Jan 142013
 

Genome-wide data substantiate Holocene gene flow from India to Australia

PNAS online publication January 14, 2013; doi: 10.1073/pnas.1211927110
Irina Pugach, Frederick Delfin, Ellen Gunnarsdóttir, Manfred Kayserd, and Mark Stoneking

The Australian continent holds some of the earliest archaeological evidence for the expansion of modern humans out of Africa, with initial occupation at least 40,000 y ago. It is commonly assumed that Australia remained largely isolated following initial colonization, but the genetic history of Australians has not been explored in detail to address this issue. Here, we analyze large-scale genotyping data from aboriginal Australians, New Guineans, island Southeast Asians and Indians. We find an ancient association between Australia, New Guinea, and the Mamanwa (a Negrito group from the Philippines), with divergence times for these groups estimated at 36,000 y ago, and supporting the view that these populations represent the descendants of an early “southern route” migration out of Africa, whereas other populations in the region arrived later by a separate dispersal. We also detect a signal indicative of substantial gene flow between the Indian populations and Australia well before European contact, contrary to the prevailing view that there was no contact between Australia and the rest of the world. We estimate this gene flow to have occurred during the Holocene, 4,230 y ago. This is also approximately when changes in tool technology, food processing, and the dingo appear in the Australian archaeological record, suggesting that these may be related to the migration from India.

Highlights

At K = 5, the proportion of Australian ancestry not shared with the New Guineans most closely resembles the ancestry profile of the three Indian populations [Chenchu and Kurumba (tribal Dravidian speakers) plus nontribal Dravidian speakers from south India] at this value of K.

Additionally, at K = 7, six runs with the highest log-likelihood scores ascribe 11% of Australian ancestry to India, whereas an additional 9% is shared with the Mamanwa

Pugacha et al. (2013) Fig. S5B&C
Figs. S5B and S5C

The graph that best fits the data has four inferred migration edges: Chenchu to CHB (weight, 4%), Onge to India (17) (weight, 6%); one of the edges captures shared ancestry between NGH, AUA, and MWA (5, 23) (weight, 15%); and one of the edges provides evidence for the gene flow from India to Australia. The weight for this migration edge is estimated to be 11%, in agreement with the admixture proportion obtained in the ADMIXTURE analysis.

Pugacha et al. (2013) Fig. 4C
Fig. 4C

… our study includes 11 populations from island SE Asia [Borneo: Land Dayak; Sumatra: Besemah and Semende; Philippines: Manobo and (negrito) Mamanwa; Nusa Tenggara: Alor, Flores, Roti, Timor; Moluccas: Hiri and Ternate], but there is no signal whatsoever of recent gene flow from India into these populations or from these populations into Australia (Fig. S8), which renders this scenario of Indian ancestry via SE Asia unlikely.

Pugacha et al. (2013) Fig. S8B
Fig. S8B

Quick thoughts

The aboriginal Australian samples in this study were obtained from individuals in “a broad geographical area of the Northern Territory” — as the authors acknowledge, it can’t be presumed that this 11% “Indian” contribution is uniform across all aboriginal Australian populations, and broader sampling would be desirable. (Now, what would really be interesting would be genomic data from historic Tasmanian aborigines.)

This “Indian” element is evident neither in contemporary insular SE Asia (granted, the present-day non-Negrito inhabitants of the region seem to be, to a large extent, replacement populations) nor in (highland) New Guinea. (How about lower elevations?)

Chenchu to Beijing Han: Indian subcontinental admixture in China (but not Bornean Dayaks)?

That “Mamanwa”-modal component showing up in Australian aborigines — but not NGH — at K = 7: again something that made it into Australia while skirting (highland) New Guinea? Shades of Birdsell’s first-wave “negritos”?  Let’s remember that the Mamanwa were found previously to derive almost three-quarters of their ancestry from an East Asian-like source…

In closing … some remarks by Jonathan Morris, writing of Alfredo Trombetti and his early-20th-century precursor to Greenberg’s “Indo-Pacific”:

While my primary aim is an accurate portrayal of Trombetti’s ideas and data rather than an assessment of their merits, we may note in passing that the revision of his hypothesis to include Dravidian has the anomaly of showing better matches with Australian than with Andamanese or Papuan.

