the savage cave man, to the civilized classical (white) man(Greek and Roman), to the savage Medieval (white) man, to the civilized modern (white) man.

    To no surprise this origin story for (white) humanity and (western) human culture was created from a European perspective. This origin story is filled with the values academic and upper class Europeans held in the 19th century. It holds their biases. To them the worst thing was to be a terrible ape or caveman savage and the best thing was to be a domesticated, peaceful civilized (white) man.

    • Zenit says:

      Civilization have nothing with common with “calm” and “niceness”. Savage man kills by dozens and hundreds in tribal fights, civilized man kills by tens and hundreds of millions in world wars and revolutions. Civilized man is the greatest killer, the most dangerous creature in the universe. 😉

    • Yes, there can be more than one perspective. But have you noticed, that ever when you consider multiple perspectives, that certain populations almost invariably placed near the bottom. This tells you something.

    • dearieme says:

      “In ancient historical records all Europeans could find was the Bible, ancient Greece, and ancient Rome. That was the ancient past to them: the Bible, Greece, and Rome. The Bible, Greece, and Rome became the predecessor of the white man, the predecessors of Western Civilization.” By the time I was at school the Egyptians and Mesopotamians had been added to the list of our civilisational, but not literal, ancestors. The Bible was rather soft-pedalled: no wonder given the civilisation described in the Old Testament. We knew in primary school that the alphabet came from The Levant, that “arabic” numerals came from India, that paper and gunpowder came from China.

      Of course, due credit was not likely to be given to Egypt and The Mespot until those vile Europeans had learned to decipher their writing. Ditto other ancient scripts.

      “This idea Europeans are a inherently more docile, intelligent, more calm, civilized race …”: I don’t recognise my schooling in this. We knew that our Ancient British ancestors were head-hunters, that our Anglo-Saxon and Viking ancestors were barbarians inclined to rape, pillage and the destruction of monasteries.

      • Jim says:

        Virtually all decipherments of ancient scripts were done by whites. Indeed until the investigations of Europeans beginning about 1800 almost nothing was known about the ancient cultures of the Middle East. There was a word “Sumer” with a few occurrences in the Bible but nothing was known of it beyond those few references. The word “Hittite” appears in the King James Version of the Bible in reference to a few people who today we know from their names were actually Hurrians. But nothing of the actual Hittite Empire was known.

        Our knowledge of the contributions of ancient Middle Eastern civilizations is almost exclusively the result of European scholarship. The same is true of most of our knowledge of New World civilizations.

        • Sumer? Is that really mentioned in the Bible?

          • Erik says:

            A brief search suggests that no, it is not, at least not by that name. A possible linguistic fossil matching it appears in Genesis 10:10, which mentions Accad (Akkad?) and Erech (Uruk?) in the land of Sinar (Sumer?)
            Lots of potential time for spelling drift since that was written.

            • Anonymous says:

              Shinar is almost certainly a memory of Sumer. ‘Accad’ and ‘Erech’ are mentioned in the same breath as ‘Babel’, which is very significant as both Akkad and Uruk had legendary status to Mesopotamians, but both had been destroyed (Akkad) or vastly diminished in importance (Uruk) around 1500 years before the exile. The Judeans who compiled Genesis would likely only have been exposed to these cities through cultural memory, or through the Neo-Babylonian scholarship. The Babylonians saw themselves as the heirs to the cultural legacy of Sumer and Akkad, and thus their city (Babel) gets equal prominence to Akkad and Uruk… despite it having not existed as anything other than a village in the times when those two cities were at the height of their powers.

    • helenahankart says:

      Nope. The worst thing to be is a relativist. We’d all much rather be savage apes than relativists. At least then we could rend relativists limb from limb effortlessly and with a clear conscience

    • That’s a really large number of words to go through and still not come to an argument. I dislike you for having wasted my time.

