Around the Web; It’s Anthropology Week!

Here’s what caught my eye this week:

[1] Interesting posts this week: Paleo Pepper has compiled an online encyclopedia: the top 120 Paleo blog posts. Richard Nikoley asks: is optimality in diet a fool’s errand? He takes the view that individuals have an optimum, but not humanity. Via Seth Roberts, a fascinating story of how even doctors cannot get good care out of today’s medical system: How modern medicine killed my brother.

Also from Seth, his “morning faces therapy” has produced a great result for a man with bipolar disorder. We believe that “circadian rhythm therapies,” and bio-rhythm restoring techniques generally, are an underappreciated therapy. See, for instance, Intermittent Fasting as a Therapy for Hypothyroidism (Dec 1, 2010) and Seth Roberts and Circadian Therapy (Mar 22, 2011).

Emily Deans offers up a surprising danger of smoking pot – fungal infections of the lung:

[S]moked joints could easily be adulterated with natural fungi that grow into big nasty (and deadly) fungus balls in the lung.  I saw a case of this fungus ball in medical school in a patient immunosuppresed with HIV who also happened to smoke a lot of pot.  It could have been from other sources, of course, but my attendings assured me they had seen it several times in AIDS patients who were heavy pot users.  It’s not a pleasant way to go, and the treatments are horrible.

In a more controversial post, Emily argues that greater dopamine in the male brain creates “Genius and Madness,” while the lower dopamine feminine brain promotes sociability and social stability. But I wonder if a world led by “Generation XX” is really going to be more stable.

Mark’s Daily Apple notes that city living can be a brain drain. It certainly is for Shou-Ching and I; our nightmare would be living in New York City. Curiously I didn’t have the same sense of oppression in Tokyo, a much more open city. Boston is better than New York but we would prefer the country.

Robert Krulwich discusses the “loneliest plant in the world”: a male tree that can’t find a mate, as it is the only known surviving member of its species. Scientific American discusses how gut bacteria shape the brain. Chris Kresser suggests ways to keep your brain from aging.

Finally, if you’ve never seen a deer eat a bird, and would like to, Bix has you covered.

[2] Music to read exercise by:

The video can’t be embedded but is great. I wonder if the gymnastics were influenced by Parkour?

[3] My Favorite Posts This Week: The best posts this week were by Melissa McEwen of Hunt Gather Love, who has been running a series on “The Human Colon in Evolution.” All posts are great – I loved today’s (part 5) because it was new to me, and part 4 because it argues our “safe starches” are great foods for the gut – but they’re all outstanding:

[4] Human origins elucidated:

An important paper on human origins came out this week. “A Revised Root for the Human Y Chromosomal Phylogenetic Tree: The Origin of Patrilineal Diversity in Africa” used Y-chromosomes to trace the male “Adam” back to 142,000 years ago and northwest Africa, in what is now the Sahara but was then an open woodland environment. This is significant for many reasons, but one is that this region had easy communications with the Middle East along the Mediterranean coast and supports the possibility that interbreeding between Neanderthals and Africans, with significant back-migration into Africa proper, may have been an important process in the evolution of modern humans. Dienekes (here and here) and Razib Khan comment.

JS Stanton at had a nice essay. I don’t agree with everything in it; in particular, JS underestimates the violence of Paleolithic society. The work of Lawrence Keeley is helpful in this regard:

In browsing the comments to JS’s post I saw a link to a weird book by Danny Vendramini called Them and Us. A video by the author presents his case: Neanderthals were chimp-like super-predators and predation and rape by Neanderthals killed all the dumb humans, until the smarter humans figured out how to kill all the Neanderthals. Here’s how Vendramini imagines the Neanderthals:

There is plenty of evidence indicating that this view of the Neanderthals is wrong. I will just note that the fraction of Neanderthal genes in present-day humans is of the same order of magnitude as the level of mixing African-Americans and European-Americans have achieved in 200 years – this despite 30,000 years of selection which will have tended to work against survival of most Neanderthal genes. The idea that such extensive mixing came about through rape conducted by radically different species in perpetual warfare is, I think, totally untenable. There must have been extensive voluntary interbreeding.

