Carthaginian Reconstruction

October 30, 2010

Science and art bring young Carthaginian 'back to life'

By Kaouther Larbi
Agence France Presse
Oct. 28, 2010

CARTHAGE, Tunisia (AFP) — Clad in a white linen tunic, sandals in the ancient Carthaginian style and a pendant and beads like those found with his remains, 2,500-year-old "Ariche" has virtually come back to life on the sacred hill of Byrsa where he was born.

The outcome of scientific cooperation between France and Tunisia, the young man has been remodelled and returned to his native soil in historical Carthage, a city state that lasted from 814 B.C. to 146 B.C. He will be given a place of honour in the museum of modern-day Carthage, north of Tunis.

"The distance that separates the centuries has been erased, the bones are given flesh and the eyes light up anew in a young man who lived right here six centuries before our own era," French ambassador Pierre Menat said at the opening of the exhibition last week.

The modern history of the youth of Byrsa began in 1994 with the fortuitous discovery of a sepulchre on the southern flank of the hill, which is one of the most famous sites of antique Carthage. A joint Franco-Tunisian team moved in to excavate.

"Gone too soon, taken prematurely from life and the love of those close to him (...) he was doubtless of noble birth and his body was buried in this generous African soil," said Leila Sebai, president of the International Council of Museums and commissioner of the exhibition.

An anthropological study of the skeleton showed that the man died between the age of 19 and 24, had a pretty robust physique and was 1.7 metres (five feet six inches) tall, according to a description by Jean Paul Morel, director of the French archaeological team at Carthage Byrsa.

The man from Byrsa has been rebaptised Ariche — meaning the desired man — at the initiative of Culture Minister Abderraouf Basti, who inaugurated the exhibition.

Ariche has regained an almost living human appearance very close in physiognomy to a Carthaginian of the 6th century B.C. after a dermoplastic reconstruction undertaken in Paris by Elisabeth Daynes, a sculptor specialising in hyper-realistic reconstructions.

"He comes back to us thanks to scientific rigour, notably that of paleo-anthropology and forensic medicine, but also the magic of art, that of Elisabeth Daynes, who knows how to bring many faces back from the distant past," Sebai said.

Dermoplastic reconstruction is based on a scientific technique that enables experts to restore the features of an individual with 95 percent accuracy, though some aspects, such as the colour of the eyes and the hair remain partially subjective, she added.

"We can clearly see that this exceptional witness to Carthage in the Punic era is a Mediterranean man, he has all the characteristics," noted Sihem Roudesli, a paleo-anthropologist at the Tunisian National Heritage Institute.

"I hope that like his contemporaries, legendary sailors and bringers of civilisation, this young man can travel across the seas to bear witness on other continents to the greatness of Carthage," Menat said.

Repatriated on September 24, Ariche will be on show at Byrsa until the end of March 2011 when he will travel to Lebanon, the land of the Phoenicians who founded Carthage, for an exhibition at the American University of Beirut.


Oldest Negroid Skull?

September 30, 2010

I had previously posted that the 6500-year-old Asselar skeleton discovered in Mali was the earliest example of a Negroid African. But it turns out there's a slightly older skull with Negroid features from farther south in West Africa (Iwo Eleru, Nigeria) that seems to be a much better candidate.

Mauny, 1978:

The oldest-known skeleton of a West African was found in Nigeria at Iwo Eleru; it is of a negroid man and is dated to 9250 ± 150 BC.

Allsworth-Jones, 2002:

A human burial described as "proto-Negroid" was found at the base of the succession at Iwo Eleru with a date of 11200 ± 200 BP.

Phillipson, 2005:

A single human skeleton some 12,000 years old from the lowest level of Iwo Eleru has been described as already showing specifically negroid features....

Note that there have been other candidates for the oldest Negroid skull, but in East rather than West Africa, such as Nazlet Khater (33,000 B.P., Upper Egypt) and Jebel Sahaba or Wadi Halfa (Mesolithic Nubia). However, these are very contentious and in all likelihood not Negroid, given that East Africans were still non-Negroid until much more recently.

Italianthro: Italian Anthropology Blog

September 9, 2010

I'm launching a new side project focusing on the biological and social anthropology of Italy and Italian people. At first, I'll be copying some of my old Italy-related posts from here, and occasionally after that I may cross-post material on both blogs. But mostly, the new blog will delve more deeply into the subject than would be appropriate for the broader scope of this blog.

Here's the URL:

Potatoes Enabled the Industrial Revolution

July 26, 2010

Michael Pollan, in The Botany of Desire, traces the cultural shift from South to North in Europe to the introduction of the potato:

When the potato got to Europe, it changed the course of European history. Before the potato, the northern tier of Europe, the population was relatively small and was held back by regular famines caused by failures of the grain harvest.

The further north you go, the dicier it is to grow wheat. And so the center of gravity in Europe, before the potato, was the Mediterranean, where you could grow grain more reliably. The potato did very well at the more northerly areas. It did very well in wetter areas, and it did very well in really poor soils.

So suddenly there was this vast new source of calories that could underwrite the growth of the population, such as never would have happened without the potato.

Since one individual can grow so much food, you need fewer people in the fields to support an urban population. So it's really hard to imagine the Industrial Revolution proceeding as it would without the potato to kind of support it. This New World food remade the Old World.

Related: Geography and Industry

United States' North-South Achievement Gap

June 28, 2010

As in Modern Europe, achievement in the USA since its founding has been concentrated in just a few places, which has created a North-South gap that correlates with economic and educational disparities observed today. Nordicists are quick to jump on this sort of thing elsewhere but ignore it in their own backyard, or try to blame it on minorities, like the South's large black population. But Charles Murray, in his book Human Accomplishment, doesn't fail to note the gap, and the fact that it exists within the white population:

The geographic distribution of significant figures from the United States reflects the rapidly changing settlement of the country. The East Coast dominates, inevitably, because hardly anyone lived anywhere else for much of the nation's history. If I could show you a map of America's significant figures in the last half century, it presumably would look much different from the first half of 20C, just because the population shifted so radically westward throughout 20C. With that in mind, the figure below is offered as a summary of the story from the founding to 1950.

