By Andrew Nusca
Posting in Science
When it comes to monogamy, your penchant for lifelong love might be as simple as the length of your ring finger.
Researchers from the University of Liverpool are analyzing the finger bones of Neanderthals and the upright walking primate Australopithecus afarensis to see if pairing and mating is encoded in our digits, writes Discovery News.
The discovery may offer insight into how humans emerged as evolutionary winners.
The team used literature on the fossils of early human-like primates that contained hands with intact index and ring fingers, the second and fourth digits on a hand.
The ratio between those two fingers is thought to be a telltale marker for how much of the androgen class of hormones -- specifically, testosterone -- a human or primate was exposed to while in the womb.
The thinking is that additional androgen leads to longer ring fingers. "Highly contentious" studies indicate that men and women who receive high levels of androgen before birth are more likely to be stronger, faster and more sexually competitive, according to the article.
So the researchers wanted to see if these results were true among our forebears, using two Neanderthal and one A. afarensis skeletons with first bones of index and ring fingers intact.
The scientists found that Neanderthals had long ring fingers, suggesting that they were rather indiscriminate in their sexual partners, mating with several. (Neanderthals are thought to have lived in groups.)
But the short ring fingers of A. afarensis indicates that it may have been faithful to a single mate -- directly contrasting theories that the diminutive A. afarensis lived in groups and were prey to others.
The implications of this research -- no doubt highly speculative -- could help scientists piece together why "pair-bonded" modern humans bested non-pair-bonded Neanderthals in Europe.
Sep 25, 2009
18 post very long, but not convincing, good try. I designed software before becoming actuary, I reuse code, build new versions with better functionality and adapt it to new business environments. My software does not evolve, I make it evolve, as a software creator. So far I never created self adapting software that upgrades itself without program desinger, I am not that good, and neither are Bill Gates engineers so far. Maybe in the future engineers will create an self upgrading Excel and it will evolve alone, with no programmer engineers evermore, and the world will give them a Nobel. I dont believe that the software DNA which happens to be self enhancing, could be designed by anything less than a good engineer or team of engineers. Trillions of random sequences of 1 and 0 cannot produce any of my designed programs, sorry if I dont believe you that a far better software: the self enhancing DNA of a bacteria could be produced without a formidable engineer, which some of us call Jehovah or Yahveh or simply GOD. Keep your theory for your peer colleagues, blind by own decisi?n. Evolution is created, designed, coded, programmed if you wish. It is a property of that awesome code. Not an explanation of how the code came to existence. And is limited to small changes, like your bacteria staph example, and extrapolating it to big stuff like new species is an act of faith that goes beyond science.
Should this research be applied to other animals? A horse's forelimbs have analogs of fingers. The Cannon bone is in approximately the position of the metacarple of the middle finger. This means that a horse's "middle finger" is enormous! It's hoof is the equivalent of your middle fingernail Could this explain their polygamous behaviour? Does it indicate that they are "Gay"? Does it in any way refine our model of human behaviour? Probably not.
"...in the idiotosphere, facts are lies and truth is always dubious, whereas hysteria and alarmism resulting in mysterious undercarriage rashes are the only things to be relied upon..." Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2009/09/25/notes092509.DTL#ixzz0SdviG8Vb http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2009/09/25/notes092509.DTL
Comparing information across species can prove enlightening in ways that may not be apparent at the outset. This article is just a summary of the research being done by UoL, and the research may reveal information the researchers weren't expecting to find. We know that homo sapeins share a common genetic ancestor with Neanderthals and A. afarensis. Understanding the differences between them and us may help us understand better why we won the evolutionary battle and they lost. For theoretical researchers this is the goal and the purpose: the quest for a more comprehensive and accurate understanding of the world in which we live. Which leads to the dispute over Evolution.... I have heard many very strongly worded and firmly-stated claims that the Theory of Evolution is not based on "fact" or "science", but with no specific backing to support such claims. Vehemence does not constitute scientific evidence. To those who are dogmatically opposed to Evolution (usually on religious grounds), evolutionary biologists may appear dogmatic in their devotion to the theory, but this "dogmatism" on the part of the scientists is merely a natural reaction to mainly rhetorical challenges by people who have clearly not spent their entire adult lives studying and researching the subject in question. Likewise, the system of peer review that is designed to prevent "junk science" from infecting the canon of knowledge might look like a secret society to the ill-informed outsider. The rules of peer review have no requirements that participants accept a set of arbitrary facts, only that the researcher present clear, cogent challenges that can be backed by solid, repeatable, and well-informed research. The system is overwhelmingly fair, reasonable, and designed to natural human fears, the ego, and biases from tainting the quest for an accurate and more complete understanding of the cosmos. Often the word "theory" is one of key points in arguments against Evolution. In casual English speech "hypothesis" and "theory" are interchangeable. This is not so in science. Evolution is not a hypothesis, although many hypotheses led to the development and ongoing refinement of the theory. At present there is no viable alternative theory to evolution that accurately explains and predicts the diversity of life on earth. There is a hypothesis that some kind of intelligence has played a direct role in the creation and diversification of life on earth; however, this is a question for the theologians and not scientists. Perhaps one could think of the web of life itself as a kind of self-directing super organism with an intelligence we can only vaguely glimpse. Evolution is the theory that organic life changes over time. All species are defined by a kind of "software code" in the form of an acid known as DNA. We know that it changes with each generation, that the fossil record shows animals that seem similar to, but not the same as those that exist now (i.e. neanderthals, and A. afarensis), and the further back in the fossil record we go, the more unfamiliar and no longer extant the animals and plants tend to be. As I mentioned above, a scientific theory must be predictive to hold its weight. One can predict that bacteria that are repeatedly exposed to a toxin will eventually die out or genetically adapt and develop resistance. Anyone who has gotten a antibiotic-resistant staph infection in the hospital will confirm that bacterial evolution is both very real and very scary. Ultimately, the only way to win against the Theory of Evolution is to destroy the scientific establishment and the methods they use to maintain as much objectivity in their work as humanly possible. The best way to do this is to run an orchestrated campaign to create a popular distrust of science and scientists that leverages the general ignorance of the population.