    • c23 says:

      Note that Greg did not say that Africans are not domesticated, he just rattled off a list of genetic changes known to have occured in various domesticated critters and humans. He did not mention sheep either, but this does not imply that sheep are not domesticated.

      Why would you read something about Africans into this, you naughty racist? I think someone needs a Maoist struggle session.

  9. Continued….

    Can anyone of you tell me of any might civilizations in Europe before 500 AD other than in Greece and Italy? Did the depigmentated people of Finland ever create any might civilization or high culture? Or is European cultural superiority across the entire continent only a modern phenomenon?

    Listen, I’m not left wing nut. I don’t deny genetically inherited differences between different populations. Maybe genetically superior intelligence and ‘domesticatness’ doesn’t show reveal itself in the creation of great civilizations. Maybe it reveals itself in behavior within a civilization. For example I have heard that Finns and Lithuanians and other Europeans have low crime rates and do well in school. Could that be genetic, I don’t know.

    I just object to this idea that Europeans and Asians are inherently more civilized and it shows itself in history. It simply doesn’t show itself in history. Ignore China for a second. Think about all the other Asian peoples. There are plenty of Asian societies that to this day are stuck in the stone age, running around naked in jungles, or with animal skins in snow.

    • TWS says:

      If you need a safe space go make yourself one. Don’t come to other’s spaces and expect them to conform. We’re not all equally domesticated and some of us are mixed with ‘wild stock’.

    • Rye says:

      “Can anyone of you tell me of any might civilizations in Europe before 500 AD other than in Greece and Italy?
      It is my understanding that Northern Europe could not support high population densities until the introduction of the heavy plow during the middle ages. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carruca

    • The Ferocious Finns says:

      Finland has recently had a pretty high murder rate compared to other European nations. Even more true for Lithuanians.

      Finland does well in the PISA tests of education; Lithuania does not.

    • NobodyExpectsThe.... says:

      I’m not left wing nut

      Ok, seriously, can you find me a picture of those Asian stone age societies? One in which the individuals look like you could put them in a dry cleaning joke.

    • MTA says:

      According to some Viking sagas Norway was founded by the inhabitants of Finland. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hversu_Noregr_bygg%C3%B0ist

    • Jim says:

      The overall level of culture throughout history was clearly higher in Eurasia and North Africa than in the New World, Australia, Oceania or SSA.

      As for plenty of Asian societies “stuck in the stone age” !? “Stuck in the stone age” may fit a few jungle tribes in Southeast Asia or on Sentinel Island but the total number of such people is infinitesimal compared with Asia’s huge population. Countries like India or Indonesia are certainly not “stuck in the stone age”.

    • JayMan says:

      Recent evolution.

      • dave chamberlin says:

        Yep. I have heard multiple explanations that recent evolution equates to racism so it can’t be true and if it is true let’s just sweep it under the rug and pretend it doesn’t exist. Of course evolution is continuing, one third of this generation is making approximately two thirds of the next generation. Racism is dumb, each individual is different. Denying recent evolution is dumb. John Hawks has multiple articles explaining how and why human evolution has accelerated since the agricultural revolution.

  10. Yeah, I know humans are less physically strong, ferocious than other predators. But…what could be more savage and brave and ferocious than thousands of men going on a field and deciding to chop each other to pieces with giant metal blades? We can be pretty violent.

    • I think you should start again on this. You seem to have started with assumptions about what people really mean when they make observations. People play a note, you hear a whole chord. Nonetheless, you do seem to be able to juggle ambiguous and contradictory bits of information, which is what I think people here are also trying to do.

      All of these qualities are double-edged (or triple). To be more easily enslaved may also mean more easily cooperative and thus more able to build coalitions that wildly outnumber enemies. Or cooperatively make better weapons or strategies. The Hajnal Line populations of Europe (and the Anglosphere) have low internal rates of violence. However, when they get together and go after someone else they have been damned effective at killing lots of them. OTOH the Andaman Islanders may be the most violent folks on the planet, but they don’t seem to have conquered anything, nor caused much damage to neighbors. That’s for openers.

