Several years ago I read a book about the history of my hometown Brooklyn, New York. Brooklyn is a borough of New York City --along with Manhattan, The Bronx, Staten Island and Queens-- the last of which it shares the western most part of Long Island. In print and film, the borough is renowned in part for the myriad characterizations of the typical Brooklynite: A rather flinty, blue collar, conservative type. In a flash of typical Brooklyn wit and insight the author chose to begin the first chapter with the line “The Ice Age ended in Brooklyn.”
Now, this sentence says a lot in a little. And it’s true as well. Long Island is made of something called a terminal moraine, which is just the debris that piles up at the front of a glacier --a large long-lasting river of ice. Glaciers deposit moraines much like that pile of snow delivered to your driveway right after a blizzard, courtesy of the local municipal plow trucks.
“Hey pal, I’ve got to put it somewhere.”
The terminal moraine that was part of a large glacial formation called the Wisconsin Glaciations, and which, in addition to providing the scenic backdrops for Saturday Night Fever and Marty, created a land bridge between Siberia and Alaska that allowed Eurasian hunters to migrate to the Americas, a land mass sometimes referred to as Beringia. The Wisconsin Glaciations were in turn part of a worldwide series of glacial movements usually just called “The Last Ice Age” and which featured other major glaciers in Scandinavia (The Weichsel Glaciations), Great Britain (The Devensian Glaciations) and in Switzerland (The Würm Glaciations). The general glacial advance began about 70,000 years ago and reached its maximum extent (called the “Last Glacial Maximum”) about 20,000 years ago, continuing onwards to about 12,000 years ago. In Europe, the ice sheet reached as far south as the Baltic coastline of Germany.
During the times of Last Glacial Maximum, ice covered most of Northern and Eastern Europe and blocked passage between China and the West, except for the very hardy animals able to negotiate the chilly mountain passes in summer.
We currently live in an interglacial period, the interval of warmer global average temperatures that separates ice ages, and if anything our climate seems to be getting warmer. This current interglacial period has lasted for about the last 11,400 years, so we’ve grown quite accustomed to a more warmer and humid climate that that which greeted the early European, Asian and American immigrants.
This ice sheet was dense permafrost, probably not much different than present day Antarctica. Immediately below and to the sides of this huge ice field were enormous areas of polar and alpine deserts, empty of life except perhaps for a few hardy grasses and some lichens.
Like snow and rocks, people form moraines as well, probably by being in the avant-garde of migrations in search of better hunting grounds, or maybe just being pushed ahead and out of harm’s way of other, more powerful, groups and tribes.
A possible reason why the long headed GT5 Warriors are often taller than GT3 Teachers and GT4 Explorers:
In the article the development of skull measurements and head measurements (length and breadth) and of the cephalic index, calculated from these measurements, since the Neolithic period are presented. The results obtained from the historical material are compared with those of living persons. The measurements as well of the skull as of the head show secular changes. The following general trend was found: an increase of body height is connected with a debrachycephalisation* and a decrease of body height is connected with a brachycephalisation. It can be emphasized that brachycephalisation/debrachycephalisation are part of the secular trend. Therefore environmental factors are responsible for the described changes of measurements of the skull and the head in a broadest sense.
* Debrachycephalisation: the tendency for head shapes to become less 'square-like' and more elongated over succeeding generations. Brachycephalisation is the opposite.
Is head size modified by environmental factors? Z Morphol Anthropol. 1998;82(1):59-66.
A hypothesis is framed about which any influences of the nutrition may cause variations of the cranium, but concerning physiological data, kinds of nutrition and special victuals' ingredients cannot still be mentioned. If such connexions are proved, at last the well known brachycephalization among European populations since the Middle Ages and the beginning debrachycephalization in the present time could partially be interpreted.
The brachycephalisation problem, a nutrition constitutional problem? Gegenbaurs Morphol Jahrb. 1989;135(5):689-96.
