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How Farming Reshaped Our Genomes

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the oldest-MacDonald dept.

Science 144

sciencehabit writes "The earliest farmers may not have been built for the profession. They may have been unable to digest starch and milk, according to a new ancient DNA study of a nearly 8000-year-old human skeleton from Spain (a hunter-gatherer who had dark skin and blue eyes). But these pioneers did already possess immune defenses against some of the diseases that would later become the scourge of civilization. The findings are helping researchers understand what genetic and biological changes humans went through as they made the transition from hunting and gathering to farming."

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144 comments

Wheat and corn fucked over the human race (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46083495)

News at 11

At the time .... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46083817)

At the time, we humans needed a steady food supply. Hunting and foraging is too sporadic - and hence why we developed this ability to gain fat easily and it's a bitch to get rid of it. Feast or famine.

Agriculture and the the high calorie grains like wheat and corn allowed us to survive and develop a society where we have farmers and other professions.

Now that model is obsolete in the modern Western World, we are paying the price of our inability to adjust our taste buds.

High calorie food tastes great! But we're not suffering from food shortages or doing enough physical work to justify those tastes.

Wheat and corn didn't fuck us - our inability to judge our caloric needs is what screwed us.

Re:At the time .... (2)

jellomizer (103300) | about 6 months ago | (#46084401)

The issue I am trying figure out about the new problems with getting fat. What is new that happened in the past 20 years?
We had a lot of the same bad for us foods 20 years ago, and no food shortages either.

Re:At the time .... (3, Interesting)

PhxBlue (562201) | about 6 months ago | (#46084519)

Possibly the introduction of high-fructose corn syrup into everything that's artificially sweetened.

Re:At the time .... (3, Informative)

suutar (1860506) | about 6 months ago | (#46084627)

and a reduction in average physical activity

Re:At the time .... (2)

HiChris! (999553) | about 6 months ago | (#46084639)

High-fructose corn syrup is a not artificial - it's processed perhaps, but's it's natural. Loads of artificial sweeteners might indeed be an issue, but it's separate for HFCS.

Re:At the time .... (5, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 6 months ago | (#46084689)

Possibly the introduction of high-fructose corn syrup into everything that's artificially sweetened.

No, and also no. It's the rise of processed foods, which come without the enzymes which break them down and thus help regulate blood sugar, and then the substitution of vegetable oil with HFCS, not simply its inclusion. Using HFCS instead of sugar is barely different. Using HFCS+Citric Acid instead of vegetable oil packs food with unnecessary sugar instead of the fats which give long-term energy. Thus, HFCS is used to do evil, but it's not really inherently evil in its own right. Like a gun, or a bomb.

Re:At the time .... (1, Funny)

jxander (2605655) | about 6 months ago | (#46084703)

Corn subsidies, mostly. The middle of the US is nothing but giant flat open space, making it uniquely suited to growing a TON of corn.

So the government pays farmers to grow corn. It's a US crop, and we really can't import it (no one else grows it) so corn subsidies get the "America F*** YEAH!" vote

But then we have just too much corn. Way WAAY too much corn. So we try to turn it into Ethanol gas for our cars, and high-fructose-corn-syrup for our foods.

Both failed miserably, but when the Ethanol screwed up a bunch of cars, people just bought new cars. When HFCS ruined peoples figures, well going to the gym is hard, and buying a new less-fat ass is expensive

And we still have way too much freaking corn.

Re:At the time .... (1)

mrvan (973822) | about 6 months ago | (#46084799)

Don't forget that this is not an American issue, it is more or less common to the developed world. Sure, the US has a worse case of obesitas than other countries, but also in Europe the percentage of people overweight and obese is increasing quickly. So, the answer does not lie with corn subsidies or corn syrup, or at least not solely.

I think the main reason is simply affluence and the displacement of industry by services. Sure, that was also the case 20 years ago, but in much lesser degree, and especially 40 years ago. It takes time to grow fat. Less regard for traditional family life and lack of a person dedicated to running the household also results in more junk food and less attention for eating.

