Bajau

There’s a new article in Cell about adaptation to diving in a population of ‘sea nomads’. Sledmen?

Race is real, but it’s only 70 meters deep.

You should expect significant local adaptation in any population that is effectively endogamous and has fallen into a distinct niche for a reasonably long time, say a thousand years or more.

I had vaguely wondered about these guys, but I didn’t know how long they’d been at it.

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38 Responses to Bajau

  1. Race denialists usually respond that this trait corresponds to geography, not race and even less traditionally understood major races.
    Who are you going to convince with this?

    • gcochran9 says:

      Some selective factors operate very widely, some locally. Some widespread populations have similar suites of adaptations because of those shared selective forces, and/or because they’ve recently expanded.

      I would not be surprised to see a lot of people abandon some of their false views on such topics ( probably replacing them with different false views), but logic isn’t usually what causes that change.

  2. dave chamberlin says:

    As per wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sama-Bajau
    Thousands of years of subsistence freediving associated with their life on the sea have endowed the Bajau with at least two key genetic adaptations: an enlarged spleen and pupil-controlling muscles which enhance underwater sight.

    So thats two adaptions for their lifestyle.

  3. JP says:

    So…how long until they get gills and webbed fingers? half a million years? 2 million?

    • dave chamberlin says:

      How long till we have a college with a Samoan football team, Ethiopian cross country team, Ashkenazi debate team, West African track team, Croatian tennis team, Dominican Republic baseball team, Tutsi basketball team, and a room full of trophies, If these Bajau were the shape of Michel Phelps then we would recruit them for the swimming team. I’m thinking pygmies have a bright future in gymnastics but I could be wrong.

      • catte says:

        The pygmies would be the horseriders, surely.

        • Smithie says:

          They may have the perfect body for space travel. Low mass, low caloric needs.

          • dave chamberlin says:

            Environmentalist should campaign for us to be genetically engineered to be three feet tall and weigh 60 pounds. The future belongs to High IQ shrimps. Of course there will be the new amish, folks opposed to genetic engineering. Someone’s got to mow the lawn and do the dirty work.

    • teageegeepea says:

      Cetaceans never developed gills.

    • Smithie says:

      Could be a lot less. Depends on whether the Creature from the Black Lagoon is cross-fertile.

    • Anonymous says:

      If I recall correctly, Neal Stephenson, in his “SevenEves” had humans develop gills and webbed phalanges in 5,000 years of selection.
      I think that his System of the World trilogy is one of the best things I’ve ever read, but I was greatly dismayed by Seven Eves.

  4. Smithie says:

    If different waters select for different traits, how much more likely do different soils?

  5. Smithie says:

    Reads less like Conan and more like the Shadow Over Innsmouth..

  6. dearieme says:

    From this morning’s Telegraph, the obituary of Professor R J Berry:

    His research on Skokholm [a tiny Welsh island] demonstrated that the genetic constitution of the island’s population of house mice, founded in the 1890s when a few animals were inadvertently introduced, could change significantly over just a few months, showing that relatively short periods of evolutionary time since the mice colonised the island was no bar to adaptive genetic modification.

    The most important part of this individual adaptability … was the response to low temperatures. In a severely cold winter it can get cold enough for more than 95% of the island’s mouse population to die. By contrast on Hawaii, where there is no winter and where mice are under no climatic stress, the animals showed no evidence of selection at all.

    • Smithie says:

      By a tangent, you made me recall the story of Winston Churchill hiding from the Boers in a mineshaft and being surprised to see albino rats, as they were not well-known back then. It’s hard to conceive of a head of state in the West, noticing something like that now, much less saying it publicly.

      • gcochran9 says:

        “As bullets clawed the air around us and screams echoed down the rubble-strewn tarmac, I felt almost peaceful.

        It was a simple mission, they had told me – get in, shake a few hands and mouth a few platitudes, get out. Simple. Yeah.

        Things had started going wrong while we were still in the air and only gotten worse from there. So here we were, pinned down, choking on the acrid tang of cordite and the heady scent of human blood. The mission was even simpler now: survive. Whatever the cost, survive.

        There was a grunt and a clatter of equipment as Sinbad threw himself down at my side. Sweat glistened on his bare arms, and I could see tendons contracting and relaxing as he squeezed off bursts from his M14. The motion was hypnotic, like a snake about to strike. Perhaps, when all this was over-

        No. Concentrate. Focus on the mission. Survive.

