Saturday, February 16, 2013

East Asian Traits and the Genetic Component

NY Times & Examiner. Recent research by Joshua Akey and Dr. Kamberov shows that East Asians evolved differently from other human beings through the EDAR mutated gene. This gene is specifically responsible for the Eastern Asian characteristics of small breasts, more sweat glands, different teeth, and thicker hair. Researchers engineered a strain of mice with the same gene found in Eastern Asians. When the mice were grown, they found thicker hair shafts, additional sweat glands, and less breast tissue. Despite the promising results researchers have yet to figure out how these genes are passed down from generations. This gene causes a great degree of pleiotropy so how natural selection played a part in its prevalence is interesting. Since , by evolution standards, there can only be speculation, researchers are left to guess. Additional sweat glands provides a better mode of thermoregulation. However, East Asia is particularly cold. A more likely explanation , via sexual selection, is that East Asian men were more attracted to women with thicker hair and smaller breasts, two visible traits brought upon by EDAR.  Dr. Kamberov goes on to explain that each trait could have been adaptable at different periods of time throughout history.

To better understand recent human evolution the "Broad Team" attempts to scan the human genome. Its hard to pinpoint the genes since the scans identify large portions of the genome. Each race has its own section of unique DNA relative to things like the geographical area, cultural difference, and sheer chance. These visible variations can be found in almost every species and eventually leads to divergent evolution over a large period of time. This article is both enticing and dangerous. It can possibly feed into the idea that race is real, if interpreted incorrectly, which I'm sure it will.

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