Category Archives: Uncategorized

Intelligence Predicts Health and Longevity, but Why?

Intelligence Predicts Health and Longevity, but Why?

Large epidemiological studies of almost an entire population in Scotland have found that intelligence (as measured by an IQ-type test) in childhood predicts substantial differences in adult morbidity and mortality, including deaths from cancers and cardiovascular diseases. These relations remain significant after controlling for socioeconomic variables. One possible, partial explanation of these results is that intelligence enhances individuals’ care of their own health because it represents learning, reasoning, and problem-solving skills useful in preventing chronic disease and accidental injury and in adhering to complex treatment regimens.

A Gottfredson pdf just full of useful bits of information about the influence of IQ on mortality. A few of the most interesting bits…

a drop of 1 standard deviation in IQ was associated with a 27% increase in cancer deaths among men and a 40% increase in cancer deaths among women (Deary, Whalley, & Starr, 2003). The effect was especially pronounced for stomach and lung cancers, which are specifically associated with low socioeconomic status (SES) in childhood.

For each standard deviation increase in IQ, there was a 33% increased rate of quitting smoking. Adjusting for social class reduced this rate only mildly, to 25%. Thus, childhood IQ was not associated with starting smoking (mostly in the 1930s, when the public were not aware of health risks), but was associated with giving up smoking as health risks became evident.

When all other variables were statistically controlled, each additional IQ point predicted a 1% decrease in risk of death. Also, IQ was the best predictor of the major cause of death, motor vehicle accidents. Vehicular death rates doubled and then tripled at successively lower IQ ranges (100–115, 85–100, 80–85; O’Toole, 1990).

A low IQ increases the risk of heart attack

Does IQ predict cardiovascular disease mortality as strongly as established risk factors? Comparison of effect estimates using the West of Scotland Twenty-07 cohort study

Objective
To compare the strength of the association between intelligence quotient (IQ) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality with the predictive power for established risk factors.

Design
Population-based cohort study of 1145 men and women with IQ test scores, a range of established risk factors, and 20-year mortality surveillance.

Results
When CVD mortality was the outcome of interest, the relative index of inequality (sex-adjusted hazard ratio, 95% confidence interval) for the most disadvantaged relative to the advantaged persons was (in descending order of magnitude for the top five risk factors): 5.58 (2.89, 10.8) for cigarette smoking; 3.76 (2.14, 6.61) for IQ; 3.20 (1.85, 5.54) for income; 2.61 (1.49, 4.57) for systolic blood pressure and 2.06 (1.07, 3.99) for physical activity. Mutual adjustment led to some attenuation of these relationships. Similar observations were made in the analyses featuring all deaths where, again, IQ was the second most powerful predictor of mortality risk.

Conclusion
In this cohort, lower intelligence scores were associated with increased rates of CVD and total mortality at a level of magnitude greater than most established risk factors.

There’s also a paper from 2008 by the same man that comes to a similar conclusion after studying  4,166 US soldiers. This one concluded

The main finding was that, in age-adjusted analyses, lower IQ scores in both early adulthood and middle age were related to total and CVD mortality at a level of magnitude greater than many traditional risk indices.

What I did find amusing was reading through what the media had to say on this recently, trying to tell people that they could boost IQ with education (hasn’t been done with any lasting effect yet, and many have tried).

 Higher IQ has been associated with better outcome for disease in other studies, with explanations from following a healthier lifestyle (smokers have a much lower average IQ, 7.5 points lower) and being better able to manage medical conditions and medication.

Bayesian phylogenetic analysis of Semitic languages identifies an Early Bronze Age origin of Semitic in the Near East

Bayesian phylogenetic analysis of Semitic languages identifies an Early Bronze Age origin of Semitic in the Near East

The evolution of languages provides a unique opportunity to study human population history. The origin of Semitic and the nature of dispersals by Semitic-speaking populations are of great importance to our understanding of the ancient history of the Middle East and Horn of Africa. Semitic populations are associated with the oldest written languages and urban civilizations in the region, which gave rise to some of the world’s first major religious and literary traditions. In this study, we employ Bayesian computational phylogenetic techniques recently developed in evolutionary biology to analyse Semitic lexical data by modelling language evolution and explicitly testing alternative hypotheses of Semitic history. We implement a relaxed linguistic clock to date language divergences and use epigraphic evidence for the sampling dates of extinct Semitic languages to calibrate the rate of language evolution. Our statistical tests of alternative Semitic histories support an initial divergence of Akkadian from ancestral Semitic over competing hypotheses (e.g. an African origin of Semitic). We estimate an Early Bronze Age origin for Semitic approximately 5750 years ago in the Levant, and further propose that contemporary Ethiosemitic languages of Africa reflect a single introduction of early Ethiosemitic from southern Arabia approximately 2800 years ago. pdf

While I know this is old news, I’m  having an Afro-Asiatic weekend, and I missed this last year. This isn’t a million miles away from the conclusion I got from examining the reconstructed proto words of proto Semitic a while ago; only about 750 years different (based on the presence of silver and antimony). 

