Asian gene mutation

According to the Times: East Asian Physical Traits Linked to 35,000-Year-Old Mutation. This one gene is responsible for three traits which are supposed to be more Asian: more sweat glands, distinct teeth, and smaller breasts.

Gaining a deep insight into human evolution, researchers have identified a mutation in a critical human gene as the source of several distinctive traits that make East Asians different from other races.

The traits — thicker hair shafts, more sweat glands, characteristically identified teeth and smaller breasts — are the result of a gene mutation that occurred about 35,000 years ago, the researchers have concluded.

I do notice that I tend to like warm weather more than cold weather. Could be those extra sweat glands!

According to the article, there are three theories on why this developed. The first theory states that the sweat glands were advantageous, and the breasts and teeth came along with the sweat glands. The second theory states that thick hair and smaller breasts were sexually preferred in the East, the same way blonde hair and blue eyes may have been preferred in the West. The third theory is that all three were chosen through natural selection at various points.

58 thoughts on “Asian gene mutation

  1. The second theory states that thick hair and smaller breasts were sexually preferred in the East, the same way blonde hair and blue eyes may have been preferred in the West.

    I wonder how they reconcile this second theory with the theory of sexual selection, which I always thought was the dominion of women. Well, at least the breast part.

    By the way, the first one to turn this into an HBD discussion wins the dummy award. The article is clearly about sweaty breasts, not intelligence.

  2. @Nottyboy

    HBD is not solely focused on intelligence. Here is a definition:

    HBD — An acronym that stands for human biodiversity. It is the acknowledgement and study of how humans differ from each other on both the individual and group levels because of differences in genotype. Differences include, but are not limited to, personality traits, athletic ability, intelligence, height, health, and physical appearance.

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=hbd

  3. Notty,

    “By the way, the first one to turn this into an HBD discussion wins the dummy award. The article is clearly about sweaty breasts, not intelligence.”

    And the winner is ben316!

    Good point about selection being the dominion of women. I’m not sure how they reconcile that.

  4. Men do selection too. If you had to make a choice on the spot, would you have sex with a big breasted woman or a small breasted one?

    I really had no way of being less crude, did I?

  5. Men do selection too. If you had to make a choice on the spot, would you have sex with a big breasted woman or a small breasted one?

    Um…Both? :)

    I agree to an extent, but I think that in general, though, women are choosier thus why it seems to be generally thought that sexual selection is more in their realm.

  6. there’s a lot of nonAsian chicks w/ small breasts…..so are they saying they have this “mutation”? this is nonsense.

    I’m 100% Asian and I don’t have small breasts…so does that make me not 100% Asian?

  7. Linda,

    You shouldn’t have said that about yourself. Now Siggy is going to be all over you.

    Oh wait…he’s all over every Asian woman, regardless of breast size. Aight, never mind.

  8. If you take the evolutionary imperative, the answer would be both.

    Plus, we have the feature (or is it a bug, lol) that we are not limited to a once a month…ahem… shipment of sperm.

    And if you were a young enough buck in this most fortunate of hypothetical situations, you would probably be able to reload in 15 minutes.

  9. Anyway, some of the reasoning given for other traits like the eyes and sweat glands as a response to climate is pretty interesting. I wonder why melanin levels would be lower, though, if the climate was really warm.

  10. If we’re all out of Africa, did Asians leave Africa and head to Asia while white people did the same to Europe? Or did Asians and whites leave Africa at the same time, and then head to Eurasia, and then split from each other? I’m guessing it was a Eurasia split. (I haven’t followed the latest theory–they do seem to change from time to time.)

    It could be that the light colored skin could come from that initial Eurasia split, assuming that was the place when it took place.

  11. “Anyway, some of the reasoning given for other traits like the eyes and sweat glands as a response to climate is pretty interesting. I wonder why melanin levels would be lower, though, if the climate was really warm.”

