Wales (and Cornwall) genetically distinct from rest of mainland Britain

The Stone Pages archive and the original BBC story. The genes date back to the last Ice Age. North and south Wales seem to be distinct from each other as well, with reference to colonization from Ireland in the north and from Europe in the south, but no mention of which might be older to the other. There is no mention of whether Cornwall is distinct from south Wales. Professor Peter Donnelly of Oxford University was the primary researcher.


Are you one of those people who has questions about your Neandertal ancestry?

John Hawks probably has the answers you need in this long, thorough post.

Now that this has finally been confirmed, i’m waiting for the news through the coming years of other extinct humans making contributions to the modern human genome… say, like the newly discovered Desinova hominin or Homo floresiensis. Hawks has this tidbit:

If Eurasians got less than 4 percent from Neandertals, doesn’t that mean that they got more than 96 percent from Africa?

I look at the 1-4 percent estimate as a minimum, for several reasons. As I’ll note below, this estimate mainly refers to the excess Neandertal ancestry outside Africa, which means there may be some additional amount that both recent African and non-African populations share.

But more important, Neandertals weren’t the only people living in Eurasia 100,000 years ago. China didn’t have Neandertals, nor did Southeast Asia and Java. India was full of hominins, which might or might not have shared substantial genetic similarity with Neandertals. They’re close enough to the known Neandertal range to speculate that they may have been close, but the only available fossil, the Middle Pleistocene Narmada skull, is not very informative. Any of these populations might have been genetically different from Neandertals, and might have also contributed genes to present-day human populations — genes that wouldn’t show up by scanning the Neandertal genome.

The recent genetic sequencing of the Denisova pinky (a.k.a. the X-woman) from the Altai Mountains reminds us that these populations outside of Africa may have been quite a bit closer to us, genetically, than we might have expected from the 1.8-million-year record of humans outside Africa. These populations were dynamic in ways that many paleoanthropologists haven’t yet appreciated.

This is getting to be very, very fun. It’s hard to explain why this entertains me, but it does.

long term memory stored on DNA

Still trying to wrap my head around this story of long term memory being stored on DNA.

If methylation is stimulated to higher than normal levels, would it push more short term memories into long term memory?1

How much of this genetic memory can be passed to future generations? I’m already convinced that this is a common occurrence is simple organisms.

If these methyl groups that get anchored to the calcineurin gene are transferred to another calcineurin gene in a different organism, would the memory be transferred?

Just asking.

  1. We can engineer a race of Funes the Memorious, a fit of hubris. []

milk drinking dated to 6,000 BC in the Near East & Balkans

Pottery shards from the Near East and the Balkans have been tested for milk fats, to find that humans were drinking milk around 6,000 BC. The researchers noticed that the milk use was more frequent in areas where agriculture was not as prevalent. It’s interesting to see the mild drinking here at this time, as the skeletons of Europeans to the north were not genetically able to metabolize milk at 5,000 BC. I wonder where that gene that allows for the production of lactase originated.

another Pacific coastal migration article

Just got around to reading the Discover article on Jon Erlandson’s research on Pacific coastal migration into the Americas. I didn’t see anything new since last time, but i gotta internalize the points of “following kelp forests” (or the “kelp highway”) and remembering the significance of San MIguel Island on an every day basis.

Also need to track down that reference to a Brazilian genetic study that would place the Pacific coastal migration in the Americas between 15,000 and 18,000 years ago. That doesn’t sound familiar.