  11. Yudi says:

    “Members of populations that have gone further down the path of self-domestication should be easier to enslave.”

    Although more self-domesticated people are probably better at good government, which tends to suppress slavery. Less self-domesticated people are presumably poorer at it, which leads to their enslavement by civilizations, or constant slave-raiding among themselves.

  12. Smithie says:

    All this really calls to mind two short stories John Campbell wrote in 1935, about aliens coming to earth and breeding humans to be slaves. I mean actually breeding them – for behaviorial traits.”The Invaders” and “Rebellion.”

  13. Dominance and Domestication says:

    “members of populations that have gone further down the path of self-domestication should be easier to enslave”

    On the other hand, how do dogs respond to dominance hierarchy moves from wolves? More or less than other wolves?

    I know from cats, their underlying sociability with each other is kind of unaffected by domestication – was solitary hunter that doesn’t go into any other dominance hierarchy with other cats, is still the same. It’s humans they respond to differently than wild cats.

    If enslavement from other humans is out though, perhaps more domesticated humans will “for one, welcome our new robot overlords”.

    • Jim says:

      The North African Wildcat, which seems to be the closest wild relative to the domestic cat, is not a social animal. Lions are the most social of the felines.

      • Dominance and Domestication says:

        Exactly. The within species evolved instinct on how to behave towards other cats is too strong for the small changes in temperament from the domestication process to overcome.

        It’s where we come to phenomena outside of their EEA – like humans – that domesticated felines are different to their wild cousins.

      • gcochran9 says:

        Middle Eastern wildcats.

    • TWS says:

      My cats have imprinted on my dogs, not all dogs just mine, as mother figures. They do all the little games, ‘feed me’, and I love you dances and will try to groom them if they can. The dogs treat the cats like their puppies.

  14. SlushFundPuppie says:

    “Members of populations that have gone further down the path of self-domestication should be easier to enslave.”

    Like black Africans, the world’s go-to source of slaves for hundreds of years?

    • gcochran9 says:

      Bushmen had a reputation for being impossible to enslave, and there weren’t all that many of them, since they didn’t farm. The ideal potential slave submits enough to be useful, but is from a society that’s sufficient weak or backward or screwed up that buying or capturing slaves is not too difficult. Then you have to think about how robust a potential slave was: Amerindians died too easily from Eurasian infectious diseases.

      Do I have to explain everything?

      • dearieme says:

        Mm, but the “Cape Coloureds” are typically part Bushmen/Hottentot aren’t they i.e. the descendants of slaves? One reason for the Boers’ trecks was their desire to escape abolitionist British rule, and it wasn’t Bantu that they’d enslaved.

        • dearieme says:

          I forgot to say; I understand that some of their slaves had been imported from the Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia.

        • Bob says:

          The British introduced the hut tax in South Africa after the Boer War, which was effectively slavery.

          • gcochran9 says:

            No more than any other tax. In Africa taxes often were aimed at getting natives into the money economy: sometime they went along with various forced labor schemes aimed at building roads and such. If they required a lot of time it was onerous – Portugal required men in their African colonies to work for half the year. Corvée.

            • Bob says:

              That was the case with the hut tax. It was intended to get the natives into the cash economy. I wouldn’t say it was like any other tax. Obviously levying a tax on cash income or transactions on natives with a primitive subsistence or cattle based economy wouldn’t have had the same effect.

          • dearieme says:

            I’ve yet to read about anything that’s described as “effectively slavery” that really is effectively slavery. I sometimes wonder if they are all attempts to cheapen the horrors of real slavery.

            • Bob says:

              Sure, there are more horrible instances of slavery, but you don’t think forcing a bunch of primitives to labor in a sophisticated cash economy is a type of slavery?