    The truth is that MANY of these mutation theories don’t make sense and contradict each other. Asians evolved more sweat glands because they were hot, but they had small nostrils because they were cold, but needed thick hair to protect them from the sun, but had almost White skin underneath the thick black hair. Now the women have a genetic predisposition for small boobs… But if you control for total size are Asian women more flat-chested than other women or is this just an assumption based on nothing?

    Scientists are like everyone else, they hate to say “Uh, we just don’t know…”

  12. While I don’t necessarily believe the speculations about why these things evolved… can we please not have the “some Asians have big breasts and some non-Asians have small breasts so that debunks the whole theory” conversation? We are talking about tendencies… no racial or ethnic group is a monolith.

    @ BigWOWO:

    The ancestors of what later became East Asians and Europeans left Africa as one population, more or less, and split somewhere around Central Asia, probably somewhere between 35-50k years ago.

    When it comes to which traits were evolutionarily selected, its important to remember that at that time, the populations we are talking about were very small and had a high mortality rate. It wouldn’t take much for a genetic trait to become dominant in such a group; maybe just one tribal shaman declaring that big breasts are no longer “in” this season!

  13. “It wouldn’t take much for a genetic trait to become dominant in such a group; maybe just one tribal shaman declaring that big breasts are no longer “in” this season!”

    Stupid shaman! I’ll kill him!

  14. “The ancestors of what later became East Asians and Europeans left Africa as one population, more or less, and split somewhere around Central Asia, probably somewhere between 35-50k years ago.”

    How do you know this?

    “maybe just one tribal shaman declaring that big breasts are no longer “in” this season!”

    Nobody would believe this shaman.

  15. Most people of my race peffer Asian females because they look so youthful. That hot Asian girl on Survivor is back. We don’t care if they are stacked or not. It’s that exotic look that’s a turn on. Those long black hair and pretty legs.

    Linda wooooooooo! That’s all I’m going to say about that.

  16. Most people of my race peffer Asian females

    I am sure that was unintentional but none the less:
    Did you know in the early/mid 1900s there was a researcher named Nathaniel Peffer who studied Far East “problems”? I think he even lived in china for some time. Fun little trivia tidbit there. Ironic, for this blog post, as well.

    Also…

    Linda wooooooooo! That’s all I’m going to say about that.

    He comin’ fo’ dat mandu, girl!!

  17. On one thread you denied the reality of HBD. On this thread you are basically accepting it. We ought to call this implicit HBDness.

  18. sounds like pretty much like pseudo-science. they’re trying to lump “Asian” into one monolithic category and right there is grounds for concern about their ethics.

    and the sexual selection theory is full of crock. we know that society and media influence desirability.

    it’s well documented in the Tang dynasty and lots of other societies that bigger rotund women are preferred because of childbearing. this is in direct contrast against the white anorexia androgeny of today’s fashion magazines.

  19. ben:

    “On one thread you denied the reality of HBD. On this thread you are basically accepting it. We ought to call this implicit HBDness.”

    No, I didn’t accept anything related to HBD. Nor did anyone else here.

    You like math? Here’s a math equation:

    HBD ≠ evolution

  20. Now that I think about it, the whole thing sounds like some kind of playing to the stereotype / bad fetish

  21. I thought that Asians were supposed to be less sweaty? I can feel my identity eroding as I speak!

    Anyways, this is interesting….

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/?p=18214#.UR8r3vKL7Uw

    http://www.genetics.org/content/early/2012/09/06/genetics.112.145037.full.pdf+html

    10% of Northern European DNA is Northeast Asian.

    And I agree with King. These theories often contradict themselves without batting an eyelid – I think that previously the “mongoloid” phenotype was supposed to have appeared 10,000 BC or so.

  22. HBD not equal to evolution?
    Um, ever heard of sickle cell anemia? Ever heard of Lactose tolerance?

    How does this research contradict previous research?

  23. “I thought that Asians were supposed to be less sweaty? I can feel my identity eroding as I speak!”

    Look up what a apocrine sweat gland is, then look up what an eccrine sweat gland is.
    When the study spoke of fewer sweat glands, it spoke of the aprocine type; and if you knew what an apocrine sweat gland was, then you would not have written the above quoted comment.

