Category Archives: human biology

Geneticist David Reich responds to critics of his views on race

On March 23, I called your attention to paleoanthropologist David Reich’s op-ed in the New York Times, “How genetics is changing our understanding of ‘race’.” I thought the article was quite good, one of the few articles that takes a pretty objective and open-minded stand on “race”. It noted that conventionally named races are social […]

Finally: a sensible discussion of “race”

And by “sensible,” of course, I mean a discussion that aligns with my own views. I’ve often written that while there are no finite and strongly genetically demarcated human “races”, there are meaningful and statistically diagnostic differences between populations, ethnic groups, or whatever you want to call them. This is in opposition to the common […]

A human chimera

Reader Tom Alves called my attention to the singer Taylor Muhl, a human chimera. Chimerism is the situation in which an individual results from the fusion of two early-stage fertilized eggs (zygotes), and thus has the genetic constitution of two separate individuals. This is a very rare condition: geneticists estimate that there are fewer than […]

In an article on race and medicine, New York Times does its best to ignore and denigrate race

Furthering my claim that the New York Times is becoming more regressive in its Leftism, we have a long article in the science section on race and medicine. The thing is, the author of the piece does his very best to pretend that there’s no such thing as “race”, even while investigating—and buttressing, to some […]

A lovely graph that tells our story

by Matthew Cobb I came across this beautiful graph in an article in the journal Cell this week. It shows declining levels of genetic variability among 51 populations of humans across the planet, plotted against the distance of each population from East Africa: The data in the figure are from a 2008 paper in Science […]

Researcher: Human sense of smell better than everyone thinks; may rival that of dogs!

John P. McGann of the Department of Psychology at Rutgers University has spent fourteen years looking at the olfactory (smelling) system of mammals, and has published a new paper in Science suggesting that what we think we know about our own sniffing ability, compared to the reputed Super Sniffers of dogs and rodents, is wrong. McGann suggests, […]

The evolution of sexual dimorphism in humans: Part 2

In a post one week ago, “The ideological opposition to biological truth,” I argued that sexual dimorphism for body size (difference between men and women) in humans is most likely explained by sexual selection, and that it also reflects behavioral differences between males and females: males compete for females, and greater size and strength give males an advantage. […]

The world’s oldest woman, and only living person born in the 19th century

Meet Emma Morano of Italy, who was born in 1899 and has attained the status of both “oldest living person” and “only person born in the 19th century”. She turned 117 on November 29. Click on the screenshot below to go to a video of the world’s oldest woman. Be sure to turn the sound […]

Natural selection in our species during the last two millennia

A question I’m always asked in popular lectures on evolution is this: “Are humans still evolving?” The answer I give is “Yes, but we have good evidence for such evolution in only a handful of traits: evolution of earlier reproductive maturity in females, later menopause, and selection for reduced blood pressure and a few other […]

Race as a “social construct”: trouble in Brazil

As I’ve written somewhere (but can’t remember where), it always amused me that when I wrote an NIH grant application, I had to specify my “race” (black, Pacific Islander, white, Hispanic, etc.), but then, in the instructions, it said something like “These categories are taken to be social constructs only, and are not biological.” That statement […]