Curiously, the Vendramini view recapitulates one of the earliest hypotheses about Neanderthals. This talk by Carl Zimmer shows that (at 2:40) in 1909 leading anthropologists shared Vendramini’s view of the Neanderthals, whereas today they seem — ahem — considerably more attractive:

[5] We’re glad it’s helping! Chris Kresser on Twitter:

I’ve been having some success w/modified ketogenic diet a la Paul Jaminet w/50g CHO, 6 TBS MCT oil 5g leucine.

This method of producing ketosis is much healthier than the zero-carb low-protein diets sometimes used.

UPDATE: It’s mood disorders generally, and depression specifically, that the ketogenic diet has been helping with.

[6] More on Food Deserts: Beth Mazur of Weight Maven has written of the significance of “food deserts” in the obesity epidemic. Basically, where fresh whole foods are difficult to buy, obesity rates are high.

Now the USDA has a cool interactive map showing the locations of food deserts:

Via Razib Khan

[7] Did monkeys keep pets?:

Via Yves Smith.

[8] Our book on sale: I know of at least one store that offers our book for sale: The Grainery in Baraboo, Wisconsin. Their web site has a great line from Thomas Edison:

“The doctors of the future will give no medicine , but intrest their patients in care of the human frame, diet and the cause and prevention of disease.” — Thomas A. Edison

The proprietor of The Grainery, John Kessenich, spoke recently on “Eating for Perfect Health” and might have used some of our ideas. If you happen to find yourself in Baraboo, check out The Grainery and ask John for health tips!

[9] Why the Kindle version isn’t available: I have too much brain.

[10] Primal Fashion Week: No, this is definitely not Paleo re-enactment. I doubt Neanderthal women ever wore a Sperm Coat or paired it with a Heart Tube Hat.

Personally I would prefer a cheetah skin.

[11] Low-dose naltrexone is great for Crohn’s: On my editorial calendar is a discussion of the role of endorphins and enkephalins in immunity, and the opportunity to increase their levels and circadian variability and thus modulate immunity through low-dose naltrexone (LDN), with beneficial effects against certain diseases.

While I dither, clinical studies of LDN are progressing. This week, a report came out on LDN for Crohn’s disease:

Eighty-eight percent of those treated with naltrexone had at least a 70-point decline in Crohn’s Disease Activity Index scores compared to 40 percent of placebo-treated patients.

[12] Shou-Ching’s Photo-Art:

© 2011 Shou-Ching Jaminet.

[13] Not the weekly video: Ducks Against the Wind:

Via erp, who says, “It’s getting harder and harder to keep your ducks in a row!”

[14] Weekly video: Marriage is health-improving and life-extending, especially for men, so I consider this (done in moderation!) an exemplary health practice:

Via Orrin Judd

Leave a comment ?


  1. Thanks for the linkage! Just want to reiterate that the aspergillosis danger is only probable in severely immunocompromised folks – advanced HIV or cancer while undergoing chemotherapy – some of those folks are the same as advised to go for medical marijuana, but it is unlikely that your pothead friends or relatives will develop fungus balls any time soon.

  2. Appreciate the link! Two points of discussion:

    First, my article (and the Hanson articles I quote) focuses primarily on social relationships within the group, which are indeed far less violent among hunter-foragers: “neither formal class stratification nor slavery”, “food sharing is always common”, “women are considered equals of men”, etc.

    Second, as far as inter-group violence, I haven’t yet read Keeley (he’s on the list) – but from the chart I see reproduced on the Wikipedia page about “War Before Civilization”, he seems to make the same mistake Richard Wrangham does…

    …which is counting primitive agriculturalists like the Yanomamo and highland New Guineans as “hunter-gatherers”. It’s not like anthropologists like Keeley and Wrangham can’t tell the difference, and I find such claims disingenuous. Even many of the hunter-forager societies they cite lived in fixed villages, which means you’ll have a hard time using them as exemplars of our long-term evolutionary context.

    Furthermore, they’re all New World societies! For more useful exemplars, read about African hunter-foragers, e.g. the !Kung and the Hadza (about which you recently linked this article). Inconveniently for the Keeley/Wrangham viewpoint, they’re much more as Hanson states.