Re:At the time .... (2)

DuckDodgers (541817) | about 6 months ago | (#46085013)

Keep in mind that, despite all the headlines built to grab ad revenue, the obesity epidemic in the US reached its peak in the late 1990s and obesity rates have been high but stable (not increasing further) since then. So the real question is what changed in food, plastics, personal eating habits, and social patterns from 1980 to 2000 but then stopped getting worse from 2000 until now.

The other interesting thing to note is that much of the rest of the world - except the parts where people are starving - is experiencing its own growth in obesity rates.

Re:At the time .... (1)

Derec01 (1668942) | about 6 months ago | (#46085621)

This is just my take. The average intake of the American consumer has increased steadily, I believe. However, weight gain happens at the margins. If you eat 2200 calories a day and burn 2000, you are gaining weight twice as fast as someone who averages 2100 with the same burn rate, even though your intake is less than 5% higher.

As the average intake passes the burn rate, a little exercise helps. However, with a small percentage-wise increase in your intake, you can double or triple the amount of exercise required to get back to equilibrium. My guess is that in the 60s and 70s, adding exercise worked for many people. Now, the necessary exercise is much, much higher and caloric restriction is necessary in a way it wasn't for the average person 30 years ago.

Re:At the time .... (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 6 months ago | (#46086533)

The Teeth will show what this person ate, the back molars in particular.

Re:Wheat and corn fucked over the human race (2)

jellomizer (103300) | about 6 months ago | (#46084353)

In a Adam and Eve type of story, yes.
Wheat and Corn, allowed for civilizations to grow and prosper.
One of the premises in Jared Diamond "Gun Germ and Steel", is that the ability for a civilization to really grow we needed grain, otherwise the culture will stay in more of a hunter gather type of living. Major Civilizations, Mayans, and Aztecs had Maize/Corn type of grains, Middle East and Europe had Wheat, East Asia had Rice. This is because they were a rather High protein food, that can be easily dried and stored, so average guy didn't need to spend most of his life gathering food, and had time, to think and create and improve.

So if you are living in a society you also get extra baggage, that often makes you think you want to long for the good old hunter gather days, forgetting about things such as illness, starvation, dehydration... So other then worry about if I will survive the next day, you worry about things like, how am I doing compared to the next guy, I am working too hard and I am not getting a fair pay from it.... While I am not trying to make these issues unimportant, they are an improvement over the problems that existed before. But they are some unnatural side effects such as self imposed stress, and a diet that may not be optimal...

Re:Wheat and corn fucked over the human race (4, Informative)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 6 months ago | (#46084419)

Incas had potatoes. It does not need to be a grain. But starchy foods are usually more effective in useful energy generated per acre.

In the Pacific breadfruit was the staple. However it was so easy to grow there that there wasn't a lot of work 'farming' anything.

Re:Wheat and corn fucked over the human race (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46085247)

Atkins fanatics are totally myopic. There are countless civilizations around the globe that have subsisted on tubers probably since before humans were humans. Many of the existing ones are archetypical healthy sub-populations, just like other sub-populations with heavily protein based diets.

language of the heart foolproof (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46083507)

we can also use POT (Personal Open Terminal) to prove without any doubt we have absolutely nothing to hide & are exponentially undangerous

bookings for the great hereafter cruise are now closed. the band of 85, some virgins, a few hymenless monkeys, & of course the gargoyles are taking up more space than ADvertised. double digit perfect balancers in for a big surprise finding herafter to really mean still here after.... for us overwhelming majority unchosens

Paleo diet bro... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46083517)

I eat four cubits of stegosaurus for breakfast every day. Do you know like the air that we breathe would be like toxic to prehistoric humans.

Re:Paleo diet bro... (0)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 6 months ago | (#46083997)

Hey...it does seem to work for many...

And it does seem to make a bit of sense. In the long timeline of human evolution, we've been 'farmers' for a very short stint overall.

Re:Paleo diet bro... (0)

jellomizer (103300) | about 6 months ago | (#46084417)

It does work, it is in general similar to the Atkins diet, or the Conspiracy Diet.

Re:Paleo diet bro... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46084731)

Or any other behavior that includes increased attention to your caloric intake and eating habits. Hell, I know a guy that lost weight eating Subway sandwiches...

Why is he unkempt? (5, Insightful)

BobMcD (601576) | about 6 months ago | (#46083583)

http://news.sciencemag.org/sit... [sciencemag.org]

Who says he let his hair and beard grow long? What evidence from the skeleton would have led to this conclusion?