Probably why GT4 Explorers usually are thicker boned than GT1 Hunters:
A growing body of archeological evidence suggests that the dramatic climatic events of the Last Glacial Maximum in Europe triggered important changes in foraging behavior, involving a significant decrease in mobility. In general, changes in mobility alter patterns of bending of the midshaft femur and tibia, resulting in changes in diaphyseal robusticity and shape. This relationship between levels of mobility and lower limb diaphyseal structure was used to test the hypothesized decrease in mobility. Cross-sectional geometric data were obtained for 81 Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic European femora and tibiae. The sample was divided into three time periods: Early Upper Paleolithic (EUP), Late Upper Paleolithic (LUP), and Mesolithic (Meso). In addition, because decreased mobility often results in changes in sex roles, males and females were analyzed separately. All indicators of bending strength decrease steadily through time, although few of the changes reach statistical significance. There is, however, a highly significant change in midshaft femur shape, with LUP and Meso groups more circular in cross-section than the EUP sample, supporting archeologically based predictions of decreased mobility. Sexual dimorphism levels in diaphyseal strength remain low throughout the three time periods, suggesting a departure in Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic foragers away from the pattern of division of labor by sex observed in modern hunter-gatherers. Results confirm that the onset of the Last Glacial Maximum represents a crucial stage in Late Pleistocene human evolution, and signals the appearance of some of the behavioral adaptations that are usually associated with the Neolithic, such as sedentism.
Mobility in Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic Europe: evidence from the lower limb. Am J Phys Anthropol. 2003 Nov;122(3):200-15.
However marauding GT1 Hunters are on average, taller than glacial refugee GT4 Explorers:
Long bone lengths of all available European Upper Paleolithic (41 males, 25 females) and Mesolithic (171 males, 118 females) remains have been transformed into stature estimates by means of new regression equations derived from Early Holocene skeletal samples using "Fully's anatomical stature" and the major axis regression technique (Formicola & Franceschi, 1996). Statistical analysis of the data, with reference both to time and space parameters, indicates that: (1) Early Upper Paleolithic samples (pre-Glacial Maximum) are very tall; (2) Late Upper Paleolithic groups (post-Glacial Maximum) from Western Europe, compared to their ancestors, show a marked decrease in height; (3) a further, although not significant, reduction of stature affects Western Mesolithics. Evaluation of possible causes for the great stature of the Early Upper Paleolithic samples points to high nutritional standards as the most important factor. Results obtained on later groups clearly indicate that the Last Glacial Maximum, rather than the Mesolithic transition, is the critical phase in the negative trend affecting Western European populations. While changes in the quality of the diet, and in particular decreased protein intake, provide a likely explanation for that trend, variations in levels of gene flow probably also played a role. Reasons for the West-East Mesolithic dichotomy remain unclear and lack of information for the Late Upper Paleolithic of Eastern Europe prevents insight into the remote origins of this phenomenon. Analysis of regional differentiation of stature, particularly well supported by data from Mesolithic sites, points to the absence of today's latitudinal gradients and suggests a relative homogeneity in dietary, cultural and biodemographic patterns for the last hunter-gatherer populations of Western Europe.
Evolutionary trends of stature in upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic Europe. J Hum Evol. 1999 Mar;36(3):319-33.
Not because of shorter upper legs, but rather shorter lower ones..
Among recent humans brachial and crural indices* are positively correlated with mean annual temperature, such that high indices are found in tropical groups. However, despite inhabiting glacial Europe, the Upper Paleolithic Europeans possessed high indices, prompting Trinkaus (1981) to argue for gene flow from warmer regions associated with modern human emergence in Europe. In contrast, Frayer et al. (1993) point out that Late Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic Europeans should not exhibit tropically-adapted limb proportions, since, even assuming replacement, their ancestors had experienced cold stress in glacial Europe for at least 12 millennia. This study investigates three questions tied to the brachial and crural indices among Late Pleistocene and recent humans. First, which limb segments (either proximal or distal) are primarily responsible for variation in brachial and crural indices? Second, are these indices reflective of overall limb elongation? And finally, do the Late Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic Europeans retain relatively and/or absolutely long limbs? Results indicate that in the lower limb, the distal limb segment contributes most of the variability to intralimb proportions, while in the upper limb the proximal and distal limb segments appear to be equally variable. Additionally, brachial and crural indices do not appear to be a good measure of overall limb length, and thus, while the Late Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic humans have significantly higher (i.e., tropically-adapted) brachial and crural indices than do recent Europeans, they also have shorter (i.e., cold-adapted) limbs. The somewhat paradoxical retention of "tropical" indices in the context of more "cold-adapted" limb length is best explained as evidence for Replacement in the European Late Pleistocene, followed by gradual cold adaptation in glacial Europe.