I finally found my old work that records Ehret’s older date for proto Semitic as being the roughly similar to Proto Cushitic (about 10,500 bp to 10,000 bp). If this isn’t an admission that he’d seriously overestimated the dates in his earlier work on AA, I don’t know what isn’t. It supports my criticism of his dating of proto Cushitic as being about 40% out, considering how slashed the time frame for Semitic is (nearly half). This brings all his dates for AA languages into a Neolithic time frame if you apply the same rule to them as a group. I was amused to see him clinging onto an African origin for PAA like grim death, given that the DNA, archaeology and proximity of Semitic languages to PIE and Sumerian really doesn’t leave this as a viable option anymore. Essentially the ‘African origin’ needs to find a cultural or biological expansion from Africa dating to about 11k ago, and AFAIK so far the only suitable population movement across North Africa in that era goes from Asia into Africa (Capsian culture). Then it needs to find a really good reason why Nubians speak a Nilo Saharan language, when they apparently shared a common culture with Afro-Asiatic speaking upper Egyptians before the Neolithic hit Africa.

Some people (who shall remain nameless) are adamant that the E3b1 Y chr is the Y chr related to the expansion of Afro-Asiatic languages. This is incorrect in at least two cases, as Chadic is not at all associated with this, but with the R1b-V88, which arrived from Asia in the neolithic (or Holocene), and neither is Semitic which is Asian and associated with the spread of J1 (also non-African). Afro-Asiatic languages are associated with the expansion of Neolithic Y chromosomes, not E3b1. I’d also like to add that in expansions of this type, languages appear to be spread patrilinealy, not matrilinealy, the Bantu expansion and observations from other expanding farmers v hunter gatherers don’t have the maternal hunter gatherers language being preserved.

My main objections to an African origin for Proto Afro-Asiatic.

The nouns don’t reconstruct to a ceramic using African hunter gatherer landscape, but to an aceramic West Asian early Neolithic landscape. 

There are no population movements out of Africa known that are recent enough to have carried proto Semitic into Asia. The last one was about 22,000 years ago, traced by the expansion of the M78 Y chr and the Kebaran culture (the Mushabian’s origin is open for debate, but it’s also too early). This is just impossibly old. Anything more than 11,000 years and you can’t be in the same language family. So many accumulated changes will have occurred after that time that they will only bear the same level of relation to each other as two random non related language groups. 

The known population movements between Africa and Asia that could have carried the language between them in the relevant time frame all go into Africa from Asia. 

Proto Semitic shows a proximity to both Sumerian and Anatolian Neolithic proto Indo European, which places it in Asia about 9,000 years ago. Even if you think the Anatolian theory is junk, it has loan words into the later PIE about 5k ago. This leaves a narrow time frame for the movement between Asia and Africa (11k max language age - 9k for AN PIE=2,000 years), and the arrival of Neolithic farmers into Africa via the Sinai sits smack in the middle of this time frame. 

Corrected dating for Afro-Asiatic (see above comments on Ehret) shows its something like a maximum of 11,000 years old. The main supporter for the E3b1/Kebaran scenario, Ehret, is now slicing big chunks of time off his calculated dates. This places AA languages into an essentially late Holocene (if African) or early Asian neolithic scenario. Not a match for the Kebaran/E3b1 expansion.

 Nubian is not Afro-Asiatic. Nubians and upper Egyptians shared a common culture in the Holocene with each other and the western desert ceramic cultures, but they apparently didn’t speak even remotely related languages by the time of state formation in Egypt. This is suggestive of Afro-Asiatic replacing the original pre-Badarian languages, leaving Nubians isolated like an island in a sea of Afro-Asiatic. It also nails the arrival of Afro-Asiatic in upper Egypt to a time after the ceramic Nilo-Saharans got there (which was about 10,500 bp) fixing it to a younger age than this. The only influx after this into the area that we know about is the arrival of the Neolithic from Asia about 7,000 BP in upper Egypt. Nilo Saharan has a very  similar age to Afro-Asiatic (Holocene), and matches pretty well to the spread of the first ceramic using people across the Sahara and down the Nile, including upper Egypt. It’s fragmented distribution is very suggestive of a much wider territory, now occluded by later waves of Afro-Asiatic. The isolation of the Nubian NS language, when using corrected dates, comes into an era when the Neolithic pastoralists arrived from Asia into NE Africa.  