I am who I am. I'd rather be monogamous because it's rewarding and relaxing. No lies, just trust. After a hard day at work, it's wonderful to come home to the family I love. It's evolution in the sense that I didn't think this way when I was a young man. It's science in the sence that I have learned this through trial and error. The story's concept is stupid, the replies are not: enlightened and witty! Thank you all for making my day! Dr. John from Indiana.
Well maybe next time I can check out a guys ring finger length. I've dated enough neanderthals. It would be nice to meet someone who is a little more evolved. Jessica
Some people's anti-scientific attitudes and irrational beliefs exemplify my hypothesis that many of us are more related to Australopithecus Afarensis (and to more likely be in need of yet will more often tend to be kicked-out of AA) than others.
No humans are monogamous, that is the researchers bringing their pre-conditioned perspectives to the investigation. All mammals follow the same course with an alpha male spreading his seed among the bulk of the higher order females. This is the fastest means of improving the species - the alpha male being the most highly adapted and therefore the fittest genetically to cope with current conditions. Monogamous behavior is a very recent social invention which is artificially induced in order to ensure peaceful coexistence in tribes and super tribes (neither of which are natural to human hunter-gatherer social structures). Males with multiple mates, however, are not promiscuous, but faithful to all mates. They live together daily, so the notion of unfaithfulness is meaningless to the social arrangement. It is a cooperative group with all members helping each other. Probably the nearest modern equivalent would be successful marriages where one man has multiple wifes, and these do exist even in the West where the monogamy culture is most rigidly promoted. To ascribe this natural behavior as being visible in the size of a finger, and the wedding finger most ironically, is as silly as ascribing the size of genitals to the size of feet and hands. Sounds inviting as a notion, but is just plain nonsense.
Oh goodness. This is all being posted on "SmartPlanet". Could this be an oxymoron or just an enigma?
given that there has been found to be a link between pre-natal hormones and "gay" (whatever that is) self-identification, the pic noted above could be tested. those results could be tested as against polygamous/polygynous cultures. and then somebody could go look for more than 3 neadnthethal hands...since there are currently,, lotttsa them floating around.
SpectreWriter, you hit the nail on the head: belief in evolution takes far more faith than many thinking people can muster. Further, the irrational, emotional, dismissive tantrums of evolution's proponents toward anyone of an opposing viewpoint reveals how nasty and intolerant that crowd can be. Insecurity breeds aggression.
Is religious bigotry genetic? Before I'll believe you, you'll need to submit proof that you're actually human, provide a real-time recording of your live conception and birth, copies of proof of all taxes paid in the past century (including sales and gas taxes).... Which is more inane: The article itself or the replies?
This is another test which I believe may have been based on the same principal but with less research.. http://www.ssrichardmontgomery.com/download/gayfinger.jpg
When science proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that at least one of the two species tested is truly our ancestor, this might be useful information. Until then, this is a waste of time and money. From what I have seen, Homo Sapiens is not all that monogamous either. Monogamy in our society comes more from religious and social morality than our genes.
Science requires observation and repeatability. This is why evolution is merely theory--or dogma. Evolution has no basis in true science, it is rather in consensus opinion among those who have forgotten what "science" is. I am not against opinions or opposing viewpoints; however, we've lost hope of discernment when we accept such ideas as science, without scientific examination. To date, science has not been able to defend the theory evolution, despite what you may read elsewhere. Science without science, well, isn't science.
I don't believe monogamy is genetic. I believe that it is a belief based upon socio-politico-economic concerns and nothing more than that. Also, I believe that Neanderthals are still sub-species apart from homo sapians. While it is nice to try and connect the genetic dots across the various genetic lines of the homo species, I really wish that scientist would stay within the homo sapian species while trying to understand why we do what we do.
I am not sure that movement is 'up' in evolution, nor am I sure that there is some kind of 'higher order' goal at the 'top.' Besides, 1000 years is nothing in evolutionary terms. The nice thing about science (theory or otherwise) is that it is independent of anyone's belief system.
On the other hand, contrary evidence, tending to disprove the theory of evolution, may be found in the previous post.
Where the whole premise is that species have evolved from lower life forms thru primates to humanoids . . . WITHOUT one scientific shred of evidence to support this THEORY . . . where in the past 1000 years is ANY EVIDENCE that ANY species has MOVED UP the evolutionary chain and become a higher order being???
Three samples and some undisclosed literature comparing the bones of gorillas to chimpanzees could tell us as much about ourselves. Who's paying for this utter nonsense?