Friday Fluff – December 31st, 2010

By Razib Khan | December 31, 2010 12:00 pm

FF3 1. First, a post from the past: Golden ideas.

2. Weird search query of the week: “young girls gone mature”.

3.Comment of the week, in response to Slouching toward idiocracy:

JWM and Dave Both hit on key concepts here.

Its not just cats, cattle and humans, in fact the relative brain size of almost all domesticates is smaller then their wild ancestors . This just part of a suite of changes that characterize domesticates. Including reduced size, a more pronounced forehead, a shorter foreface, overall increased morphological diversity, a wider range of coat colors, long hair, curly hair, naked skin, and reduced dentition. Most of these characteristics are seen in modern humans relatives to our ancestors. Compared to erectines and neanderthal and even early AMH modern humans are less skeletally robust, have shorter forefaces and larger foreheads and smaller teeth in more crowded jaws. Compared to chimps we are characterized by being having naked skin, long hair of an astonishing variety of color and form and increased morphological diversity even within genetically homogeneous populations.

The belyaev Domestic fox experiments, provides a very intriguing clue as to why this might be. Belyaev was able to induce all of the morphological changes typical of domestic animals in foxes by breeding for a single characteristic, Tameness. Tameness can be conceived of as openness to novel social situations and strangers. This is characteristic of all juvenile animals but rare in adult wild animals. Selection for this trait seems to effect developmental genes which have major effects in morphology resulting in these typical patterns of morphological change.

Domestic animals are generally less intelligent then their wild ancestors but they appear to have domain specific capacities for social learning and thinking that their wild ancestors don’t

I suspect that the development of just such capacities as been one of the primary selective patterns behind the development of modern humans. We may have lost some individual brain power but without the evolution of those social capacities I doubt we would have ever been able to harness that brain power to build civilization. I also think it’s quite likely that the selective environment of civilization has selected for a horde new adaptions on traits like IQ and time preference which would have not been as advantageous for our paleolithic ancestors.

4) Was 2010 exciting for you?

5) And finally, your weekly fluff fix:

MORE ABOUT: Blog, Friday Fluff
  • EcoPhysioMichelle

    I was sick for almost all of the second half of 2010. :(

  • Sandgroper

    Moved house twice, then moved country, and Boxing Day I wound up in hospital with pneumonia, so yeah, it’s been a pretty exciting end to a mobile but pointless year.

    Hope you’re better, Michelle.

  • EcoPhysioMichelle

    Right back at you, pneumonia is no fun.

  • pconroy

    Hope you both recuperate!


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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


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