    Note the long discussion of these issues in the comments. One doesn’t have to posit that hunter-foragers were intrinsically far more peaceful, just that a mobile society with little accumulation of accrued labor (i.e. stored grains) provides far less incentive for social inequality and warfare.


  3. Hi Paul,

    Well, that deer will certainly upset any veg*ns with a fond memory of bambi. But perhaps we shouldn’t be so shocked about it… When you consider the volume of plant matter that herbivores eat which invariably contains of insects, perhaps scoffing a slightly larger fat/protein source when it is available, might be a bit of a treat?



  4. Hi Emily,

    Near-fatal disease may be unlikely, but even if your immune system is capable of defeating Aspergillosis, it’s not a good idea to expose your lungs to it several times a day. It seems to me an excellent reason not to smoke pot.

    Hi JS,

    True, in the absence of stored goods there are fewer incentives for violence.

    But in Malthusian conditions the incentives will be there regardless. Partly due to pressure for territory, 30% of chimpanzees die from murder by other chimpanzees. It wouldn’t be that surprising if a similar death rate from homicide occurred periodically through much of the Paleolithic also.

    Also horticulture may extend quite a bit farther back into the Paleolithic than most realize. New Guinea highlanders were razing forests to plant sweet potatoes as far back as 40,000 years ago. Orchards and similar defended property may have existed much farther back in other locales.

    It’s an interesting question, and at every time there was considerable variability in rates of violence, but I think the weight of the evidence indicates a gradual decline in violence.

    Hi Jamie,

    Deer dessert!

    I understand that Paleolithic deer ate a much higher protein diet, it’s only Neolithic gardening, especially rose bushes and carrots, which has turned them into high-carb dieters. I will have a 5-part series on this as soon as the zoologists give me some evidence I can misinterpret.

    Best, Paul

    • What about a person using cannabis infused 93% mct coconut oil? I know someone doing this that has shared your book with me, and swears 1 milliter of his infused oil a day allong with all of your reccomended suppliments and following phd has really helped him.

  5. “30% of chimpanzees die from murder by other chimpanzees.”

    And the figure for bonobos – which diverged from chimpanzees long after we did – is much closer to 0%, despite the fact that they still hunt monkeys. This fact strikes directly at the heart of Wrangham’s hypothesis that human hunting springs from warfare and territorial aggressiveness, unlike carnivores where it’s a simple food-seeking drive.

    Once again, and as the comments should make clear, I’m not arguing the “noble savage” hypothesis.

    First, the bulk of the article addresses in-group relationships, which are unquestionably less violent and more egalitarian in hunter-forager societies. And this provides the bulk of our evolutionary context, a fact that needs stressing as we argue over the putative frequency of warfare.

    Second, Wrangham argues the chimp/bonobo social differences are due to a subtle environmental difference (absence of gorillas in bonobo habitat) – a difference far smaller than the difference between chimp/bonobo habitat (equatorial rainforest) and subsequent human habitat (savanna), let alone the differences between subsequent human habitats.

    As such, I remain skeptical that chimps and primitive farmers provide a useful model for Paleolithic human social interaction – especially when analysis of actual African nomadic hunter-foragers (conveniently omitted) produces a very different picture.


    PS: There’s a lot more pertinent discussion in the comments, including timely reminders of the death toll of “civilization”. The last few decades of anomalously peaceful periods in carefully selected Western democracies are strongly atypical.

  6. Just a small query re (Chris and) the leucine supplement for ketosis: since leucine stimulates mTOR, would it not be safer to use lysine instead, where muscle growth is not a central desideratum?

  7. Hi Paul,

    Another interesting Dr. Ian Zagon research published last month on LDN and ovarian cancer:

  8. Hi JS,

    I should have written also of the many things I like about your essay. My apologies for focusing on a single point of contention.

    The distinction between in-group and out-group rates of violence is a good one. No doubt rates of violence were much lower within bands.

    But there was a lot of movement between bands. In particular women probably married outside their band. So group boundaries were somewhat fluid.

    We don’t have good archaeological records from the Paleolithic, in part because they tended to live near the sea and the rice of ocean levels at the start of the Holocene inundated the sites. So our best data about hunter-gatherers is from the Mesolithic, and there we find that Mesolithic hunter-gatherers suffered extremely high rates of violence. Keeley is a good starting point.

