Some Fallacies About Human Evolution

A new paper* published in the journal Medical Hypotheses makes a daunting claim about Homo sapiens – that we should split our species into various subspecies.

I to know about speciation, since I study it with regard to endangered species in the US. Splitting off species and subspecies has been done in many different ways for as long as we’ve been doing it, and there’s no set way of going about it. It’s about as fuzzy as the difference between language and dialect.

Nowadays, it’s generally done by looking at genetic markers. At X difference (greater than Y difference), we split into Y and Z, two separate species. At Y difference (less than X difference), we split A and B, two separate subspecies.

At some point, geographical territories overlap, and two species are discovered to be breeding. In birds, a lot of times we then decide that they are not separate species after all, but in fact subspecies of one larger species. We lump them. However, there are a few critters around the fuzzy edges of species who breed. Why we don’t lump the breeders into one species in all cases, I’m not so sure. Anyway, separate species in general can’t breed, and even if they do, the offspring are often sterile, like ligers, spawn of lions and tigers.

As two species who were too far apart to breed get closer together genetically, they may be able to start breeding, as successful breeding is a sign of genetic proximity.

So the fact that all humans can breed successfully is powerful evidence that all humans are one species. However, there is some hazy evidence that Whites and Khoisan have such great genetic distance that there are a lot of miscarriages, stillbirths and sterile couplings when they form pairs.

The greatest distance genetically is between African Blacks from Nigeria and Aborigines. It would be interesting to see what would happen if they bred with each other, except Aborigines are almost extinct as a pure race. Aborigines are the furthest from Blacks because they have been separated from Blacks and evolving away from them the longest.

There is good grounds for splitting humans into subspecies. For instance, the distance required to split subspecies in an owl is, say, X. The distance between major human races in a lot of cases will be much greater than X. The only conceivable reason why we don’t split the major races into subspecies is Political Correctness. Also, once we start saying that some races are subspecies, the racists will be handed a power club to beat their hated fellow humans with.

If we were to do so, Blacks would surely be split off, because they are so tremendously distant from all the rest of us. Papuans and Aborigines would get split, and there’s also grounds for splitting NE Asians, SE Asians, Caucasians and possibly Amerindians.

A commenter recently said that it stands to reason that Blacks have the lowest IQ’s of the major races since they are the oldest race. But I don’t think this makes sense. Blacks, being the oldest and most divergent race, have actually been evolving far longer than the rest of us, and have certainly done the most evolving in terms of piling up changes in their genome.

Now, I think that genotypically, African Blacks have low IQ’s. This doesn’t mean that they are unevolved or frozen in time somehow. Hell, they’re more evolved that the rest of us! But it does imply all of the evolving they’ve been doing hasn’t been in the area of intelligence to the same degree as others.

People don’t realize that evolution isn’t necessarily all that progressive. The vast majority of evolutionary changes are just junk and don’t have that much fitness value. You can pile up tons of evolutionary change in your genome without necessarily improving your species much. Hell, cockroaches have been evolving for millions of years and they’re still idiotic bugs.

Likewise, there’s no reason why “old” lines are inferior to newer lines. Clearly, older lines have been evolving for longer than newer lines. That ought to make them superior, but it doesn’t necessarily. As there’s nothing automatically inferior about an ancient line, likewise there is nothing inherently impressive about a newer line. Polynesians only show up ~3,000 YBP, and NE Asians show up ~50,000 YBP. Who’s smarter?

Similarly, Whites have not done nearly as much evolving as Blacks, but it looks like Whites have faced greater selection pressure. It’s not so much the length of time you’ve been twisting your genome around, it’s more the constraints that your line has undergone in terms of fitness. Perhaps Whites evolved higher genotypic IQ’s due to greater selection constraints in the North.

There’s a reason why Blacks are so far away from all the rest of us. They’ve been evolving longer. They’ve been evolving in Africa for 185,000 years, though the Negroid type we are most familiar with has only been around for 12,000 years. Pygmies broke off about 70,000 YBP and Khoisan types before that.