Re:Why is he unkempt? (2)

ackthpt (218170) | about 6 months ago | (#46083611)

http://news.sciencemag.org/sit... [sciencemag.org]

Who says he let his hair and beard grow long? What evidence from the skeleton would have led to this conclusion?

Good ol' science, the kind where we immediately imagine things in our own image (he types as he strokes his luxuriant beard.)

Re:Why is he unkempt? (4, Funny)

pesho (843750) | about 6 months ago | (#46083617)

The five blade flint stone razor blade has not been invented yet.

Re:Why is he unkempt? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46083713)

You don't seem to realize a flint edge is actually much sharper than any metal blade -- that's why they use silica tips in atomic force microscopes; the tip is only a few atoms wide.

People used to be very, very good at chipping flint blades.

You may think a piece of plastic with one or metal blades will shave better, but you'd be wrong.

Re:Why is he unkempt? (1)

lagomorpha2 (1376475) | about 6 months ago | (#46084297)

If you can demonstrate your assertion I would like to purchase one of your flint edged shaving razers. My face tears up metal blades in no time.

Re:Why is he unkempt? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46084637)

I use one-blade throwaway razors (Bic), they last longer than the well known namebrand three-blade stuff while costing 20x cheaper.

Re:Why is he unkempt? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46085023)

I use a straight razor. It's lasted since before the war. WW1, not WW2

Re:Why is he unkempt? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46085369)

I've been using a straight razor for almost 15 years. But I'm too lazy to strop, so mine has disposable blades. A few years ago I upgraded to a Feather razor, from my cheap barber shop aluminum jobs. Those feather blades are crazy sharp. A barber who specializes in straight razor cuts told me one that disposable blades are sharper than straight razor blades, which to him was a bad thing because it meant more razor burn. My Feather blades come crazy sharp, but dull a little after one or two shaves. they're pretty thick so you can keep using them for awhile (your mileage may vary).

I don't understand why people don't use straight razors more often. When I'm traveling and have to use a safety razor... it just doesn't feel right. And a straight razor will give any man at least an extra half-day with less stubble, even if he's using one of those 5 bladed thing-a-ma-jiggies. I get a full extra day of tolerable stubble. (Did I mentioned I was lazy?)

Also, nothing wakes you faster in the morning than holding a razor blade to your throat. In my experience (personally, and talking with others) people tend to cut themselves _less_ with a straight razor. It's because you pay a hell of a lot more attention to what you're doing than when you're lazily swiping a safety razor across your face.

Re:Why is he unkempt? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46085495)

My name is Keith, and I endorse this post. I have a Merkur 180 (http://www.amazon.com/Merkur-Model-180-Handled-Safety/dp/B000NL0T1G) straight razor that I've been using for over a year now. It is expected to last until the end of my natural life. 1 blade lasts about 4 weeks of daily shaving, and can be purchased for $1. I've come to the conclusion that anyone not shaving this way either a) wants a terrible shave, b) wants to pay more money, c) wants to create more waste, d) is a shill of the shitty plastic-and-pretend-blades industry, or e) all of the above.

Switch NOW. It costs $30 to switch for this year, and shaving is virtually free for the rest of your life.

NOW.

Re:Why is he unkempt? (1)

bjwest (14070) | about 6 months ago | (#46086539)

Ummm. That's a double-edge razor, not a straight razor. I've been using one for five or so years, and get a years worth of blades for ~$25 or so. I have a disposable blade straight razor I purchased early last year but haven't worked up the nerve to try it yet.

Re:Why is he unkempt? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 6 months ago | (#46086295)

If you can demonstrate your assertion I would like to purchase one of your flint edged shaving razers. My face tears up metal blades in no time.

That's because you have farmer skin.

Re:Why is he unkempt? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46084775)

Obsidian flint are the sharpest edge know to man. But it is a uneven along it length and is a bitch to sharpen, ill keep my superior edge-retention steel blade. Thank you very much.

Re:Why is he unkempt? (1)

Applehu Akbar (2968043) | about 6 months ago | (#46085225)

You're thinking of obsidian blades. Flint can be made quite sharp, but not as good as modern steel knives. Obsidian fracture edges can be one molecule thick.

