Friday, May 07, 2010

For the "national IQ" fans out there, genetics reality check.

This is an interesting bit of archaeology

The biologists, led by Svante Paabo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, have been slowly reconstructing the genome of Neanderthals, the stocky hunters that dominated Europe until 30,000 years ago, by extracting the fragments of DNA that still exist in their fossil bones. Just last year, when the biologists first announced that they had decoded the Neanderthal genome, they reported no significant evidence of interbreeding.

Scientists say they have recovered 60 percent of the genome so far and hope to complete it. By comparing that genome with those of various present day humans, the team concluded that about 1 percent to 4 percent of the genome of non-Africans today is derived from Neanderthals. But the Neanderthal DNA does not seem to have played a great role in human evolution, they said.

Here's the money quote as it applies to Bell Curve/National IQ style calculations.
So far, the team has identified only about 100 genes — surprisingly few — that have contributed to the evolution of modern humans since the split. The nature of the genes in humans that differ from those of Neanderthals is of particular interest because they bear on what it means to be human, or at least not Neanderthal. Some of the genes seem to be involved in cognitive function and others in bone structure.
At this point I'll say that these results come from three (3) little bones out of one cave, and they haven't finished the entire sequence yet so there's room for more discoveries yet.
However the implication is that the genetic difference between Neandethals  and Humans is extremely small.  So small that the part of human behavior which is -determined- by genetic inheritance must be very, very small.  As we learn more and more about the human genome and that of our close ancestors, I think its likely that these genetic-based theories about human behavior and intellectual performance will be disproven.

The Phantom

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