The group that left Africa may have been very small, perhaps as small as 500-1,000 persons. From this small group evolved all of the Out Of Africa humans over 70,000 years. That all of us OOA folks came from this small select group is the reason why we are so close together – we all evolved from this small genetically similar group.

One thing that confuses people is the appearance of Negritos, Papuans and Melanesians. Yeah, they look like Blacks, but they are some of the most distant from Blacks of any humans. Whites are far closer to Blacks than say Papuans are.

Just because two groups look alike doesn’t mean they are all that close genetically. And just because two groups differ in appearance doesn’t mean that they are all far genetically.

Papuans et al came out of Africa like all the rest of us, but they retained a lot of African features while evolving dramatically away from Africans in terms of their genome.

Presumably the African features like kinky hair, dark skin and wide noses were as useful in the jungles in New Guinea as they were in Africa. Kinky hair is useful because it evaporates heat better and allows for greater sweating. Melanin is well known to be advantageous in areas of high UV. A wide nose is the human default. There’s nothing special about it, but a long thin nose is useless in the tropics, as all it’s going to do is make you hot. Hence there’s no need to get rid of the wide nose.

Every human group is about as smart as it needed to be in terms of its evolution. Its unfortunate that Aborigines have genotypic IQ’s of 64, but that’s only as smart as they needed to be down there. If they needed to be smarter, they would have evolved more brains.

Our modern era is anomalous in terms of human evolution. Nowadays a modern society requires what to a primitive person must seem like rocket scientist brains. Modern society has a use for rocket scientist brains, so there will theoretically be some pressure to breed more rocket scientists.

Aborigine society never had any need for rocket scientist brains. Surely there were a few rocket scientist type Aborigines down through the millenia, but those brains had no evolutionary value for the group, so there was no pressure to breed more brainiacs. Nowadays in a society that seems to be demand the Aborigine equivalent of rocket scientists, groups like Aborigines are at a disadvantage, but there was nothing wrong with their evolutionary trajectory. It was as good as it needed to be.

This subject is pretty complex ,and I’ve been thinking about it hard today. I hope this post makes this area clearer.

*The paper has recently been linked and discussed on White racist hate sites. This was very upsetting to the author, a biology professor in the UK, as when he wrote the article, he had no intention whatsoever that it would be used in this way. Hence, he has requested that I remove his name and the title of the article from the piece since he is trying to reduce the visibility of the piece so it won’t attract any more of these types.


Medical Hypotheses. 74:1, Jan. 2010, pp. 195-201


Filed under Anthropology, Race/Ethnicity

17 responses to “Some Fallacies About Human Evolution

  1. alpha unit

    Political correctness aside, what is gained by splitting humans into subspecies?

    • Nothing, really, except that it would be scientifically accurate. As it is, we are sort of lying scientifically.

      Other than that, I can’t see it doing much good. The societal harm would be greater than any good to come of it, because the racists will just go nuts over it and use it as another weapon in their hate arsenal.

      Also, there is a lot of confusion over the meaning of subspecies. A lot of people think sub- means inferior, and subspecies means subhuman. In truth, all existing races would be split into subspecies, but this would probably be lost on the racists, who often aren’t all that smart.

  2. tulio

    It is pretty fascinating that blacks and aboriginals can look so similar yet be so distant. When I was a teenager and knew little about these people, I was confused and wondered why so many blacks live on pacific islands. Good point about the flat nose being the human default. I had never thought of that. But it makes total sense, I mean apes have flat noses and we came from them, so it makes sense that humans by default would have flat noses and the narrow caucasian nose would be a deviation. I’m still not quite sure how their thin noses are disadvantaged in the hot regions of the earth. I’ve not heard whites complain about breathing problems when they visit tropical countries.

    Hey, any theories on why Ashkenazi Jews have such high intelligence relative to their surrounding population? I would think they would be pretty much genetically identical to gentile whites.