The distribution of Afro-Asiatic in Africa has a very strong relationship to the spread of Neolithic Y chromosomes (particularly Chadic and Berber). Asian ones that enter via the Sinai mainly moved into East Africa and Lake Chad. NE African Y chr M81 shows a match to the old spread of Berber languages (from the Nile Delta in the Neolithic) prior to Arabization .

 Proto Cushitic, and all the African and Asian AA languages,  reconstruct with nouns for sheep and goats, Asian animals that don’t even appear in Africa until 8,000 BP. Archaeology tracks these pastoralists moving from the Nile Delta with their herds into North West Africa, East Africa and  Lake Chad, with large chunks of their male ancestry traceable to Neolithic Asia. Using the archaeology to correct the dates for proto Cushitic means it can only be of a Neolithic age, possibly be in the 5k-6k date range. This does not support a Holocene or older date for PAA in Africa, and is more evidence connecting it to the Asian Neolithic.

 So…what are you are left with in support of an African origin? Not a lot really. That there’s more diversity and structure in Africa, but that’s about it. Omotic as a pre-agricultural AA language doesn’t really stand up to scrutiny, with several publications suggesting they originally spoke Nilo Saharan but adopted Afro-Asiatic in the Neolithic, or of it being an off shoot of Cushitic, or not even Afro-Asiatic. The main supporter for an ancient African origin for Afro-Asiatic tied to E3b is slashing huge amounts of time off his estimated dates (about 45% for proto Semitic).

The real issue for anyone claiming an African origin for PAA is to show some population/cultural movement from Africa into Asia about 11,000 to 10,000 years ago, or even any time close. This is the real ‘brick wall’ the claims for an African urheimat run into. Until someone can explain how it managed to ‘swim upstream’ against the arrival of the Capsian and Neolithic arrivals from the Levant, IMO the claims for an African origin for PAA jus don’t fit the biological or archaeological evidence.

Leiterband ceramics and other stray bits of info

More archaeological work in Lower Wadi Howar

A field report I found while looking for info on Leiterband pottery. Most usable quotes for me..

Leiterbandmotifs are the predominant decorative pattern of the earliest pastoral phase of Middle Wadi Howar, but also occur further west in the Chad,

 Leiterbandmotifs, which suggest a date in the fourth or third millennium BC

From a second pdf studying the same area (more interesting than the one above):

On the basis of 15 radiocarbon samples, the Leiterband complex dates chiefly between 5200 and 4000 14C yr

And the sequence goes in Wadi Howar… dotted wavy line (Holocene hunter gatherers) Laqiya (later hunter gatherers), then Leiterband (pastoralist). The oldest Leiterband marked is just a bit younger than 6,000 BP.

The only thing that troubles me mildly is that there is no mention of ovicaprines at the Leiterband sites. Lots of cattle though, and microliths that were probably used to bleed them. However a little digging tells me that ovicaprines were present in 5,500 BP at Al Kadada (which was founded about 6,000 BP), so the animals would have been known to the Leiterband people, just not herded by them. Possibly the lack of ovicaprines was due to the lusher conditions in the Wadi at the time that favoured cattle.

 And another pdf, Aridity, Change and Conflict in Africa, has more information: it seems that small livestock were a slightly later addition (behind by a few hundred years into Northern Sudan).

A look at the geology of the area explains why the Westward migration – Wadi Howar provides a route from the Nile to the West that would still have had water in the Leiterband era.

The development of the pottery design styles in the Wadi Howar region which dates the Leiterband transition to 6,000 BP. This one has the best info on the ceramics and their manufacture .

Well, we have an earliest date of 6,000 BP for the expansion of proto Chadic speakers West along Wadi Howar. So a Neolithic culture is strongly associated with Chadic speakers, which IMO adds more weight to a neolithic date for the expansion of v88 into Africa and it’s ‘marriage’ to L3f3.

The Women of Brassempouy: A Century of Research and Interpretation

The Women of Brassempouy: A Century of Research and Interpretation

The discovery of female figurines at Brassempouy in the 1890’s would launch more than a century of debate and interpretation concerning Paleolithic representations of women. The figurines emerged from the ground into a colonial intellectual and socio-political context nearly obsessed with matters of race. This early racial interpretive frame would only be replaced in the mid 20th century, when prehistorians turned to questions such as fertility and womanhood.

