Making the evo/paleo blogs are the latest headlines... meat made us smart. NPR's article which is excellent: HERE . Love love LOVE NPR's new series. However. Meat. So what? I'm a carnivore and LUST4MEAT but my higher IQ is not attributed to meat. Figure from Richards et al PNAS 2000 and thank you to Stephan for the forward and rich insights HERE and HERE . Update: Richards et al later re-dated the Neanderthal bones to ~33-40 kya, not the stated ~28,500 yrs ago in the original article (Vindija 207 208 data).
Q: What Made Ancient Humans Rapidly DOMINATE the GLOBE? A: Marine seafood ( fauna and flora ) including stems, leaves, tubers, berries, mollusks, crustaceans, fish, seals, dolphins, eels... and etc.
*** Summer Reading ***
Been doing some lightweight, softcore summer reading... (a) MATT RIDLEY, 'Sex and the evolution of human nature: The Red Queen' (b) 'Sex at dawn', authored by a psychologist and psychiatrist, C. Ryan and C. Jatha (c) 'Carbs Can Kill!' by a pharmacist/physician, Dr. Robert Su MD, his personal account of complete health reversal (angina/CAD, skin issues, abdominal obesity, sleep apnea) from an MD point of view on a high saturated fat, carbohydrate-restricted (grain-free) diet. He is a fan of Feinman, Volek and the entire body of low-carb, high fat evidence, which he reviews in articulate and simple terms in his wonderful book. He interviews Sally Fallon author Nourishing Traditions (one of my favorite cookbooks) and WAPFer, HERE . Over 1100+ high sat fat, carb restricted cancer, disease and health references are listed conveniently on his site: HERE .
All 3 were extremely entertaining, enlightening and entirely edifying. Without really arguing the diet point, each of these scientific or sexual-psychosocial or medical/nutritional nonfiction are all for highly supporting a behavior or lifestyle written by evolution imho. (Thanks Dr. Dan for that motto!~) Unfortunately books #1 and #2 don't appear to understand the wild-human diet part... HHHhmmm.
Regarding Sex at dawn, like Melissa who reviewed it earlier HERE at hunt gather love, I agree the authors miss out on romantic love. Where is the LOVE?? Granted... lust does revolve the world around, but again, where's the *heart* sounds.
Also I believe in our human evolutionary history based on our close evo ties to ALL animals, including birds and fish... Ridley argues a better animalistic point that humans are somewhere in behavior (and the genetic studies appear to verify) between the birds and the bonobos/primates... Sexual dimorphism, behavior (mono- v. polygamous depending on fecundity of resources), courtship, songs, pair bonds + affairs, egalitarianism, child/egg rearing, paternity protection, etc. Elaborate shelter construction , prenatal and gestational nesting, omnivorous diet, etc-- Ridley forgot these factors, but I believe these are also common traits.
Surprisingly our largest organ which has made the most progressive advances over the last 2.5 mya during the Pleistocene epoch... is the BRAIN. Cranial volume has tripled since primates branched off. Neanderthal brains were ~20% larger than current humans. Ancient human brains were also larger but by a smaller fraction, an estimated ~11% larger than currently. An MSNBC 2006 article discusses the microcephalin gene (D variant) which regulates brain size being found in both modern humans and Neanderthals, HERE . Does size matter? I believe so. Above diagram from Trinkaus Richards PNAS 2009 , comparing isotope data between Neanderthals, ancient humans and related faunal assemblages.
Author Matt Ridley has tied together an eloquently argued subject that links sexual adaptation, success, survival with human intelligence.
[Smart? He is indeed smart. And funny as H*LL.]
Bigger brains lead to more food.
More food ---> More S*X
More S*X ---> More progeny and so on and so on
Food maybe a relative (Red Queen) euphemism...for any sustenance and nourishment (intellectual, emo, spiritual).
Obviously I've oversimplified and omitted the best thoughts.
Actually the beauty and clarity of Ridley's tight, dense, razor sharp scrutiny of all the lines of evidence and parallels drawn from the wealth of examples from the animal kingdom is how he scintillates the essence of human nature. 'Be different.'
