Category: Origin of Man
A-Symmetry as Semiotic of European Evolutionary Advance
His colleagues noted that some species of crabs have asymmetrical appendages, one being larger than the other, but when one of the pair was lost, another grew back in mirror image to the other. To this they were disposed to ask, how did the crab gain symmetry?
Through the extended analysis, Bateson hypothesized that his colleagues had been asking the wrong question. They should rather have been asking, “how did the crab lose asymmetry?”
It was in fact, in the course of this very investigation into the biological laws of symmetry that William Bateson first coined the term “genetics.”
The rule by itself is not of particular relevance to our concerns for European ontology and nationalism. However, steps taken in ecological and cybernetic analysis and arrival at Bateson’s rule of morphology do have significant implications, suggesting hypotheses for semiotics of ecological (and ontological) correction - including of human ecology.
From BBC News:-
The complete works of one of history’s greatest scientists, Charles Darwin, are being published online.
The project run by Cambridge University has digitised some 50,000 pages of text and 40,000 images of original publications - all of it searchable.
Surfers with MP3 players can even access downloadable audio files.
The resource is aimed at serious scholars, but can be used by anyone with an interest in Darwin and his theory on the evolution of life.
This is my third attempt to make sense of the Brace craniofacial data
Physical anthropology is not my field at all but I have a slight interest in the genetic origins of the British population from which I personally am descended so I do occasionally note studies that attempt to enlighten us about that. I have however given up taking notice of the DNA studies as their conclusions seem to vary between saying that the English population is almost wholly Celtic and almost wholly Anglo-Saxon. My conclusion is that DNA is so complex and our understanding of it is still so slight that we will have to wait for some time before anything definitive emerges.
I was therefore rather interested to see the latest paper by Loring Brace using craniofacial measurements of ancient skulls to trace European ancestry. Such measurements do at least offer the prospect of being a lot simpler than DNA. There is an abstract of the paper here, the full paper is available here and there is a popular summary of it here. I am afraid, however, that I also find difficulties with Brace’s conclusions. What Brace appears to have found is that modern Europeans are in appearance more like very ancient Europeans than the Europeans who came in between. The Europeans who came in between were the first farmers (he refers to them as “neolithic”) and he says that they had heavier features than either present-day or very ancient Europeans. His explanation for his finding is that the first farmers came into Europe from the Middle East and taught the natives how to farm but then mostly died out (or at least left little genetic legacy).
That seems reasonable at first glance but if the natives soon learnt to farm off the incomers, how come most of the farmer remains are not in fact those of the natives? Surely it is absurd to claim that the natives conveniently refrained from farming until the incomers died out!
What seems a slightly more reasonable explanation to me is that the original European population evolved in two directions—the more heavyset farmers and the more gracile hunters but, perhaps due to climatic changes, the hunters eventually took up farming too and in the process wiped out most of the original farmers—aided in that, no doubt, by the superior fighting skills that their original hunting lifestyle had given them.
That of course leaves us with the problem of explaining how farming APPEARS to have originated in the Middle East. Time-lines that far back are however very speculative so I see no real difficulty in supposing that the first farmers in the Middle East in fact fled there from Europe.
But that still leaves the question of where the original Europeans came from. Brace believes that they gradually evolved from Neanderthals—which conflicts with the usual view that they originated from Cro-Magnons out of Africa. Brace’s data do conveniently show little affinity between Cro-Magnons and modern Europeans so that is certainly interesting. The only firm conclusion that seems to emerge from it all is that the present-day population of Europe is very ancient.
I recently referred to this paper in which C. Loring Brace used craniofacial measurements to argue that modern Europeans are descended from ancient Europeans rather than from invaders. Yet his data seemed to contradict that: “the Neolithic peoples of Europe and their Bronze Age successors are not closely related to the modern inhabitants”. How come?
It seems that Brace is one of those Leftist nutters who believe that race does not exist and as part of that he seems to need to believe that modern Europeans gradually evolved from Neanderthals rather than from incoming Cromagnons. So even Neanderthals are not really different!
