Archive | December, 2012

Social speciation and genetic speciation in human evolution

27 Dec

A preliminary discussion of Species and Speciation in how modern humans emerged from ancestral species was discussed here: https://dispersalofhumanityfromhomoegaster.wordpress.com/2012/07/28/species-and-speciation-in-human-evolution/
It was stated that:

The intractable problem of speciation in evolutionary biology may be addressed as follows: should populations be defined as distinct species specifically in relation to the degree of speciation that will prevent the reproductional fusion of gametes for embryogenesis to a viable foetus, or should speciation be defined in terms of phenotypic parameters that takes into account morphological, physiological, biochemical and behavioural separations to the point that incompatiblity between representative samples of male and female from being able to engage in sexual intercourse can be established whether or not mating between fertile and healthy individuals can demonstrably result in a successful offspring that, in turn, was able to pass on its own genes to another generation.

Speciation is entirely defined by the genetics of incompatibility that develops between populations through different types of DNA mutations affecting the phenotype. The mechanism of speciation in Homo lineage may be as follows: Minor DNA mutations on sexually-functional genes can produce attractional features that are stimulated by complimentary traits in the opposite sex. Sexually compatible features are selected for reproductive behaviour and over time spreads in the population. The process complimentary features is reinforcing and intensifies leading to the formation of a separate social group within the population. This population will continue to diverge away with mutations in other traits and gene development as the population adapts to the environment as well. If the process of group formation through such sexual selection is incomplete the social subgroup may still have individuals that readily mate with the parent population. But the process of group formation continues. This is social speciation and can be said to be complete when 100 percent of the subppulation shows a preference in its reproductive behaviour for its own phenotype. Even when social speciation is complete artificial insemination between the subgroup and the main population will show reproductive compatibility as far as fertilisation, embryogenesis and the generation of a viable and fertile offspring is concerned.

As the subgroup develops social cohesion in mating behaviour one or more Robertsonian translocation or choromosome fusion mutation may occur spontaneously and spread through the subgroup to produce genetic incompatibility with the parent population in fertilisation, embryogenesis and the generation of a viable and fertile offspring. This is the point at which the combination of social speciation and genetic speciation has caused total incompatibility, and a new species has resulted. The process involves degrees of genetic reinforcement of social speciation that first coalesces into minor changes in subgroup behaviour, which is then gradually transformed into a cultural separation, followed by the genetic development of ethicities, and then races; these representing degrees of social speciation within populations that is distinguished from the extent of within-group mating behaviour. Upon this sequence of social speciation a single or more Robertsonian translocation or major chromosomal fusion may occasionally act to make the process of genetic speciation irreversible by disrupting genetic compatibility in fertilisation whence a new species can be said to have arisen.

The dynamics is that as a sub-group forms as a clan to begin with and proves itself to be successful in its ghetto it will displace the other groups out of the ghetto to the surrounding areas. The process of culturisation intensifies as the group spreads as its size increases and intensifies genetically into ethnicity and finally race. The social structures that work against interethnic breeding are subconscious restriction of mating behaviour. This means that from a position of small group with only behavioural differences, within-group mating starts to take place; when this reaches the proportions that results in culture to give this group its identity, say 30 per cent of this sub-group will not mate outside the group; when the group reaches the proportions of identity for which the a the term ‘ethnicity’ is applicable it will mean say 60 per cent will not mate outside the group; and when it reaches the proportions for which the term ‘race’ can be applied 90 percent of the subgroup will have the tendency to only mate within itself. That is how social speciation intensifies given all other things are equal (which it is not in the real world so that other developments in the ecological niches cloud this fundamental model of social speciation in Homo sapiens.

The process of social speciation would lead to subgroups forming in which geography, climate and food resources would be the major influences that would limit group size in an ecological niche. If resources are limitless the population will grow and expand into other territories. At the margins of ecological niches there would be evolutionary pressures to generate their own different subgroups. Whether these materialise or not would depend on whether the subgroups are viable entities. The two would develop into separate ethnicities and races with intermingling of subgroups at the boundaries of the niches. This has been the process for the past 15,000 years after the colonisation of the world was complete and populations could not transgress into other ecological zones which were already occupied by other groups. The ethnicities and races in Europe, in Africa, in South Asia, South East Asia, China and the Americas show this pattern of the development of humanity.