[...] Viewed from a modern perspective, I wonder whether Trombetti’s link to Dravidian is not demonstrating something else, i.e. evidence of a much later migration from India to Australia during the Mesolithic/Neolithic… [...] If so, then the implications of Trombetti’s work are that the South Indian populations which migrated to Australia were Dravidian speakers, even if he was probably wrong to include this family in his Andamanese-Papuan-Australian phylum.

Dec 092012
 

Shepard (2008: 496, 497, 503) on a storied title:

The Khazars’ power could hardly have failed to make an impression on those from the Nordic world who joined with indigenous populations of the eastern lands in a common quest for silver, and in fact the head of their first recorded polity to the east of the Baltic sported the same title as that of the Khazar ruler, chaganus or kagan. The Khazars probably supplied the inspiration for authority-symbols and customs, including that of setting a more or less sacral figurehead at the polity’s head. As with the Khazars, this totem-like overlord (reportedly residing on an immense bed-cum-throne) acted in tandem with a military commander who handled earthly affairs in the later ninth and early tenth centuries (Lewicki 1985: 75-6; Montgomery 2000: 21-2; Golden 1982: 45-50, 52-3; Golden 2006).

[...] Later in the [ninth] century, the well-informed Abbasid director of posts and intelligence Ibn Khurradadhbeh noted that northern traders brought furs and swords down to the Black Sea coast and paid customs duties to the Byzantines, probably at Cherson in the Crimea (Lewicki 1956: 76-7). He terms them ‘Rūs’, and in fact persons ‘stating that they, that is their people (gens), were called Rhōs’ were already at the Byzantine emperor’s court by 838. Reportedly, their ‘king called chaganus’ had sent them ‘for the sake of friendship’.

[...] [Sviatoslav] also sought conspicuously to align himself with the peoples of the steppes. A Byzantine eyewitness account and the Rus Primary Chronicle agree that Sviatoslav took on the hair- and lifestyle of a Eurasian steppe chieftain: his scalp was shaven save for one long strand of hair, denoting nobility of birth, and a ring was in one ear; life in the saddle was his delight, ‘making many wars’ and sleeping beneath the open sky.

Mikkelsen (2008: 543-544) on Norse Muslims in Volga Bulgaria and the challenges of Islamic orthopraxis in the far north:

The most famous Arabic source concerning the descriptions of the Vikings is Ibn Fadlan who wrote an account of a journey from Baghdad to the Volga Bulgars in 921-2. His main task was to spread the Muslim faith to this people (Wikander 1978). He tells that he saw among these people 5,000 men and women, who had all converted to Islam. They were called al-baringâr, which is interpreted as an Arabic rendering of the Old Norse name vœringar, another name for Vikings (Lewicki 1972: 12; Wikander 1978: 21). Ibn Fadlan built a mosque of wood for them to perform Islamic service and he taught them to pray. There are some difficulties in interpreting this part of the Arabic source (ibid.). It is, however, interesting if Vikings really were converted to Islam in Volga Bulgar, although the number of converted is probably highly overstated.

[...] Amin Râzi, describing Rûs among the Volga Bulgars, says that they highly valued pork. Even those who had converted to Islam aspired to it and were very fond of pork (Wikander 1978: 73). [...] The Spanish Arab Abu Hamid who visited Bulgar in the twelfth century complained that it was very cold and there were only four-hour days during winter and twenty-hour days in summer. When he visited Bulgar, Ramadan — the Muslim’s month of fasting — came in summer. As the fasting is set to last all day when the sun is shining, Abu Hamid admitted he had to abstain from fasting (Wikander 1978: 78-9).

Works Cited:

Mikkelsen, E. (2008). The Vikings and Islam. In Brink, S., & Price, N. (Eds.). The Viking World, 543-549. Routledge: Abingdon and New York.

Shepard, J. (2008). The Viking Rus and Byzantium. In Brink, S., & Price, N. (Eds.). The Viking World, 496-516. Routledge: Abingdon and New York.

Nov 262012
 

Here’s an abstract for a presentation to be given at Paleoamerican Odyssey, a conference on First American archaeology, in October 2013:

A Genomic Sequence of a Clovis Individual
Eske Willerslev

The Clovis complex is by some scientists considered being the oldest unequivocal evidence of humans in the Americas, dating between ca. 11,050 to 10,800 14C yr B.P. Only one human skeleton has been directly AMS dated to Clovis age and found associated with Clovis technology namely the Anzick human remains from Montana. We are currently sequencing the nuclear and mitochondrial genome from this human skeleton in order to address the origins and descendents of Clovis. I will present the results obtained by our international consortium.

