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Thread: Coevolution of eyes, hair skin in NW Europe

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    Coevolution of eyes, hair skin in NW Europe

    In 2010 made Kevin Laland e.a. an outline for co-evolution. The central idea is that culture can shape the genotype:

    Gene–culture co-evolution also has some practical implications. models of human evolution that fail to consider the role of culture may need to be replaced by models that acknowledge gene–culture associations. Gene-culture co-evolutionary methods too will change, as theoreticians will be able to construct models that explore the evolution of specific identified genes of known frequency. moreover, it is clear that culture can generate non-trivial demographic effect, and researchers would be wise to take account of these. The requisite tools are largely in place to produce these improved models, and it is merely a case of integrating findings from different disciplines. This will allow researchers to make quantitative and qualitative predictions about genetic and phenotypic variation across populations, or to draw inferences about the processes that have led to patterns of gene frequencies. unbiased genome-wide scans will potentially provide theoreticians with a suite of new cases of gene–culture co-evolution to explore. on the negative side, knowledge of actual genes may invalidate some theoretical analyses by revealing their assumptions to be unrealistic, and new kinds of models may need to be developed, but this too will lead to progress in the longer term.
    I guess an obvious example is the coloring of the eyes, hair and skin in NW Europe. There has been a tendency in NW Europe to light featured eyes, hair and skin. We now that the situation in LNBA was most probably quite diverse. Light features were already there for example in the HG groups and in some neolithic populations, the incoming Steppe pastoralist were on average quite darkish. Since LNBA there is a tendency towards light traits.

    As an example this is one of the SNP's that plays a role in Herc2. Herc2 is 'responsible' for light features.


    You see that there is a difference between the North Dutch and South Dutch, North Dutch 87% and South Dutch 74%. This can't be because of a very different natural environment. The distance are too small for that....partly this is due to different population influences the North Dutch are more clearly part of the North German plain.

    Buit is there also a cultural influence at stake? My suspicion is : yes. There were in NW Europe some 'cultural norms' that favored light features:

    The most outspoken in this respect is the Icelandic Rígsţula here are the three classes described in their color of skin, eyes, hair. The noble earls are described as light featured with blond hair and snake eyes. The karls or freeman c.q. the middle class are seen as somewhat reddish. And the thralls or slaves as swarthy, dark and are seen as ugly. When this since LNBA time was the mores, the norm, light is noble and darkish is low class and ugly. All this must have had effect on the genotype.....

    Last but not least I don't share the views of the Rígsţula I even condemn them. But this thread is aimed to show that cultural norms (not necessarily mines!!) have effect on the genotype and so the phenotype of hair, skin and eyes.

    Feel free to discuss!
    Last edited by Finn; 06-02-2019 at 12:58 PM.

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    Some comments already made:

    We now know that for scientific reasons, having lighter skin and lighter associated features, eyes and hair, might be advantageous the closer to the poles you get. Back then, of course, they would not know the reasons, but they certainly might have eventually 'twigged', generation over generation, after living 1000+ years at that latitude, that fairer skinned people might have been less likely to succumb to disease, and have been seen as stronger than darker featured people, and thus that became a preferable trait in sexual partners.
    https://anthrogenica.com/showthread....l=1#post572248

    One thing that has always struck me is that places with high proportions of light eyes must be telling us something about the population history because dark eyes are genetically dominant and should decrease if there is substantial mixing with a large element with dark eyes. So when they are very prevalent today this needs explanation. They don’t seem to confer any obvious advantages in the timeframe and areas they became common in. One possibility is sexual selection. The other is that it backs up the ancient DNA evidence of virtual total replacement of the local Neolithic farmers. It may be a bit of both -starting with a drastic segregation from and outbreeding of the Neolithic farmers by a population with a significant blue eyed element like northern beaker, followed by sexual selection for lighter eyes etc. Sometimes a culture develops an idealised ‘type’ and then this becomes desirable and sexual selection then does it’s thing ie the wealthier men can choose wives who conform to the idealised type in their culture and they’re offspring have a higher survival rate than poorer people. It’s fascinating too that the yamnaya and CW were very dominantly dark of hair and eyes and it was only around 2500BC when the groups like the ancestors of the beaker people and later CW groups absorbed a load of GAC genes that light hair and eyes became significant. It may be in that period of mixing somewhere in north-central Europe that the blonde/blue eyed ideal emerged. The GAC people were extremely high in light hair and eyes and must have really stood out in Europe.
    One thing that has always struck me is that places with high proportions of light eyes must be telling us something about the population history because dark eyes are genetically dominant and should decrease if there is substantial mixing with a large element with dark eyes. So when they are very prevalent today this needs explanation. They don’t seem to confer any obvious advantages in the timeframe and areas they became common in. One possibility is sexual selection. The other is that it backs up the ancient DNA evidence of virtual total replacement of the local Neolithic farmers. It may be a bit of both -starting with a drastic segregation from and outbreeding of the Neolithic farmers by a population with a significant blue eyed element like northern beaker, followed by sexual selection for lighter eyes etc. Sometimes a culture develops an idealised ‘type’ and then this becomes desirable and sexual selection then does it’s thing ie the wealthier men can choose wives who conform to the idealised type in their culture and they’re offspring have a higher survival rate than poorer people. It’s fascinating too that the yamnaya and CW were very dominantly dark of hair and eyes and it was only around 2500BC when the groups like the ancestors of the beaker people and later CW groups absorbed a load of GAC genes that light hair and eyes became significant. It may be in that period of mixing somewhere in north-central Europe that the blonde/blue eyed ideal emerged. The GAC people were extremely high in light hair and eyes and must have really stood out in Europe.
    https://anthrogenica.com/showthread....l=1#post572254