The current racial groups were in their geographical places of endemism 15,000 years ago and they are supposed to have arisen from an out of Africa population 80,000 years ago. So that is how long social speciation takes place. Total genetic speciation is a chance process and has not occurred since Homo ergaster was around 2 million years ago as far as I understand the data. Let us take an example of an sizeable island within which populations developed: the British Mainland. It is a geographical area with only minor mountains so people could travel about quite freely. It had and very similar climate everywhere except for the north Scotland which was slightly colder and a little wetter. It became populated only 10,000 years ago since the last Ice Age. One would expect that all of the island was occupied by humans fairly rapidly as a single migration arrived from Europe. Yet in this short space of time, we have Scottish, Welsh, Geordie, Brummies, Scouse, Cockneys, Cornish, and English (Anglians) that developed as more than cultures: ethnicities. That is how fast social speciation can take place in a small area.

Living is societies in various ways as communities, ethnicities, nations, or religious groupings enabled humans to propagate themselves (some groups more effectively than others as one would expect evolution to take place) such that humans eventually colonised the entire world in distinct groups.

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Altruism and Fittestism Genes in Human Biology

14 Dec

Part of humanity lives according to the principle of exploiting their bodies and the environment to the best possible outcome in terms of material gains (wealth, fame, legacy): this gives rise to the idea of human ‘fittestism’. Another trait readily observed in humanity is altruism which is somewhat opposite to fittestism. Fittestism describes the individual’s motivation to exploit his resources to aid physical survival to the maximum benefit and is not related to the term ‘Survival of the Fittest’ in evolutionary biology. It merely describes a particular type of social trait.

Human society is composed of a spectrum of motivational strategies between the extremes of those who practice ‘fittestism’ through selfishness and sociopathic behaviour and those that practice ‘altruism’ for social development of live and let live that is reliant on the individuals sacrificing their efforts in caring for others. Both these strategies of living must have genes driving the personality of the individual, the two traits operating in a varied combined way to make the human species flourish as a social animal. There are individuals who exhibit both fittestism and altruism to varying degrees while some only exhibit one or the other. This is possible because the theory is that two independent genes or gene-systems are involved and both can reach a high level of expression in the same individual. Altruism does not reach the position of sacrificing to the point of dying in the act. Dishonest people (sociopaths and psycopaths are the extremely self-centred ones) belong to the former category and at the extreme are unable to practice altruism because their actions generate foreseen and unforeseen adverse effects on others because relationships are all interconnected.

Evolutionary biology must consider that both fittestism and alturism are examples of fitness to the same environment that all humans live in. It is highly unlikely that historically Homo sapiens has been moving on a transition course from one form of motivational strategy for living to the other, most commonly understood to be from fittestism to altruism. There are no indications when observing human societies worldwide that one or the other will predominate as being the greater (more successful) survival strategy. A balance between the expression of the two traits has taken place within the global population of human beings and therefore shown itself to have been the optimal survival strategy and hence fitness. This is to say that a compromise between the extremes has evolved within and between individuals in the human population.

Thus fittestism and altruism are both strategies of fitness. Beatsong at Rational Skepticism wrote: ”Nature is full of examples of organisms having various capacities which can contradict each other, but which have all evolved via natural selection. In fact everything comes down to this really. A lion that can run faster is more likely to catch its prey. A lion that is bigger is more likely to be able to kill its prey once it’s caught. But a lion the size of a whale is not going to be able to run as fast. So the advantages of both of these characteristics enter into the evolution of lions and you end up with a broadly optimum compromise between speed and size. Just as you do between the peacock’s need to run around and the size of it’s tail. Or between a human’s (or a lion’s, or any other mammal, for that matter) capacity for self-advancement within the social group and capacity for sacrifice for the social group”. And in the same forum, CdesignProponentsist pointed out in accepting my use of the term ‘fittestism’: ”Species do not exhibit altruistic behavior because they just happen to be nice individuals. They exhibit it because it gives the genes of their local gene pool a better chance at survival, including the genes that contribute to the altruistic behavior. It increases the fitness of the group. So altruistic behavior is a gene acting selfishly. Fittestism and Altruism can both be examples of fitness in the same environment and even the same species. Altruism benefits the gene pool and more directly benefits the altruistic genes that exhibit the behavior as those around you typically share the same genes. If you sacrifice for their benefit you increase the reproductive health of the rest of the group and thus continue to pass on the genes. This doesn’t mean that others in your same gene pool can exhibit the hording of wealth, power and respect to attract mates. A species can have both genes but expressed in varying degrees and different ways from individual to individual. Both strategies are expressed in wolf packs, chimpanzee troops or any socially advanced species including humans. There are always the power grabbers and there are always the altruistic non reproductive followers that play the support roles. The group benefits from both.”