The states that are colored represent the origins of 90 percent of the American significant figures. The small dark blue slice running in an arc from Portland, Maine, to the southern tip of New Jersey encompasses the origins of about 50 percent of them. The light blue wedge encompasses another 25 percent, and the gray fills out the remaining 15 percent. Even after factoring in the history of American expansion, the primary concentration along the northeastern coast of the United States and the secondary concentration in the belt stretching to the Mississippi is striking.

An even more striking aspect of the map is the white space covering the American South. Although more lightly populated than the North, the American South had a substantial population throughout American history. In 1850, for example, the white population in the South was 5.6 million, compared to 8.5 million in the Northeast. In 1900, the comparison was 12.1 million to 20.6 million. By 1950, the gap had almost closed — 36.9 million compared to 37.4 million. While it is understandable that the South did not have as many significant figures as the North, the magnitude of the difference goes far beyond population. The northeastern states of New England plus New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey had produced 184 significant figures by 1950, while the states that made up the Confederacy during the Civil War had produced 24, a ratio of more than 7:1.

The scatter plots on the following page show the way in which the American significant figures break down over the three half centuries from 1800-1950.

Brown-eyed Men Appear More Dominant

June 19, 2010

Eye color predicts but does not directly influence perceived dominance in men

Karel Kleisner et al. (2010)
Personality and Individual Differences


4. Discussion

In this study we found no effect of eye color on perceived dominance in women. On the contrary, we found a statistically significant association between the eye color and perceived dominance in men: brown-eyed men were perceived as more dominant. Furthermore, we show that iris color does not represent the trait that significantly influences perception of dominance in males. Hence, there must be some other facial characteristics responsible for the higher perceived dominance in brown-eyed males. It is evident, however, that the features standing for higher perceived dominance in males are correlated with presence of brown eyes; or alternatively, the features connected with higher perceived submissiveness in males with the blue eyes.

The question arises: why are brown-eyed males rated as more dominant than blue-eyed? Some facial features such as square jaws, thick eyebrows and broad cheekbones are linked with higher perceived dominance; facial submissiveness, on the other hand, is characterized by a round face with large eyes, smallish nose, and high eyebrows (Berry, 1990; Berry & Mcarthur, 1986; Cunningham, Barbee, & Pike, 1990; Mazur, Halpern, & Udry, 1994; Mueller & Mazur, 1997; Thornhill & Gangestad, 1994). The morphological differences between blue-eyed and brown-eyed males were visualized by deformation of thin-plate splines (Fig. 3). In contrast with blue-eyed males, brown-eyed males have statistically broader and rather massive chins, broader (laterally prolonged) mouths, larger noses, and eyes that are closer together with larger eyebrows. In contrast, blue-eyed males show smaller and sharper chins, mouths that are laterally narrower, noses smaller, and a greater span between the eyes. Especially the broader massive chin, bigger nose, and larger eyebrows of brown-eyed males may explain their higher perceived dominance.

Fig. 3. (a and b): Visualizations of shape regression on eye color in males by thin-plate spline deformation grids illustrating differences in facial shape between blue-eyed (a) and brown-eyed (b) males; the links connecting the landmarks are drawn for better imaging of differences in the shape of face. (c and d): Composite images of 20 photographs of each group unwarped to fixed landmark configuration predicted by shape regression of blue-eyed (c) and brown-eyed (d) male faces. The predictions are magnified three times for better readability. (For interpretation of the references to colour in this figure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of this article.)
However, it is not easy to explain how iris color, which is determined mostly by one or a few genes, can correlate with physiognomic dominance/submissiveness, which is determined by a combination of several independent morphological traits. Theoretically, the allele for brown eyes should "move" from "submissive physiognomy genotype" to "dominant physiognomy genotype" and back again from generation to generation due to genetic recombination and segregation.

In principle, there are three possible explanations for the higher perceived dominance of brown-eyed males, the pleiotropy hypothesis, genetic linkage hypothesis and social feedback hypothesis. The pleiotropy hypothesis presumes that the genes for iris color (such as HERC2 or OCA2) also influence other morphological traits associated with perceived dominance due to its pleiotropy effect. One can speculate, for instance, that the gene influences the production or metabolism of common precursors of adrenaline and melanin, e.g. DOPA or tyrosine.

The genetic linkage hypothesis presumes that the genes influencing iris color are in genetic linkage with genes influencing morphological traits associated with perceived dominance, for example the gene influencing the production of testosterone. If this is so, strong linkage disequilibrium between these loci should exist in the current Czech population. Repeating this study in other populations with polymorphism in eye color can test this hypothesis.

The social feedback hypothesis is based on the presumption that blue and brown-eyed subjects are treated differently within their social surroundings, e.g. by their parents and peers. Young children usually have blue eyes, while definitive iris color develops during the first years of life (Bito, Matheny, Cruickshanks, Nondahl, & Carino, 1997). It is possible that subjects with blue eyes are treated as a small child for a longer period than brown-eyed children. Such early social experience may have been literally "inscribed" into their faces, preserved until adulthood, and finally bring on the perception of higher submissiveness. Rosenberg and Kagan (1987, 1989) investigated the association between eye color and behavioral inhibition, revealing that children with blue eyes are more inhibited. Coplan et al. (1998) found a significant interaction between eye color and social wariness within preschoolers. Blue-eyed males were rated as more socially wary, i.e. being more temperamentally inhibited, displaying more reticent behavior and having more internalizing problems, than males with brown eyes, though there were no differences between blue- and brown-eyed females (Coplan et al., 1998). To test the third hypothesis, it would be necessary to perform a longitudinal study on preschool children to search whether the differences in perceived dominance (and social wariness) develops only after the transformation of iris color from blue to brown.

Link (PDF)

Euro 2008 Facial Composites

June 9, 2010

Morphs of the 2008 UEFA European Football Championship teams. Made by Altay using PsychoMorph software. Click the thumbnails for higher resolution images.

Swedish Dutch German
Swedish (19), Dutch (15), German (19)

Austrian Swiss Czech
Austrian (18), Swiss (14), Czech (23)

Polish Russian Croatian
Polish (22), Russian (21), Croatian (23)

Italian Spanish Portuguese
Italian (22), Spanish (20), Portuguese (15)

Romanian Greek Turkish
Romanian (22), Greek (22), Turkish (23)

Underperformance of Poor White British Boys

June 2, 2010

The GCSEs are national achievement exams in the U.K. that are similar to the international PISA tests Richard Lynn uses to "calculate" IQ and advance his theories about racial, ethnic and sex differences in intelligence. They're even referenced in one of his sources, but I wonder if he's aware of how badly poor white boys do on them, even compared to nonwhite students from similar disadvantaged, working-class backgrounds.

