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View Full Version : humans smart because of genetic defect?


zimv20
Mar 24, 2004, 10:15 PM
link (http://www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/science/03/24/science.brains.reut/index.html)


LONDON, England (Reuters) -- A genetic mutation that occurred 2.4 million years ago could be the reason why modern humans have such big brains and weak jaws, scientists said on Wednesday.

They discovered that a fault in a gene called MYH16 in modern humans happened at about the same time that their skulls started to change in shape from other primates, allowing their brains to increase in size.

But the trade-off was a smaller, less powerful jaw.

"The coincidence in time...may mean that the decrease in jaw muscle size and force eliminated stress on the skull which released an evolutionary constraint on brain growth," said Nancy Minugh-Purvis, a member of the team at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, that made the discovery.

All humans have the MYH16 mutation but other primates, including chimpanzees and macaques, still have the intact gene. Over the past few million years, since the genetic fault occurred, human skulls have grown three times in size and the outwardly elongated jaws have receded.

(more)

miloblithe
Mar 24, 2004, 10:48 PM
Well I'll be a monkey's uncle.

Isn't the idea of evolution kind of that there aren't genetic faults, just successful and unsuccessful variations (well, perhaps I'm overstating the case).

FightTheFuture
Mar 25, 2004, 12:02 AM
interesting. so this is why i eat soft vegetables and never saw "dude where's my car"

MongoTheGeek
Mar 25, 2004, 06:58 AM
not to surprising. I saw a study that said that the brains convoluted shape was due to tension between the eyeballs and the occipital lobe during development. There is so much of the body that works on feedback for development that it could simply be cutting back on the muscles increased brain size.

JamesDPS
Mar 25, 2004, 07:11 AM
btu I hve a VERRY powrful jah!

On a side note, I have a genetic defect: a centromere inversion on my (I think) number 14 Y-chromosome (might be number 10 though, can't remember). Apparently no bad effects, though.
*Involuntarily Twitches*

jrv3034
Mar 25, 2004, 08:09 AM
btu I hve a VERRY powrful jah!

LOL!!! :D ;)

I believe it. Nice link, zimv20!

JesseJames
Mar 25, 2004, 11:07 AM
Very interesting. Could explain why my lower teeth have been getting scrunched together as I got older. I've also seen this in many other people. I'd say most people.
Could also explain why wisdom teeth are removed too.

2jaded2care
Mar 25, 2004, 11:10 AM
"The mutation is reported in the latest issue of the journal Nature (search), not by anthropologists, but by a team of biologists and plastic surgeons at the University of Pennsylvania and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia."

Link: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,115107,00.html

Funny if the "biologists and plastic surgeons" turn out to be right, and the anthropologists are wrong...

rueyeet
Mar 25, 2004, 11:49 AM
Isn't the idea of evolution kind of that there aren't genetic faults, just successful and unsuccessful variations (well, perhaps I'm overstating the case).

You could look at it that way in a philosophical sense, but as I understand it, an incomplete or otherwise damaged gene can still be said to be flawed...it's just that a flaw can be a successful variation.

I have a theory that nature only selects for intelligence in the human species within a range of slightly above average or less. Basically the idea is that the truly brilliant, genius-level intellects are more likely to spend their time on discoveries and inventions and such, rather than raising families. On the other hand, those at the lower end of the intelligence scale are less likely to engage in family planning, resulting in many more children. This trend is also probably accelerating, at least in developed countries, because the time when everyone was expected to have as many children as possible is now past.

Or, as Harvey Danger so aptly if cruelly put it: "I looked around the world and found that only stupid people are breeding." :o

JesseJames
Mar 25, 2004, 12:15 PM
Nicely put rueyeet.
But genius does have its price. Genius is invariably linked to eccentricity. An unattractive trait to anyone. Would you want to mate with someone who is brilliant but capricious?
The term 'brilliantly impaired' wasn't coined for no reason. I just wish that education systems could learn to recognize people like this very early and harness their talents before latent neuroses may arise. But alas, education systems are meant to just educate the masses - "McDonalds education" I call it. Tasty and for everybody. Not cater to genius.