Full set here. You’ll notice among the presenters trans-Atlantic Solutrean dispersal proponent Dennis Stanford, with new finds of (what he argues to be) telltale “laurel leaf” knives from the Chesapeake Bay watershed, including some picked up off the continental shelf, and Brazilian researcher Walter Neves of two-wave and “Luzia” fame on his Lagoa Santa work.

Thanks to Gisele Horvat for the heads-up.

Nov 182012
 

Unsupervised 44-population ADMIXTURE analysis (K=9) using the Genographic Project’s new “GenoChip” SNP array, from the Geno2.0 poster at ASHG 2012. No photographs of the poster were permitted, but a scaled-down version was made available by the presenters as a handout (scanned in full here).

Quick impressions: Nothing looks too out of the ordinary (save that “South East Asian” has to be a composite of both “ASI” and southern East Asian proper). Those “Northern Indians” could only be Ladakhis or something similar. “Native American” shows up everywhere in Eurasia that you’d expect it, with greatest pronouncedness in the Altaians, next the Mongolians, and then the Tatars, the Finns, and so on. Somewhat interesting that the Mexico Amerindians (wonder what their specific identity is), have a small “North East Asian” element close to negligible in the Andeans. Like I said, no big shocks.

Nov 082012
 

Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication 8 November 2012; doi: 10.1038/jhg.2012.114

The history of human populations in the Japanese Archipelago inferred from genome-wide SNP data with a special reference to the Ainu and the Ryukyuan populations

Japanese Archipelago Human Population Genetics Consortium: Jinam et al.

The Japanese Archipelago stretches over 4000 km from north to south, and is the homeland of the three human populations; the Ainu, the Mainland Japanese and the Ryukyuan. The archeological evidence of human residence on this Archipelago goes back to >30 000 years, and various migration routes and root populations have been proposed. Here, we determined close to one million single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for the Ainu and the Ryukyuan, and compared these with existing data sets. This is the first report of these genome-wide SNP data. Major findings are: (1) Recent admixture with the Mainland Japanese was observed for more than one third of the Ainu individuals from principal component analysis and frappe analyses; (2) The Ainu population seems to have experienced admixture with another population, and a combination of two types of admixtures is the unique characteristics of this population; (3) The Ainu and the Ryukyuan are tightly clustered with 100% bootstrap probability followed by the Mainland Japanese in the phylogenetic trees of East Eurasian populations. These results clearly support the dual structure model on the Japanese Archipelago populations, though the origins of the Jomon and the Yayoi people still remain to be solved.

[Rough first take follows, updates to come.]

Death knell of the “Caucasoid hypothesis”:


No obvious affinities between the Ainu and West Eurasians, not even a little tug towards the CEU pole.


Sans YRI this time. Obvious gradient of admixture (more below on those supposed Ainu right in the middle of the regular Japanese cluster).

A “strange drop of oil” still:

Are they Mongolian? If they are, they have none of the characteristics of that race; and if they are not Mongolian, then they are something like a strange drop of oil in the ocean, being surrounded by Mongols, yet not of them. — Royal Navy Captain H.C. St. John’s 1880 impression of the Hokkaido Ainu.


Lonely leaf on a long branch. Ryukyuans come out quite stably as their nearest sisters, but they’re still not all that close.


Northern vs. southern origin debate clearly not going to be solved by a straightforward crumbling out into “Siberians” or “southeast Asians”. The Ainu are a very differentiated kind of East Eurasian unto themselves.

Internal structure and outliers:

Authors suggest five individuals in red circle on PCA graph (which break out as all-purple at k=4 in the admixture chart) were potentially Sakhalin Ainu, some of whom relocated to the study locality following WWII. Component potentially related to Okhotsk Culture (northern maritime complexes pushing south).

As for the (supposed) Ainu inside Mainland Japanese cluster: there were some Mainland Japanese individuals who married Ainu people in Biratori Town when blood collection was conducted. These genetically non-Ainu people might have been included in the ‘Ainu’ samples we used. The well-known practice of adopting wajin infants could perhaps also account for this.

Either way, sounds like these samples could have benefitted from some better curating.

Admixture plot puzzles:


What accounts for those upticks of dark blue, if they’re actually meaningful, at k=4 and k=5 in Dai, Lahu, and Uyghur? Suspicion that something southerly’s afoot > “ASI”-Ainu connection?