Here's a chart showing rates of underperformance on GCSE exams by ethnic group and economic status (free school meal eligibility), followed by excerpts from several related articles run by BBC News over the past few years:

Poor white boys struggle in GCSEs

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Poor, white, teenage boys in England have slipped further behind other youngsters in their GCSE exams, reveals a breakdown of this year's results.

The official figures show that fewer than one in five who qualified for free meals achieved the benchmark of five good GCSEs including English and maths.

Twice as many white boys from better-off homes, not eligible for free meals, achieved this level of results.


Girls are still outperforming boys in achieving the GCSE benchmark — 54.5% to 47.3% — but the gap has narrowed this year by 0.9 of a percentage point.

Black pupils have also improved their GCSE results at a rate that is faster than average — rising to 41.5%.

There has also been a narrowing of the difference between poorer pupils and those who are better off — as defined by eligibility for free school meals.

But this still remains a substantial divide — with 54.4% of pupils not eligible reaching the level of five good GCSEs including maths and English, while only 26.9% of free school meal pupils achieved this.

The results show the intersection of different factors — gender, race, English as a second language and poverty.

But the group of white boys who qualify for free meals is unusual for falling further behind.

The gap between these pupils and their classmates who do not receive free meals has widened from 29.8% to 31.6%.

These results echo findings last month from an analysis of primary school results which found that poor white boys had fallen below almost every other category of pupil.


Poor white boys do worst in tests

Thursday, 19 November 2009

White boys from poorer homes now do worse in primary school tests in England than any other main group, latest figures show.

Only 48% of white British boys eligible for free school meals achieved the expected level in English and maths.

The average for all pupils was 71.8% — and that gap, 23.8 percentage points, was up from 23.1 points last year.

Attainment varied between ethnic groups with Chinese, Irish, Indian and mixed white and Asian children doing best.


Last year 52.5% of white British boys and girls together had the worst performance, though the girls' attainment was 55.4%.

This year, as a group, white British pupils again did worst.

Again it was the boys' performance that was weaker than the girls'. While 55% of girls achieved the expected level they were outperformed by the next nearest group — Pakistani girls (57.4%).


There are almost 200,000 white British boys, of whom 31,237 (16%) were from homes poor enough to qualify them for free school meals.

In the past, poor black boys have tended to have the weakest performance.

But this year 51.6% of black boys on free meals made the grade and the gap in their attainment compared with the national average, 20.2, was down from 21.8 in 2008.

Attainment was 49.7% among the weakest group of black boys, those from Caribbean backgrounds.

This left the white British boys on free school meals at the bottom. Even worse for the government is the fact that the attainment gap widened.

This has been a persistent problem for ministers.

Research shows that even children from affluent families who started out in the bottom ability group as toddlers overtake those from the poorest backgrounds who started out in the top ability group, by the time they are six or seven.


• All pupils: 53.3%
• White British boys: 48%
• Black Caribbean boys: 49.7%
• Asian boys: 58.7%
• White British girls: 55%
• Pakistani girls: 57.4%


Poor white boys still lag behind

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Five out of six poor white boys in England did not meet the government's target of at least five good GCSEs including English and maths this year.

This compares to 25% of black boys and 32% of Asian boys of similar backgrounds, the new figures show.

Only one group performed worse — Gypsy/Romany pupils on free school meals.

Schools minister Jim Knight said the groups where children were doing well often shared a belief in the "value of family and education".


Liberal Democrat children's spokesman David Laws said: "Over half of poor Chinese boys achieve the five A*-C standard.

"Urgent questions must be asked about why white boys from similarly deprived backgrounds are falling behind."


White working class boys failing

Thursday, 31 January 2008

Government figures show only 15% of white working class boys in England got five good GCSEs including maths and English last year.

Among white boys from more affluent homes — 45% achieved that level of qualification.

Poorer pupils from Indian and Chinese backgrounds fared much better — with 36% and 52% making that grade respectively.


"To have 85% of white boys from poor families failing to achieve five good GCSEs including English and maths is truly shocking."


Low attainers 'poor white boys'

Friday, 22 June 2007

Most of the persistent low achievers in England's schools are poor and white, and far more are boys than girls, a Joseph Rowntree Foundation study says.

Chinese and Indian pupils are most successful. Afro-Caribbean pupils do no worse than white British from similar economic backgrounds, results suggest.


The authors, Robert Cassen and Geeta Kingdon, analysed official data, focusing on four measures of low achievement:

• no passes at all in GCSE/GNVQ exams
• no result better than grade D
• no pass in either English or maths GCSE
• not getting five GCSEs including English and maths at any grade

Prof Cassen also visited schools and colleges and interviewed educationists and council officials.

The chief characteristic of low achievers is that they come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

They are more likely to qualify for free school meals, live in areas of high unemployment, and have single parents who themselves have poor qualifications.


White boys 'trailing at school'

Wednesday, 15 November 2006

Boys from white working-class backgrounds are doing worse at school than black teenagers, according to a Conservative Party report.

The document from the party's social justice policy group says only 17% of white male students gained five or more A*-C grade GCSEs.

That compares with 19% for boys of Caribbean origin, Tories suggest.


It compared the exam performance of boys in receipt of free school meals from different ethnic backgrounds.

It suggests that social issues, such as a lack of parental support, peer pressure and family breakdown are contributing to white working-class teenagers' poor exam results.

But the report adds that black teenage boys are affected by similar factors, yet are performing marginally better at school.


"The fact that poor children from Chinese and Indian backgrounds, where family structures are strong and learning is highly valued, outscore so dramatically children from homes where these values are often missing, suggests that culture not ethnicity or cash is the key to educational achievement."


Richard Lynn on Italian "IQ"

March 1, 2010

Controversial psychologist Richard Lynn, who looks at IQ and its correlates, has published a study claiming to show regional (North-South) differences in intelligence within Italy, which he attempts to correlate with achievement and attribute to admixture. The guy's been called just about every name in the book, and he can now add Padanian Nordicist to that list.