        A shout from my left drew my head around. Sheryl Crow, guitar still strapped to her back, had taken cover behind a haphazard pile of decaying corpses. Her hair, once lustrous, now lank and greasy, was held back from her eyes by a dirty red headband. Her slim nostrils flared in the dirt-smeared oval of her face, seeking air free of the funeral taint shrouding the airfield. Still, I saw a fierce exultation in her expression that I knew mirrored my own.

        Her lithe, nimble fingers stroked the top of an M67 frag grenade, strumming a chord of impending doom. With one quick, economical movement, she plucked the pin free and sent the deadly payload sailing toward the ridge concealing our enemies. My eyes traced the arc, willing it to fly true, to rain death on-

        “There!” Sinbad shouted. “The convoy!”

        I wrenched my gaze in the direction he was pointing. The boom of the grenade registered only faintly, suddenly unimportant. Thirty yards dead ahead was the real target: the armored convoy, offering safety, shelter, survival. If we could reach it.

        “Follow me!” Sinbad roared, levering himself to his feet. As I prepared to follow, a high-pitched whine arrowed across my eardrums and warm, sticky rain splashed my face.

        I forced myself to look, already knowing what I would see. The big man lay there, crumpled, the left side of his head a nightmare maze of blood, brains and tight curls of yellowish-orange hair.

        Time to mourn later. Survive.

        I juked to my left, darting and weaving, somehow making it to Sheryl’s position. Her eyes were wide, shock and fear clouding their emerald depths. “Is he-”

        “Gone,” I snapped. “We have to move. Now.”

        For a moment I wondered if I would have to leave her behind, but then her jaw tightened and she nodded sharply. “Stay behind me,” she said with a brief squeeze of my hand, then she was up and running, moving like a deer.

        I followed, matching her as best I could with the mindless insect hum of lead bees filling my ears and the cracked tarmac clutching at my heels. We ran, time stretching, flattening, the convoy impossibly distant, a cruel mirage, too far, too far . . .

        And then, somehow, we were almost there. We had made it, we were going to –

        A flat crack and the mournful twang of a guitar string. Sheryl fell, scarlet-splashed splinters from the shattered guitar seeming to hang in the air.

        I stopped. Men were flooding out of the brush and streaming around the cars. One approached me, smirking, rifle held casually across his body, smoke still rising from the barrel.

        “Every day a winding road,” he said in heavily accented English, shrugging a shoulder toward Sheryl’s body. He stepped closer, almost close enough to touch. “End of road for her today. And you.”

        Still smirking, he began to raise the rifle. I lunged forward, freed the ka-bar concealed under my pantsuit, and buried it to the hilt in his chest. He grunted, stiffened, and then slid backwards, the knife making a greedy slurping sound as it pulled free.

        The other rebels froze, momentarily stunned. There were a lot of them – too many, surely – but it didn’t matter. One day, I knew, I would be telling this story to rapt audiences as I made my inevitable march to the Presidency. Would this ragged group of smelly goaters be the ones to stop me? Would they?

        I raised the blade to my lips, licked it clean, and began to laugh.

        Survive. Whatever the cost, survive.”

  7. FrenchMan says:

    If freediving was an olympic sport, we would be giving Bajau athlètes green cards so as to be able to compete with Indonesia.

  8. Yudi says:

    What’s even more fun is to hypothesize about possible behavioral changes: perhaps the Bajau have evolved to love being around water, like how humans enjoy fire more than other species. Notice that the stilt houses they live in are just above the ocean’s surface!

    • Smithie says:

      I had a really crazy thought along these lines the other day:

      Little girls seem to really love animals and especially horses, but, maybe, this isn’t true of all populations. Maybe, you have to be descended from HGs who used dogs to love dogs. From herders to love lambs. From horselords to love horses.

      • Yudi says:

        The idea of humans being modified to love dogs, just as dogs have been bred to love humans, is something I’ve brought up too. It’s interesting to think what effects our animals friends could be having on is, in addition to (historically) serving as disease vectors.

  9. Pingback: Saturday Links 21-Apr-2018 iPhone X survey, humans at sea, Huang’s law, housing, humans versus megafauna | Praxtime by Nathan Taylor

  10. I always wondered if mermaid folk tales, where mermaids walked on land and married men but went back to their “sea families” after awhile, stemmed from people like this, especially if there was a kind of a closed-off insular tribe that normies were aware of but didn’t generally interact with.

  11. Ziel says:

    Did I see a claim that this adaptation came from Denisovans?

  12. Karl says:

    am I the only one here who has lived amongst Bajau for a couple of years?

    before they are anything else, they are trinket traders who send their wives out to beg in the street

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