Mr. Anderson
Mar 25, 2004, 12:30 PM
Why is it a defect? Its evolution and it is something that allowed us to survive, so I don't think it should be called something negative.

But its cool to show that there is a major contributing factor to humans getting bigger brains :D

D

wdlove
Mar 25, 2004, 01:18 PM
I'm very happy that the gene MYH16 changed ~2.4 million years ago. Personally I don't miss the larger jaw. I can still eat everything that I desire.

zimv20
Mar 25, 2004, 01:24 PM
Personally I don't miss the larger jaw. I can still eat everything that I desire.
i long for the days i was happy staring at the ground and eating cantaloupe in one bite...

:-)

MongoTheGeek
Mar 25, 2004, 01:35 PM
Nicely put rueyeet.
But genius does have its price. Genius is invariably linked to eccentricity. An unattractive trait to anyone. Would you want to mate with someone who is brilliant but capricious?

It goes beyond that. Children of engineers are 8 times as likely to be autistic and children of 2 engineers are are somewhere around 50 times as likely.

zimv20
Mar 25, 2004, 01:43 PM
It goes beyond that. Children of engineers are 8 times as likely to be autistic and children of 2 engineers are are somewhere around 50 times as likely.
????

where did you hear that?

x86isslow
Mar 25, 2004, 02:22 PM
????

where did you hear that?

to get massively off topic, autism has had several things attributed to it over the years. One is that it is a disease of mainly the wealthy and well educated. The other is that it is an expression of extreme maleness. The engineer thing came out of who was most likely to approach the medical community and subsidize research for autism. In the 20th century, as the not the incidence of autism, but the awareness of it grew, it seemed to be a disease of the wealthy. More recently, it has been found to occur somewhat more indiscriminately. As for the extreme maleness aspect- more males have it than girls. autism society of america's website states: The overall incidence of autism is consistent around the globe, but is four times more prevalent in boys than girls. Autism knows no racial, ethnic, or social boundaries, and family income, lifestyle, and educational levels do not affect the chance of autism's occurrence.

as for the original topic, other studies have shown that other primate infants are born more advanced than human infants, but around age 2 i think, the similarity drops off, as human babies continue to grow, and primate babies, whose skulls seemed to have fused long before human infants' skulls do, really slow down in learning. The recent discovery of the gene is the 'why' aspect of the timing of skull fusing.

MongoTheGeek
Mar 25, 2004, 03:44 PM
????

where did you hear that?

I think Wired. I know they had an article about it. There are a lot of similarities between "good" engineering thought processes and autistic behaviour. The discovery of Aspberger's syndrome suggests that autism is truly a disease of gradients where there is a continuum from normal to the full blown autistic who just sits and keens.

I know when I heard about the symptoms of Autism I saw a lot of similarities with myself.

bennetsaysargh
Mar 25, 2004, 04:19 PM
Why is it a defect? Its evolution and it is something that allowed us to survive, so I don't think it should be called something negative.

But its cool to show that there is a major contributing factor to humans getting bigger brains :D

D

i was actually thinking about something like that the other day in school. isn't evolution just the progression and not a step backwards? although it's opinion, it's a good subject to think about.

coolsoldier
Mar 25, 2004, 04:21 PM
Of course humans are smart because of a genetic defect. Based on theories of mutation and natural selection every trait in every animal is the result of a "genetic defect" somewhere along the line.

But just to be pedantic, it's only a "defect" in other animals. When we're talking about humans, its a defining characteristic, so it can't be considered a defect.

iindigo
Mar 25, 2004, 05:21 PM
Forgive me but I had to say this - evolution is a bunch of donkey poo. I mean seriously, how on earth could everything fit together so well BY CHANCE? Test this by randomly dropping a bunch of toothpics on a table. Do they line up to make something? Of course not. Same goes here.




