Possible Reason For Bipedalism

Early ancestors of humankind may have taken to bipedalism for any number of reasons, but a gorilla at the Philadelphia Zoo recently found a new one: cleaner food:

When Louis has his hands full of tomatoes or other snacks, he walks upright like a human to keep food and hands clean, rather than the typical gorilla stance of leaning forward on his knuckles.

This suggests a possible interesting path in evolution. Early ancestors of humanity may have chosen bipedalism for the ability to carry food and other objects, marking a transition to the tool-making era of our forebears.

The Basis Of Nationalism And Natural Selection: Neurological Compatibility

Nationalists speak about genetic compatibility, but it is less commonly noted that genetic compatibility leads to neurological compatibility as the basis of friendship and in turn, of nations:

Dating sites would be well-advised to add “brain activity” as a compatability criterion, according to a study released Tuesday showing that close friends have eerily comparable neural responses to life experiences.

“Our results suggest that friends process the world around them in exceptionally similar ways,” said lead author Carolyn Parkinson, director of the Computational Social Neuroscience Lab at the University of California in Los Angeles.

…The closer the relationship, the more alike the neural patterns in parts of the brain governing emotional response, high-level reasoning, and the capacity to focus one’s attention.

People who are friends are more likely to be genetically similar:

Sociologists have long pointed out that we often favor people who look like us. Now, a new study shows that that bias runs deeper still: we tend to chose friends who are genetically similar to ourselves.

…Compared to strangers, the people the subjects chose to be friends with had significantly more in common genetically. They shared about one percent of their genome – about as related as fourth cousins. Most often, friends shared genes related to sense of smell, the authors found.

Long ago, the researchers think, this tendency to chose genetically similar friends might have provided our ancestors with an evolutionary advantage. Having people around who share some of the same weaknesses, preferences and needs can be useful for building a support network.

There was one exception to this rule, however. Friends significantly differed in their arsenal of immunity genes, the team found. Speculating, the researchers think that this might increase the chances that our friends will be more resistant to the germs that cripple us, and could thus take care of us and help stop the spread of infection.

In other words, the basis of human socializing and cooperation is genetic and neurological similarity. People who think along the same lines, find themselves as natural allies, and able to appreciate each other. These groups also have their own internal diversity in that people are attracted to those whose immune systems work differently than their own, creating a double barrier to disease.

When we apply this to civilization, we see that a group of people who are genetically/neurologically similar are more likely to be friends than people who are attempting to control one another because they are dissimilar. The scourge of the twentieth century, managerial/bureaucratic control, is thus deprecated in favor of similarity and cooperation.

In this way, we see nationalism as an extended friend/family group. Those who have similar ambitions for their civilization group together, and within that group, they achieve diversity at a biological level by choosing people near them who offer what they do not, at least at the immunological level but perhaps on many more.

Diversity cannot compare to the simplicity and clarity of this model. In diversity, people are choosing mates based on fractional similarities, and the resulting instability means a lack of unity and thus constant internal conflict. In the friends/family model of nationalism, people group with those similar to them, and so cooperation is an unspoken mutual goal.

Northern European Genetic Biodiversity Revealed

Human biodiversity includes the study of populations through their differences with an eye for their overlapping similarities. While a new study about the ethnic origins of Northern Europeans does not exactly shock the existing model, it does give us further insight into how these populations formed and why they are different today.

The study tracked the migrations into Scandinavia and the Baltics that formed modern European populations:

Previous analysis of ancient human genomes has revealed that two genetically differentiated groups of hunter-gatherers lived in Europe during the Mesolithic: the so-called Western Hunter-Gatherers excavated in locations from Iberia to Hungary, and the so-called Eastern Hunter-Gatherers excavated in Karelia in north-western Russia. Surprisingly, the results of the current study show that Mesolithic hunter-gatherers from Lithuania appear very similar to their Western neighbors, despite their geographic proximity to Russia. The ancestry of contemporary Scandinavian hunter-gatherers, on the other hand, was comprised from both Western and Eastern Hunter-Gatherers.

“Eastern Hunter-Gatherers were not present on the eastern Baltic coast, but a genetic component from them is present in Scandinavia. This suggests that the people carrying this genetic component took a northern route through Fennoscandia into the southern part of the Scandinavian peninsula. There they genetically mixed with Western Hunter-Gatherers who came from the South, and together they formed the Scandinavian Hunter-Gatherers,” explains Johannes Krause, Director of the Department of Archaeogenetics at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, and senior author of the study.

…The earliest farmers in Sweden are not descended from Mesolithic Scandinavians, but show a genetic profile similar to that of Central European agriculturalists. Thus it appears that Central Europeans migrated to Scandinavia and brought farming technology with them. These early Scandinavian farmers, like the Central European agriculturalists, inherited a substantial portion of their genes from Anatolian farmers, who first spread into Europe around 8,200 years ago and set in motion the cultural transition to agriculture known as the Neolithic Revolution.

Similarly, a near-total genetic turnover is seen in the Eastern Baltic with the advent of large-scale agro-pastoralism. While they did not mix genetically with Central European or Scandinavian farmers, beginning around 2,900 BCE the individuals in the Eastern Baltic derive large parts of their ancestry from nomadic pastoralists of the Pontic-Caspian steppe.

Much as in Germany, Swedish populations are divided between Nordic northern groups and darker, more Central European styled southern groups. A southern Swede is closer to a Dane or a German than what we think of as typically “Nordic.” That element seems to come from the Western Hunter-Gatherers who form the basis of both Nordic and Baltic populations.

Most likely what we are seeing here is a gradual incursion of farming central Europeans into the northern states where they remained as lower castes, while the hunter-gatherer warrior elites remained on top culturally, genetically, and economically. This gives us a basis for European history as a prolonged caste war culminating in the French Revolution, with the farmers finally overthrowing their masters.

Interesting as well is the separation of Russia. People knew, traditionally, that Eastern Europeans/Eurasians were different somehow, but the presence of mostly Eastern Hunter-Gatherer genetics shows that these people are in fact fundamentally removed from the Western genetic legacy.