    Now of course these were complex societies, though foragers. You can argue that simpler societies would have had lower rates of violence. But you might have to go very far back to find sufficiently simpler societies, since horticulture is at least 50,000 years old and maybe 140,000 or more.

    The chimpanzee example is not conclusive but it does illustrate that the range a primitive hunter-gatherer society can reach extends up to 30% homicide rates. Wolves and other social hunters also have high rates of intra-species predation, especially when near Malthusian limits.

    So we have bracketed the Paleolithic with both simpler and more complex societies with high rates of violence; and we lack much evidence from the Paleolithic.

    The horrors of modern times are indeed terrible, but they don’t necessarily equal the horrors of Paleolithic times. Stalin and Mao each killed less than 20% of their countries’ populations. That’s a huge number, but if 20% were dying of homicide in the Paleolithic, that’s a similar death toll in every generation and every nation.

    I don’t believe habitat has much influence on rates of violence or indeed on evolutionary selection generally, and I am not a follower of Wrangham, so I am not much influenced by those lines of argument. I do think the gorillas probably did have an influence on chimps, but I don’t think the forest vs savannah difference matters.

    As you yourself say, the land is the store of wealth in the Paleolithic, and so that is worth fighting for. There are also women; Helen of Troy wasn’t the first woman to excite male violence. I don’t think there’s any reason to believe that Paleolithic man could not have found reasons for violence.

    Best, Paul

  9. Good morning, Paul and Shou-Ching;

    The linked lectures and discussions on Neanderthals were interesting speculations. The advent of digital, internet and video technologies makes them all the more so. Yet I can’t help but notice a common thread running through the competing arguments. It’s difficult to put into words, but this piece takes a good stab at it. Fascinating stuff, eh?

  10. Hi donast,

    I think leucine may be safer than lysine.

    When I tested lysine I found it strongly promoted my Candida symptoms. I haven’t figured out why yet but the effect was unmistakable. Lysine may also need to be in balance with proline or other amino acids.

    The amino acids are dispensable as far as ketosis is concerned; a moderate amount of MCT oil will do it. So the question is whether the biological effects of the amino acids are helpful. It’s easy to lose muscle on ketogenic diets so I think the muscle promoting effects of leucine are helpful. I’m not too concerned about mTor in therapeutic dieting. It’s more important to heal the disease.

    Best, Paul

  11. Hi Mario,

    Thanks much! It’s nice to see the studies piling up.

    Hi cipher,

    I’m afraid I didn’t notice a common thread and fail to see any relation to the topics addressed at the site you link to.

  12. re: Kresser twitter post
    Whose having success with the 50 cho+mct and what is he having success with? Weight loss or other therapy? Can we get more info?

  13. Paul, thanks for another eclectic and fascinating Saturday read.

    I have a question about going off the wagon.

    After a lunch out yesterday during which I had a small crab cake which may have contained bread crumbs and may have been fried in vegetable oil, I felt real distress — was irritable and hungry all evening.

    I hadn’t felt hungry since starting the PHD last September and am rarely out-of-sorts.

    Was this a coincidence or is eating of the forbidden foods even in very small amounts, enough to provoke so much angst?

  14. Hi Kathy,

    The Twitter thread was about depression. I’ll ask Chris for details.

    Hi erp,

    Well, I’m not sure how to interpret that. It doesn’t seem like a coincidence, but it isn’t obvious why you had such a strong reaction either. Once every few months or so I eat a forbidden item – as it happens, yesterday I had a piece of cake at a farewell party for one of Shou-Ching’s colleagues, just to be sociable – but I usually don’t notice anything. If I do, what I notice is bulkier/bigger stools the next day.

    Maybe there was something else in it – MSG? Maybe some bacteria?

    You could try some bread or something later to see if you have a reaction to wheat. Sometimes a sensitivity is disguised when you eat the food every day.

    Another possibility is that a high-carb lunch could have provoked an evening hypoglycemia. But “a small crab cake” couldn’t have had many carbs.

    I’m stumped I’m afraid. I guess I would say, just keep an eye out for these kind of symptoms and see if you can relate them to specific food ingredients.