    And one other thing, I don’t know much about this topic, but I have heard that there have been remains of ancient races discovered having astoundingly large heads. Is there really such a thing?

    • Caught in the spam trap.

      The long and thin nose of Whites was an adaptation probably to living in the cold climate. In the tropics, all it does it heat up the air you breathe and you get really hot. A no winner.

      Yes, the Strandwoekers of SW Africa (Namibia) were a Khoisan group that lived on the Namibian coast 3,000 years ago. They seem to have gone extinct. I think that they had the largest heads of any known human group. Strandwoekers = “walkers on the beach” in Dutch.

      The Ashkenazim probably bred those brains only recently with the onset of Talmudic Judaism. No one really knows how they did it, but there is one theory that they did it on purpose to outcompete other groups. I think that’s ridiculous. In Talmudic Orthodox Judaism, no one really read much, but all males required to learn the Torah and the Talmud. You had to read the whole damn thing. The Talmud is 13,000 fuckin pages. Then you are supposed to sit around every night with the guys and debate the damned thing.

      I hear that a lot of Jews just could not cut it back then and either couldn’t read it or didn’t want to. So back in ghetto days, they just left the Jews and converted out.

      Ghetto Judaism placed high emphasis on intellect. If your son was the smartest kid in the ghetto, all of the men would bring the hottest daughters in the ghetto around to try to marry them off to you. Your Dad gets to pick the hottest. Unlike most human cultures, where brainiacs are nerds who mostly can’t get laid to save their lives because chicks hate them. The Chinese also heavily valued brains and all the girls would want the smartest guy in the village. He’d be like the local stud. Chinese have also evolved some very high IQ’s.

      US culture of the musclehead idiots kicking sand in the skinny A student’s face and grabbing all the hot chicks who laugh at this is downright dysgenic.

    • Matt

      “Good point about the flat nose being the human default. I had never thought of that. But it makes total sense, I mean apes have flat noses and we came from them, so it makes sense that humans by default would have flat noses and the narrow caucasian nose would be a deviation.”

      Apes have flat noses, i.e don’t really have any kind of nose at all, but our hominin ancestors since erectus have had an external nose of some kind. As to the flatness of nose of the common ancestor, our common ancestors were kind of generalised and robust, but evolved in dry climates. They didn’t really have a nose shaped much like any current people though (Africans included), neither was their face shaped much like any current people.

      “I have heard that there have been remains of ancient races discovered having astoundingly large heads”

      Boskops are false, but I believe all humans show a decline in brain size in parallel (on every continent) since the Upper Paleolithic, while retaining their overall ranking. I believe I have seen graphs to the effect that 18th-19th century Africans average a greater size of brain, on average, than 20th century Europeans (who in turn have larger average brains than Twen Cen Africans). Possibly this is an artifact of greater survival to adulthood, whereas in primeval epochs small brained persons did not survive.

  3. Shawn

    That’s interesting that you changed your mind regarding the splitting of humans into subspecies. I remember a debate about that on your old, old blog.

  4. tulio

    I wrote a lengthy reply to this with followup questions but your blog didn’t post it. Oh well. I don’t have to energy to type it up again.

  5. tulio

    I wrote a lengthy reply to this with followup questions but your blog didn’t post it. Ohh well. I don’t have to energy to type it up again.

  6. carolyn

    “The long and thin nose of Whites was an adaptation probably to living in the cold climate.”
    That makes no sense to me at all.
    Eskimos have small, flat noses. They live in the coldest climate. The Chinese have flat noses. They are supposed to have migrated from the north.

    It’s interesting that Native Americans from the plains of North America are considerably beakier than those in South American and Canada. Perhaps it has something to do with humidity.

    In a related note, someone appears to have solved the Baltic melanin anomaly –

    • Supposedly, where the Asians came from, it’s REALLY cold, and that small yet flat nose is some kind of an adaptation to extreme cold to keep themselves from getting frostbit while being no disadvantage in the tropics.