The first figurines were discovered in 1892 under rather tortured circumstances in which their very ownership was the subject of a heated dispute between Edouard Piette and Emile Cartailhac. Their toxic relationship would lead Piette, in his subsequent excavations, to be extremely precise about issues of stratigraphic and spatial provenience. Piette’s publications and archives enabled Henri Delporte to confirm the Gravettian attribution of the figurines and have allowed the present author to create a map of their spatial distribution within the site.

Technological and microscopic analysis of the Brassempouy figurines resolves some lingering questions about the sex of certain of the figurines and suggests an original context of figurine fabrication and the abandonment of unsuccessful sculpting attempts.

Just a pdf I found while surfing, with some interesting info on some of the statuettes.

Eurasian Y chromosome R1b in Africa.

Human Y chromosome haplogroup R-V88: a paternal genetic record of early mid Holocene trans-Saharan connections and the spread of Chadic languages

Fulvio Cruciani et al.

Abstract

Although human Y chromosomes belonging to haplogroup R1b are quite rare in Africa, being found mainly in Asia and Europe, a group of chromosomes within the paragroup R-P25* are found concentrated in the central-western part of the African continent, where they can be detected at frequencies as high as 95%. Phylogenetic evidence and coalescence time estimates suggest that R-P25* chromosomes (or their phylogenetic ancestor) may have been carried to Africa by an Asia-to-Africa back migration in prehistoric times. Here, we describe six new mutations that define the relationships among the African R-P25* Y chromosomes and between these African chromosomes and earlier reported R-P25 Eurasian sub-lineages. The incorporation of these new mutations into a phylogeny of the R1b haplogroup led to the identification of a new clade (R1b1a or R-V88) encompassing all the African R-P25* and about half of the few European/west Asian R-P25* chromosomes. A worldwide phylogeographic analysis of the R1b haplogroup provided strong support to the Asia-to-Africa back-migration hypothesis. The analysis of the distribution of the R-V88 haplogroup in >1800 males from 69 African populations revealed a striking genetic contiguity between the Chadic-speaking peoples from the central Sahel and several other Afroasiatic-speaking groups from North Africa. The R-V88 coalescence time was estimated at 9200–5600 kya, in the early mid Holocene. We suggest that R-V88 is a paternal genetic record of the proposed mid-Holocene migration of proto-Chadic Afroasiatic speakers through the Central Sahara into the Lake Chad Basin, and geomorphological evidence is consistent with this view.

I haven’t had a look at the full text for this yet, but relevant to this is the mt DNA study of Chadic speakers which showed a passage from East Africa (somewhere to the West of the Nile in the Sudan is my guess, it’s the only place the v88 and L3f3 would meet up).

 A date ~8,000 YBP was estimated for the L3f3 sub-haplogroup, which is in good agreement with the supposed migration of Chadic speaking pastoralists and their linguistic differentiation from other Afro-Asiatic groups of East Africa.

Which isn’t inconsistent with the date for V88 proposed at 9,200-5,600 years, and is also a very close match for the arrival of the Neolithic in Africa.

 Just a brief  note on the mt DNA  study: the only Afro-Asiatic speaking group that the Chadic speakers plot closely to is Cushitic, which will probably make Blench happy, as he claims Chadic speakers are a split-off from Cushitic speaking pastoralists. It’s fairly obvious that the male line of Chadic speakers followed a path into Africa via the Sinai, then down the West bank of the Nile and then struck out West to Lake Chad, acquiring wives as they went. The only issue is the exact date. Holocene or Neolithic? Whatever the exact date, this brings the argument for an Asian origin for Afro-Asiatic out again, as (from the DNA here) the odds are 50% that it followed the male line in from Asia. I would like to comment that Chadic has cognates for sheep and goats that look like they share a root with Cushitic and Egyptian, which would at least date proto Chadic to the Neolithic, making the mt DNA date of 8,000 more likely to be close to the actual date for V88 to enter Africa.

The trans-Saharan slave trade – clues from interpolation analyses and high-resolution characterization of mitochondrial DNA lineages

The trans-Saharan slave trade – clues from interpolation analyses and high-resolution characterization of mitochondrial DNA lineages

Background: A proportion of ¼ to ½ of North African female pool is made of typical sub- Saharan lineages, in higher frequencies as geographic proximity to sub-Saharan Africa increases. The Sahara was a strong geographical barrier against gene flow, at least since 5,000  years ago, when desertification affected a larger region, but the Arab trans-Saharan slave trade could have facilitate enormously this migration of lineages. Till now, the genetic consequences of these forced trans-Saharan movements of people have not been ascertained.