Generally speaking, Lynn is not to be trusted. He's been caught numerous times falsifying and manipulating data to fit his conclusions (e.g. here, here, here, here, here and here), and it looks like he's up to his old tricks again.

This time around, he's not even using actual IQ data, but the proxy of scores on reading, math and science tests administered to 15-year-olds (PISA 2006). So he's attempting to quantify innate general intelligence by looking at the academic performance of school kids, a measure that to a large extent involves learned knowledge and other factors. Indeed, while some researchers report a strong correlation between general intelligence and educational attainment, one of Lynn's own sources, Deary et al. (2007), addressing two of his other sources, suggests that caution should be exercised when attempting to equate the two:

There are various possible causes of the cognitive ability-educational achievement association. Bartels et al. (2002b) found a strong genetic correlation between cognitive ability (measured at 5, 7, 10, and 12 years) and educational achievement at age 12. In an overview, Petrill and Wilkerson (2000) concluded that genetics and shared and non-shared environmental factors all influence intelligence and education, with genetics being important in the correlation between them, and non-shared environment being important in discrepancies between intelligence and educational attainments.

Whereas the correlations indicate that around 50% to 60% of the variance in GCSE [General Certificate of Secondary Education] examination points score can be statistically explained by the prior g [general intelligence] factor, by the same token a large proportion of the variance is not accounted for by g. Some of the remaining variance in GCSE scores will be measurement error, but some will be systematic. Thus, non-g factors have a substantial impact on educational attainment. These may include: school attendance and engagement; pupils' personality traits, motivation and effort; the extent of parental support; and the provision of appropriate learning experiences, teaching quality, school ethos, and structure among other possible factors (Petrides, Chamorro-Premuzic, Frederickson, & Furnham, 2005; Strand, 2003).

But Lynn already knows the pitfalls of his approach. Finland had the highest score in Europe on the 2006 PISA tests, and using his method leads to a calculated IQ of 107, yet he reports Finns' IQ as being just 97. Romanians' PISA score is near the very bottom of Europe, leading to an estimate of 85, though their measured IQ is in fact 94 according to Lynn, just three points lower than that of Finns. With discrepancies like that, there's absolutely no reason to trust his calculated IQs of around 100 and 90 for Northern and Southern Italians. Clearly, PISA scores are not a good substitute for IQ.

Then, to try to prove that disparities in intelligence are long-standing, and therefore genetically based, he uses literacy as another (questionable) proxy for IQ. But whereas for other correlates like stature and infant mortality he includes data from the past and present to show that the North-South gap has remained fairly stable, for literacy he only includes data from 1880, when it was extremely large (55% vs. 20%, on average). Obviously, he wants to hide the fact that the gap has been closing steadily since then, and by the 21st century, literacy among Italians under the age of sixty-five was 99.7% in the North and 99% in the South (Istat 2001).


Lynn goes on to attempt to correlate his fake IQs with achievement. The primary measure he uses is per capita income, which is double in the North what it is in the South. His source is the Italian Statistical Office, but he should be aware that figures for the South's economic performance are greatly underestimated because the official statistics fail to take into account a large underground economy there, according to Burnett and Vaccara (1999):

But the third factor, somewhat alleviating the second, is the existence of a far vaster private sector than ever shows up in the economic statistics. The size of the lavoro nero sector and the black market in the South clearly exceeds that of any other EU region.... In Calabria, with its dire employment figures, 84 percent of the families own their own home. What such anomalies must mean is that real income in Calabria is far higher than what is "on the books." Many among the vast numbers of officially unemployed are, in fact, partly or fully employed. They are earning no social benefits, but they are earning the daily lire that keep their families afloat. [...] A very large part of the South's hidden labor is made up of entrepreneurs, sometimes also employing black labor, and existing themselves outside official recognition, taxation, protection, control, or counting. A recent analysis concludes that "there exists in several zones of the Mezzogiorno [Southern Italy] a whole fabric of small and very small businesses that escape every census, but that work and make profits, share among themselves a serious level of production, export to other regions [of Italy] and abroad." [...] This massive sector skews all the statistics. It means that the GDP for the Italian South (and for Italy as a whole) is far from accurate. And the unemployment figures do not reflect reality.

Then, with the same goal of establishing a pattern that extends far back in time, he also looks at historical achievement, citing Charles Murray's Human Accomplishment. But here again he plays fast and loose with the data. He adds up Murray's "significant figures" for Italy from 1400-1950 and divides them into "North", "Center" and "South" based on their origins. Almost all of them (187 out of 236) come from the "North". However, he explains that he uses the 42nd and 41st lines of latitude as borders, which are, respectively, just north of Rome and just north of Naples. So more than half of the country is put into the "North" category, while the "Center" gets flattened down and pushed into the territory of the "South" (click here to see what that looks like). This is a shameless and transparent ploy by Lynn to hugely inflate the number of significant figures from the "North" and reduce the number elsewhere in the country.

But perhaps even worse, he ignores the main finding of Murray's book, which is that achievement has been concentrated in just a few places, and Southern Italy is but one of many "low-achievement" areas throughout Europe, along with some of the northernmost regions in Italy:

As you can see — and as Murray points out in his book — the highest ranking region is Tuscany, which would normally be considered part of Central Italy. Ironically, Lynn doesn't even have PISA/IQ data for Tuscany, though its 1880 literacy rate isn't particularly high. So he's basically attributing the unique genius of that region to the brainpower of regions that have not produced the same level of genius.


Finally, Lynn offers his "explanation" for the disparities in fake IQ, which, unsurprisingly, turns out to be admixture from the Middle East and North Africa, where (according to him) IQs are in the range of 80-84. As you might expect from someone with an agenda and little knowledge of genetics, he references a lot of old studies that use single or small numbers of loci and don't directly address the question of admixture. One of them has "Neolithic demic diffusion in Europe" in its title, yet he stupidly follows the citation with references to historical groups like Phoenicians and Arabs.