* Crural index is the result of multiplying the length of the lower leg (tibia) by 100 and dividing it by the length of the upper leg (femur).
Brachial and crural indices of European late Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic humans. J Hum Evol. 1999 May;36(5):549-66.
IfHI Faculty Member Dr. Emily Kane sent me this note:
"Recently there was been discussion on a Naturopathic chat group about the validity of blood type diet, with (IfHI Master) Dr. Virginia Oram being one of your most fervent defenders! Our moderator commented that corn could hardly have been "bad" for all those native Americans. The highly esteemed Pam Taylor offered the following perspective:"
Back in the mid-70's a group of us were doing some comparative studies of skulls from Woodland Native American tribes and skulls from Central America with Dr. Jerry Rose (U. of AR, Dept. of Anthropology), whose specialty was medical anthropology. He pointed out the outlines of arterial imprints in certain groups of the Woodland skulls, which were noticeably larger than those from Central America. He theorized that the adaptive development of the larger blood vessels was a response to the presence of anemia, requiring greater blood flow to supply an adequate amount of oxygen and nutrients to the brain.
The discrepancy was due to diet. The Woodland tribes were known to have cultural "boom and bust" cycles where they would spend some time hunting and gathering while the population expanded and became more robust living off game, fish and berries. Skulls from these groups did not display the enlarged blood vessels. When the tribe reached a certain level of vitality with a large enough population to afford a greater division of labor, they would find a place to settle and and farm, with corn as a staple. The significant increase in corn consumption as a dietary staple eventually resulted in anemia, a lower fertility and birth rate, and a level of irritability that led to less cooperation, more fighting (as evidenced by breakage and healing patterns in the bones), increased mortality and injury, a smaller band of individuals, and eventually resulted in their having to abandon a settled life style and resume hunting and gathering.
He theorized that when native populations in Central America prepared their corn by grinding it with limestone tools the grit that mingled with the corn contained a chemical had an inhibitory effect on corn's assumed inhibition of iron uptake.
Recent rat studies indicate that the periodic iron deficiency anemia of the Woodland population during their settled agricultural periods was more likely due to the amino acid imbalance in the corn (see article notation below) rather than a specific factor inhibiting its uptake. However, the physical evidence over time consistently supported the idea that when the Woodland groups were hunting and gathering, with substantially less corn in their diet, they were measurably healthier.
Studies in cultural anthropology spanning nearly a century note specific disease susceptibilities peculiar to different blood groups. But for sure, whether it's from an anthropological perspective or a naturopathic one, the contributing factors to health and disease, whether focused in an individual or extended to a culture, are multiple and multi-layered.
On days when I have a string of obnoxious patients, I definitely miss the bone lab.
I seem to remember reading that changes in dental and skull molding were also seen in so-called 'Mound Builder Cultures' that appeared to correlate with their evolution to an increasingly corn-based diet. That corn may have had this effect takes nothing away from its sacred role in these societies. It was a key subsistence food which allowed populations to grow and avoid starvation, despite the fact that it may have been a suboptimal source of some key nutrients.
Living on an avoid food is probably better that starving because you can't find any beneficial ones nearby.
Fact is, my research has not met with great acceptance in the naturopathic community. It indicates prudence and occasionally some honest skepticism, although I also think a lot of NDs just can't grok it intellectually. So like the chat moderator, they see it in only its most simplistic manifestations, thus requiring only the simplest objections.