              • j says:

                No Sir. Slaves are legally recognized property like cattle. Forcing primitives to labor for money is you and me.

              • Bob says:

                We’re not talking about legalistic definitions of slavery. Pre-literate societies without well developed legal regimes of property rights like in Africa have had slavery that everyone recognizes as such.

            • syonredux says:

              “I’ve yet to read about anything that’s described as “effectively slavery” that really is effectively slavery. I sometimes wonder if they are all attempts to cheapen the horrors of real slavery.”

              On the other hand, I’ve long noted a certain reluctance to use harsh-sounding words for the activities of non-European peoples. For example, referring to the Pygmies as the “hereditary servants” of their overlords. I tend to think that a different descriptive would be used if their traditional overlords were from Europe….

      • helenahankart says:

        And when that doesn’t work–Abrahamic religion helps the enslaving process along nicely

    • More domesticated races don’t need overt slavery to keep them docile.

    • Smithie says:

      Slavery was a pretty widespread practice. In many cases, the slaves were relatively local, or at least ethnically similar. At first contact, some Native American tribes were known to have slaves. The Chinese had slaves – again not blacks. As did Siam, Scandinavia, and many others.

      Many years ago, in Ireland, my family (if one can connect a surname) had to give tribute to the Kings of Cashel. In return, just as a matter of diplomacy, they got a smaller countertribute, which included “7 women.” Probably, good Irish lasses.

      • Ursiform says:

        The Romans had slaves, many of them Greek.

        • Smithie says:

          Indeed. Greco-Romans give some of the best context. Plutarch says Caesar enslaved a million in Gaul. Many times a city was destroyed and its inhabitants largely put to the sword, while the (young) women and children were sold into slavery. Spartans had Helots and were known to regularly kill some of them. Spartacus and his gang of rebellious slaves were crucified. Galley slaves existed even past the Middle Ages.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Question: were there sub-Saharan Africans in Roman Britain?
      Answer: they were very rare. North Africa was part of the Empire, and you might have seen a few North Africans in the British towns, but back then North Africans had little or no SSA admixture. Once in a blue moon someone might have wandered far from Nubia.

      Why would historians say otherwise? Because full of crap. And, to be fair, likely ignorant of any genetic data.

      • Jim says:

        Humanities departments seem to be full of idiots.

      • TWS says:

        No, no. BBC said that it was a, “typical Roman family”. Who am I to trust, the BBC or my own common sense?

      • MawBTS says:

        It seems they’re letting the question of “what place is this person from?” blend into “what race is this person?”

        Richard Dawkins is Kenyan. JG Ballard is Shanghaiese. Emma Watson is French. But that’s just the place they plopped out of a uterus. Their genes come from the British Isles.

      • RJW says:

        Thanks. Ever read any of Taleb’s stuff? Seems like you two would get along.

      • helenahankart says:

        You know that some Russian archaeologists found what they described as an SSA skull at Kostienki? Abramova, Z. (1962). Paleoliticeskoe iskusstvo na territorii SSSR, Moskva: Akad. Nauk SSSR, Inst. Archeologii.
        The papers havent been translated into English yet (or hadnt been when I looked at them a few years back with the help of my Russian-speaking sister in law)

  15. anonymous says:

    For all I know, some populations moved into new environments that effectively reversed these selection pressures (feral humans)

    I once read an account by British officer in the 19th century, who described the wild Afrikaners as the tallest, strongest, toughest bunch of white men he’d ever seen.

    • TWS says:

      The Australians added a few inches in height too if I remember correctly.

      • anonymous says:

        No doubt significant feralization occured also on the American frontier, even to the extent that a lot of Scotch-Irish backwoods folk reverted to a hunting existence.