  24. I’m going to write an article on the NYT — how comes brits have small PD’s. Meaning pupillary distances between their eyes? Like their eyes are really close together – PD’s of about 59mm….like cyclops. And most “regular” Americans have PD’s averaging 61-63mm. And some Asians and blacks have PD’s of like 65mm or greater? Russians have PD’s closer to Asians/Mongols – really wide,….. relatively.

    I wonder what evolutionary purpose that was….

  25. I wonder what evolutionary pressures caused N.E. Asians to perform better on many tests which measure cognitive ability compared to, say, S.E. Asians?

  26. Ben,

    “HBD not equal to evolution?
    Um, ever heard of sickle cell anemia? Ever heard of Lactose tolerance? ”

    Yes. Those are diseases in certain populations that developed over time.

    Let’s make this easy. If you really don’t understand that HBD≠evolution, you should type out your answers to these questions.

    1. Did you study evolution in school? Most likely the answer is yes.
    2. Did you study HBD in school? Unless you were raised in a school run by the Ku Klux Klan, most likely the answer is no.
    3. Why are your answers for the first two questions not the same?

  27. To the HBDers,

    I don’t actually know what all HBD claims. I don’t think any non-HBDers (I could be wrong) claims that there couldn’t be differences between the races (however defined) in terms of intelligence and other attributes based on genetics and evolution. However, there has not been reputable studies that proves conclusively that race and intelligence is connected. It might be but we don’t know.

    Citing empirical evidence like test scores or even IQ score might not be sufficient if you also find IQ scores keep on rising every generation rapidly. Correlation and cause issue …

    Instead of fighting internet battles. Do some actual research and present irrefutable evidence to show conclusively that race and intelligence are strongly correlated. Then I am sure the scientific establishment will accept those results no matter how politically unpalatable those might be.

    Yes, we have to depend on the scientific establishment and appeal to authority because honestly how many in the general population would be able to tell if any of the fundamental theorems in Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics and Statistics are true.

    We all depend on electricity. But how many can prove electrons exists without running to wikipedia first? Even the experts have to depend on other authority because its not possible for most scientists and mathematicians to be expert in everything. Nor do they have the time.

    And yeah, its fun to speculate how evolution might have lead to some phenotypes. If only we could actually predict how something would be more accurately even in a bacteria culture, then it would be more useful.

  28. ” Like their eyes are really close together – PD’s of about 59mm….like cyclops.”

    ROFLMAO @ CYCLOPS

  29. @ John Doe

    Part of the problem with HBD is that all things are not so easily tested.

    For example, lets say you have two tribes who live on opposite sides of a small volcanic island. In fact, the entire island is really just one big dormant volcano that rises 2000 feet above sea level. Scientists study these two tribes and discover that the Ahabo tribe are squat and muscular and subsist by foraging up the side of the volcano for berries and roots, and trap small animals to eat. On the other side of the island, the Mugol are mostly fishermen who add fruit to their diet but do very little mountain climbing. They tend to be leaner and less squat.

    Now, lets say that the scientists were interested in testing the native populations for mountain climbing ability. They first challenged members of the Ahabo tribe to climb the mountain as fast as they could. Within under an hour the tribesmen were all on top of the mountain and barely even sweating. But when the Mugol were asked to climb the mountain it took three hours and they looked exhausted when they finally arrived.

    So the scientists went back home to England and wrote wonderful papers about how genetic predisposition and natural selection had fitted the Ahabo tribe to be ideal mountain climbers where the Mugol were not very well suited for it. However, years later, a small percentage of islanders from both tribes had mmigrated to other places around the world. Then something strange happened. A group of Mugol tribesman climbed K2, and the following year a single Mugol climber scaled Everest. People who remembered the research papers thought this odd and checked to see how many Aboho had climbed these two mountains, and the answer was, not a single one! But how could this be?

