View Full Version : East Asian Physical Traits Linked to 35,000-Year-Old Mutation

Mister D
02-18-2013, 04:25 PM
Gaining a deep insight into human evolution, researchers have identified a mutation in a critical human gene as the source of several distinctive traits that make East Asians different from other races. The traits thicker hair shafts, more sweat glands, characteristically identified teeth and smaller breasts are the result of a gene mutation that occurred about 35,000 years ago, the researchers have concluded.


Each race has a different set of selected regions, reflecting the fact that the human population had dispersed from its African homeland and faced different challenges that led to genetic adaptation on each continent. About 140 of the sites affected by natural selection are in Europeans, 140 in East Asians and 132 in Africans, the authors report in another article published Thursday in Cell (http://www.cell.com/abstract/S0092-8674%2813%2900087-1).


02-18-2013, 04:39 PM
I'm impressed to see the NY Times covering this. Seems like it could wind up pretty controversial among evolutionary biologists.

Mister D
02-18-2013, 04:43 PM
I'm impressed to see the NY Times covering this. Seems like it could wind up pretty controversial among evolutionary biologists.

I'm a little surprised too now that you mention it since the controversy is more political than scientific.

02-19-2013, 12:48 AM
East Asians obviously adapted to the humid climate in central China around 35,000 years ago after migrating from the Near East, where modern non-Africans originated, and such adaptive genetic mutations gave rise to visible differences between Europeans and East Asians. Scientists also discovered a gene responsible for blue eye colour in 2008, which showed that northern Europeans adapted to a cooler climate around 8,000 years ago through a genetic mutation, and it happened after they colonised Europe and experienced shorter days and less sunlight and brown eye colour is the human default common among southern Europeans and Asians.

According to a team of researchers from Copenhagen University, a single mutation which arose as recently as 6-10,000 years ago was responsible for all the blue-eyed people alive on Earth today. The team, whose research is published in the journal Human Genetics, identified a single mutation in a gene called OCA2, which arose by chance somewhere around the northwest coasts of the Black Sea in one single individual, about 8,000 years ago. The gene does not "make" blue in the iris; rather, it turns off the mechanism which produces brown melanin pigment. "Originally, we all had brown eyes," says Dr Hans Eiberg, who led the team. And most people still do. The finding that a rare mutation, probably dispersed in the rapid wave of colonisation that followed the end of the last ice age, highlights one of the great mysteries of human evolution: the oddness of Europeans. Those from Europe and the Near-East have many characteristics that set them apart from the rest of the human race.


The Scottish Fold is also a product of a natural dominant-gene mutation that occurred in the 1960s in Scotland, known for its peculiar ears.