    Best, Paul

  15. Paul — maybe pizza tomorrow or do you think hazelnut biscotti would serve better as a test? Hmmmmmmmm. The possibilities are endless. 🙂

    We’re going away in a couple of weeks and I’d hoped to navigate my way through the various meals without boring everyone with my dietary restrictions, but I don’t want to regress and start pigging out either.

    Why can’t everyone just follow the PHD and make life easier for us all.

  16. Looks like you’ll have plenty of opportunities to test this out!

    We’ll be heading to Savannah Georgia in a couple of weeks, perhaps we’ll see each other on the freeway.

  17. I wish. Unfortunately, we’re flying.

    You’ll love Savannah and if you get a chance, drive over to Charleston too. It’s only about 100 miles.

  18. Hi Paul,

    I can’t tell you how much I enjoy your ‘around the web’ posts. I loved the monkey and cat photo (my family had a squirrel monkey for 12 years when I was a child) and the marriage proposal was awesome. Thanks for sharing.

    Your reference to your earlier post on Seth’s N=1 tests with regard to circadian therapy reminded me that I was very skeptical when I read the post the first time. I have tried many, many ways to improve my sleep and have read many books on sleep hygiene. I have RLS with a big dose of PLM and sleep apnea (found out via the Sleep Clinic at Stanford Hospital). I have struggled with my sleep since I was a teen (now 56 years old). My BMI is 24, so it is not weight related. I don’t drink caffeine after 10am. I eat about 75-100gms of carbs per day due to blood sugar control issues, but I am not diabetic. My allergies went away when I gave up grains, though I sometimes have a reaction to dairy, and am trying to reduce the amount I eat and drink.

    I sleep in a dark room (or with a mask when I travel), have a standing desk and work fairly long hours. Without pharmaceuticals to help me sleep I become extremely anxious and do not want to go to bed at night. As it is, I try to get six hours of sleep each night (during a period of not working for a year I was able to get closer to eight hours each night).

    All this to say I think that brain chemistry and sleep architecture is very complicated and what worked for Seth may not have any application to others. I see people who say they sleep better with carbs at bedtime, or no carbs at bedtime, protein at bedtime, etc. To be sure, my sleep apnea is not nearly as bad since changing my diet mostly removed my allergies, but the demands of life make it very difficult to keep ones circadian rhythm working well. I can’t see much pattern, other than what a computer screen might be doing each night to activate my brain.

    It is wonderful to offer ideas for people about sleep, but I would like to offer that it may be far more complicated than what you imply in the post.

    Thanks for listening.


  19. Hi Nick,

    Thanks for sharing. It’s great to hear from people with personal experience.

    I know chronic diseases are complicated and hard to resolve, that’s why I find simple therapies like the ones Seth looks for so fascinating.

    It’s almost incredible that they work for anyone!

    Circadian rhythm therapy is not going to immediately cure an infection, which is what I think causes most of these disorders. But it may enhance immune function and add one piece to a mosaic that, over time, may add up to a solution.

    Best, Paul

  20. About Mr. Vendramini’s Neanderthal predation theory, if you’re really interested I would recommend the e-book. It’s a great read at least.
    But I don’t think it’s correct to judge the whole theory on one video. Up to now the science is in his favour.
    Example: From all what we know right now geneflow from neanderthals to us is one directional, meaning neanderthal males did hump homo sapiens girls but no evidence for the reverse (homo sapiens males on neanderthal girls) is there. And there’s also strong evidence that it happened 50,000-100,000 years ago in the Levante, just like NP theory predicts.
    How true his reconstruction really is is difficult to say. Like Vendramini says himself soft tissue and hairs are not preserved in the anatomical record.

    Btw, we were not “different species” but sub-species comming from the same ancestor, otherwise there would have been no interbreeding (with fertile offspring) at all.

  21. Sorry, “anatomical record” should have read “archeological record” of course!

  22. Paul:

    “I should have written also of the many things I like about your essay. My apologies for focusing on a single point of contention.”

    But then we wouldn’t have anything to discuss! 😀

    My main point, and the one I hoped to get across, is that we are strongly socially discordant with our evolutionary history, as well as dietarily discordant – and that most of our “uncivilized” behaviors are caused by this discordance. I’ll be exploring aspects of this discordance in future articles.