    All I can say is that both my mum and I are TT for rs8039195. We both have pale skin and blue eyes alright but dark hair with my mum's darker than my own. My mum and I also both have rs1667394 as TT which is meant to be 4x more likely for blond hair and blue eyes. Of course, different genes contribute to phenotype and not just one. I always thought that girls typically like a man who is tall, dark and handsome according to the movies anyway. I know that it's also a part of popular culture that men prefer blondes so going by that, both blonds and brunettes should be present in all classes really. Up until about the 1600s, the Irish had their own kingdoms so if blond hair, light skin and blue eyes were preferred for both genders among the upper class and restricted to the upper class due to this preference, then those features should have become present in the peasant Irish population once those who were once royalty were now equal to the peasants they ruled. Variations in phenotype like this in terms of complexion, eye and hair colour are present in other European countries. Since brown eye colour and darker complexions are dominant to lighter genes, all that's needed is one brown eyed ancestor for these features to have a good chance of being passed down.
    https://anthrogenica.com/showthread....l=1#post572257


    Irish native literature of the pre-1650 era also has a rather nordicist way of associating black Hair with low social strata, fallen tribes, clans of different origin etc. It’s also hard not to notice the high number of Irish kings and nobles whose names are appended with ‘red’ ‘fair’ etc in medieval genealogies and historical sources. It’s also obvious in early Irish myths and literature that the Irish nobility did have a strong blond ‘ideal’. It should not be forgotten that in Ireland the native nobility and warrior class was largely exiled or almost wiped out several times from the late 1500s to the end of the 1600s. So the Irish from 1600/1700 onwards are largely the descendants of the people who were not the upper echelons of society even though most could claim distant descent from kings etc. The destruction or exile of the Irish upper strata in the late 1500s, the plantations of the early 1600s, the cromwellian period and to some extent after the defeat of the Jacobites in 1690 meant the upper part of Irish society was largely wiped out. That may have had an effect on post-1700 Irish population characteristics.
    https://anthrogenica.com/showthread....l=1#post572261

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    @Rufus,
    We now know that for scientific reasons, having lighter skin and lighter associated features, eyes and hair, might be advantageous the closer to the poles you get. Back then, of course, they would not know the reasons, but they certainly might have eventually 'twigged', generation over generation, after living 1000+ years at that latitude, that fairer skinned people might have been less likely to succumb to disease, and have been seen as stronger than darker featured people, and thus that became a preferable trait in sexual partners.
    May be it's the other way around, around the Northpole there are people like the Inuit and Saami can have darker features as long as they assure that vitamin D is enough there fish, whale, seal, and walrus blubber ( vitamin D saturated fat) can assure this. But in the case of red hair and very pale skin beneath the 45th parallel north, running through central France, northern Italy and Croatia, appears to be a major natural boundary for red hair frequencies. Under the 45th parallel, the UV rays become so strong that it is no longer an advantage to have red hair and very fair skin. Under the 41th parallel, redheads become extremely rare, the risk of skin cancer is than very big (eupedia/maciamo).

    @Alan is the brown eyes dominant and blue eye recessive still the state of the art? See:
    https://udel.edu/~mcdonald/mytheyecolor.html
    Last edited by Finn; 06-02-2019 at 05:53 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Finn View Post
    @Rufus,

    May be it's the other way around, around the Northpole there are people like the Inuit and Saami can have darker features as long as they assure that vitamin D is enough there fish, whale, seal, and walrus blubber ( vitamin D saturated fat) can assure this. But in the case of red hair and very pale skin beneath the 45th parallel north, running through central France, northern Italy and Croatia, appears to be a major natural boundary for red hair frequencies. Under the 45th parallel, the UV rays become so strong that it is no longer an advantage to have red hair and very fair skin. Under the 41th parallel, redheads become extremely rare, the risk of skin cancer is than very big.