Where to go from here:

It should be noted that Omoto conducted a pioneering study on the phylogenetic relationship of the Ainu population considering various degrees of admixture. When a 60% admixture with the Mainland Japanese was assumed for the modern Ainu population, the ancestral Ainu population was clustered with Sahulian (Papuan and Australian). This sort of simulations based on the real data is needed. Seconded.

What ought to be next: admixture analyses with Australian aboriginal and Papuan (wondering about “Australoid” and more specifically “Murrayian” connections), negrito (particularly Andamanese), Tibetan Plateau (Y-hg D … but keeping expectations low given what Wang et al. (2011) found re: Tibetans and non-Ainu Japanese), Indian subcontinental, and New World references. (Does the Amerindian-like component showing up in northern Europeans seem to be present in the Ainu as well?) “Paleoasiatic” Siberians (especially from Kamchatka and thereabouts), not just Turkic, Mongolic, and Tungusic ones, ought to be included too.

Archaic hominid ancestry values vis-à-vis other East Eurasians?

Future sampling: modern DNA from Nivkhs and other Amur-Sakhalin peoples; aDNA from various localities and time depths in Japanese archipelago (especially those Okinawan cave remains) of course, but also Korean peninsula and Russian Far East. Still more ambitiously, Paleoamerican aDNA (one wonders about all those Jomon-like Kennewick types). Just for kicks, Valdivia-era coastal Peru too.

Adaptive stories? EDAR and co. — wondering about basis of Ainu hirsuteness (and interesting combination of wavy yet very coarse hair), non-sinodont tooth patern. (And what’s going on with proportionally tiny teeth?) ABCC11 and wet earwax, apocrine gland development. Pigmentation alleles. Alcohol dehydrogenases.

Nov 082012
 

From Wiebusch and Tadmor’s Mandarin Chinese chapter in Loanwords in the World’s Languages: A Comparative Handbook (Haspelmath and Tadmor, Eds., 2009: 585-586):

Introduced fauna and flora are an area where loanwords are typically found. Borrowed animal names in Mandarin include shīzi 獅子 ‘lion’ (< Old Persian šer/šē/šī ‘lion’) and 駱駝 luòtuo ‘camel’ (originally tuotuo, borrowed during the Han Dynasty from Xiongnu dada ‘camel’). In addition, xiàng 象 ‘elephant’ is of possible Kra-Dai origin (cf. Thai chááŋ ‘elephant’; elephants were indigenous to the Kra-Dai homeland but not to the Sinitic homeland). Borrowed names for introduced plants include níngméng 柠檬, 檸檬 ‘the citrus fruit’ (of Austronesian origin, cf. Malay limau), pútao 葡萄 ‘the grape’ (ultimately from Elamite *būdawa ‘wine’), mógu 檳榔 ‘mushroom’ from Mongolian moku/mo::k and bīnglang 檳榔 ‘areca palm’ (of Austronesian origin, cf. Malay pinang ‘areca palm’).


Wonder how many lost intermediates that one passed through.

Nov 072012
 

Readers of GNXP may remember a straw poll Razib took somewhat over a year ago asking which undersampled or unsampled populations people would like to see genotyped. The Ainu, who have heretofore really only been analyzed for Y- and mtDNA, were a frequent mention. As some of my previous posts probably made clear, the Ainu would have been my top choice, too.

Today, it looks like the wait’s up. As soon as the current issue of the Journal of Human Genetics (Volume 57, Issue 11) comes online, the world will see what 36 Ainu individuals look like at 900,000 SNP resolution. These are evidently coming from stored materials collected around 30 years ago. To accompany them will be 35 native Okinawan and, from Honshu and elsewhere — which hopefully includes Hokkaido — 243 Yamato Japanese samples.

Here’s what I’ve pieced together from the general news sites that’ve picked up this story so far (Asahi Shimbun article in English here, Nikkei article translation here):

Ancestry of all Japanese well-approximated by a two-way mix of “Yayoi” and “Jomon”; “Jomon” component bimodal, albeit still somewhat diluted relative to pre-Yayoi epochs, in far south (Okinawans) and far north (Ainu); Ainu closest, in decreasing order, to Okinawans, Yamato Japanese, Koreans, and Han Chinese; Kanto Japanese rather similar to Koreans, less so to Han Chinese (some of the articles suggest even closer to Koreans than to Okinawans, though that remains ambiguous).