    As far as archaeological evidence of Paleolithic violence, the paper Birth of War, from Natural History magazine (linked in my article), is quite unequivocal (and it was written in 2003, well after Keeley): “If warfare were prevalent in early prehistoric times, the abundant materials in the archaeological record would be rich with the evidence of warfare. But the signs are not there.

    Once again, I do need to read Keeley: but I tend to trust the archaeological record over extrapolations back into time from disputed accounts of New World horticulturalists, or from a modern species separated from us by six million years of strongly differing selection pressures.

    (Keeley appears to accept uncritically Chagnon’s sensational characterization of the Yanomamo, despite later work by Ferguson and others calling much of it into question. See this paper and this 2010 film for more about the controversy.)

    It’s comforting to think that “civilized” society is superior in every way to hunter-forager society — but I think the reality is much like the reality of human diet. Paleo re-enactment is neither possible, fully knowable, nor ultimately desirable — but we must understand our evolutionary context in order to maintain our health in the modern world, and ignoring or disparaging that context exacts a high price.


  23. Hi Franco,

    Nearly all mitochondria outside Africa has been replaced by strong selection since the start of the Neolithic. Mesolithic European mitochondria survives only in Scandinavia. So we have no way of telling whether there was mitochondrial flow from Neanderthal mothers to human children.

    The Neaderthal-human gene flow did happen in the Levant c. 100,000 years ago. But we know they were living in close proximity, living similar lifestyles, and – this was my main point – the gene flow was far too large to suggest rape as the vector. Neanderthal genes are ~3% of modern Eurasian genomes despite substantial selection against any neutral variants in the last 50,000 years because they don’t fit the rest of the genome well. So Neanderthals composed perhaps 3-10% of the recent ancestors of the “Out of Africa / Middle East” cohort that populated Eurasia.

    Can rape produce such a large share of the population? Remember the Neanderthal-human children have to produce large numbers of descendants, so they have to be attractive in the eyes of the remaining humans. Is it likely that a cross between the creatures imagined by Vendramini and humans would be attractive to human mates, if the Neanderthals were their most fearsome and frightful enemy?

    Voluntary matings are much more likely. And that calls into question his soft tissue reconstruction.

  24. Hi JS,

    I agree that our biology is discordant with our modern society.

    I think this will have to be remedied primarily by further evolution in our biological make-up.

    But I do agree that people will be happier if they live more in accord with Paleolithic lifestyles. There’s no question that people desire this. Indeed a lot of politics seems to be devoted to futile attempts to restore a Paleolithic order to modern society.

    I think it probably was the case that there was a brief period of relatively low warfare from c. 50,000 BC to c. 28,000 BC during the great demographic expansion into Eurasia. There was land available, and it was easier to move than fight. But I think from the last glacial maximum onward, I would expect violence rates to have been high.

    It’s true that archaeological evidence is limited, but this is true of all artifacts, not just implements of war. People lived near the sea coasts and their living sites are now inundated. Before the Holocene, we lack evidence period.

    We also have to consider that Neolithic settlements may have concentrated the evidence for war. Paleolithic war was likely conducted guerrilla style, hit and run, far from settlements. Neolithic war occurred at the sites of settlements, and more people were involved in each engagement. So if Paleolithic victims of violence were scattered across the countryside, it would be understandable that less evidence is available.

    In tribes that do engage in such hit-and-run violence, warfare proceeds at a low level but continuously and adds up to substantial homicide rates over the course of a lifetime.

    It is as you say difficult to reconstruct Paleolithic society from limited evidence. I am open to the idea. But it seems to me the weight of evidence is against it. There has been a clear trend toward lower violence in historical times, and there’s reason to believe biological selection has played a role in it. If so, Paleolithic man was more inclined to violence than modern man. And in any resource-constrained setting, there would have been motives for war.

    Best, Paul

    PS – Birth of War is a good article. I’ll have to look up more recent evidence. I’d be curious what the male-female ratio of the known skeletons is. I can believe the thesis to some degree. There’s no doubt there was a transition from homicide in the Paleolithic to organized warfare in the Neolithic. The question is which was deadlier? And did Paleolithic homicide leave the same artifactual signs as the Neolithic warfare?