    After some investigation it turned out that Aboho tribesman were great at climbing for their needs, so around 2000 to 3000 feet they were great climbers, but beyond that they lacked discipline and curiosity. It also turned out that the Mugol were bored and unmotivated by shorter slopes, and had not bothered with them on the island but that tall mountains, seemingly without end, reminded them of the challenges of the sea. Their tribal religion encouraged them to seek spirituality through ‘opposing the infinite’ and thus once they were exposed to ‘infinite mountains’ they were inspired to climb them. It wasn’t a a question of physical advantage, it was a mental/religious advantage that made them better mountain climbers in the end.

    This story points out a few flaws in the HBD reasoning.

    Flaw #1) Those who conduct tests always understand the limits of the data they collect.
    Flaw #2) Extrapolating further logical conclusions from data is always accurate.
    Flaw #3) Not seeing that the environment of the test always effects the results.
    Flaw #4) Not seeing that the most obvious assumption is not always the correct one.
    Flaw #5) Not understanding that the more complex the question the more unsure the answer

    All of these are the reasons why people should not cherry pick studies intended to correlate ethnic medical research (for purposes of assessing disease susceptibility and immunity) and try to equate them to things like intelligence. Intelligence is the most complex question of all and therefore yields the most unsure answers.

  30. Linda:

    “I’m going to write an article on the NYT — how comes brits have small PD’s. Meaning pupillary distances between their eyes?”

  31. Well then explain HBD. You don’t need to write those long post to make yourself look smart.

  32. @ ben316:
    I think the issue is about how we define HBD.
    HBD as I understand it as a term covers a range of stuff, some of which is perfectly sensible, and some extremely debatable.

    Clearly there are differences between ethnic/racial groups in terms of genetics, physical appearance, hair type, etc. I don’t think anyone commenting on this post will disagree with that. I also agree that racial differences are a result of environmental and/or sexual selection.
    Where most of us will part company with you is around what is probably the main focus on the HBD crowd: inherent racial differences in intelligence. It is one thing to say that one group has more sweat glands or thicker hair shafts than another, as that is something that can be measured objectively, far moreso than intelligence.

  33. Still chuckling over the mention of cyclops lol…

    Anyway,

    “I’m summarising what is basically the currently accepted scientific position, more or less.”

    I’ve sort of been wondering if there have been any updates to the hypothesis based on new discoveries or developments. When new discoveries are made the theories change, I feel that there is much we don’t know about with regards to that era. E.g. the relationships between humans and other hominids is one we can only make conjectures about.

  34. “Where most of us will part company with you is around what is probably the main focus on the HBD crowd: inherent racial differences in intelligence”.

    HBD focuses ONLY on the racial differences in intelligence. The differences doesn’t become an issue when one compares Whites with Asians. It’s with the other groups. You also forget to mention the idea of racial differences when it comes to behaviors, which HBDers would incorporate when they are discussing the inherent racial differences in intelligence. A good example would be that Blacks are the most extroverted while Asians are the least.

  35. am I wrong if I say that asians and whites are the same thing?, for me asians are just a division of caucasians, pale skin, straight hair and other stuff, you’re both connected

  36. When it comes to which traits were evolutionarily selected, its important to remember that at that time, the populations we are talking about were very small and had a high mortality rate. It wouldn’t take much for a genetic trait to become dominant in such a group; maybe just one tribal shaman declaring that big breasts are no longer “in” this season!

    This would be interesting, as it would add a sort of religious dimension to it (the way the earth mother was supposedly revered).

    I was also wondering, though, if the selection for the traits in the article may have anything to do with “neoteny”. Apparently, some people think so:

    aleo-Anthropological Speculation on the Origins of Secondary-Sexual Traits,
    Male Nurturing and the Child as a Sexual Image

    He spends some time establishing the notion that sexual selection does go both ways, and then draws some conclusions like these:

    Not only are human females compelled to compete for mates, something uncommon in most species. They appear also to have been the sex most changed (at least in outward appearance) by runaway sexual selection in Homo sapiens, making women the least primate-looking of all higher primates. In comparison, males have been left relatively untouched.15

    Moreover, there is a predictable and tragic consequence to the development of neoteny as an emblem of adult female attractiveness. Consider it this way. Sexual selection requires two partners in order to work, first the sex under competitive stress (normally males, but in this case women) among whom a certain fraction are “chosen”. If some trait has a high correlation with reproductive success, the prevalence of that trait will increase in the next generation. And true runaway will accelerate even faster if the choosers change as well — becoming ever more critical and demanding of that trait. So if paedomorphism was women’s runaway trait, there’s every reason to picture men growing ever more attracted to paedomorphism in women, at a matching pace.