So I think Brace had arrived at his conclusions long before he did his study and would have presented those conclusions regardless of what he found. His sample of 24 skeletons is in any case ludicrously small for examining generalizations as large as those he wants to make. There is an attempt to put Brace’s findings into plain English here but that attempt also founders on Brace’s contradictions. We read “Ancient peoples had heavier brow ridges than modern Europeans. “The faces were also broader and the jaws were heavier,” Brace added”. But we also read as the summary of the findings: “Europeans inherit their looks from Stone Age hunters, new research suggests.” Black is white, I guess. Oh well! Leftists never have been much influenced by reality.
Addendum by J Richards:
Whoops, John! Sorry for adding this information to your post, but your post is based on a serious misunderstanding of the paper (in addition to your not reading it), and I would rather add this here than in the comments section, which some people may not bother reading. There were 24 skull measurements, not 24 skulls analyzed. The authors analyzed a total of 1,282 skulls. This study is consistent with a recent DNA analysis showing the same thing. Recently, a 700,000-year-old human presence was reported in England (download pdf). What all these things mean is that whites, especially Northern and Central European populations, have been evolving separately from non-whites for much longer than what would have been the case if Middle Eastern populations would have had a major impact on the European gene pool when farming spread up North, i.e., the findings do not undermine the concept of race. The stone-age hunters—just before farming spread to Northern and Central Europe—from which most Northern and Central European individuals descend apparently had a high prevalence of fine facial features similar to that seen in these European populations today rather than the more robust features of the Neolithic samples, some impact of which is seen in Southern Europeans. Those who wish to read this paper can download it here (pdf).
I am indebted to J. Richards for adding a modicum of enlightenment to our understanding of the Brace paper—though I am a little surprised that he did not speak up in response to my initial post about the matter. As I see it, however, both methodological and theoretical problems remain. Brace seems to assume that all his neolithic skeletons were from incomers. Are we to assume that ALL the simultaneous original Europeans had no neolithic skills? That seems improbable even in Brace’s own “cultural diffusion” terms. I would have thought that a more cautious assumption would be that at least some, if not all of the neolithic skeletons were of original Europeans. And Brace’s view that we are all descended from Neanderthals—who were physically very different from modern Europeans—is also surely called into question by finding fine features way back in the European past.
Below is the Abstract of an article by C. Loring Brace et al. I don’t at all follow the reasoning of the article or the comment on it also reproduced below. Perhaps readers here will have more success than I have had.
Many human craniofacial dimensions are largely of neutral adaptive significance, and an analysis of their variation can serve as an indication of the extent to which any given population is genetically related to or differs from any other. When 24 craniofacial measurements of a series of human populations are used to generate neighbor-joining dendrograms, it is no surprise that all modern European groups, ranging all of the way from Scandinavia to eastern Europe and throughout the Mediterranean to the Middle East, show that they are closely related to each other.
The surprise is that the Neolithic peoples of Europe and their Bronze Age successors are not closely related to the modern inhabitants, although the prehistoric/modern ties are somewhat more apparent in southern Europe. It is a further surprise that the Epipalaeolithic Natufian of Israel from whom the Neolithic realm was assumed to arise has a clear link to Sub-Saharan Africa.
Basques and Canary Islanders are clearly associated with modern Europeans. When canonical variates are plotted, neither sample ties in with Cro-Magnon as was once suggested. The data treated here support the idea that the Neolithic moved out of the Near East into the circum-Mediterranean areas and Europe by a process of demic diffusion but that subsequently the in situ residents of those areas, derived from the Late Pleistocene inhabitants, absorbed both the agricultural life way and the people who had brought it.
The PNAS Abstract above states that neither Cromagnon nor other late immigrants into Europe have had much of an influence on (genetically founded) facial types, but all such immigrants were absorbed by the descendants of “late pleistocene,” i.e., paleolithic Europeans.
Not a surprise this, to those who have studied carefully skeletal details of paleo-Europeans. One may now return to a long-held view (esp in France) that regional evolution occurred from H sapiens neanderthalensis, although that subspecies is not explicitly named, (resident from the Atlantic to the Hindukush). Of course, Chinese anthropology had long seen things in similar fashion.