Re:Why is he unkempt? (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | about 6 months ago | (#46085051)

While funny, a simple flake would be sharp enough. Or for that matter, the smoldering end of a burnt twig for beard and mustache shaping.

Re:Why is he unkempt? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46083639)

the can of ez-style mousse next to the skeleton was empty

Re:Why is he unkempt? (1, Informative)

netsavior (627338) | about 6 months ago | (#46083645)

Because shaving was all but impossible before metal tools that could be sharpened enough to actually shave... copper tools were some 3000 years after this fossil.

Re:Why is he unkempt? (1)

east coast (590680) | about 6 months ago | (#46083795)

Maybe they used fire?

Re:Why is he unkempt? (2)

Moheeheeko (1682914) | about 6 months ago | (#46083881)

you try to burn your facial hair off, let me know how that works for you

Re:Why is he unkempt? (3, Insightful)

Arker (91948) | about 6 months ago | (#46084373)

There are actually a handful of tribes that had that custom, the Yahi in california come to mind immediately. Plucking is also useful. But as a couple of other posters pointed out, the point about no shaving was specious to begin with. A high quality flint scraper is actually sharper than the best metal razor and yes they work just fine for shaving, if you are inclined to that activity.

We really have zero evidence as to what the custom was in the time/space coordinates where the skeleton originates, so his personal grooming style and habits are entirely conjectural. Someone just thought he would look good as a hairy wildman so that is how he was painted.

Re:Why is he unkempt? (1)

east coast (590680) | about 6 months ago | (#46084489)

It's a real method that has been used for at least hundreds of years and is still practiced today. It's not a clean shaving method but it is one way to get rid of excess hair without the use of a tool.

Re:Why is he unkempt? (1)

pjbgravely (751384) | about 6 months ago | (#46084527)

That's probably how Greek woman removed there pubic hair.

Re:Why is he unkempt? (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | about 6 months ago | (#46085081)

As I pointed out elsewhere, use the smouldering end of a twig. Singing was routinely practiced until the early 1900's, even in the US. Worked fine apparently.

Re:Why is he unkempt? (5, Informative)

E++99 (880734) | about 6 months ago | (#46083811)

Flynt is sharper than any copper knife.
Obsidian is sharper than any copper knife.
Tribal people shave with flint to this day.
There is archaeological evidence of shaving going back 20,000 years.

Re:Why is he unkempt? (1)

neo-mkrey (948389) | about 6 months ago | (#46084289)

That's a long time that women have been nagging men to shave.

Re:Why is he unkempt? (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about 6 months ago | (#46083821)

obsidian and flint both are sharp enough to cut hair

Re:Why is he unkempt? (1)

BobMcD (601576) | about 6 months ago | (#46083899)

Even if this were true, and I rather doubt it is, I didn't ask why he wasn't bald.

We're assuming he was primitive and savage. Do we have science behind that or no?

Re:Why is he unkempt? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46084093)

go smash up a toilet. strip naked. go jump on it.

we'll see you on the other side, mr. "only metal tools are sharp enough"

you'll bleed out in under 2 minutes.

Re:Why is he unkempt? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46085563)

Now that is the way I want go die! Except, I'll also put on a clown wig and leave a stereo playing the japanse version of 'Under the Sea'.

Re:Why is he unkempt? (4, Insightful)

Moheeheeko (1682914) | about 6 months ago | (#46083801)

Prehistoric spain was fucking cold, why would he remove a natural head covering?

Re:Why is he unkempt? (2)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 6 months ago | (#46083805)

Because he had shaggy hair and a beard before it was cool.

Re:Why is he unkempt? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46084117)

http://news.sciencemag.org/sit... [sciencemag.org]

Who says he let his hair and beard grow long? What evidence from the skeleton would have led to this conclusion?

Look, they found him with a "Cobal Programming in UNIX for Dummies" book. What more evidence do you need?

Re:Why is he unkempt? (4, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | about 6 months ago | (#46084521)

Beards were rather popular in Ancient culture. A sign of manhood and variability. It took Alexander the Great to change that trend, pointing out that a beard could be grabbed in battle, so he ordered his troops to shave them off.
However, it is a good way to protect your face, while hiding in bushes, and keeps your face warmer in the winter. It makes sense to assume that Hunters (Males) would have beards.