    So basically, the way I understand his argument, is that women as a whole have had sexual selection pressure themselves into looking younger and younger (“neoteny”), while at the same time having enough secondary traits to let men differentiate between them and actual children. (Funny too how he says women are less ape-like looking than men. If you’ve seen Seinfeld, you’ll find this funny.)

    The only problem with his hypothesis is that he then argues that “runaway selection” apparently selects for women to have larger and larger breasts, when that is obviously not the case for any population. Unless I’m misreading it and he just means ‘large enough’ to differentiate women from children.

  37. The truth is that MANY of these mutation theories don’t make sense and contradict each other. Asians evolved more sweat glands because they were hot, but they had small nostrils because they were cold, but needed thick hair to protect them from the sun, but had almost White skin underneath the thick black hair. Now the women have a genetic predisposition for small boobs… But if you control for total size are Asian women more flat-chested than other women or is this just an assumption based on nothing?

    Scientists are like everyone else, they hate to say “Uh, we just don’t know…”

    Yeah. It’s a bit like the constant health studies that say different things. This week caffeine is the worst thing for you. Next week, it helps you fight alzheimer’s!

  38. Yes, it’s that whole neoteny/pedomorphism thingy underlying those assumptions, isn’t it?

    Do you see where the stereotypes are leading?

  39. the link I posted, though, doesn’t say anything about Asians, as far as I could tell. It’s a general trend in all populations of homo sapiens, according to that hypothesis.

    I don’t know if the people behind the hypotheses in the post’s article had it in mind, though.

  40. “The second theory states that thick hair and smaller breasts were sexually preferred in the East, the same way blonde hair and blue eyes may have been preferred in the West”.

    And now many Asians prefer blonde hair and blue eyes of their significant other. So what’s the new theory going forward?

  41. And now many Asians prefer blonde hair and blue eyes of their significant other. So what’s the new theory going forward?

    Only obsessed idiots like you Chr and the PUA gurus you stealth market for. Last I checked, most everyone here has an Asian person as their significant other.

    Bigwowo, you still moderating this guy? He has yet do his 20 positive posts? What gives? Do we have to hear for the millionth time posts that have misogyny toward Asian women or something about an experiment that says Asian Males should just kill themselves cause life just utterly sucks for them? zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

  42. And now many Asians prefer blonde hair and blue eyes of their significant other. So what’s the new theory going forward?

    If I’m not mistaken, the hypothesis is giving a timeframe of 35K years in the past, before media and propaganda of the level we see now existed.

  43. @Notty, King,

    Just when I was finally beginning to enjoy my drinks without guilt, all drinks are declared cancer causing.

    Seriously, though, part of the problem could be these communication majors err journalists. Most of them go thru the pedagogy of how to communicate except the content.

    Do they minor or have a concentration in medicine before they start communicating major breakthrough in medicine, do they have a concentration in EE before they start writing about chip design? Possibly no. As a result, I suspect they write in a way that was not the way the scientists intended. I know when I read a popular article in my field, often its misrepresented because of simple misunderstanding of facts.

    Unfortunately, in this era of tight budgets big science is done through popular media. NASA is a prime example of this. They make scientific announcements through press release instead of peer reviewed journal.

  44. @ Eurasian

    Yeah, the arguments in the article are the same ones I make all the time. Men have sex with almost ANY women that are available, if allowed (and sometimes even when they aren’t). All this sexual selection nonsense is pure BS.

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