Although you might think that capitalizing on the potential for polymorphisms and biochemical individuality would be a 'no-brainer' in a healing art like naturopathic medicine, the reality is otherwise. Maybe in time things will change, but for now my work lies in that wonderful 'excluded middle' that Charles Forte alluded to; misapprehended by the allopaths and naturopaths alike.
Nonetheless, my old friend, Dr. Pam Snider, who is running the Foundations of Naturopathic Medicine project, an attempt to codify naturopathic tools and techniques, recently asked me to author two entries (co-author with Dr. Joseph Pizzorno on the genomics chapter; lead author on the genomic medicine chapter; and contributing author on nutrition chapter.) I don't know where I'll ever find the time to do this, by Martha has said that she would help out, which almost always makes things better.
Getting ready for a lecture this weekend at Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Massachusetts. They invited me to do two lectures on Saturday, for a total of about three hours running time. I suspect they don't have much awarenes of the GenoType material, so I'll do the first session on blood groups and then perhaps the second on GenoTypes and epigenetics.
Speaking of which, running factor analysis on the GenoTypes yields interesting spacial distinctions. Here is a graph of two principal components of data aligned along the point of maximum variability seen with the so-called 'classic genes'. It helps to imagine the small lines as actually coming out at you, if the graph could be in 3 dimensions.
The Explorer GenoType sticks out under these conditions as a very unique archetype.
I recently got the results of my Genographic Testing back. As a test it is simple enough; you swab the inside of your cheek with a comb like device and send it off to the Genographic services for analysis. You can check on the progress of the test by logging into their site and it does take a while to get it performed- in my case about 5 weeks from submission. If I remember correctly, it cost about USD $150.
Women always do the form of ancestry testing called mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis, since this is the DNA that is passed continuously through the maternal lineage. Guys can do either mitochondrial DNA or Y chromosome analysis, which gives information on the paternal lineage. Since I'm more attuned to my Spanish heritage, I opted to do mtDNA though I'm going to do the Y chromosome as well.
It turns out that I'm Haplogroup T. It's not uncommon in Europe, but not the most common gene marker either (that is Haplogroup H). It seems to have developed in the Middle East (Anatolia) and moved into Europe with the spread of Neolithic agriculture, which jives with my ABO blood group, A.
Time to visit my friend Yaman and once again tour the old haunts!
Haplogroup T has a few subsets (T2, T3, T4 and T5) but I have only four SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) in the so-called Hyper Variable Region (HVR-1) called 16126C, 16294T, 16296T and 16519C and these plant me in the rather unsatisfying T* subgroup made up of all T's who are not in any other subgroup.
Well, at least I'm not directly related to Jesse James although I am related to a lot of European royalty.
Take that Isa!
I always did feel a bit of connection to tragic-comic Czar Nicky and it's nice to think I can hit up a few royals for bus fare if needed.
Haplogroup T is closely related (derived, rather) from Haplogroup J, another Middle Eastern haplogroup, a fact which I find especially interesting in light of another recent discovery.
My mother's maiden name was Subira-Vidal, the Vidal from her mother (my grandmother's) side of the family. It turns out that Vidal in that part of Spain (Catalonia) was a name commonly adopted by Sephardic Jews who were forcibly converted to Catholicism during the Inquisition, the name "Vidal" being used as a substitute for "Chaim" both signifying "life." Not all Spaniard with the surname Vidal are of Sephardic origins, but many in Catalonia are.
My mother was born in a very small town near the Aragon-Catalonia border called "Masalcoreig" which the locals say is derived from a phrase meaning "The Moor's Rock.â€? In those halcyon days before the occupations and intifadas and especially in Spain, wherever you found Moors you usually also found Jews; often as doctors, scribes and tutors.
So I'm a quarter Middle-Eastern and Sephardic. Now I can't wait to see some of my old-timer Hassidic patients at the clinic so I can pull rank on them.
Well, gotta go brush up on my Ladino...