"On Human Diversity" -- Armand M. Leroi, the author of that fine essay "A Family Tree in Every Gene" in the New York Times earlier this year has an article in The Scientist called "On Human Diversity." The caption reads:
The physical phenotypic differences between this Sudanese skull (right) and this European skull (left) are apparent. (From J.L.A. de Quatrefages, E.T. Hamy, Crania ethnica: les Cranes des races humaines, Baillere et fils: Paris, 1882.)
Why has the genetics community discarded so many phenotypes?
By Armand M. Leroi
Henry Flower became director of the British Museum of Natural History in 1884, and promptly set about rearranging exhibits. He set a display of human skulls to show their diversity of shape across the globe. A century later, the skulls had gone, and in their place was a large photograph of soccer fans standing in their terraces bearing the legend: "We are all members of a single species, Homo sapiens. But we are not identical." In 2004 even this went, and so it is that the world's greatest natural history museum has nothing to say to the public about the nature and extent of human biological diversity.
Of course, The Natural History Museum, as the British Museum of Natural History is now known, is not the only institution to relegate such demonstrations to the basement.
Leroi may be referring to my 2002 VDARE.com article about how the famous Field Museum in Chicago has broken up and demeaned its fabulous collection of 104 life-size sculptures by Malvina Hoffman representing "The Races of Mankind." When I last visited it in 1999, Hoffman's 6'-8" Sudanese Nuer tribesman had been relegated to a dusty spot in the basement next to the Mold-o-Vac and Penny Squeezer souvenir-making machines.
After the 1960s, physical anthropologists, struggling to bury the idea of race, buried phenotypes as well – sometimes literally so, as human remains have been reinterred by aboriginal claimants. They turned, instead, to comfortably neutral genetic markers to unravel the highways and byways of human history. This magnificent enterprise has charted our species' path out of Africa using successive generations of markers: blood type, allozyme, mitochondrial DNA, the Y chromosome, and nuclear single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). But is it enough? I would argue not. I would argue that it is time to resurrect the study of human phenotypic diversity. [More]
That skull comparison: A reader writes regarding the picture (below) of the European (left half) and Sudanese (right half) skulls that illustrates Armand Leroi's new article:
I find it interesting that the picture aligns the two skulls flush at the *TOP*. If they aligned the two skull together at the eye orbits you'd notice the obviously smaller frontal cranial area in the right skull. Attached [above right] is a quick edit realigning at eye sockets. Smaller brain, bigger jaw.
Hey, there are a lot of careers where that combination pays off in the big bucks. Did you ever notice how college professors and intellectuals like to wear beards, while most salesmen are clean-shaven? A beard covers up a weak jawline. (See the picture at the top of my homepage for an example.)