Recent genome-wide studies have been able to detect and quantify admixture like never before. Li et al. (2008), using more than 600,000 autosomal SNPs, identify seven global population clusters, including European, Middle Eastern and Central/South Asian. Contrary to Lynn's claims, it's actually the overachieving Tuscans who have a small amount of non-European admixture and not the underachieving Sardinians:

López Herráez et al. (2009) typed the same samples at close to 1 million SNPs and analyzed them in a Western Eurasian context, identifying a number of subclusters. This time, all of the European samples show some minor admixture. Among the Italians, Tuscany still has the most, and Sardinia has a bit too, but so does Lombardy (Bergamo), which is even farther north:


The bottom line is, we don't know the average IQs for different regions in Italy, which is why Richard Lynn had to resort to making them up. And while Southern Italians are likely to be a few points lower than Northern Italians — as the Irish and Scottish are a few points lower than the English — there's absolutely no reason to believe that North and South would be separated at their extremes by almost a full standard deviation. Lynn certainly hasn't proven anything of the kind with this ridiculous study, nor has he provided any valid explanations for such a disparity.


Since I wrote this article, a number of studies have been published that refute Lynn and confirm what I've said:

Richard Lynn. "In Italy, north-south differences in IQ predict differences in income, education, infant mortality, stature, and literacy". Intelligence, 2010.

Survey: Brunettes Trump Blondes ... Again

February 22, 2010

Every once in a while, there's a survey on men's hair color preferences in women, and the results are always the same. In this new one from the U.K., brunettes are found to be preferred over blondes in every aspect of a relationship, except "fun" in the bedroom.

So blondes really do have more fun: Men claim brunettes make the best wives, but fair haired women are better in bed

The Daily Mail
13th February 2010

Blondes may have more fun — but it comes at a price. Men don't trust them.

A study found that while fair-haired women are considered to be the most adventurous in bed, brunettes are seen as more reliable in a relationship ... and more sexy.

In a poll of 1,500 men, more than 60 per cent thought dark-haired girls were the most trustworthy and loyal, compared with just 14 per cent of blondes.

The result is men feel brunettes make the best wives.

Some 61 per cent said they would prefer to marry a brunette over women with any other hair colour.

Brunettes were also the most popular choice to have a deep and meaningful conversation with (63 per cent).

While 34 per cent of men like the blonde-haired glamour model look, 42 per cent said they actually found brunettes sexier.

More than half (51 per cent) also think women with dark hair are better kissers, while 47 per cent think they are the most sensual.

Nevertheless, blondes take the prize in the bedroom stakes — 36 per cent of men considered those with light hair to be the most wild, while just 31 per cent think of brunettes in the same way.

Commenting on the study for Philips Sensual Massagers, spokesman Karen Moore said:

"Blondes have always had a reputation for being fun, carefree and adventurous and it seems that can also be applied to relationships, as men think they have the best skills when it comes to the bedroom.

"But brunettes seem to have every other aspect of a relationship sewn up, right down to the kissing.

"However, it's interesting that despite thinking blondes are better in bed, men actually see brunettes as being the more passionate.

"This research stands those with dark hair in good stead for a long-term relationship as they look likely to be the best at keeping their other half entertained and happy as well as managing a home and looking after children."

The study also found men see women with dark hair as more maternal, best at looking after family finances and the best cooks.


Study Clarification V

February 7, 2010

This study claims Sub-Saharan African affinities in a Byzantine population from southwest Turkey, excavated at the archeological site of Sagalassos, and ridiculously extrapolates from that similar affinities in Mesolithic and Neolithic populations throughout North Africa, West Asia and Europe. The problem is, none of it is supported either by the present data or the other sources cited.

[NB: The study is much more noteworthy for demonstrating once again the Caucasoid affinities of Ancient Egyptians and Nubians, which the Afrocentrists who quote it selectively always fail to notice.]


Cranial Discrete Traits in a Byzantine Population and Eastern
Mediterranean Population Movements

Ricaut and Waelkens (2008)
Human Biology

Link to Abstract

Misused Quotes:

Finally, as noted previously, intriguing affinity patterns of the Sagalassos population have been detected without obvious explanations: on the one hand, with two populations from northern and central Europe (Scandinavia and Germany); and on the other hand, with two sub-Saharan populations (Somalia and Gabon).


From the Mesolithic to the early Neolithic period different lines of evidence support an out-of-Africa Mesolithic migration to the Levant by northeastern African groups that had biological affinities with sub-Saharan populations.


Affinities with Somalis are easy enough to explain, owing to that population's Caucasoid ancestry. Affinities with Gabon not so much. But it turns out that these are tenuous at best and not manifested in all of the data:

Finally, a detailed review of the different statistical tests (MMDst; MDS and Ward clustering) shows that the unexpected biological proximity of some northern and central European and sub-Saharan populations to the Sagalassos population is not supported to the same significance. Indeed, as seen by the MMDst values displayed in Table 3, Scandinavians and Germans (MMDst of 0.72 and 1.02, respectively) present stronger affinity to Sagalassos than populations from Somalia and Gabon, which have nearly significant MMDst values (1.68 and 1.93, respectively). In addition, only the biological affinity between the Sagalassos and Scandinavian populations suggested by the MMDst values is preserved when all the comparative populations are considered (see Figures 2 and 3).

Indeed, Figures 2 and 3 demonstrate that the true affinities of the Sagalassos population (and also the Ancient Egyptians and Nubians) are with Western Eurasians/Caucasoids:

The MDS representation of the global data set of 28 populations (Figure 2) shows roughly three main population clusters: (1) Central, Northeast, and East Eurasian populations, which are found in the top left; (2) West Eurasian and ancient Egyptian and Sudanese populations in the lower part; and (3) recent sub-Saharan populations in the top right. The Sagalassos population clusters with the second group and is most closely related to Greek, Cypriot/Turkish, and Scandinavian populations.

The dendrogram produced by Ward's clustering procedure for the global data set is shown in Figure 3 and provides a relatively similar representation of the MMDst distance matrix than that provide by the MDS analysis. The populations clearly fall into two groups. The first main group can be broken down into two subgroups: (1) all the recent sub-Saharan populations and (2) mainly Central, East, and Northeast Eurasians. West Eurasians form the second main group, which is also subdivided into two subgroups. One of these subgroups includes all the eastern Mediterranean populations (three ancient Egyptian/Sudanese populations from Naqada, Gizeh, and Kerma as well as the Cypriot/Turkish, Greek, and Sagalassian populations) and the Scandinavian sample; the second subgroup includes the other West Eurasian populations.