  25. Hi Paul,

    all explained in the book, with references.
    Please don’t make the mistake to argue against something you actually know only a small percentage of. Or did you read the book?

  26. Hi Franco,

    No, I haven’t read the book. Based on your recommendation I will. Thanks,


  27. I think Steven Pinker’s next book will be on the decline of violence over history. Not sure it will go all the way back to the paleolithic though. There are some online vids of brief talks he gives on the subject.

  28. Thanks, Todd. That will be a can’t-miss book.

    The decline in violence since the early Neolithic/Mesolithic is well documented. I guess I have to look more closely at the Paleolithic evidence. Doesn’t appear to be conclusive one way or the other.

  29. Hi Paul,

    I just wanted to adress one thing more regarding their phenotype (and large differences in phenotype don’t always represent large differences in genotype we know):
    Would you think, if you wouldn’t know any better, that a grey wolf and a west highland terrier are sister species (just like neanderthals and sapiens) and can indeed interbred successfully?

    And one thing about the body hair:
    Does anybody really believe that a cold adapted primate (with no evidence of clothes for hundreds of thousends years) would have less hair then these fellow modern homo sapiens sapiens:

  30. Hi Franco,

    We’ve sequenced the Neanderthal genotype and we know it was close to the human, and that there was extensive gene mixing via interbreeding in the 150,000 – 50,000 BC period.

    Yes, small genotype changes can be consistent with significant phenotype changes. But it’s the specific phenotype Vendramini postulates that makes me question whether it’s consistent with substantial gene flow. It’s hard to believe voluntary marriages and family raising if Neanderthals were such a fearsome phenotype and predators of humans. If rape is the vector, who was raising the children? Were Neanderthal children welcomed in human society? Did Neanderthals raise human-Neanderthal hybrids? If so did their descendants rejoin human society?

    But it would be quite interesting if people could link hairy backed modern humans genetically to Neanderthals! That would support at least the hairy part of Vendramini’s thesis.

    By the way, here’s an alternative link to Franco’s search:

    Best, Paul

  31. Hi Paul,

    I don’t think it had to be so extensive if we take into consideration a very small homo sapiens population and the near extinction event ~50000 years ago.
    Vendramini argues also that we (archaic h.sapiens) were too still much hairer then usually depicted and that the development of the typical modern sapiens trades (smooth skin, less body hair, permanently protruding breasts, smooth skin etc.) were a direct result of evolutionary/selective counter meassures to neanderthal predation.
    Following Vendramini’s thoughts I still think it’s apropriate to compare them and us with chimps vs. bonobos. If you think about it like this, rape and raising a few of the offspring becomes more plausible. Raped Human females up to this day most often can’t but love their offspring even when they hate the rapist and would kill him without hesitation.

  32. Btw, is it just me or does the hairy back most often correlate with the blocky/powerlifter/caucasus wrestler bodytype? Coincidence?

  33. Hi Franco,

    The idea of a severe bottleneck at 50,000 years seems to have been mistaken. If there was a bottleneck, it was around 150,000-200,000 years ago.

    What happened at 50,000 BC was a large demographic expansion of humans from the Middle East (or northeast Africa, but since they had Neanderthal genes more likely the Middle East or the Indus Valley) following the invention of boats and ocean fishing. It is this group which dominated the genes of Eurasia, and also re-shaped the African genome through backmigration.

    I think it’s helpful for Vendramini’s thesis if the humans of 50,000 BC had hair, since they were more closely related genetically to the Neanderthals than they are to us, so they should have resembled the Neanderthals more than us in many traits.

    However, this would bring into question the link between hairy-backed moderns and Neanderthals that we are hypothesizing. Also it may not be consistent with the hair lice evolutionary evidence, which I don’t remember clearly but I think indicated a loss of hair c. 500k to 1m BC which was also around the time of Neanderthal-human divergence.

    I’m not saying that rape couldn’t have produced children. The trouble is that I don’t believe there was a severe bottleneck at 50,000 BC; we are talking probably several hundred thousand modern humans and several tens of thousands of Neanderthals within a thousand miles of the Near East (plausible extent of gene flow) and the ultimate Eurasian DNA pool being not far from those population ratios. Unless there was strong selection for those 3% Neanderthal genes, it’s likely there was significant interbreeding over a ~50-100,000 year period.

