The first European who is not of African descent to run 100 metres in less than 10 seconds. [more inside]
'Race' graphically illustrated - "most Europeans" vs. Ashkenazim (previously; see also IQ & Gladwell, viz. ;) [more inside]
A link between race and breast cancer. The findings of this study by a Philadelphia research team dovetail other recent findings, including those of Chicago researcher Funmi Olopade, a MacArthur winning doctor from Nigeria who is studying the genetic implications of the discovery. A Q & A with Dr. Olopade on her research. Dr. Olopade discussing her work on the Tavis Smiley show in 2003.
Black man, white woman, black baby...? So the song goes, but when two of those babies got together as adults, the already shaky formula of racial outcomes was shown to be fallacious by a million-to-one event: the birth of black and white twins. An interesting aside of a media event, to be sure... but underneath the surface lurks an interesting subversion of the intuitive basis of race itself. What race is anyone? Then again, are you sure? I ask because it's amazing how not sure you can be.
Study finds that 40% of Ashkenazi Jews come from four Jewish mothers. Previously discussed on Metafilter: the peculiar genetics of Ashkenazi Jews and their impressive intellect.
Genes Reveal Recent Human Brain Evolution. Two important new papers in the journal Science (available here) from the evolutionary geneticist and rising star, Bruce T. Lahn (see this recent profile from The Scientist), are potentially the tips of some very large icebergs. The papers document how two genes related to brain properties that underwent strong selection during the course of hominid evolution, have continued undergoing strong selection since the emergence of anatomically modern man. The papers wonderfully illustrate how biological evolution is an ongoing process as well as the artificial distinction between “micro” and “macro” evolution, and promise to be controversial for two reasons: First, the brain genes underwent the strongest selection during two periods of cultural and technological efflorescence (roughly 37,000 and 5,800 years ago). Second, the genes are distributed very differently in modern human population groups, existing at very high frequencies in some groups and being very rare in others, ensuring that the modern function of these genes will be a source of more research and much impassioned debate. More observations from anthropologist John Hawks.
The Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence (PDF). A fascinating new theory from physicist turned renegade evolutionary theorist, Gregory Cochran (see this Atlantic Monthly cover story on Cochran's already path-breaking germ theory of disease), and genetic anthropologist Henry Harpending, proposes that a unique evolutionary history, and a number of improbably clustered neurologically related genetic diseases among Ashkenazi Jews could help explain their incredible intelligence test scores and extraordinary intellectual achievements (e.g. Ashkenazi Jews are 3% of the American population but win 27% of the Nobel Prizes). The paper is set for publication in the Journal of Biosocial Science, and is already getting major press in the New York Times and The Economist. Does the recent Harvard fracas over Larry Summers herald a new "arms race" in academic debate about genetics, man and society for the 21st century? [compelling post by Jason]
A hundred social scientists and geneticists gathered this week in Alexandria to sort out the meaning of race, and didn't, quite.