Results: The distribution of the main L haplogroups in North Africa clearly reflects the known trans-Saharan slave routes: West is dominated by L1b, L2b, L2c, L2d, L3b and L3d; the Center by L3e and some L3f and L3w; the East by L0a, L3h, L3i, L3x and, in common with the Center, L3f and L3w; while, L2a is almost everywhere. Ages for the haplogroups observed in both sides of the Saharan desert testify the recent origin (holocenic) of these haplogroups in sub-Saharan Africa, claiming a recent introduction in North Africa, further strengthened by the no detection of local expansions.

Conclusions: The interpolation analyses and complete sequencing of present mtDNA sub-Saharan lineages observed in North Africa support the genetic impact of recent trans-Saharan migrations, namely the slave trade initiated by the Arab conquest of North Africa in the seventh century. Sub-Saharan people did not leave traces in the North African maternal gene pool from the time of its settlement, some 40,000 years ago.

I haven’t read the whole paper through yet, but just from reading the bit I put in bold.. I’m sure that a paper on ancient Guanche mtDNA showed an L haplotype or two present which meant they had to be present a few thousand years ago during the colonisation of the Canary islands.

 The majority of lineages (93%) were from West Eurasian origin, being the rest (7%) from sub-Saharan African ascription

And a very ancient age for L6 crossing over into Spain (about 20 kya) from another paper. So I’m going to state emphatically this can’t be correct. Not to mention that the ceramic using Saharan Negroid ’roundhead’ population reached as far as the Acacus mountains (about 10,500 bp) and would have had some contact/gene flow with the coastal Capsians (who were  a near Eastern /Mechtoid mixed people from the cranial studies I’ve seen and the expansion dates of Y chr J1 and H mtDNA). Although  the majority of the L haplotypes in North Africa are due to the slave trade, they can’t ALL be.
Edit:

I read through this this morning. The most interesting bits of the whole pdf for me were…

Clearly, the main component of the West Eurasian lineages was made of possible Iberian
expanded lineages following the post-glacial climate improvement: H1 (12.35%), V (9.88%)
and U5b (1.23%).

I’d debate the 14k age for this given in the paper… but they had to have arrived before the Taforalt people died as the H, HV /V turns up in those 12k old samples..

A few L3 sequences observed in North Africa have older co-ancestry with other sub-Saharan
regions, but as this occurs in the rarer haplogroups (almost restricted to East Africa), most
probably the scenario will change as these become better characterized. This is the case for
one L3x2 sequence observed in Algeria, which shares an older most recent common ancestor
with two Ethiopian, one Israeli and one Kuwait, at 33,165 ± 4,499 years ago, but one
Ethiopian and the Israeli and Kuwait sequences share a younger ancestor at 19,012 ± 4,200.
Also, one Egyptian L3f2b sequence shares an ancestor with a Chadic one at around 24,809 ±
5,935 years ago
. For L3h1a2 haplogroup, one Egyptian and one Lebanese sequences share a
coalescence age of 26,281 ± 6,139 years old. And for L3h1b, with an age of 36,827 ± 3,772
years
, one of the North African sequences (one Tunisian and one Moroccan) has a most recent
common ancestor of 14,766 ± 4,448 years old with a sequence from Guinea Bissau.

I’ve been looking for mtDNA that could have accompanied the M78 out of Africa (arriving in the near east and NW Africa about 22k ago). While M1 obviously fits that date, it’s nice to see that some of the L3 dates aren’t incompatible with the m78;  being found in Natufian areas of Israel and Lebanon. The Israel/Kuwait/Ethiopian L3 may be a back-migrating L haplotype, not incompatible with the return of M1 and U, or another haplotype caught up in the Lower Nubian expansion and fanned out into the same areas as the m78/M1.

So far, the two only complete published samples belonging to haplogroup L3k have a North
African origin, one from Libya and one from Tunisia. This haplogroup has a coalescent age of
around 29,251 ± 6,524 years old

Who/where did that come from?

But the most useful thing in the whole paper are the maps, which give a quick over view of L distribution in Africa. I’ve reworked this one in colour, as the original is a bit hard to make out in places.

One of the interesting patterns I noticed was the (quite possibly superficial) relation to the expansion of non-L haplotypes and L3h in E/SE Africa. Also the hotspot for L3h in Northern Sudan, makes me wonder if it may not have been a travelling companion to the non-African mt DNA’s at some time. Unlike Maju, I’d say this looks like it has an origin on the Nile rather in Ethiopia, as it seems to have a relation to the expansion pattern of the M1/M1a/m78  from Lower Nubia/Egypt.

I’m going to have a dig to see what I can find on L3h now…