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How Farming Reshaped Our Genomes 144

sciencehabit writes "The earliest farmers may not have been built for the profession. They may have been unable to digest starch and milk, according to a new ancient DNA study of a nearly 8000-year-old human skeleton from Spain (a hunter-gatherer who had dark skin and blue eyes). But these pioneers did already possess immune defenses against some of the diseases that would later become the scourge of civilization. The findings are helping researchers understand what genetic and biological changes humans went through as they made the transition from hunting and gathering to farming."
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How Farming Reshaped Our Genomes

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  • Why is he unkempt? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BobMcD ( 601576 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @03:12PM (#46083583) []

    Who says he let his hair and beard grow long? What evidence from the skeleton would have led to this conclusion?

  • by Moheeheeko ( 1682914 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @03:31PM (#46083801)
    Prehistoric spain was fucking cold, why would he remove a natural head covering?
  • At the time .... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 27, 2014 @03:32PM (#46083817)

    At the time, we humans needed a steady food supply. Hunting and foraging is too sporadic - and hence why we developed this ability to gain fat easily and it's a bitch to get rid of it. Feast or famine.

    Agriculture and the the high calorie grains like wheat and corn allowed us to survive and develop a society where we have farmers and other professions.

    Now that model is obsolete in the modern Western World, we are paying the price of our inability to adjust our taste buds.

    High calorie food tastes great! But we're not suffering from food shortages or doing enough physical work to justify those tastes.

    Wheat and corn didn't fuck us - our inability to judge our caloric needs is what screwed us.

  • by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @03:53PM (#46084053)

    All mammals are, by definition, born with the ability to digest milk, therefore they have the genes to do that. It can happen that those genes are epi-genitically turned off in adults that are not exposed to milk. However, the genes would be still there.

    The genes for digestion are still there, yes, but they shut off after childhood unless you have a specific genetic mutation that allows lifelong production of lactase. Source 1 [], source 2 [].

  • by Arker ( 91948 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @04:16PM (#46084373) Homepage

    There are actually a handful of tribes that had that custom, the Yahi in california come to mind immediately. Plucking is also useful. But as a couple of other posters pointed out, the point about no shaving was specious to begin with. A high quality flint scraper is actually sharper than the best metal razor and yes they work just fine for shaving, if you are inclined to that activity.

    We really have zero evidence as to what the custom was in the time/space coordinates where the skeleton originates, so his personal grooming style and habits are entirely conjectural. Someone just thought he would look good as a hairy wildman so that is how he was painted.

  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @04:27PM (#46084521)

    Beards were rather popular in Ancient culture. A sign of manhood and variability. It took Alexander the Great to change that trend, pointing out that a beard could be grabbed in battle, so he ordered his troops to shave them off.
    However, it is a good way to protect your face, while hiding in bushes, and keeps your face warmer in the winter. It makes sense to assume that Hunters (Males) would have beards.

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.