        By living in or near the woods, their actions are regulated by the wildness of the neighbourhood. The deer often come to eat their grain, the wolves to destroy their sheep, the bears to kill their hogs, the foxes to catch their poultry. This surrounding hostility immediately puts the gun into their hands; they watch these animals, they kill some; and thus by defending their property they soon become professed hunters; this is the progress; once hunters, farewell to the plough. The chase renders them ferocious, gloomy, and unsociable; a hunter wants no neighbour, he rather hates them, because he dreads the competition. … Eating of wild meat, whatever you may think, tends to alter their temper….’ –Crevecoeur

        • gcochran9 says:

          When domesticated animals go feral, they change. Selection in the wild pushes in a different direction than in captivity. The look different.

          Did this happen to people on the American frontier? Of course not – human generations are too long, time too short.

          • TWS says:

            A feral hog looks very different from a human raised one. That’s in one generation. Humans who are plumbers, pipe fitters or other heavy labor have hands and forearms that are different too.

            Over the thousands of years people must have gone from one environment to another then had to switch back. It’s it possible we have a response like the feral pig to a more ‘wild’ life? Something makes that critters’ head shape and hair coat different. Could we have some thing like that?

            • NobodyExpectsThe... says:

              You really think the distance between the average feral hog in the US, and a commercial breed of domestic swine, is just one generation? Not several hundred years. Some, going back to the spaniard conquistadors.

              And the Iberian pig breed, is even in the present, quite different from most comercial breeds. Very likely even more 500 years ago.

              • TWS says:

                Yes there are feral swine that have been loose hundreds of years but changes come from a different diet, rooting for food and not living in a pen in a piggy’s lifetime. Over hundreds of years I don’t know if we should even consider them truly domesticated anymore. I would live to see if domestication had reversed at the genetic level.

                Five hundred years can be a thousand or more generations for a pig. That’s a long time.

          • Yudi says:

            It’s reasonable to think conditions on the frontier caused self-selection for the most feral individuals of American society.

    • R. says:

      19th century whites were generally undernourished, exceptions being people who farmed in under-populated regions where soil wasn’t scarce and more crucially, game could be hunted..

  16. Halvorson says:

    Could the Mongolian spot be caused by a neural crest defect?

  17. MawBTS says:

    I can’t read the paper because I’m not smart and have the flu but what’s the reason for comparing AMH with Denisovans and Neanderthals? Doesn’t that allow for a confuting extra variable (the ‘Vans and the ‘Thals might have adapted away from domestication, instead of AMH towards it?). Why didn’t they compare AMH with itself at a later point in the record?

    • gcochran9 says:

      We don’t have any really ancient dna from modern humans: oldest I can think of is something like 45,000 years ago. Africa isn’t a great place for preserving DNA.

      Looking at them, AMH looks more domesticated, more childlike than Neanderthals. So you can compare back to their split with AMH with some reason. I admit it’s a bit of a stretch.

      What if we did compare AMH DNA from 45k years ago with contemporary? Not all groups are likely to have changed to the same extent or in exactly the same ways… presto, controversy.

      • TWS says:

        I heard that Australia does not allow studies of aborigine DNA for that reason but how hard would it be too look at New Guinean DNA?

    • 'Piens, 'Thals and other such says:

      Humans have an expanded brain volume relative to most Homo Erectus, and about the same size face. That’s mostly why we look “child like” relative them.

      There’s a different change relative Neanderthals, where brain size is more similar and facial size is different.

      But early humans in Europe and the Middle East don’t have smaller brains than their Neanderthal fellows, and the proportions of the brain aren’t really very like a domesticated Neanderthal like (frontal and prefrontal expansion in AMH, if anything, not regional volume reductions as in domesticated).

  18. The nobility have traditionally treated the lower classes as a species of domestic animal. “The lord is our shepherd. . .”

  19. Jerome says:

    What you are calling “domestication” is an increase in trust (or a decrease in mistrust). Not surprising that this should be a neotenous trait, since juvenile mammals must depend upon their parents. Fairly clearly the ability to trust humans has certain advantages, whether you are a dog, a cat, or a human. I would suggest that what you are seeing is the effect of living in cities.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Wha I call domestication is domestication, and that’s not real close to a change in trust.

