Re: Genetic change (Was Re: The Anthroplogy of the New World)

whittet (
8 Dec 1994 03:11:17 GMT

In article <>, (Domingo Martinez-Castilla) says:
>In article <3bt0iu$> (whittet) writes:
>>I am curious as to whether there is any evidence that man has existed
>>long enough in the new world to evolve any adaptations.
>>It would seem at first glance that there are a number of
>>possible differences, related to things like diet, climate,
>>lifestyle, and behavior in general as well as genetics.
>This posting raises an interesting topic that relates to all the discussions
>about "race" (no, please, I do not want to argue about whether the term is
>valid) and other genetically determined differences, which indirectly pop up
>in this newsgroup once in a while. It is argued, ever since Darwin, that
>cultural forces impose upon genetic selection quite a bigger impact than
>biological forces, like the variations suggested in the paragraph above. In
>other words, humans (and some other culturally adept species) may accelerate
>genetic change through sexual selection, thanks to the strong preference most
>humans show to mate with individuals matching the overall desirable
>characteristics of a given culture.
>Consequences of this culturally-driven genetic selection could be:
>1. Human groups are more closely related (genotypically) to each other than
>what most particular individuals tend to believe, and phenotypical
>characteristics may change very fast, as compared with other non domesticated
>species (domestic species are also adept to fast culturally-driven genetic
>changes, usually imposed by H. sapiens, as it happens in dogs, cats, cattle,
>sheep, etc.) (Cf. also studies on DNA, mytochondrial or not.)
>2. Rivalry among groups is quite deeper (and bloodier) among, understandably,
>neighboring groups, but notice that it does not matter if they are of similar
>phenotypes (cf. Balkans today; examples abound) or not (cf. South Africa,
>USA, Brazil). Cases of true extremination of one (large) group by another do
>not seem to abound (I am not really sure of this, but "total solutions" seem
>to fail, which does not mean they do not cause a lot of pain and anguish in
>the group dealt with the lower hand.) (Note that dissapearance of cultures in
>the Americas has happened, but it has been driven -in opinion of many- first
>and chiefly by disease, with Europeans finishing the job later.)
>Aside: However, in the Americas, extreme cultural complexity did not follow
>the "rules" established by European historians to define a "civilization"
>(please, if you want to discuss what "civ." means, change the subject line in
>the follow-up). No wheel anywhere to be seen; in MesoAmerica, no large
>domestic species (which, of course, helps to explain -with the landscape in
>many areas- why wheels were not so successful); in the Andes, no writing (even
>though they were better accountants than anybody before them). This contrasts
>with the extremely successful agroiculture, large cities, etc.)
>Domingo Martinez-Castilla
One interesting conjecture is that the relative balance of
two nerve hormones, nor-epinepherin and serotonin,
has a lot to do with temperment. At one extreme are people
who find security in adherence to laws. These people tend
to be both social and verbal in seeking consensus before
they act and as a result end up making most of the laws
(norms, mores rules, conventions).

In making laws, which reinforce what they consider right and proper,
they outlaw the behavior of the other extreme who tend to find that
freedom is a state of being without limits, and to act on their own
conclusions as to what is right and wrong, without waiting for consensus.

It seems that the genetic temperment is reinforced by the response of the
various significant others with whom the individual interacts.

It is concievable that the interaction of two cultures representing
the opposite extremes as an ideal' ie; Sparta and Athens, could be
the source of some mutual misunderstanding.