Re:Why is he unkempt? (2)

BobMcD (601576) | about 6 months ago | (#46084583)

I still think he may have fashioned/cut his hair and or beard in some way, rather that just letting it go wild.

Re:Why is he unkempt? (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 6 months ago | (#46086205)

Why is he unkempt?

No more unkempt than a Unix programmer of yore. I wonder if he wore sandals with socks?

Being Hunter Gatherer... (4, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | about 6 months ago | (#46083599)

It means not being too choosy what you om-nom-nom on when the going is lean. Which likely means eating things which may have various parasites, mold spore, other fungi, even partially decomposed. "What luck! A partially decomposed squirrel with red rashes all over its body! Num!" That which didn't kill them, indeed make them stronger (those which survived, that is.)

In today's scrubby, scrub scrubbed world of clean, inspected and otherwise near perfect world of meat, dairy and produce, we're not challenging our bodies very much. Further, we appear to be adapting to eating sugary, fried or other highly processed food, which means we say "Ewww!" when presented with ethnic foods we haven't seen before, which include the globby or wiggly bits of animals we don't see in the meat case at the market (which traditionally were the best parts, unlike the muscle which was often left behind.)

Somewhat disconcerting how we haven't turned into beings which are entirely fed by capsule, a la the Jetsons "Oh, dear, I've overcooked the steak and potatoes pill."

Fortunately, infants keep picking up dead bugs off the carpet and chewing on them, which gives them some bit of a test in developing their immune systems.

Re:Being Hunter Gatherer... (1)

kruach aum (1934852) | about 6 months ago | (#46083779)

And for people like you there's the Road Kill Grill http://johnmullsmeats.com/road... [johnmullsmeats.com]

I, on the other hand, am ok with taking antihistamines (and the advances of science generally) instead of intestinal parasites to keep my allergies under control.

Re:Being Hunter Gatherer... (1)

m00sh (2538182) | about 6 months ago | (#46083829)

It means not being too choosy what you om-nom-nom on when the going is lean. Which likely means eating things which may have various parasites, mold spore, other fungi, even partially decomposed. "What luck! A partially decomposed squirrel with red rashes all over its body! Num!" That which didn't kill them, indeed make them stronger (those which survived, that is.)

In today's scrubby, scrub scrubbed world of clean, inspected and otherwise near perfect world of meat, dairy and produce, we're not challenging our bodies very much. Further, we appear to be adapting to eating sugary, fried or other highly processed food, which means we say "Ewww!" when presented with ethnic foods we haven't seen before, which include the globby or wiggly bits of animals we don't see in the meat case at the market (which traditionally were the best parts, unlike the muscle which was often left behind.)

Somewhat disconcerting how we haven't turned into beings which are entirely fed by capsule, a la the Jetsons "Oh, dear, I've overcooked the steak and potatoes pill."

Fortunately, infants keep picking up dead bugs off the carpet and chewing on them, which gives them some bit of a test in developing their immune systems.

Nobody knows what was going on then. Everyone (the Paleo community included) stop saying how you know humans lived so and so many years ago.

For all we know, they had an organic food paradise. Fresh fruits and vegetables right off the plants and fresh just-slaughtered grass fed meat to eat.

Re:Being Hunter Gatherer... (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | about 6 months ago | (#46085167)

Actually, that *is* how they lived. You just neglected the part about the rest of the world trying to kill them during acquisition.

Re:Being Hunter Gatherer... (4, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | about 6 months ago | (#46085193)

Nobody knows what was going on then. Everyone (the Paleo community included) stop saying how you know humans lived so and so many years ago.

For all we know, they had an organic food paradise. Fresh fruits and vegetables right off the plants and fresh just-slaughtered grass fed meat to eat.

Rather like you can read the life of a tree by its rings, you can tell a lot about the diets of people by the condition of their teeth at death, build of their bones and some of the elemental composition. Science is more scientific than ever, which is cursed on a regular basis by those who won't credit it.

Re:Being Hunter Gatherer... (2)

cusco (717999) | about 6 months ago | (#46086323)

Nobody knows what was going on then.