    @Alan is the brown eyes dominant and blue eye recessive still the state of the art? See:
    https://udel.edu/~mcdonald/mytheyecolor.html
    I have pondered the problem of the Inuit before, why they did not develop lighter skin and features, whereas people who came into northern Europe did so. The conclusion I came to is quite simple. For the most part, the Inuit (and perhaps the Saami too), lived for much of the time on ice and snow covered environments. In that case it would not be an evolutionary advantage to have very light skin or features, because of the susceptibility to skin cancers from much higher UV because so much more light is reflected from the surface. By the time our steppe ancestors came into Europe, most of the ice was already gone, and they would not have been subjected to such an environment, they would be hunting in forests and fishing in rivers and the sea, and beginning to farm, so eventually having lighter skin would be an evolutionary advantage at northerly latitudes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rufus191 View Post
    I have pondered the problem of the Inuit before, why they did not develop lighter skin and features, whereas people who came into northern Europe did so. The conclusion I came to is quite simple. For the most part, the Inuit (and perhaps the Saami too), lived for much of the time on ice and snow covered environments. In that case it would not be an evolutionary advantage to have very light skin or features, because of the susceptibility to skin cancers from much higher UV because so much more light is reflected from the surface. By the time our steppe ancestors came into Europe, most of the ice was already gone, and they would not have been subjected to such an environment, they would be hunting in forests and fishing in rivers and the sea, and beginning to farm, so eventually having lighter skin would be an evolutionary advantage at northerly latitudes.
    Still creates a potential problem in midwinter.....no light at all. So the diet must have solved a big part of the potential vitamin D shortage.

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    The fact light hair and eyes was v rare in Yamnaya and CW and present but still a very much minority even around 3000-2500BC did surprise people. There were all sorts of theories about the origin of those traits but I think their first spread into north and central Europe appears to be through the absorbing of many GAC females by steppe related groups.

    It seems for unclear reasons that the gentlemen prefer blonds thing must have become a feature of cultures in northern and central Europe at that time and probably the people with resources were able to have their choice of women and therefore the traits likely become a feature of the people who held power and resources. Or to put it another way an 'ideal' of phenotype developed in some cultures and those with resources used their power to acquire women with that phenotype. I certainly think that the ancient DNA would suggest that the ideal dates from around the time groups like northern beaker and some later CW type groups absorbed GAC genes en-masse. At first these traits clearly remained minority but in some areas they really took off.

    As some of the traits like blue eyes should lose out when mixing with brown eyed populations due the latter genes being dominant and some are recessive (need two copies) like genes relating to red hair etc then its a bit of mystery how the percentage of those features grew. However we do known that northern beaker for example in the isles almost totally excluded itself from the natives they found there. That is a very unusual thing - invade a country and leave the women alone. That was clearly not the case among the SW European P312 groups who did heavily mix with the local Neolithic women. Then again beaker encountered very different existing societies in the north and south of Europe. There were already advanced copper using societies with some quite impressive fortified nucleated settlements in SW Europe before the P312 beaker people arrived. In the isles they clearly wanted to stay separate but in SW Europe the P312 invaders appear to have wanted to take over what was already there rather than destroy it or stay aloof. That is probably the reason some P312 lines are very associated with IE languages while others are high in non-IE groups in SW Europe.
    Last edited by alan; 06-02-2019 at 07:23 PM.

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    This is a personal anecdote and not a population thing, but anyway:

    Stevens_Richard M II_hair color_Ancestry DNA.jpg

    That's an old picture of me. I'm better looking now.

    Also, my eyes are light blue.
     


    Y-DNA: R1b-L21> DF13> Z39589> DF41> FGC5572> BY168> BY166> FT37605> FGC36974> FGC36982> FGC36981

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    It seems for unclear reasons that the gentlemen prefer blonds thing must have become a feature of cultures in northern and central Europe at that time and probably the people with resources were able to have their choice of women and therefore the traits likely become a feature of the people who held power and resources. Or to put it another way an 'ideal' of phenotype developed in some cultures and those with resources used their power to acquire women with that phenotype. I certainly think that the ancient DNA would suggest that the ideal dates from around the time groups like northern beaker and some later CW type groups absorbed GAC genes en-masse. At first these traits clearly remained minority but in some areas they really took off.
    I think that's the clue indeed.

    As some of the traits like blue eyes should lose out when mixing with brown eyed populations due the latter genes being dominant and some are recessive (need two copies) like genes relating to red hair etc then its a bit of mystery how the percentage of those features grew.
    Isn't the view changed the last time? See the article above. Isn't a a complex of 15 SNP's altogether that makes the color?

    My genotype 'confuses' the feature predictors, I get blue/grey eyes with Frieger, Amber on Gedmatch and Brown in DNA.Land. Okay that's partly because of FTDNA is compared to 23andMe not so complete in these kind of traits snp's. I have seen that the type of predictors have filled in some SNP"s that I couldn't find in the raw data! Especially regarding the crucial rs12913832!

    But anyhow I'm in the light-dark twilight zone, best described as dark goldblond, so with dark gold blond hair (blond and due to R160W/ red snp with a warm glue), chestnut brown eyes and fair/golden undertone skin (fitzpatrick type 3). As a child I had very light hair now it's somewhat darkened but that's usual in NW Europe. For a North Dutch somewhat on the darker side.

    But obviously this mix confuses the trait predictors
    Last edited by Finn; 06-02-2019 at 08:29 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rms2 View Post
    This is a personal anecdote and not a population thing, but anyway:

    Stevens_Richard M II_hair color_Ancestry DNA.jpg

    That's an old picture of me. I'm better looking now.

    Also, my eyes are light blue.
    Nice, you look like a seventies soccer player here....

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