Like a peacock's display, the brain's neurologic display (intelligence, humor, creativity, personality) is the point of attraction that he proposes was selected for over time. It's an interesting contention and makes insanely logical sense.
==>Recap: big brains-->big display-->big S*X-->big progeny
Ancient Humans: More Seafood (More S*X?) Ridley discusses how bottle-nosed dolphins are perhaps the only other animal (mammal) with intelligence that rivals human intelligence and our complex language skills. However, dolphins brain:body ratios are only ~0.9% whereas humans are vastly higher ~2%. What do ancient humans have in common with our marine cousins, the social pack animal and s*xy/lusty predators, the dolphins?
Neanderthals were incredibly robust, hormonally superb specimens with excellent, dense, powerful bones, and complex communication for large mammal hunts and emerging culture 50-30,000 years ago. Shipman from PennState wrote in PNAS 2008 'Importantly, marine mammals, fish, and mollusks were systematically exploited by both Neanderthals and modern humans throughout the stratigraphic sequences at these caves.'
Above diagram, again, from Trinkaus Richards PNAS 2009. Obviously clear ancient humans were Marine Carnivores and Neanderthals were Herbivore Carnivores (?with possible broad spectrum sourcing including legumes and grasses).
Marine-sourced food is the most highest concentrated sources of omega-3 (marine veggies ALA, marine protein EPA DHA). Most fish or marine mammals don't produce it; THEY EAT IT. From sources concentrated up the food chain starting with algae and phytoplankton up the network, nitrogen and carbon atoms gradually change and can be measured a millenia later.
Omega-3 is BRAIN food.
We are what we eat: Stable 15N 13C Isotope Profiling Right diagram, courtesy Prof White at Cornell for Geobiochemistry and stable isotopes in paleontology . Nitrogen concentrations up the food chain and marine food networks are laced with more complex hierarchy compared with terrestrial. Carbon is also concentrated up the food chain with again marine sources richer and with higher density carbon atoms compared with land-origin sources. Plants evolved during the Pleistocene epoch 25 mya from Calvin cycle only plants (C3) to more advanced plants that loss less water (via heat and/or via aridity) with an extra carbon altering step to malate (in the mesophyll vein) before entering the Calvin cycle (C4 plants). During cooling temps or droughts or fires that displaced lush forests and woodlands, grasslands, legumes and grains filled in then eventually flourished (C3 and C4 plants). See Left diagra m.
As we can see from Prof White's diagram (right) that Neolithic Europeans who consumed less meat and seafood and more vegetables (C3, C4) had lower density 15N and 13C, compared with marine carnivores: (a) historic Eskimo hunter-gather-fishermen and (b) mesolithic Denmark people.
Go back and examine the 13C data (under 'Big Organ' or HERE ) from Richards and Trinkaus PNAS 2009. C13 density is lower for Neanderthals compared with ancient humans yet about the same levels as other carnivores and omnivores (wolf, fox, respectively) and terrestrial small-large herbivores they were known to hunt and consume.
Data exists as early as 50,000 years ago, Neanderthals foraged small grain grasses, legumes and cereals in a small but non-neglible manner. See prior post .
Personally I think it is quite plausible that Neanderthals sourced their food in a very wide way that excluded much marine-based resouces, as indicated by the lack of density in the 15N and 13C isotope evidence.
Perhaps Neanderthals with their larger brains and early utilization of marine-based foods had a staggering boost in intelligence which translated to a more immense broad-spectrum resource utilization of legumes, small grains and cereals before ancient man got a clue (circa 12,000 years ago, neolithism).
Perhaps Neanderthals failed to figure out how to ferment and displace toxic legume and cereal-containing phytic acid? Ambient warm temperatures are required for fermentation. Perhaps this did not occur sufficiently (and/or by serendipity) until the last glacial maximum ended ~ 16 to 12,000 yrs ago as temperatures rose again finally.
Can a race over-innovate?
Can a race over-innovate to extinction? Esp when the other race is eating omega-3 fish oils by the ton having more s*x and more progeny?