Friday, April 06, 2007

'Human Evolution and Disease' workshop

I love these meeting/workshop reports. This one looked especially good... see abstract and reference below.

Regarding modern human origins, Paul Mellars asks:

"Why, if AMH originated in Africa 150–200 KYA (thousand years ago) did they only disperse out of Africa 50–60 KYA? To answer this, he pointed to the archaeological signature revealing major technological, economic and social developments in southern Africa roughly 60–80 KYA, which could have been crucial driving forces for AMH to expand their range successfully throughout the world. "

Regarding the unique Andamanese:

"Lalji Singh (CCMB, India) gave evidence from mtDNA sequences that two ancient maternal lineages, M31 and M32, in the Onge and Great Andamanese do not match any other populations in the world, indicating that the Andaman Islanders have survived in complete genetic isolation from other South and Southeast Asian populations, as the migration of AMH out of Africa."

and regarding the relationship between language and genetics:

"As George van Driem (Leiden, The Netherlands) reminded us, although linguistics, archaeology and genetics have often been used in combination to provide support for human origins, the evidence from the three disciplines does not always tell the same story. Languages, in particular, may be better seen as leaves that have fallen to the ground and lost ancient information about their relationships, rather than as branches on an informative evolutionary tree."

He then goes into a discussion on disease related genetic studies, with some interesting insights about where and how we should be looking.

Insights into modern disease from our distant evolutionary past

European Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication 14 March 2007

Bryndis Yngvadottir

Abstract: An EMBO workshop entitled 'Human Evolution and Disease' was held recently (6–9 December 2006, Hyderabad, India) where 141 scientists from many disciplines came together to discuss recent studies of human variation, origins and dispersal, natural selection and disease susceptibility. The meeting tackled the subject of human evolution and disease from the different perspectives of archaeology, linguistics, genetics and genomics based on both new and publicly available data sets. In this report, we highlight the latest fashion crazes in the discipline, in particular, the use of large public data sets and new methods to analyse modern human variation and the links between human evolution and disease susceptibility.

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