None of this comes as a surprise. Physical-anthropological, archeological, and textual data (i.e., accounts of warfare with and enslavement of Ainu-like hostile emishi on Honshu as well as the more peaceable co-opting of friendly or pacified emishi into the Japanese world-system) have long indicated as much, and the last point in particular has been fairly undeniable since the 2010 Jung et al. study — no matter how much Japanese and Koreans alike have sidestepped it. (And continue to sidestep … look at what the Asahi Shimbun chose to highlight instead.)

It’s just the first time this story’s being told with an Affymetrix 6.0 array, and the first time we have any autosomal Ainu references whatsoever.


(Left from the Asahi Shimbun, right from the Chugoku Shimbun.)

It’s nice timing that this comes hot on the heels of the Loh et al. ALDER paper, which estimates the Japanese — using CHB Han Chinese as the Yayoi proxy — to have admixed 45 +/- 6 generations/1,300 years ago and a genome-wide lower bound “(likely very conservative)” of 41 +/- 3% “Yayoi” ancestry.

More thoughts about this for sure, but I’m going to first wait and see what else the actual paper holds in store. Until then, some funny early receptions: here or here, as suits your taste.

Jul 032012
 

A highly contentious proposal that Burushaski, most commonly thought of as a language isolate, is in fact a deviant member of Indo-European has recently earned some attention in the popular press (much of it crippled by serious misunderstandings about what exactly Indo-European is, or — even worse — the idea that Burushaski was only just discovered by linguists). I haven’t had the opportunity to read this latest edition of The Journal of Indo-European Studies, but earlier versions of the same argument have left me no more moved than this enthusiastic amateur attempt to similarly prove that “the Turkic languages could be a lost “satemized” branch of the Indo-European family”. (Which is not to say that no long-range relationships involving Burushaski are worth contemplating — more on this shortly.)

In combination with recent discussions of Indo-European migration at Dienekes, however, this is as good a reason as any to share a passage from Frye (1996: 32-33):

The aborigines of Central Asia probably were few in number and of unknown identity, although, according to some scholars, possibly related to the present Burushaski speaking people, also called Hunzakuts. But this is mere speculation, since probably some peoples who no longer exist were absorbed by the Iranians leaving no traces. Yet the Burushaski speakers present us with an enigma which needs explanation.

From stories by the Burushaski speaking people of Hunza in northern Pakistan that their ancestors lived in the Yarkand-Khotan regions of Xinjiang, one might suggest that the proto-Burushaskis extended over a much larger territory before the coming of the Indo-European speaking peoples. Burushaski is unrelated to the Tibeto-Burman, Dravidian, Altaic or Indo-European families of languages and, like Basque in the Pyrenees and several tongues of the Caucasus, may be a relic of languages spoken by aborigines in Central Asia before the expansion of the Indo-European speakers. For the latter ranged far, from India and China to the Atlantic Ocean mostly in the second millennium B.C.E.

Thus, before the coming of the Indo-Europeans, we may assume that Central Asia was occupied by a number of peoples, speaking languages which have disappeared, or of which the last traces are Burushaski and Dravidian speakers. Possibly long vanished Elamite, or languages related to Mannean or Urartian, also had representatives in Central Asia, but the population and settlements of aborigines were probably small and few.

This Urheimat story is somewhat easier to swallow than Čašule’s Phrygian exodus, but it nonetheless managed to catch me by surprise, so further references — if any readers are aware of them — would be appreciated.

I’ll keep this brief and close by noting that, if George van Driem’s exciting speculations in Languages of the Himalayas indeed hold water (and perhaps that’s a large if), the Burushos’ relation to IE expansion could be far more nuanced that of singlemindedly retreating victim. Follow-up to come…

[EDIT: Victor Mair and his camp have suggested Frye's claims above re: pre-Tocharian Tarim Basin peoples have little in the way of substantiation, which is a little troubling if true given the specificity of that claim about Hunza Burusho traditions.]

Works Cited:

Frye, R. N. (1996). The heritage of Central Asia, from antiquity to the Turkish expansion. Princeton: Markus Wiener Publishers.

van Driem, G. (2001). Languages of the Himalayas: An ethnolinguistic handbook of the greater Himalayan Region: Containing an introduction to the symbiotic theory of language. Leiden: Brill.

