The man’s name was Azzo Bassou and he was a bit different from most people. The local press discovered him back in 1931 in Marrakech, Morocco and when they did they immediately dubbed him the “Missing Link” and the “Last Living Neanderthal.” But was he…..really? Continue Reading
Between the years 1545-1550 a mysterious epidemic hit Mexico and it has been called the “Cocoliztli Epidemics.” But up until now researchers have been uncertain as to just what the cause of the epidemic was. Dozens of epidemics hit Mexico with the arrival of the Spanish because the native people how no immunity to pathogens the Spanish brought with them. This was also the case thought the Americas and for the same reason. However, the unidentified cocoliztli epidemics hit Mexico especially hard as it affected large portions of Mexico and Guatemala including Oaxaca, Mexico.
This epidemic caused millions of death in Mexico killing about 80% of the population. It was one of the worst epidemics in human history to say the least. It has been estimated that anywhere between 5 million and 15 million people died and that is astounding! But this pestilence wasn’t finished yet because 30 years later it returned and wiped out half of the remaining native population between 1576-1578. A Spanish Franciscan friar who witnessed the pestilence wrote that New Spain (as the Spaniards called Mexico at the time) “was left almost empty.” He went on to write that in the cities and towns large ditches were dug “and from morning to sunset the priests did nothing else but carry the dead bodies and throw them into the ditches.”
Researchers have pondered just what these epidemics were that killed so much of Mexico’s native population with some suspecting it may have been smallpox, measles, or some type of hemorrhagic fever brought to Mexico by the Spanish conquerors. Sadly, nothing for certain was ever identified as the real cause behind these epidemics until recently when scientists used DNA from a graveyard from that era to identify possible causes. It appears that Salmonella enterica was the cause. This pathogen causes enteric or typhoid fever. Continue Reading
Evolution has worked to improve the genetic foundations of our health for millions of years now but new research suggests that things may be reversing and that might spell bad news for modern humans in the modern world. The study was conducted by the Georgia Institute of Technology recently.
Human evolution has worked to weed out genetic variants that are associated with diseases and it’s worked to promote variants that protect us against certain diseases according to this new study which was a comparative genetics study. However, for some odd reason over the past 500 to 1000 years it appears things have reversed. For example, the study has concluded that cardiovascular problems were much more common in our ancient human ancestors than they are today. What this means is that some diseases may be on the rise in modern humans and especially in terms of mental health.
Large populations are better able to purge disease causing gene variants and today with the human population near 7 billion people that is happening but still for some reason it appears this trend has been reversing over the past 500-1000 years. The study also found that Neanderthals and Denisovans had a lot more alleles (genetic variants) that promoted disease than we do today including heart disease. Over the course of time things got better and the variants for such widespread diseases were apparently weeded out as protective alleles rose. Continue Reading
Most Hispanics in New Mexico and Eastern Arizona are related to some degree so this article is highly important as it tells about a rare genetic mutation in this population. Research on this condition continues mainly via the University of New Mexico. If you have any Hispanic blood in you then you MUST read this! It may save your life or the life of your loved ones.
A child in New Mexico named Janae Jasmine Gallegos complained of the headache so her parents gave her some Tylenol thinking she would be ok. However, the next morning she was unresponsive and her parents new there was something badly wrong. Janae was dead, sadly. She died from a blood clot in her brain stem. She was only 9 years old.
A blood clot in the brain stem is the end result of a rare gene disease that most Hispanics in New Mexico and Eastern Arizona share. It’s called the “Common Hispanic Mutation” or “Cerebral Cavernous Malformation (CCM1). What the disease does is affects the way your body forms blood vessels in your brain and spinal cord. For most people the disease lays dormant and never manifests but for others it does and it is fatal. Sadly, it is also often misdiagnosed by health care professionals.
The University of New…
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I got an email a while back and this post is in answer to that email but first here is the email with the name changed to protect the reader:
Dear Dr. Peron:
I realize you are an anthropologist and not a medical doctor but do you know anything about excessive body hair growth at birth? If so, can you put up a post about it? Here’s why I am asking you this question.
When I was born I had a reddish “fur” all over my newborn body. Probably it was hair but my grandparents described it as “fur” like that seen in a little monkey or puppy. I also had a projecting jaw that was corrected by orthodontics when I was about 13 years old, thankfully. I also had a somewhat flat nose and pointed ears. In fact, my grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. said I looked more like a ” baby ape” than a “human baby.” I lost the “fur” during the first few years of my life but retained a colorless hair type all over my body which kind of shines like a blond color when I am in the sun. I know this might all sound freaky but my family is reluctant to talk about this and my mother gets very angry and absolutely refuses to discuss it whenever I bring it up. Additionally, when my father arrived at the hospital (he was off somewhere and had to travel) he took one look at me and angrily said, “That’s not my son!” and stormed out of the hospital never to return. Needless to say he and I did not have a very good relationship when he was alive, unfortunately. I just want to know if you’ve ever heard of anything like this and if you can post a bit about it if you have.
Miguel I’m not claiming to be an expert in this subject but here are some things that might aid in your understanding of this phenomena. Also, note that things like this DO happen so you are NOT alone.