Yet even with this admitted lack of support for their main claim, the authors go on to speculate at length about how these non-existent "Sub-Saharan morphological elements" could have entered the Sagalassos population, which leads them to cite all sorts of dubious conclusions about Nazlet Khater Man, Mesolithic Nubians, Natufians and Neolithic Farmers, all tied together with the genetic "evidence" of adaptive sickle cell and North African haplogroup E-M78.

Another perfectly good study marred by poor analysis that unfortunately plays right into the hands of people with an Afrocentric racial agenda.

Affinities and Role of Nazlet Khater Man

January 31, 2010

Afrocentrists have a particular interest in considering Nazlet Khater man, an Early Upper Paleolithic skeleton from Northeast Africa, racially Negroid and believing it to represent the ancestors of Egyptians and several Out-of-Africa migrants. But as with Mesolithic Nubians, this seems highly unlikely. Though Thoma (1984) describes Nazlet Khater as "suggestive of Negroid morphology", and Pinhasi and Semal (2000) find that it clusters with Middle Stone Age Sub-Saharan Africans, anthropologists have often misclassified as Negroid various archaic traits, especially in the mandible (see above link on Mesolithic Nubia). And Nazlet Khater certainly fits this familiar pattern, according to Vermeersch et al. (1984):

The Nazlet Khater 4 site (Nile Valley, Upper Egypt) is located on one of the small wadi-interfluves in the lower desert near the steep cliffs bordering the western Nile Valley edge.... The 1982 excavation reported here confirms that Nazlet Khater 4 is a chert mining site with a complex extraction strategy, going back 33,000 yr. A nearby grave contained a skeleton of a man in the extended position. We show that the cranial morphology is anatomically modern with archaic characteristics such as a very robust mandible. There is evidence that the skeleton has a similar age to that of the mining site.

It's so archaic, in fact, that Trinkaus (2007) expresses doubts about whether or not it's fully modern and representative of Out-of-Africa humans:

The only other directly relevant specimen is Nazlet Khater 2, from ≈42 ka B.P. in Egypt. Approximately contemporaneous with the earliest EEMHs [European early modern humans], it may represent the morphology of modern humans dispersing out of Africa after ≈50 ka B.P. However, in some features it is more archaic than the MPMHs [Middle Paleolithic modern humans], which raises questions as to the degree to which its ancestry was purely from the MPMHs and therefore whether it represents the ancestral modern human morphology.


The role of the Nazlet Khater 2 skeleton is also debatable; it has two plesiomorphic mandible features absent in the MPMHs, suggesting that its post-MPMH ancestors may have experienced admixture with regional late archaic humans.

Even the Afrocentrists' own sources comment on its robust and archaic morphology. From Pinhasi and Semal, who reference Thoma:

Thoma's analysis of the postcranial features further suggests that the specimen is altogether modern and extremely robust. Thoma therefore classified the Nazlet Khater specimen as an anatomically modern Homo sapiens with some archaic morphological features.

They also suggest that the clustering pattern is based on robusticity and not racial affinity, as Nazlet Khater also has affinities with robust prehistoric North Africans but not with modern Sub-Saharan Africans:

The post-Neolithic Northwest African populations have small mandibles and are generally gracile in their morphology, while the Epipalaeolithic and Neolithic Northwest African specimens are robust. The PC1 score of Nazlet Khater is rather high (PC1=2•18) but well within the range of some sub-Saharan and Epipalaeolithic North African specimens.


The position of mean measurements of the protohistoric and modern South African populations indicate that, in its mandibular dimensions, the Nazlet Khater is not closely related to modern Negro and Khoisan populations.


Lahr (1996) observed that morphological variability among sub-Saharan African populations was at its peak during the Late Pleistocene–early Holocene period. However, this is partially due to the fact that during this period many of the sub-Saharan and North African populations display levels of robusticity which are largely lost in present African populations.

And finally, based on its potential Sub-Saharan affinities, they (logically) propose a migration of the population it belonged to in the direction opposite that hoped for by Afrocentrists:

Both hypotheses are compatible with the hypothesis proposed by Brothwell (1963) of an East African proto-Khoisan Negro stock which migrated southwards and westwards at some time during the Upper Pleistocene, and replaced most of the local populations of South Africa. Under such circumstances, it is possible that the Nazlet Khater specimen is part of a relict population of this proto-Khoisan Negro stock which extended as far north as Nazlet Khater at least until the late part of the Late Pleistocene.

So even if we accept that Nazlet Khater is ancestral to morphologically Negroid populations, these are not to be found in Egypt or Nubia, let alone anywhere outside of Africa. They're restricted to Sub-Saharan Africa.

Natufians NOT Source of European Neolithic

January 26, 2010

There's a theory that the migrations that spread agriculture from West Asia to Europe during the Neolithic period had their source in the Natufians, a Mesolithic Levantine population. Afrocentrists have latched on to this theory (and often cite it as fact) because some anthropologists believe that Natufians traced their origins to Africa and had Negroid affinities. That's a separate issue that's more or less rendered moot by the craniometric evidence against the above theory.

Pinhasi and Pluciennik (2004) analyzed the crania of Mesolithic and Neolithic populations and found no biological relationship between the Natufians and the later West Asian groups who spread farming to Europe:

Analysis of morphological variability in the Near East and Europe suggests that the Epipalaeolithic populations from the Natufian Levant were noticeably different to the Mesolithic populations described from the Danube Gorge, the western Mediterranean, and central Europe. No close similarities were observed between Early Neolithic and Mesolithic European groups in any of the regions studied, with the possible exception of Mediterranean Europe. However, neither were clear affinities observed between Epipalaeolithic Near Eastern groups [Natufians] and any other Neolithic or Mesolithic groups. These results support a third scenario — that the Epipalaeolithic population from which the first Anatolian farmers descended has yet to be discovered.... There is therefore no unequivocal evidence from biological morphometrics for local continuity between Natufian specimens and any of those from the Anatolian or Levantine PPN [Pre-Pottery Neolithic] cultures. Statistical analysis of the Levantine populations indicates no obvious biological continuity between Natufian groups and their successors — either the first Neolithic cultures of the PPNA or subsequently between the PPNA and the PPNB.

Pinhasi and von Cramon-Taubadel (2009) confirm the previous findings, and as a result don't involve the Natufians at all in any of the possible dispersal models of migration from West Asia to Europe:

Figure 1. Map showing geographic distribution of all OTUs. Dispersal models involving the active migration of people from SW Asia take two basic forms. Once-off single dispersals from either Anatolia (brown arrow) or the Levant (orange arrows), or continuous dispersal models whereby active population migration continued from southeastern Europe into central Europe (blue arrows). CD = Continuous dispersal, IBD = Isolation-by-distance (null), LGF = Limited gene flow.
Figure 3 plots the first two principal co-ordinates of the craniometric distance matrix. The OTUs [operational taxonomic units] do not group according to any particular geographic or temporal pattern on the first or second principal co-ordinates. However, the first principal co-ordinate separates the archaeologically defined Neolithic OTUs from OTUs designated as Mesolithic plus the Natufian. Therefore, the principal co-ordinate analysis suggests that Neolithic and Mesolithic populations are biologically differentiated.

Figure 3. Plot of the first two principal co-ordinates illustrating OTU affinity patterns based on craniometric data. The major axis of variation (horizontal axis, 34.9% variance) shows a clear distinction between all archaeologically defined Neolithic OTUs (green, brown and black circle symbols) and all Mesolithic OTUs (purple and red symbols) plus the Natufian (black triangle). Second axis = 18.7% variance.
Related: Natufians NOT Sub-Saharan African

Extent of Black Admixture in the Mediterranean

January 20, 2010

González-Pérez et al. (2010) have analyzed populations from the northern and southern shores of the Mediterranean, with Central Europeans and West Africans as external references. They estimate Sub-Saharan African admixture using two methods that yield vastly disparate results. In the Discussion section, they admit that the inflated "Alu/STR estimate might be artefactual" and favor the estimate based on the Alu loci set alone because it's consistent with previous mtDNA, Y-chromosome and 500,000-SNP structure data.

According to the more accurate latter method, Sub-Saharan African admixture is ~13% in North Africa and "imperceptible" (~0.01%) in Southern Europe:

Here are the locations of the sampled populations and an MDS plot showing their genetic distances, again based on the preferred method:

Northern Mediterraneans are almost equidistant from both Central Europe (0.0526 ± 0.015) and Southern Mediterraneans (0.049 ± 0.025), showing distances very close to those between the latter two population groups (0.042 ± 0.013). MDS representation of the genetic distances (see Fig. 2) based on autosomal Alu data stresses the main differentiation of sub-Saharans, the clustering of Mediterraneans in two different groups corresponding to northern and southern populations, and the distant position of the Egyptian Siwa and the Spanish Pas Valley samples from their corresponding population clusters.

González-Pérez et al. "Population relationships in the Mediterranean revealed by autosomal genetic data (Alu and Alu/STR compound systems)". Am J Phys Anthropol, 2010.

Mesolithic Nubians Probably Weren't Negroid

January 14, 2010

Afrocentrists like to believe that Mesolithic Nubia was populated by Negroids because of its strategic location near Egypt and on the Out-of-Africa route, and the time frame coinciding with the dispersals of haplogroup E3b. And they've found support in some research. For example, Groves and Thorne (1999) say that "Sudanese Nubia is Negroid", referring to Mesolithic Jebel Sahaba and Tushka crania, and Irish (1998) groups Mesolithic Nubians with Sub-Saharan Africans based on dental traits.

But it's not that clear cut. What some anthropologists interpret as Negroid morphology, others view simply as primitive or archaic traits indicative of the generalized morphology of early modern humans. Phillipson (2005) summarizes this debate:

To the south, the harpoon-using fishermen of the central and southern Sahara, the Sudanese Nile Valley and parts of East Africa are represented by a few fragmentary skeletons from Ishango, Lothagam on Lake Turkana, Lowasera, Early Khartoum and elsewhere which are said to show negroid physical features. Similar characteristics occur in skeletons from the Qadan cemetery at Jebel Sahaba in Nubia, where Mechta-Afalou features have also been recognised. These remains may be from a population ancestral to present-day Nilotic negroids. Other authorities, emphasizing the presence of features which are also seen in KhoiSan and Northeast African 'caucasoid' populations, prefer to interpret this material as representing a more generalized 'ancestral African' physical type, which may be regarded as akin to a common ancestor of several more recent populations. This explanation also seems plausible for the varied human remains that have been recovered in association with broadly contemporary and rather later industries from southern Kenya.

Complicating things further is the fact that later era Nubia shows clear Caucasoid affinities, which has forced "Negroid Mesolithic" advocates to postulate a population replacement event during the Holocene (the Afrocentrists gloss over this point). Among the authorities questioning this population discontinuity model are Van Gerven et al. (1973), who believe that changes in morphology can be just as easily explained by adaptation (the study they cite is Greene et al. (1967), which analyzed crania from Wadi Halfa, Sudan):

Although the authors view the Nubian population as having remained stable over the last several thousand years, they propose that the living Nubians are the result of the massive penetration of Negroid Africa by Caucasoid genes during the last 14,000 years. In support of this hypothesis, the skeletal remains of a Nubian Mesolithic population are described as possessing bun-shaped occiputs, massive browridges, sloping foreheads, extreme facial flattening, large teeth and deep mandibles. This and other evidence is proposed to indicate that Africa, north of the Sahara, was originally inhabited by non-Caucasoid populations that can in general be termed Negroid.

There are several points at which this analysis remains essentially typological. Specifically, Greene pointed out in his discussion of racial reconstructions:

If indeed there were adequate models for the presumed Negro race of Africa that existed thousands of years ago, then this approach has validity. However, it can be contended that such models are at present not valid since there is little evidence for reconstructing what the then contemporary African Negroes were like skeletally. One can only extrapolate from modern Negroes who may not at all be like their ancestory since racial groups are not static, but evolve.

In addition, many of the skeletal features listed separately by Burnor and Harris may, in fact, be related functionally and/or epigenetically. Greene and co-workers have suggested that features such as large complex tooth form, glabellar protrusion, gonial eversion and massive mandible are all indicative of heavy masticatory masculature. Such features in the Nubian Mesolithic population are similar to those represented by the Neanderthal remains at the Skuhl site in Israel and also by contemporary aboriginal Australian populations. Such commonality suggests similar adaptation rather than common racial origin and migration.

Once again, the explanation of morphological similarity between two populations in terms of racial origins and affinities is totally inadequate unless the role played by natural selection and possible parallel evolution has been determined and incorporated into the analysis.

More recently, Larsen (1997) revisited the long-running debate and backed the continuity model of Greene, Van Gerven and the others that evolution and adaptation explain the differences between earlier and later Nubians better than population replacement:

Beginning in the nineteenth century, various workers speculated on the origins of human groups occupying the [Nile Valley]. Following Morton's (1844) highly influential study of archaeological crania from Egypt and Nubia, the prevailing notion was that two biologically distinct groups occupied the Nile Valley in temporal succession. In Lower Nubia, Morant (1925) identified an earlier 'Upper Nile type', with predominantly 'Negroid' features, and a later 'Lower Nile type', which lacked 'Negroid' features. The changes were viewed in a diffusionistic paradigm: simply, the disappearance of 'Negroid' features resulted from an invasion and subsequent replacement by alien 'Caucasoid' (Egyptian) peoples from the north.

Recent analyses of crania and dentitions from lower Nubia indicate that the evidence for the diffusionist model of biological change is less than compelling. Independent analyses of skeletal and dental discrete and metric variables and other lines of evidence suggest that the earlier and later Nubian populations represent a biological continuum with no invasion by nonindigenous populations. Therefore, the differences in cranial morphology between earlier and later populations...are best understood in relation to factors not involving population replacement.

For better understanding of these factors, especially those related to dietary and technological change, Carlson and Van Gerven and their coworkers compared craniofacial morphology in a Nubian-based temporal sequence, including foragers from the Mesolithic (ca. 12,000 BP), initial agriculturalists from the combined A- and C-groups (3400-1200 BC), and intensive agriculturalists from the combined Meroitic, X-group, and Christian horizons (AD 0-1500). These comparisons reveal that Nubian foragers and incipient agriculturalists have flat and elongated vaults with well-developed, protruding supraorbital tori and occipitals. In contrast, later intensive agriculturalists have rounded vaults with small and more posteriorly positioned faces and masticatory muscle attachment site (temporalis and masseter) and reduced temporomandibular joint size.

Carlson and co-workers posit a masticatory-functional hypothesis for explaining craniofacial changes in Nubia. They argue that the primary factor influencing Nubian craniofacial anatomy was the change in subsistence economy, from foraging to food production and the shift to consumption of softer foods. These changes resulted in a reduction in activity of the masticatory muscles and a concomitant decrease in mechanical loading of the craniofacial skeleton. Alteration in masticatory function led to alteration in craniofacial growth in two ways, including (1) decreased stimulation of bone growth, leading to a reduction in facial robusticity; and (2) progressive alteration of the overall growth of the face and vault, resulting in a smaller and more inferoposteriorly oriented face relative to the cranial vault.


Turner and coworkers reassessed Greene and coworkers' continuity model of Nubian population history. Although lauding the studies of Greene and others for using a nonracial, nontypological approach to Nubian population history, they argue that extra-regional sources of variation have been insufficiently considered, especially sources that may explain temporal shifts in craniofacial morphology in this region. Implicit in the work by Greene and others is the assumption that population continuity extends at least as far back as the late Pleistocene (ca. 12,000 BP). Turner and coworkers contend that continuity can be claimed only if non-Nubian populations are also considered in statistical analyses of dental trait variation in this region.

Turner and coworkers include in their analysis additional Nubian dentitions from the late Pleistocene 'Upper Stone Age', Meroitic, X-group, Christian period, and historic era European samples. Computed MMD values, modified for small samples and tested for significance, reveal few significant differences between Meroitic, X-group and Christian periods, thus confirming Greene's earlier conclusions regarding population continuity. However, significant differences between the Pleistocene and later groups were clearly identified.... Because of the apparent temporal discontinuity between the Pleistocene and later populations, Turner & Markowitz (1990) hypothesize that the ancestry of recent Nubians was not derived from local late Pleistocene populations, and that a population replacement event occurred during the Holocene in Nubia. The origin of these later populations is unclear, but, solely on the basis of dental traits, they argue that populations north of Nubia containing European and Near Eastern traits are the most likely sources.

In an effort to identify other possible sources of variation, Irish & Turner (1990) compared their sample of Nubian dentitions (late Pleistocene to Christian period) to historic-period dentitions from a west African group — the Ashanti. Univariate and MMD statistical treatment of these samples reveal strong similarities between modern west Africans and late Pleistocene Nubians. As with previous studies, later Holocene dentitions were found to be very similar. The late Pleistocene and modern west Africans are strongly divergent from the Meroitic, X-group, and Christian period Nubians. Therefore, the authors argue that there is a population discontinuity between the late Pleistocene and Holocene populations in Nubia, with the former sharing biological affinities with west Africans. Irish & Turner (1990) suggest that the discontinuity can be explained by high rates of violence and decline (or possible extinction) in late Pleistocene (Mesolithic) Nubian forager, which may have left them susceptible to invasion or 'genetic swapping' by other groups from west Africa.

Turner and coworkers' findings are intriguing, but their analyses do not necessarily disprove the continuity model for the Pleistocene to Holocene transition. Especially problematic is the virtual lack of data from the period between the A-group and the Mesolithic, which represents nearly four millennia of occupation of the region. Comparisons of Mesolithic and A-group populations reveal a decrease in craniofacial robusticity and dental complexity. To be sure, the agent of change could have been gene flow from some other region. Additional dental and morphological data, and a more substantial treatment of the archaeological context from regions surrounding Nubia, are required before the discontinuity model can be accepted. Moreover, the west African collection used for identifying dental trait frequencies is largely undocumented. Therefore, although the similarities between late Pleistocene and west African dental traits are interesting, they are not compelling. From the preponderance of evidence from other studies of craniofacial morphology, biological change, and population history, a model of population continuity appears to fit the evidence best.

It's extremely unlikely that Negroids would have penetrated so far north and east that early in time, and even more so considering that the later Nubians were Caucasoid, which requires the equally unlikely explanation of total population replacement after the Pleistocene. The continuity model that a robust, generalized early population evolved into Nubia's modern Caucasoid inhabitants makes a lot more sense.