      • Ursiform says:

        While I would call a change in trust taming, rather than domestication, dictionaries tend to overlap the terms “tame” and “domesticate”, often defining one partly by use of the other.

        I believe your point is that truly domesticated animals have been breed for desired traits, and therefore differ from their wild predecessors, and therefore from wild forms that have been merely acclimated to humans.

        • Colin McColinater says:

          Dogs essentially never grow out of the puppy phase but at a certain point wolves stop being puppies and start being wolves.

  20. c23 says:

    If whites and east asians are domesticated, but domesticated in different ways, with a relatively small number of genes, then when you have mixed race grandchildren (f2 hybrids) some will happen to get both types of domestication genes, and some will happen to get the ancestral non-domesticated gene from each side. Consequences?

    How about the first generation offspring of the pure European parent with the pure Asian parent? Would the sum of two halves of domestication gene equal one whole? Elliot Rogers, the Supreme Gentleman?

    Does this kind of think impact mixed race people in other regards? Is the tragic mulatto tragic because he has no identity or because the genes don’t quite mix right? It seems to me, prima facie, that the latter is plausible, but then we have lots of mixed race people who seem perfectly fine.

  21. st says:

    so, 1. Most mammals can now be domesticated via genetic engineering/modification via introducing the alleles, identified by the paper? So much with zebras, lions, bears being impossible to domesticate?
    2. Can you enslave a dog? No, it’s already a slave. You can enslave a wolf because it is not. Can you enslave a person, who is already a slave? No, you can enslave a free person only, for the same reason, sometimes. Perhaps that would suggest something about the trajectory of the slave trade and slavery in history.
    3. Can you use dogs to catch wolves? That would certainly help and it has been done. Can a dog be more dangerous than its feral form, the wolf? Of course, think pit bulls. Domestication does not mean necessarily decrease in courage, fighting spirit or ferocity, – especially when thinking of pit bulls…Is there a reason some of the domesticated versions of HS to relate to the feral version of HS in the manner pit bulls relate to wolves? Not that I can think of, reading the paper, especially if the selection requires it.
    4. Chengis Han or any other Mongol was not more feral human than pit bull is a wolf (which is- not at all – see point 3)
    5. There are things like ADHD and oppositional defiant disorder, considered diseases, missing in east Asians. Are they related in any way to the differences in the alleles, leading to domestication, in EA and WA?
    6. Can all, suffering from oppositional defiant disorder be treated in a not so distant Orwellian future by genetic modification, eliminating the feral alleles?
    7. Can any potential for opposition in humans be treated in an Orwellian future by introducing different combinations (or the full set) of domesticating alleles, mentioned in the research, creating the perfect conformist, or law abiding citizen, or perfect slave, or perfect HS, whichever is right, as a norm, curing different defiant disorders, creating the perfect submissive …human, again, without affecting its IQ as in the case of some domesticated dog breeds or even his ferocity, as in the case of pit bulls?
    The future of HS seems interesting.

  22. genhorst says:

    There is a whole bunch of visibly domesticated humans in West/East-Central Europe, they have been called the “Alpine race”. They pretty much have all the traits described in the post above. East Asians probably, too. But not all members of the Mongoloid race, the Mongols, East Amerindians, and Northern Chinese are a pretty tough bunch.

  23. TWS says:

    Why did domestication become favored? A human’s long dependence on their parents means that their parents must have cared for them. Their family must have favored them as well. Success in human terms means social success. Killing sabertooths is all well and good but making connections is what matters to man.

    A tame critter needs more care. How did a dependent human become more successful than the bigger stronger maybe smarter wild humans?

  24. Pingback: This Week In Reaction (2017/08/13) - Social Matter

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