Thanks for this opp.

Alloparenting is not given enough consideration in Homo discussions, it's what most of the evening (meal/meetings) would have been about. Especially given the risky reward ratios for dense-energy and high-protein hunting and the subsidy they require from those do the less risky gathering. Cross insurance is vital. Hunting with children below the age of whatever is locally regarded as the age of reason is not doable.

It's a process that can easily include non-related kith as well as kin.

As I approach a deeper grandparent age group, I have to say that all babies look like they are mine. It's a safer bet than eating them .

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An enjoyable and provoking read.. Your reference to Sarah Blaffer Hrdy and your comment about "maternal instincts and how they shaped the human condition,' lead me to thinking about 'It Could Have Gone Either Way, vignette stories, parochial memories , of the generations of women who raised a boy. Stories about the human condition, expressed in everyday events, the conclusions of which linger in the mind, prompting reflection by the reader: ‘And what of me, in my time?’ I hope you would consider reading a chapter, or two. Best, (onemanandeveryman@substack.com) R

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Apr 4·edited Apr 4

The Finland paper: Shouldn't be an entirely surprising finding to linguists. Basically, the southwestern route is the one of the so-called Baltic Sea Finns whose dialects later branched to modern Finnish, Karelian and Veps. Finns probably started crossing in increasing numbers by roughly 0 AD, but losing the over-sea language connection around 500 AD, with SW dialects showing even later exchange of influences, which you can still hear in some regional accents, and which other Finns may make fun of sometimes. (This extends to how Estonian sounds to many Finns by the way, that is, quite funny, in a cute way of course. Curiously, this doesn't seem to be the case vice versa, generally, although Estonians certainly do make their fun otherwise of the half-naked, half-tamed and half-mannered herds of Finnish "reindeer", poro's, seasonally roaming Tallinn and Pärnu searching for more booze to guzzle and karaoke bars for making their mating sounds.)

The eastern routes probably brought other Western Uralic languages, as well, aside from Proto-Saami (I recall maybe Valter Lang* hypothesizing about one branch closer to the Baltic Sea Finns than the Saami cluster, entering through the Karelian Isthmus), but they must have got swallowed (linguistically speaking at minimum) either first by the huge Saami expansion (the origins of which Ante Aikio places in a very small speaking community in Lakeland Finland or perhaps more eastwards in Karelia, starting to expand some time around during the latter half of the first millennium BC), or the later waves of Finns (and in the east, Karelians and the Veps) slowly settling every corner, starting from the most arable, and finally ending up even in Lapland.

It would seem unlikely that the Finns wouldn't have mixed with the Saami-related people especially inland, or basically integrating them wholesale by culture and language switch. To what extent that happened, and what effect it had on the ancestry of the more eastern Finnish tribes like the Karelians and Savonians, I don't know. The "forest Saami" would have been HGs, mostly, I presume, *maybe* with some crude slash and burn agriculture. So, probably small populations anyway.

From historical times we know that in Lapland at least they were versatile HGs and fur traders, but that lifestyle demanded a lot of territory, and when the Finns settled there with a mode of sustenance more effective per km2, the Saami started to switch to the Finnish lifestyle before running out of territory.

[*] Valter Lang: Homo Fennicus, 2020. Original in Estonian from 2018. Too bad it's not in English. It's a very ambitious synthesis of linguistic, archaeological and also genetic evidence, giving an account of the "arrivals" of those Western Uralic people who would come to be known as the Baltic Sea Finns. It includes interesting discussion on the different "natural" routes to the Finnish peninsula, largely river networks and other waterways, as that's how you moved around there. Nice hand-drawn maps and whatnot.

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"‘From Genghis Khan to Tamerlane’ Review: Empire on the Steppe While slaughtering and enslaving entire populations, the Mongols could be meticulously tolerant and impartial about religion." By Melik Kaylan | March 4, 2024


"For sheer information, Mr. Jackson’s book is incomparable. We learn that Timur loved to gather intelligence about his rivals. He revived a courier system of relay horses that “enabled news to be transmitted extremely rapidly.” He planted spies throughout enemy territory, including “merchants, craftsmen, physicians” but also “vicious wrestlers and dissolute acrobats” as well as “charming water-carriers and genial cobblers.” He also deployed “deliberate disinformation,” acquiring a “reputation for guile.” We learn about the weaponry of the time, about elephants with swords attached to their tusks and flaming-oil throwers. During one short campaign, Timur’s army expropriated millions of sheep and hundreds of thousands of horses, camels and oxen. The spoils of war were a big reason why Timur’s men followed him loyally. ...

The book teems with insights. Across 700-plus pages, Mr. Jackson has produced an authoritative work of uncompromising erudition, likely to be a definitive study of the subject for many years to come."

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Mar 4·edited Mar 4

RE: Menopause and the Grandmother hypothesis

Female chimpanzees (& apparently bonobos) experience menopause (if they live long enough). However, in both species, females are the sex that leaves the natal troop. Maternal grandmothers are not around to assist with their their daughters' offspring.

It appears to be a bit of a just so story, based on cherry picking what data is available.

The result of the following google search is amusing: https://www.google.com/search?q=mammal+species+that+experience+menopause

The top 2 results, both dated 10/26/23, are from Scientific American and New Scientist.

Quoted from SciAm: Menopause is rare in the animal kingdom....It has only been documented in a few [mammal] species, including humans, orcas and short-finned pilot whales.

From NS: Only humans and a few toothed whales undergo the menopause, many sources will tell you. But a paper by Ivana Winkler and Angela Goncalves at the German Cancer Research Center claims that the menopause is, in fact, widespread among mammals. So which is right? The surprising answer is both.

Further down the list of results, Science also chimed in with: A pair of studies published today suggests Marlene [a wild 69 y.o. chimp in Uganda] isn’t as rare as scientists thought. Chimps can undergo menopause, researchers have found, and females in dozens of other mammal species may also outlive their ability to reproduce. The results are provocative, researchers say, because they don’t jibe with the leading hypotheses for evolution of menopause in humans.


It appears that menopause evolved for other reasons. Several species (including humans) MAY have repurposed it, developing group structure and dynamics that can take advantage of it.

Too narrow a focus on humans can generate misleading results based on a belief in human exceptionalism. It reminds me of a piece by SJGould (from the 1980s?) at a time when it was widely thought that the clitoris was unique to humans. He argued that it existed in women because the basic body plan for both sexes was largely similar, and because a penis was necessary for men, an analog carried over for women (similarly for nipples). More recently it appears that the clitoris developed in mammals while dinosaurs still roamed the land and that orgasm originally played a similar role in both sexes: release of gametes.


More stamp collecting (and awareness of the collections) is a useful practice before generating grand hypotheses about the origins of human behavior.

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I have a friend who is half Chinese and half Norwegian. It is interesting that she looks most like a native American. I wonder if it is due to her residual ANE inheritance.

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>>Can AI Unlock the Secrets of the Ancient World?

I hope so. What are the chances of deciphering the 3800 year old Linear A Minoan script from the island of Crete? This missing link has stumped scholars since its discovery in 1900.

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there are no off-topic comments on this sort of post.

i would start here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germanic_substrate_hypothesis

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