- iindigo

mangoduck
Mar 25, 2004, 05:46 PM
we're malignant, i tell you. a rampant strain.

miloblithe
Mar 25, 2004, 06:01 PM
Forgive me but I had to say this - evolution is a bunch of donkey poo. I mean seriously, how on earth could everything fit together so well BY CHANCE? Test this by randomly dropping a bunch of toothpics on a table. Do they line up to make something? Of course not. Same goes here.




- iindigo

Reasoning by anology is the ultimate in poor logic. Evolution does not state that dropping toothpicks on a table will lead to a lined up pattern.

estlin
Mar 25, 2004, 06:02 PM
Things don't fit together well by chance. It's millions of years of natural selection. Traits that help survival tend to be passed on; those that don't tend to be killed off. Given a great amount of time for all that to be sorted out, and things start to work together quite well. Oh, and while we're at it, all your emotions are just chemically and biologically induced. And there's no such thing as free will. So you really can't blame me if I hate so many people.

i have a name?
Mar 25, 2004, 06:35 PM
iindigo, all i have to say is this... drop those same toothpicks a few hundred billion times over the course of about 4 billion years, if theres still nothing then your post is valid, if not then dont talk. and either way, if you could see 4 billion years from now, you would see huge natural changes in the human race.

Makosuke
Mar 25, 2004, 06:41 PM
I'm also not entirely clear on the difference between a mutation and merely a change, but I think the point is that the change was drastic and sudden (something got screwed up in a generation), as opposed to gradual lean in one direction or another (like the 2.4 million years of evolution of larger brains after the sudden change that made it possible for those brains to get bigger).

I mean seriously, how on earth could everything fit together so well BY CHANCE? Test this by randomly dropping a bunch of toothpics on a table. Do they line up to make something?
Amusing analogy in how utterly unrelated it is. That's like saying "Do you really think the English language developed so effectively by chance? Test this by banging on your keyboard for a few minutes--do the characters make intelligible sentences? No!"

No, like English, the construction of life built up over a very long period of building on existing things, trial, error, adjustment to current circumstances, and the occasional accident. It wasn't conciously planned to end up the way it did, but it's worked out quite well.

Of course, this doesn't necessarily mean that there was no intelligent force behind the construction of the universe, or that humans are merely an accident--if there is an all-powerful being and you give it credit for the creation of all things, surely that being is capable of planning evolution so it produced interesting things as it moves along, or perhaps nudged it in the right direction on occasion.

Frohickey
Mar 25, 2004, 06:43 PM
If people are smart because they have weak jaw muscles and larger brains, does this mean that my sister that is always talking on the phone is stupid?

I knew it... I KNEW IT!!!

zimv20
Mar 25, 2004, 07:27 PM
I think Wired. I know they had an article about it. There are a lot of similarities between "good" engineering thought processes and autistic behaviour.
fascinating. i had never heard of such a link.

Daveman Deluxe
Mar 25, 2004, 07:43 PM
Of course, this doesn't necessarily mean that there was no intelligent force behind the construction of the universe, or that humans are merely an accident--if there is an all-powerful being and you give it credit for the creation of all things, surely that being is capable of planning evolution so it produced interesting things as it moves along, or perhaps nudged it in the right direction on occasion.

Darwin specifically asked that his theory of evolution never be used to deny the existence of God.

I believe we were created, but I've got no religious quarrel with the concept of evolution... it's not my business to tell God how to make us! :D

coolsoldier
Mar 25, 2004, 08:20 PM
Of course, this doesn't necessarily mean that there was no intelligent force behind the construction of the universe, or that humans are merely an accident--if there is an all-powerful being and you give it credit for the creation of all things, surely that being is capable of planning evolution so it produced interesting things as it moves along, or perhaps nudged it in the right direction on occasion.

Here's my favorite explanation of christianity+evolution (http://blogs.salon.com/0001772/stories/2003/01/06/whatsTheDealWithEvolution.html) over at the "Real Live Preacher" blog.

And as for the toothpick thing, try this:

Drop a bunch of toothpicks on the table. Pick up the ones that don't make a pattern. Leave the ones that do. Repeat a few billion times.

JesseJames
Mar 26, 2004, 05:37 AM
I believe 100% in evolution. I believe that we are a higher form of primate. I mean come on, look at the way we act. :rolleyes:

Colonel Panik
Mar 26, 2004, 11:33 AM
Forgive me but I had to say this - evolution is a bunch of donkey poo. I mean seriously, how on earth could everything fit together so well BY CHANCE? Test this by randomly dropping a bunch of toothpics on a table. Do they line up to make something? Of course not. Same goes here.



Go read a good book, like "The Blind Watchmaker" by Richard Dawkins. He specifically deals with this area of contention.

jsw
Mar 26, 2004, 11:45 AM
Forgive me but I had to say this - evolution is a bunch of donkey poo. I mean seriously, how on earth could everything fit together so well BY CHANCE? Test this by randomly dropping a bunch of toothpics on a table. Do they line up to make something? Of course not. Same goes here.

While the details might be disputed, evolution is unquestionably - from a scientific point of view - fact. Too much evidence. It is what has happened. To believe differently is to deny the same type of science that, say, allows your CD player, computer, microwave, etc. to work.

I'm not a religious person, but I'm not going to dispute your right to be one. I would suggest, however, that you spend your efforts more towards deciding that a supreme being or beings shaped the initial rules of the universe so as to allow us to develop. There's really no way to deny that argument. However, that is a different one than saying the supreme being(s) currently, on a whim, alter species. Evolution is what happens. But maybe someone set up the game a long time ago. Look at the game of Life (the cellular automata version, not the Milton-Bradley one). Very simple rules, very simple setup, very interesting results. Look at the much-maligned "A New Kind of Science" by Wolfram. Self-promoting, yes. Old ideas rebundled? Yes. But very interesting look at how simple rules create complex things.

Frohickey
Mar 26, 2004, 12:42 PM
While the details might be disputed, evolution is unquestionably - from a scientific point of view - fact. Too much evidence. It is what has happened.

Your post does not explain why my big sister is the devil incarnate. :p :D

studebakerhwk13
Mar 26, 2004, 02:03 PM
So now we have the idea of evolution evolving:

Take one now-identified rogue gene, add some well-meaning or otherwise motivated scientists, mix well with a few primate embryos = Planet of the Apes

jsw
Mar 26, 2004, 02:06 PM
Your post does not explain why my big sister is the devil incarnate. :p :D

Sorry, man. You'll have to take it up with Wolfram. He'll come up with a 1000-page explanation, with no footnotes, using automata. "A New Kind of Sister".

wdlove
Mar 26, 2004, 08:00 PM
Your post does not explain why my big sister is the devil incarnate. :p :D

Your sister only gets to you because you actually love her. You will look fondly on your memories of her as you get older. My brother also used to bother me greatly. There was about 6 years difference.

beatle888
Mar 26, 2004, 08:12 PM
Originally Posted by iindigo
Forgive me but I had to say this - evolution is a bunch of donkey poo. I mean seriously, how on earth could everything fit together so well BY CHANCE? Test this by randomly dropping a bunch of toothpics on a table. Do they line up to make something? Of course not. Same goes here.



just because you cant see order in chaos doesnt mean it isnt there. stare at the static on a television set......eventually you will see a pattern.

beatle888
Mar 26, 2004, 08:19 PM
While the details might be disputed, evolution is unquestionably - from a scientific point of view - fact. Too much evidence. It is what has happened. To believe differently is to deny the same type of science that, say, allows your CD player, computer, microwave, etc. to work.

just because we have found a reasonable explanation of how we came to be doesnt mean "It is what has happened". it could very well be just a logical explanation. it very well could be GOD (the catholic version) who made it very easy for us to find evolution as an answer to test our faith. point is, just because it could have happened through evolution doesnt mean it did.

jsw
Mar 26, 2004, 08:34 PM
just because we have found a reasonable explanation of how we came to be doesnt mean "It is what has happened". it could very well be just a logical explanation. it very well could be GOD (the catholic version) who made it very easy for us to find evolution as an answer to test our faith. point is, just because it could have happened through evolution doesnt mean it did.

Yeah, there you go. While not religious, I'm not exactly atheistic, either, and if there is a God (or gods) - which I can't prove or disprove - I would assume that he/she/they wouldn't give us brains that work just to deceive us. "Here's a clue. Figure it out. Follow the leads. Yes, it all makes sense, but... ha ha ha. Joke's on you!"

You might believe in a malicious, prankster God who would prefer that we all have faith in nonsense than that we believe what we see and deduce. I don't. I don't think it's a sin to think, to reason, to conjecture and deduce. I don't choose to believe that clues were left as a false path, just to ensure that we don't listen to our logic but instead to stories. I think that science and religion are not supposed to be opposites. I think that there is more than enough room for God(s) in our world and lives. Science just helps us figure out his/her/its/their plan, that's all. You mention a Catholic God. Well, the Church has for some time - not forever, but in recent decades - been quite an advocate of scientific research.

I don't know if there's a God. But I choose not to believe in one who would prefer that we remain dumb sheep who refuse to open our eyes.

jsw
Mar 26, 2004, 08:38 PM
just because we have found a reasonable explanation of how we came to be doesnt mean "It is what has happened". it could very well be just a logical explanation. it very well could be GOD (the catholic version) who made it very easy for us to find evolution as an answer to test our faith. point is, just because it could have happened through evolution doesnt mean it did.

But, after further thought, yeah, I have to conceed your point. It could, theoretically, all be a setup.

beatle888
Mar 26, 2004, 08:47 PM
But, after further thought, yeah, I have to conceed your point. It could, theoretically, all be a setup.

:p my original intent in reponding was to say that just because there is a very logical explanation (evolution) doesnt mean that its how it went down. thats all.

and im not saying god is a trickster, im just saying that in respects to the garden of eden, we ate from the tree of knowledge...now its up to us to make sense of the world unless we just choose blind faith. so if one goes on to try and find the answers instead of just excepting the word of god we might encounter lots of false avenues. maybe i shouldnt of said GOD tempted us with evolution...maybe the "evil" side of existence created the very good explanation in order to pull us away from the story of god.

i dont know. i think about it all the time and im sure all of us do. but who really can say for sure?

"dont believe in yourself, dont deceive with belief. knowledge comes with deaths release"

"im not a profit or a stone age man, just a mortal with potential of a superman"

dbowie, quicksand

jsw
Mar 26, 2004, 09:06 PM
:p my original intent in reponding was to say that just because there is a very logical explanation (evolution) doesnt mean that its how it went down. thats all.

and im not saying god is a trickster, im just saying that in respects to the garden of eden, we ate from the tree of knowledge...

I don't know, man. There's good reason to believe that a lot of that "tree of knowledge"/concept of hell/etc. stuff was made up to keep the masses - no pun intended - in line. Made up by those in power at the time. "Don't think - we'll tell you what to believe." Once you get people to stop thinking, they make excellent pawns/slaves/etc. Witness 9/11. Those guys were very intelligent about what they did. They just never thought about why - they were told it'd get them into heaven. And they believed it.

beatle888
Mar 26, 2004, 09:35 PM
well, the word of god actually brought a lot of comfort to unhappy and confused people. it was actually the people in power that were threatened by the word. if men in power fabricated jesus than they would have to live up to their own fabricated values and morals. it would put too much pressure on them. men of power (when corrupt) would rather just create a police state or worse...a militant government much like saddam hussein. im sure religions were started with the best intentions. its human nature that screws us every time. our dog eat dog greed and selfishness. or maybe lack of compassion for people in need or maybe laziness. thats probably it. working so hard for survival makes us greedy and selfish. the ones that can overcome laziness make it while the lazy souls either become criminals or remain poverty stricken.

anyhow, enjoy your weekend.