Jul 022012
 

From an itinerary of Xuanzang’s famous 7th-century pilgrimage from Tang China to India, a report quite easily interpretable as describing a Tocharian or Tocharian-derived population (Watters & Smith, 1904: 290):

This country [Ortu Kan: "Kie(Ka)-sha" (Kashgar, a place still very much around today)] he describes as being above 5000 li in circuit with many sand-heaps and little fertile soil; it yielded good crops and had a luxuriance of fruits and flowers. It produced fine woollen stuffs and fine woven woollen rugs; the people had the custom of flattening their babies’ heads by compression; they were ill-favoured, tattooed their bodies and they had green eyes; their writing had been copied from that of India, and although changes had been made the substance was still preserved [Ortu Kan: apparently referring to one of the Brahmi-derived Tocharian abugidas]; their spoken language was different from the languages of other countries [Ortu Kan: presumably meaning the Indo-Iranian branches of IE, Turkic, Mongolic, and Chinese, if not others]. The inhabitants were sincere believers in Buddhism; there were some hundreds of Buddhist monasteries with more than 1000 Brethren all adherents of the Sarvāstivādin School; these men read their scriptures much, without penetrating the meaning, and so there were many who had in this way read through all the canon and the vibhāshās (or Commentaries).


The commentary elaborates: “instead of the “green eyes” which the pilgrim ascribes to the people other authorities represent them as having “turquoise pupils”. We are told also that all the inhabitants of this country were born with six fingers on each hand, and six toes on each foot.3” (ibid.: 292).

Watters, T., & Smith, V.A. (1904). On Yuan Chwang’s travels in India, 629-645 A.D. (Davids, T.W.R. & Bushell, S.W., Eds.). London: Royal Asiatic Society.

Jul 022012
 

From Konrad Lorenz’s The Natural Science of the Human Species (1997: 61-62), the astonishing “Russian Manuscript” written in a Soviet prison camp:

At the age of 5 ½ years, my daughter Agnes was able to recognize any bird belonging to the rail family after becoming familiar with just two representatives, albeit in some depth. Her achievement was remarkable for the following reason: Both of the species with which she was familiar–the moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) and the coot (Fulica atra)–are waterfowl that have adopted a generally ducklike form through adaptation to aquatic life. But the rail family (Raliidae) contains birds with a wide variety of different forms, including small steppe inhabitants with a pronounced chickenlike external appearance, such as the corncrake, and long-legged wading birds, such as Allen’s gallinule, along with many others. Carefully avoiding any suggestive questions or involuntary guidance, I conducted a test on my young daughter using the comprehensive bird collection at the Zoological Garden in Schönbrunn, with which she was quite unfamiliar. She made no mistakes, either with the most chickenlike members of the rail family or with the most rail-like members of the chicken family, and in an enclosure that also contained herons and other wading birds she immediately picked out Allen’s gallinule as a rail, despite the fact that this bird is a very unusual member of the family in external appearance because of its ultramarine blue coloration. In doing this, she solved a problem that had completely defeated Linnaeus, the founding father of zoological systematics. In his “natural system,” the individual members of the rail family are classified into different groups of striding, swimming, or wading birds according to their external adaptations! How was it that this 5-year-old saw something that Linnaeus had failed to see? It was because she was closely familiar with the living bird, whereas Linnaeus had only examined the prepared specimen. In the general behavior and locomotion of the living bird, a wealth of fine details generate a Gestalt. This experiential entity incorporates more quality-determining characters than Linnaeus took into account in his identification key. When I asked my daughter how she could recognize members of the rail family as such, all she could say was that they “are like a moorhen.” The number of characters that determined the quality of my daughter’s “rail Gestalt” for the birds with which she was familiar must have been so great that they completely overwhelmed the aquatic bird features shared by moorhens and coots. In spite of the somewhat distorted basis of her “inference,” she was able to achieve a correct result through intuitive Gestalt perception. The most knowledgeable and eminent modern zoologists concerned with fine systematics exploit this feat of Gestalt perception quite consciously by taking observations of the living animal and of its “physiognomy” as indicators in their systematic investigations.


Realize that Lorenz is not espousing the “supernatural infallibility of intuition” (63); molecular phylogenetics’ dismantling of intuitively cohesive taxonomic units (not just those of folk taxonomy but also, on numerous occasions, the more formally delineated yet ultimately intuition-led groupings of traditional morphologists), are proof enough of his admonition: “intuitively derived certitudes are just as correct as those that are based on more primitive perceptual functions. In other words, in general they are in most cases almost completely correct, but in a few awkward cases they are completely wrong!” (62).

Lorenz, K., & Cranach, A. (1997). The natural science of the human species: An introduction to comparative behavioral research: The “Russian Manuscript” (1944-1948). Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.