Genetic basis of race uncovered.

“>>>>Genetics research is demonstrating that the differences in appearance among groups are profoundly incidental, but these differences do have a genetic basis……

Today more than half of Native American males have this mutated Y chromosome…. His particular mutation could not have originated in more than one of the ancestors of today’s Native Americans, and the mutation occurred in no other group in the world.”

So here we have a gene or suite of genes specific to one race of people, found in no other group on Earth and yet found in over half of that race. As good a genetic basis for that race as any genetic basis for a many species including dog/wolf/coyote.

So is this just a misinterpretation of the data or what?

Any comments Collounsbury?

Actually it isn’t found in just one race of people, it originated in just one race. Even then only about half of all indians have it.

Particular mutations specific to one group of geographically isolated people are nothing new and do not form the basis for race.

We have a small genetic change common to members of a certain socially-constructed group. It is not universal among that group, and it may well occur outside it (although it might not).

Now, when presented in that light, does it seem so all-fired important? Of course not.

Race is simply a mental construct with no reliable physiological basis. It is a subject of the social sciences, not the physical ones.

“>>>>It is not universal among that group, and it may well occur outside “

“>>Actually it isn’t found in just one race of people, it originated in just one race”

These statements seem at odds with “found in no other group on Earth”> Any reason to believe this isn’t true?

And I’m not sure it is important. But it does seem to form a genetic bass for at least one race. That may or may not be important, but in the interests of fighting ignorance this lurker would like a knowledgeable person to give him he straight dope on whether there is a biological basis to the ‘race’ of people found in North America. An original source would be good.

Isn’t the difference between the cat of the woods and the tabby cat less than this 50% figure? And they’re different species. This 50% thing confined to one geographic region seems to be better than many of the criteria applied to different races of birds or salamanders or oak trees.

I didn’t think that Native Americans are a “socially-constructed group”. They have a distinct geographic range and cover an entire continent. If they’re mostly genetically unique and geograhically clearly defined then doesn’t that prove that they’re not a social construct.

Anyway, this looks like heading into debate territory.

So people without this gene are not Native Americans? :confused:

No. I gather that males without this gene are indisputably Native Americans.

But isn’t a wolf without genes X and Y still a wolf? Yet on the basis of those genes we divide dogs and wolves into separate species. I’m wondering if races of birds or salamanders are divided on the basis of less distinct biological boundaries.

Not any more - They’ve been synomized last I checked :). Felis catus ( the domestic cat ), F. lybica, and F. silvestris are now considered to belong to a single species - Felis silvestris.

Only if they are geographically coherent groups, often with some sort of restricted gene flow - Not if the difference is spread willy-nilly across the length and breadth of a species range. At any rate many systematists now believe the "subspecies"and “race” concepts are only useful ( if at all, some think they are completely obsolete ) as handy descriptors of geographic morphs - The terms contain ( by definition ) no useful evolutionary meaning and so genetic content isn’t necessarily looked at much when “determining” them ( which is pretty arbitary anyway ).

The problem is the classical use of the term “race” among humans has always had a different connotation. You can change the definition, but giving the confusion with the term as classically applied it is hardly worth bothering with.

Sorry, but they’re not clearly defined. If you blind-test someone who is full-blooded Cherokee and he is not one of the 50% who does have this marker, then is he an Amerindian? Clearly, yes - Culturally, socially, historically. But your test wouldn’t show any of that. To be a coherent marker it has to be consistent, not “if they have the marker they’re definitely Amerindian, but if they don’t they might be, we’re not sure.”

  • Tamerlane

Again, dogs and wolves have been synomized into a single species :).

  • Tamerlane

Forgot to add - “Races” of animals often aren’t very distinct at all - That’s why many systematists don’t like the concept anymore. That’s part of the argument here. Human races have “classically” been considered genetically distinct units. They clearly aren’t. The boundaries are simply too fuzzy to map out nice and neatly, hence the argument for junking the whole thing.