We know exactly what they ate and how it was prepared. We have their copralites, their fossilized crap. We have their homes. We have their garbage dumps. We have their skeletons. It's not deep dark mystery, basic scientific analysis of human remains can let us know how far they traveled from their birthplace (isotopic analysis of bone growth), how often they experienced food shortages (bone density), what type of diet they had (trash midden excavation), what intestinal parasites they had (copralite analysis), what the climate was like (pollen analysis), how food was prepared (fire pit excavation, trash midden excavation, copralite analysis), and so on. If you were at all aware of the advances in archeological techniques of the last half century you would realize how incorrect your statement was.

Re:Being Hunter Gatherer... (2)

AMSmith42 (60300) | about 6 months ago | (#46084147)

...we appear to be adapting to eating sugary, fried or other highly processed food...

I wouldn't consider epidemic rates of diabetes, cancer, heart disease and obesity "adaptation".

Re:Being Hunter Gatherer... (2)

Oligonicella (659917) | about 6 months ago | (#46085137)

Those are major now prevalent in our culture because we've basically done away with the things that typically killed you first. Things that killed you more horribly and with greater percentages of the population, by the way.

It's not epidemic, it's disclosure.

Re:Being Hunter Gatherer... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 6 months ago | (#46085145)

...we appear to be adapting to eating sugary, fried or other highly processed food...

I wouldn't consider epidemic rates of diabetes, cancer, heart disease and obesity "adaptation".

Yet some people eat horribly unhealthy and live to their 80s or 90s, while others religiously dine on healthy foods and die of cancer, contract diabetes or other such maladies. Don't imagine there isn't some evolution at work here. Those who can adapt, will and when their food of choice vanishes they suffer terribly.

Re:Being Hunter Gatherer... (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 6 months ago | (#46085459)

How does evolution shape a species when almost everyone makes it past the age of raising children? No matter what life style you choose, apart from some very destructive ones, you are most likely going to live to at least 50. By that time your kids are pretty much grown. Any bad genes you had have already been transferred to your offspring.

Re:Being Hunter Gatherer... (2)

operagost (62405) | about 6 months ago | (#46084319)

Further, we appear to be adapting to eating sugary, fried or other highly processed food, which means we say "Ewww!" when presented with ethnic foods we haven't seen before

Who is this "we" you are talking about?

Re:Being Hunter Gatherer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46085593)

Americans eat a tremendous amount of offal. Chicken nuggets? Sausage? Cheap hamburger? We probably eat more icky bits than most people in developed or semi-developed areas.

It's just ground up and, in the case of chicken nuggets or Arby's, liquified.

Also, nobody in their right mind threw away meat. That's ridiculous. It was just really expensive and often sold. And on many wild animals there's more offal than meat, anyhow, so naturally you'd end up eating more of it if you had to economize.

Are we regressing then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46083607)

I keep hearing about more and more people having issues with foods like dairy and wheat...

Re:Are we regressing then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46083641)

I keep hearing about more and more people having issues with foods like dairy and wheat...

Not necessarily a regression, more of an indicator that the zombie apocalypse will soon be upon us.

Re:Are we regressing then? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 6 months ago | (#46083935)

we are no longer in contact with our food, so our evolution is changing. But add in antibiotics and you realize that we are destroying some needed gut bacteria that helps us digest these foods.

Handful of genome samples does not a species make. (4, Interesting)

zooblethorpe (686757) | about 6 months ago | (#46083631)

What is this silliness, that "humans" in the broad, blanket sense could not digest starch? Feh.

We already know from analysis of Neanderthal remains that they could digest starch, and did in fact eat things like starchy tubers and grains. [google.com] By 8000 years ago, it's generally accepted that the Neanderthals were no more, at least as a distinct population, and that any remaining Neanderthal-specific genes had been absorbed by the wider Cro Magnon population. (Interestingly, it sounds like the Neanderthal genes might give their descendants, i.e. non-sub-Saharan-Africa humans, extra resistance to viral infection. [discovermagazine.com] )

This study, where evidence from one individual is extrapolated to the entire human population, sounds silly in the extreme. "One Size Fits All!" never really does.

Cheers,

Re:Handful of genome samples does not a species ma (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 months ago | (#46083655)

Yes, but this evidence points to that may be wrong.

Re:Handful of genome samples does not a species ma (1)

Moheeheeko (1682914) | about 6 months ago | (#46083845)

This is the equivalent of me saying all humans cannot process lactose or gluten because I cant. Everyone is different.

Re:Handful of genome samples does not a species ma (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46085605)

You a big dummy!

Lack of milk digestion seems dubious (3, Informative)

goombah99 (560566) | about 6 months ago | (#46083849)

All mammals are, by definition, born with the ability to digest milk, therefore they have the genes to do that. It can happen that those genes are epi-genitically turned off in adults that are not exposed to milk. However, the genes would be still there.

Thus I'm extremely doubtful that any genetic studies could have revealed the lack of milk digesting genes. And since I don't see how they could assess any epi-genetic state of a long dead individual I really wonder about how they arrived at that conclusion.

Re:Lack of milk digestion seems dubious (5, Insightful)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 6 months ago | (#46084053)

All mammals are, by definition, born with the ability to digest milk, therefore they have the genes to do that. It can happen that those genes are epi-genitically turned off in adults that are not exposed to milk. However, the genes would be still there.

The genes for digestion are still there, yes, but they shut off after childhood unless you have a specific genetic mutation that allows lifelong production of lactase. Source 1 [nih.gov] , source 2 [nih.gov] .

Re:Lack of milk digestion seems dubious (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 6 months ago | (#46086313)

Mine shut off at about 35 years of age (European descent). Odd.

Re:Handful of genome samples does not a species ma (1)

m00sh (2538182) | about 6 months ago | (#46083855)

What is this silliness, that "humans" in the broad, blanket sense could not digest starch? Feh.

We already know from analysis of Neanderthal remains that they could digest starch, and did in fact eat things like starchy tubers and grains. [google.com] By 8000 years ago, it's generally accepted that the Neanderthals were no more, at least as a distinct population, and that any remaining Neanderthal-specific genes had been absorbed by the wider Cro Magnon population. (Interestingly, it sounds like the Neanderthal genes might give their descendants, i.e. non-sub-Saharan-Africa humans, extra resistance to viral infection. [discovermagazine.com] )

This study, where evidence from one individual is extrapolated to the entire human population, sounds silly in the extreme. "One Size Fits All!" never really does.

Cheers,

Or they could have been using something starchy as a toothbrush.

Re:Handful of genome samples does not a species ma (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46084267)

It also seems rather dubious from an evolutionary selection pressure standpoint. Are we to take from TFA that not being able to digest starches in particular, among all the available food options, was sufficient to wipe out the entire population genetically lacking this capability?

Inability to digest milk (2, Interesting)

kruach aum (1934852) | about 6 months ago | (#46083673)

makes breasts a curious adaptation.

Re:Inability to digest milk (2)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 6 months ago | (#46083889)

You're confusing the milk from other animals with human breast milk.

Humans can - and have, historically - use that as their sole food source up to 5 years old.

The problem arises from using milk from other creatures.

Re:Inability to digest milk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46083923)

Which, unfortunately, is making me fart a lot, as I grow older. Damn intolerance to lactose.

Re:Inability to digest milk (1)

kruach aum (1934852) | about 6 months ago | (#46083937)

No, the ambiguity lies in the summary (and possibly TFA). I posted to point out the absurdity.

Re:Inability to digest milk (1)

goombah99 (560566) | about 6 months ago | (#46083941)

You're confusing the milk from other animals with human breast milk.

Humans can - and have, historically - use that as their sole food source up to 5 years old.

The problem arises from using milk from other creatures.

THe article says they could not process lactose, the major carbohydrate in all milk, human and otherwise. So no this is not about processing the species specific milk, but milk in general. That's too surprising to be credible without further explanation-- mammal infants live on milk.

Re:Inability to digest milk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46084573)

Many people do have lactose intolerance after this period even now; it's a genetic mutation (that happened two places separately) that has allowed many humans to digest milk when they're older.

Re:Inability to digest milk (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46083981)

TFA says lactose. AFAIK human milk carbs are mainly lactose but the "hind milk" (that comes after feeding a little while) includes the lactase enzyme needed to digest it.