    • Matt

      Yeah, both Caucasoids and Mongoloids evolved across ranges, rather than in one place. They are adapted to that range, rather than any part of it.

      Caucasoids come from a zone which includes hot and dry climates (Middle East, North Africa and South Central Asia) and cold climates which have comparatively mild winters and summers (Europe).

      Mongoloids come from an area that includes humid subtropical climates (South East Asia, continental and possibly island) and cold climates with brutally cold winters and hot summers (continental East Asia).

      This may account for the difference, since all the people from the Caucasoid area need air humidification, while only some of the ones from the Mongoloid area do and they would suffer nose frostbite from having extended noses.

    • Matt

      Note that it’s humidity. Having a narrow and projecting nose minimizes “loss” of heat and moisture, of which moisture is the more important, which why it is selected in desert regions. It doesn’t warm the air, your body does that.

  7. Matt

    In terms of “more evolved”, Black people have probably built up more standing variation/new variants from the Black/White common ancestor (though these groups have never really been perfectly separated, only exchanging through intermediaries at very low rates) from larger population size and from not going through bottlenecks/founder effect, but have conversely probably changed less in that genetic drift has not shifted new variants to the forefront of their pool (so they carry more ancestral alleles), plus they are in a less different climatic zone from where the common ancestor lived (though probably more humid) relative to other races, so selection might not have impacted as much. I believe there are many studies stating that Black people generally overall tend to have higher frequencies of ancestral allele frequencies relative to Eurasians, but it’s apples and oranges in terms of “more evolved” in a sense.

    • Yes, Blacks definitely have FAR more genetic variation in them than all of the OOA races combined. My understanding that is if you take two tribes in Nigeria 50 miles apart, they will be further apart genetically than, say, a Brit and an Aborigine. I don’t know how true that is, but the guy who runs One Drop Rule said that, and I believe that he has an advanced degree and is employed in the field of genetics somehow. I think medical research.

      Yes, many of those ancient alleles can only be found in Africa. I think the latest is that the Hadza in Tanzania have a genetic line that goes back up to 100,000 years. They are Khoisan, speak a Khoisan click language, and many still live an extremely primitive hunter gatherer existence. I believe that they score extremely low on IQ tests, too. The lowest scores on Earth.

    • tulio

      Since Aborginees evolved furthest away from blacks, any theories on how they became so primitive? They should have shared all the OOA genes that Caucasians and Mongoloids have. What happened to them?

    • Nothing happened to them. The OOA people were very primitive. The Aborigines evolved a lot, but retained many primitive characteristics since they did not evolve in a progressive direction. You mistake evolutionary movement with progress. It’s not necessarily so. Humans only evolve in what we would call a progressive way when there are constraints that impose selection pressure on people to evolve progressively.

      Barring that, you get a lot of evolutionary change sure, but people still stay pretty archaic because there is no selection pressure towards progressive change.

      So the Aborigines did not “get” primitive, they probably *stayed* primitive. Why? There was no need to become less primitive, so no evolutionary pressure was placed on them to evolve that way.

      I don’t understand genetics very well, but I believe that the Caucasians and Asians must have evolved some new genetic variants of mutations somehow that were different from those the Aborigines had.

      Incidentally, going back over 5000 years and earlier, everyone in SE Asia looked something like an Aborigine. In India, it’s 8,000 years and earlier that everyone looked Aborigine. In NE Asia, over 9,000 YBP and earlier, everyone looked like an Aborigine.

      The Aborigine – Melanesian – Ainu – Negrito Australoid type is simply the ancient norm for that entire part of the world – SE Asia, NE Asia and South Asia. They’re the original Asians. The modern Asian phenotypes only emerged 5000-9000 YBP.

      Evolution and progress are often wrongly conflated.

      I mean, cockroaches have been evolving for millions of years and it’s still a stupid bug!

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