The motivation and drive that compels those who proceed with their endeavours to succeed in their chosen careers and fields of work requires a gene or a gene-system (multiple genes?) because we know that this ‘capacity’ is absent in vast numbers of people. The capacity is unlikely to improve through correct upbringing or education. CdesignProponentsist further wrote: ”Rarely does a single gene exhibit a single expression, especially when it comes to complex expressions like social behavior. We are probably talking about a complement of genes. As far as specifics on how the two expressions relate in a single individual, I don’t have a clue. I would imagine the waters are also muddied quite a bit with the nature vs nurture problem. Having said that, there is indication of there being a particular gene responsible for sociopathic behavior. The MAO-A gene which has also been called the ‘Warrior gene’. Again, it is probably not the only gene involved in greedy power driven behavior but has a strong influence. I would imagine it is strongly selected for, for the fact that a sociopath is also a player and has a much higher reproductive success (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychopathy#Genetics). I would also imagine a social group with all sociopaths is not as fit as a group with a mixture of sociopaths and altruists. So both are probably required for overall fitness of the group of any socially advanced species.”

Mirror neurones have been suggested to provide a mechanism for learned behaviour and the genetic basis for the development of empathy in animals: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_neurons

The Evolutionary Significance of Human Goodness

13 Dec

I wish to discuss human goodness in relation to my personal experience of it and my latest convictions on the lack of evidence for a Personal God (see: http://satyaadvaita.wordpress.com/2012/12/09/dr-shantanu-panigrahi-says-on-9-december-2012-that-there-is-no-personal-god/). I will start by defining  goodness in human beings from the only way I can, a personal perception because that is what I know the most about.

I felt that being truthful, transparent, honest, free of conceit, pride, and ego, greed, non-violent, pacifying as far as it can go, were important to me and that these qualities made me a good person, as opposed to a bad person. The question that puzzled me is why was I so different from many other human beings in these regards. Humanity must be divided into a spectrum of human beings from good to bad. I had assumed that this division must have been due to the possibility that right inside me a God had taken up residence as the divine soul or super soul (atma in Hinduism) getting me to do only good things in life. But I was not satisfied with that assumption. It had to be tested for truth at all costs. So I neglected my material needs for my family in order to pursue the truth of this enormously difficult question. The only way it could be resolved was to communicate with this God in a clear way that could be relied upon. I started a process of trying to correspond with this preceived God in total faith and devotion on the belief that such a Personal God would provide me with the answers especially since it was vital to human progress so would be in God’s interests to help me determine. Using various exploaratory techniques of what God’s wishes were with the aid of a digital clock for God to show me particular numbers as answers to my questions to him on my daily activities that were designed to improve myself and my life without harming others (including varying the experiments to from periods no checks, to periods of constant checks, and varying the two changing checks by altering the time display numbers), I left no stone unturned to try and ascertain whether or not there was an inner voice of God who could be planting thought in my mind as revelations and get me to do various things in my life. After 15 years of such checks I reached the conclusion that there was God seated there who I could correspond with me to influence me in my decisions by acting on my body and mind. Despite all the faith and devotion God has shown no inclination to correspond with me in the only way that he could have if he was omnipotent and omnibenevolent. So he could not have made me a good person from within which would be a much more complex task of constant influence. There was therefore absolutely no Personal God in evidence. My goodness was therefore purely biological in aetiology.

To realise this for certain had mind boggling implications on how we see human evolution. That I came about biologically to be such a gentle and good person so different from many others but was not the only such person meant that some of us at least have evolved to be caring and altruistic in relation to our from animalistic predecessors. How did it happen, and is this tendency spreading through the human population? Is there a God that does not wish to be a Personal God but nonetheless directed evolution to generate gentle human beings like me? If not, what was the evolutionary significance of gentleness, of human goodness?

Since I have discounted the deistic position as untenable, could human ‘goodness’ have served a survival and reproductional purpose? How credible is this logic? Or are ‘good’ humans a variant in Homo sapiens whose numbers in the population will decrease in the battle between the supremacy of ‘good’ over ‘bad’ people in purely evolutionary terms?

It is increasingly suggested that early experience has a crucial role to play in engendering empathy or goodness in human beings (http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1982190,00.html#ixzz2Ew9cNkNX ).

studies show that those who experience such early trauma are at much greater risk of becoming aggressive or even psychopathic later on, bullying other children or being victimized by bullies themselves.

Some believe that goodness is the default position for human beings. The word ‘innate’ in the report indicates that our genes across entire humankind makes us all empathetic in nature in that we all have a certain goodness about ourselves no matter which human population one looks at in the world. Do we rule out that there might be actual genetic abnormalities/mutations in those genes that give us our basic kind and altruistic caring nature which could then make some of us excessively good or excessively bad, even only as a predisposition for the early experience to act on? Also overall is there any difference in between the two sexes as to their composition of good and bad people?