    My guess is that there wouldn’t have been strong selection at first, because genes need to “fit” with one another to work well. So these genes were probably neutral in humans at first and only after a period of evolution did they become selectively favored.

    To give the Neanderthal genes a significant presence and enough time to incubate, I think intermarriage was a likely scenario.

    I’m not saying Vendramini’s hypothesis is impossible. I just don’t think it’s the easiest hypothesis to fit into the evidence.

  34. RE. (5) Chris Kresser’s Twitter post:

    What does CHO stand for? I feel like I should (and probably do) know this, but nothing is ringing a bell. I’d like to experiment with something similar, not so much a “traditional” ketogenic diet, but just supplementing with MCT/coconut oil, et al to kick start the process.


  35. Hi Steve,

    CHO is carbohydrate.

  36. Paul,

    Duh! Thanks. I was so fixated on it being a supplement of some sort that I didn’t think of that.

  37. Hi Paul,

    what does lead you to think the bottleneck wasn’t there around that time (I say “around” because obviously the geneticists are working with generations rather then with exact years)? I thought there was enough proof through the little genetic variety in humans etc. that some near extinction happend between ~70000-50000 BC? The large demographic expansion was after that, 50000 BC and upwards. What other contradicting data you have?
    Just most scientists(and BBC documentaries)nowadays blame it on the Toba event (volcanic winter). A theory which Vendramini does adress in the book and has good reasoning/facts against.

    The hairy archaic sapiens was refering to first contact with neanderthals around 100000BC!
    Around 50000 or if you want 55000BC (shortly before the demographic explosion!) only the best adapted sapiens did survive neanderthal predation.
    Some neanderthal genes would be positively selected because they would actually help fight them in the end, like potentially stronger muscles (longer muscle bellies, favourable muscle attachments, higher % of fast twitch fibers etc.).
    To have a few very hairy males (but with smooth, lighter pigmented skin and a high forehead) here and there was probably acceptable as a trade-off.

  38. Hi Franco,

    As genetic data has increased, early impressions of a bottleneck have been proven false.

    See, e.g., this by John Hawks:

    It’s hard to account for the diversity of people outside of Africa with a short migration timescale. People outside Africa are around 20 percent more inbred than sub-Saharan Africans, but they don’t look like they underwent any sudden severe bottleneck. Even accounting for the mixture with archaic people like Neandertals and Denisovans, much of the variation of Middle Pleistocene humans (still present in Africa) just didn’t get into non-Africans.

    If there was no bottleneck then you need a lot of interbreeding, or else very strong selection in favor of the Neanderthal genes.

    Toba also doesn’t look like it had severe population effects. See eg Also it wasn’t as big as previously thought,

  39. Hi Paul,

    the first link actually supports most of what Vendramini writes in his book about the Levant and the only thing Mr.Hawkins writes particularly about the near extinction event is this small piece from your quote:
    “…but they don’t look like they underwent any sudden severe bottleneck”
    They don’t look like??? What does he mean? Literally “looks”? Like I wrote before, looks can be deceiving(genotype/phenotype – switching genes on/off aka. epigenetics).
    I would call this very vague at best.

    The other links support Vendramini’s stance: Toba was not responsible for a near-extinction event of archaic sapiens in the Levant because it wasn’t that severe and doesn’t even fit the timeframe very good.

  40. Do you know much about LDN for CFS- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

  41. Hi Franco,

    “Looks like” is idiomatic English for a judgment call, he’s saying that there’s no genetic fingerprint from an extinction event at the time of Toba.

    You’re confusing me: Does Vendramini favor a bottleneck at 70,000 ya or not? I’m saying no bottleneck, so there had to be substantial Neanderthal-human interbreeding, which would be suggestive of voluntary mating.

    Hi Sue,

    No … I believe there will be some infections that LDN is contra-indicated for. I have to research this more. It’s especially hard to address CFS because it may be multiple diseases caused by multiple pathogens or combinations of pathogens. LDN might help some, hurt others.

  42. Thanks Paul. Someone I know just started LDN for CFS.

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