Ugg say: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46083991)

No. Boobs still awesorne

Re:Inability to digest milk (4, Informative)

alvinrod (889928) | about 6 months ago | (#46084037)

The composition of the milks are different. Cow milk contains more protein in general, and some proteins that are not found in human milk. Some people are unable to process those proteins. Also, intolerance to milk of any kind generally occurs later in life. If an individual were not able to digest it in infancy they would die and their genes would not be passed on. Perhaps with modern medical science, they would live, but this would not have been the case thousands of years ago.

Re:Inability to digest milk (2)

orient (535927) | about 6 months ago | (#46084921)

My friend's kid is intolerant to some component in the milk found in North American stores - at least Canada and US. However, he has no issue drinking milk originating from Central and Eastern Europe.

Re:Inability to digest milk (4, Informative)

Valdrax (32670) | about 6 months ago | (#46084361)

Humans, like most mammals, can universally digest lactose in childhood. Also, like most mammals, the gene for producing lactase largely shuts down in adulthood, since in nature, it's largely unneeded and a waste of energy resources. People descended from milk-drinking cultures (mostly Europeans) have variations of a gene that prevent lactase production from turning off in adulthood.

Of course, this has little to nothing to do with breasts, since humans are the only primates that have visible breasts when not nursing their newborn young, and even then they are much, much smaller than in humans. It's most likely they exist purely for sexual signalling (like a peacock's tail), since their size is mostly irrelevant to their function in child-rearing.

Re:Inability to digest milk (1)

psithurism (1642461) | about 6 months ago | (#46086273)

since humans are the only primates that have visible breasts when not nursing their newborn young, and even then they are much, much smaller than in humans. It's most likely they exist purely for sexual signalling

Though it must also be pointed out that other primates have mouths that stick out while human's have theirs set back below their noses, and therefore humans need something to stick out in order to suck on it. Of course, breasts are way to big for that to be the sole driving factor in their development, and I would blame sexual signalling for getting them to the size that they are.

evolution via virus (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 6 months ago | (#46083913)

Far too many think that evolution is a relatively simple thing. A bit of radiation, some changes, and then genetic selection occurs. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our DNA is designed to solve the radiation issues (otherwise, you get cancer and die quickly). Instead, there are a large number of unknown virus that move from eukaryote to eukaryote. It will take a sequence of genes from one species, to another. Basically, animals that are in close contact will get genes from the other.

One of the implications for this, is that the more that we remove wildlife, the more that we are destroying our own evolution. It is a mistake to do that. In fact, when we move off the planet, unless we bring a large numbers of animals and plants, the off-planet colony will come to a near halt WRT evolution.

Re:evolution via virus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46084435)

when we move off the planet, unless we bring a large numbers of animals and plants,

I remember that episode! It was a cow fetus.

Re:evolution via virus (1)

Whorhay (1319089) | about 6 months ago | (#46084975)

Unless of course the new colony is in an environment filled with new wildlife that also uses DNA. If that happened to be the case then we could possibly see evolution in progress.

FuckE,r (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46084151)

Ep... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46084745)

to be about doing Rea7 problems you loved that whether to repeat (Click Here troubled OS. Now isV EFNet, and you questions, then

Bad link in summary (1)

Opyros (1153335) | about 6 months ago | (#46084989)

I can't get the "dark skin and blue eyes" link to work.

Re:Bad link in summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46085585)

        dark skin and blue eyes

That's because it truly is a bad link... .how was that not caught?

Prehistoric Lactose-Intolerant Celiac (3, Funny)

Irate Engineer (2814313) | about 6 months ago | (#46085327)

Remains have been found of the first known lactose-intolerant celiac! Research is continuing, but he may have died of starvation as he had to send all his restaurant dishes back to the kitchen for including allergens. A compounding factor was all of his friends wouldn't eat out with him anymore because it was such a picky eater.

North African - (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46085521)

Dark skin/ blue eyes could be North African. Blue eyes also occurs in non European population. Although some people could say that the blue eyes can from the Vandals. You should be careful extrapolation from a single individual. I would wait for some more DNA studies of ancient skeletons.

What the hell (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46085567)

The link won't open in FF 26 on Fedora for me for some reason

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