You miht be able to dig up a sweet ofcharacteristicvs that would work to define 80 or 90% ( I doubt that much, but for the sake of argument ) a given “race” ( under the broadest definition ). But since intra-racial variability is so broad at every group that has been looked at, it wouldn’t hold up for everybody and therefore isn’t a very handy concept. There really isn’t any reason to use the term in a biological sense.

  • Tamerlane

Yeesh, sorry for the numerous errors in the post above. I hope it is clear enough. I’m running a little late with some lab work :).

  • Tamerlane

I realise it’s not a perfect marker. But it does seem to lend credence to a gentic basis for this ‘race’, particularly before miscegenation.

">>>>There really isn’t any reason to use the term in a biological sense. "

That may be true, but it does seem to suggest that there may be a biological basis to the race, and to some racial characteristics.

Gah. I’m still cringing at that post - I see new errors every time I look at it. “Sweet”, indeed :D. Anyway…

Blake: Well, if you’re saying has at any time a particular population become isolated enough to develop a unique set of genetic markers that could be used for 100% accurate identification of said population, I’d say it’s possible, yes. But at best these would propably be smallish groups.

However due to the enormous vagility of humans ( far in excess of any other species on the globe ), I’d doubt that coherence would be maintained long. But the possibility that “races” as they have classically been construed ( based mostly on skin color ) would have had that coherence, ever, is close to nil in my estimation. That’s why the term “race” isn’t very helpful from a biological standpoint - Better to stick with “population”. The term has become hopelessly tainted by old associations.

MHO, anyway

  • Tamerlane

“Vagile” - new word of the day! But where to drop it into conversation?? Hmmmm…

Race debates go in GD, so I’ll move this over there.

As Tamerlane noted, geneticists and other biologists are well aware that there are various populations throughout the world. It is not possible to map those populations onto the groups that were originally identified as “races.” Thus, if we give “race” a new meaning by applying it to a different group of populations, we actually cause more confusion than anything else.

Long ago, someone carrying a mutated Y chromosome crossed the Bering Straits into the Americas and propagated that characteristic throughout the Western Hemisphere. OK. What does that tell us? If there have been multiple successive waves of immigrants from Asia to the Americas, we know only that one of those groups interbred with enough others to get that gene distributed throughout the hemisphere and that, coincidentally, no one carrying that gene migrated basck to Asia or on to Europe or Africa. I don’t see how that indicates a “race,” given that there were multiple groups that migrated over many years.

Similarly, following the mother-passed mtDNA, they have identified several lineages that are particular to separate regions of the world. This only indicates migration patterns and does not tell us anything about the homogeneity of the groups that migrated.

No, why should I? An Atlantic Magazine article is hardly something I am interested in, nor is there enough information to comment on. So x% (with x<100%>50%?) of group Y has mutation Z. Doesn’t give us race. We would need to know if group P, N etc. have mutation Z, how Y was defined etc.

All in all there is nothing new in this article, which is not particularly good in fact. Of course as time goes on, we will certainly be able to define ‘micro-races’ by certain factors, although the utility of doing so may be limited.

What we have here is some % of ‘Native Americans’ (which are defined as what?) who are really just an offshoot of East Asian diversity have a mutation.

As for this gem:

Well who gives a flying fuck what you think, above all when you make ignoramus comments? What ‘distinct’ goddamned “range” do Native Americans have? The Americas? Ah, but wait brother of mine, you forgets, the Northern range (Inuit, etc) is a distinct population by all accounts, deriving from a seperate migration.

Then, again, by all accounts, North American Western NA are also distinct from the remainder, and SA NAs may be as well.

The whole kit and kaboodle, as noted above, is just a bud off of East Asian diversity. Big deal.

No clear definition.

As for ‘most genetically unique’ this is just plain stupidity speaking. Where does this little gem derive from? Ah, your reading of the Atlantic article with little or no other knowledge?

Fucking brilliant.

Decaf, Col. Try the decaf.

A quick question:

How is this not founder effect?

Oh, bloody hell. I have a basset hound. He is “blue”, meaning that he has thin grey hair, and that his skin shows through on his back. The melanin content and distribution of my dog has nothing to do with the fact that he is a basset hound.

Heh heh.
It could happen!