Before I begin let me define a few terms. First is the term “atavism.” An “atavism” is a term used in biology to describe an “evolutionary throwback.” Traits appear in a species or individual that have generally disappeared generations before. Atavisms can occur in several ways. One way, and the most common, is when genes for previously existing phenotypical features are preserved in DNA and they become expressed through a mutation that knocks out the overriding genes for the new traits OR makes the old traits override the new one(s). A number of traits can vary as a result of shortening of fetal development of a trait (neoteny) OR by prolonging of it (neoteny). In such a case a shift in the time a trait is allowed to develop before it is fixed can bring about an ancestral phenotype. I do not wish to insult you so please do not take what I’m writing that way. What you are describing comes closest to the ancient human ancestor species known as Homo habilis (aka: Tool Man, Handyman, et al) minus the heavy brow ridge. This species existed roughly between 2.1–1.5 mya. That in my mind is significant and if you have any pictures of you as a newborn with this condition I would be HIGHLY interested in taking a look at them. Continue Reading
A few new studies appear today that I find highly interesting. The first concerns a study from the University of Toronto that shows too much structured knowledge hurts creativity and, frankly, I couldn’t agree more. Of course structure helps us organize our activities throughout the day and it helps us to understand the world around us BUT it can also kill creativity! Structure tends to box us in and we might want to try thinking “out of the box” more. This leads me back to “everything in moderation” as it appears from the finds of this study too much of a good thing (structure) is not good when it comes to creativity. I’ve seen this over and over again. We are indoctrinated in our education and tend to then wear blinders as if we are looking through a tunnel (tunnel vision). We can see what’s in the tunnel before us but not what is on the sides of the tunnel. This increase in structure explains why creativity has gone down in modern society and education today. You’ll find the study results at the link below.
Another study focuses on aging and DNA repair. This study comes from the Harvard Medical School. They found that as we age the body has a harder time repairing DNA which causes cell demise (body degeneration) and greater susceptibility to cancers and other diseases. This study also shows that treatment with the NAD precursor NMN mitigates age-related DNA damage and “wards off DNA damage from radiation exposure. This study is significant because it helps us understand the aging process better and may help us come up with better anti-aging strategies or at least help us battle age-related diseases.
The final study comes from John Hopkins Medical School. This study found that most cancer mutations are due to random DNA copying errors. They found that at least 2/3 of these mutations cause cancers. Each times a cell divides and copies its DNA it produces two new cells and sometimes it makes several mistakes. These copy mistakes foster cancer mutations that science has underestimated in the past. Of course, environmental factors such as smoking also cause cancers but researchers have mostly been at a loss to explain why people who don’t smoke and seem to do everything right still get cancer. These DNA copy mistakes could very well be the reason! The bad news to all this is that even in people who do everything right and still get cancer it seems there is no stopping it as it is caused by these DNA copy errors. More research is needed into this and as soon as possible I’d say! Hmmm….let me guess….we’ll blame it on our Neanderthal bad genes???? 🙂
Creativity Study: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170322152736.htm
DNA and Aging Study: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170323150518.htm
Cancer Study: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170323141403.htm
You might not realize it but food was the very first medicine used by ancient human ancestors. Over time ancient people learned that certain foods help certain conditions and our ancient ancestors began to build a knowledge base that was soon passed down from one generation to another. The keepers of this healing knowledge were called by many names but I prefer the term “shaman.” As time continued these ancient shamans continued to build on their knowledge base by figuring out which foods and which herbs helped which conditions. And, again, this knowledge was passed down to the next generation of shamans.
Sadly, today we have come to depend on modern medicine which produces chemical drugs for anything and everything that ails us but, often, with some very significant and even dangerous side effects. For example, I don’t know about you but for me I’m not willing to get “perfect skin” at the risk of also developing heart problems or seizure disorders. Frankly, when I see these drug commercials on TV and listen to the side effects it’s rather frightening. What many of us today don’t realize is that there are alternatives and these alternatives don’t have these dangerous side effect BUT they take longer to work as they don’t deliver “instantly.”
I came across a commercial on the Internet last week hosted by an inventor who is also an attorney. I guess he suffered from thinning hair since his early 20s and he had tried on the latest products for his condition including Rogaine among others. During his infomercial he admitted that these products did nothing! He said they were a waste of money and a waste of his time. Continue Reading
Researchers at McMaster University have identified a gene that can lead to sudden death in young people and athletes. The gene has been identified as CDH2. McMaster researchers believe it causes arrhymogenic right ventricle cardiomyopathy (ARVC) which is a genetic disorder that predisposes some people to heart attacks and is a major cause of unexpected and even early death in youth and athletes that appear to be very healthy.
The study results are a culmination by an international team that began 15 years ago. This is an answer for parents and families that have had a youth die suddenly from cardiac arrest.
Apparently, in these youth gene CDH2 has a mutation contained within which is the underlying culprit! Discovery of this will now help doctors and researchers design preventative measures in at risk youth and athletes. When researchers say “young people” they are referring to people under age 25. This new finding also will help make early detection possible.
The findings of this 15 year study are fantastic in my opinion as it identifies a genetic factor behind cardiac arrest in young people who appear healthy. It also will provide some closure to families who have lost a young loved one due to cardiac arrest. There are several more details of the study and findings at the below link well worth reading.
Oh…one last thought…..I wonder if they’ll blame this “bad gene” on our Neanderthal ancestors too. Seems the trend is now to blame all of our “bad genes” on our Neanderthal ancestors. Why it’s almost as if Homo sapiens originally had nothing but “good genes” isn’t it? LOL somehow I just don’t believe that.
For more on this study see: