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[flagged] Clan Wars Blamed for Ancient Collapse of the Male Chromosome (history.com)
26 points by ilamont 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 41 comments



Why is the war hypothesis considered more likely than say a widespread, long lived contagious disease that had significantly higher mortality in males than females? If there was a period of widespread warfare for sustained periods, it's hard to see how "clans" would continue to engage in warfare beyond say 50% loss of the fighting forces. Wouldn't some women have joined the clan fighting forces also if it was an existential struggle? Why wouldn't clans have submitted to their conquerors and joined forces against common enemies - which was the pattern in many historical accounts of widespread warfare.


Well to be honest I believe you underestimate humanity. There are way too many instances of clans who would fight till nearly both parties were eradicated. Regardless of that I am not convinced that is the root cause.

I feel this whole theory misses some key elements of our ancestors. First the idea that each male was able to reproduce at the same rate or had the same opportunity to breed as each other; this is not how nature really works! For most mammals only a few males get to bread each year with ALL the females in a herd. The alpha male will do the overwhelming majority of the breading for X number of years until displaced, i.e. dies of natural causes or is violently displaced. Our ancestors were most likely not very different. This, in my opinion, could be one of the reasons women in a group will synchronize their menstrual cycles, as it would help to ensure the male could bread everyone in a short time period and not worry about competitors sneaking in as much.

Also the idea that there were equal number of men and women needs to be looked at. Again, in nature, there is generally way more females then males. A healthy and diverse herd is considered to be around 70% female and 30% male.


> I feel this whole theory misses some key elements of our ancestors. First the idea that each male was able to reproduce at the same rate or had the same opportunity to breed as each other;

The article is talking about Y chromosomes, not the rate of successful breeding of each male. In patrilineal clans, all males share the same Y chromosome since they are all related. It doesn't matter which males within the clan breed when you are analyzing Y chromosomes.

As long as a single male within the clan breeds, the Y chromosome will be passed on.

The question is why many Y chromosomes disappeared from the gene pool. Why the diversity in Y chromosomes declined so drastically.

> The alpha male will do the overwhelming majority of the breading for X number of years until displaced, i.e. dies of natural causes or is violently displaced.

Once again, that doesn't matter in Y chromosomal diversity analysis. It doesn't matter whether you or your brother was "alpha". It doesn't matter which one of you fathered most of the descendents since both you and your brother carry the same Y chromosome.

The question is, if you were living thousands of years ago, why you, your brother, your paternal related male cousins, etc didn't breed. IE, why your clan's Y chromosomal legacy didn't make it while your mother, sister, female cousin's, etc mDNA ( mitochondrial DNA ) did make it. Why did your female genetic legacy make it while your male genetic legacy did not?

It's pretty clear that warfare played a role. There is no disease that wipes out only the males and none that wipes out 100% of the male population. Even if disease wiped out 99% of the males in your clan, the 1% remaining can breed with all the females and replenish the clan and your Y chromosome would live on.


You're giving way too much credit to what a war looked like >5K years ago. There were no "fighting forces", there was just however many men there were, maybe 20-30 in a clan. IIRC from people studying tribes before western civilization arrived, clan warfare was pretty much about getting 2-3 neighboring clans to temporarily gang up another clan's village, kill all the males + women who resist or sell them into slavery, raze the village and then split the remaining women up amongst the victors. Rinse and repeat amongst the victors themselves and it's just not that much of a stretch to eliminate 50% of the men from an area.


I haven't read the original article to see if they address your question -- but generally a trained expert can tell if a disease ravaged someone by markers left of their skeletal system (increased iron deposits, lack of calcium, etc.)

Knowing that, if we wanted to test the hypothesis that it was a disease then we would expect to see those markers on either a majority of males or we would see an equal distribution with the male skeletons trending younger then female ones. After the disease passed (like black death did) we would see male average life spans increase and a decrease in the disease markers.


Well, there are more wars than plagues in recorded history. Also, I'm not familiar with many male-only plagues.


> Why is the war hypothesis considered more likely than say a widespread, long lived contagious disease that had significantly higher mortality in males than females?

Most likely because disease don't discriminate along clan lines and even if disease killed a portion of a clan's males, the other males of the clans can just breed with females and the relative diversity of the male clan line is still maintained. Also, the fact that it has occurred throughout the world indicates it wasn't disease but the structure of the clan and the warfare.

> If there was a period of widespread warfare for sustained periods, it's hard to see how "clans" would continue to engage in warfare beyond say 50% loss of the fighting forces.

Why do say that? Also, you are assuming that one clan won't have an advantage over the other clan and that one side won't be victorious.

> Wouldn't some women have joined the clan fighting forces also if it was an existential struggle?

No because it wasn't an existential struggle for women. It was an existential struggle for men. Women can breed with the conquering males. Perhaps a small number of women may fight but they'll be killed or subdued very quickly. Males are much stronger than females on average.

> - which was the pattern in many historical accounts of widespread warfare.

And the pattern is that males conquer and take the women, land, resources, etc.

If you want to see how conquerors genes spread. Look at mexico's mestizo genetics.

"A 2012 study published by the Journal of Human Genetics Y chromosomes found the deep paternal ancestry of the Mexican mestizo population to be predominately European (64.9%), followed by Amerindian (30.8%) and Asian (1.2%)"

"Also a study published in 2011 on Mexican Mitochondrial DNA found that maternal ancestry was predominately Native American (85-90%), with a minority having European (5–7%) or African (3–5%) mtDNA."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mestizos_in_Mexico

Amongst mixed race mexicans, 65% are descended from european males and 85-90% are descended from native females. And the european males didn't kill off all the native males in mexico. The european males, as conquerors, seized the most land, resources and power for themselves and their male offsprings. This gives an enormous breeding advantage that in just a couple of hundred years, native mexican male genetics is a distinct minority while the native mexican female genetics is a distinct advantage.

Keep in mind that at no time in mexican history were full-blooded european males a significant portion of the population. It's just the power of mathematics ( exponential growth ).

Think about it, if you have 10 kids and your kids have 10 kids and their kids have 10 kids, it adds up really quickly.


Redirects to history.nl for me, with no article to be found.

(I'm not even in the Netherlands, and my browser doesn't ask for Dutch via Accept-Language.)


For everyone having trouble accessing the article, here's a paste: https://pastebin.com/raw/S229NyJW

Actually, it's interesting reading an article with just text and nothing else. It kind of makes me want a text-based browser mode that works on modern sites.


The "reader mode" in Safari and Firefox is pretty good.


Now if only we could directly open articles in text mode, and save ourselves the pain of loading (or at least rendering) all the crap first. Like a right-click menu option next to the "Open in new tab/window/private tab" options


As far as I can tell, the Firefox reader mode algorithm needs the entire page loaded in order to figure out what part of the page is actual content. It's necessary because nowadays you can't tell from the HTML alone.


I guess that makes sense, but even then: loading is not the same as rendering to screen. I don't know which of the two is the bigger drain on resources in mobile, but it can still help.


You mean Reader View? I believe Safari pioneered this, Firefox has it too. Not sure about Chrome and Edge.


Chrome will do it, but Google doesn't like to make it easy for you to remove content/noise. In Windows you have to add

  --enable-dom-distiller
to the end of "Target" in the shortcut properties. Then it shows up as "Distill page" in the drop-down menu.

Edge has reader mode, but it won't work for every webpage (seems to not work for the noisiest ones, where you really want it).



Redirects to www.seuhistory.com for me (brazilian version of the History Channel's site). This site is terrible. I tried to read another article from US (i assume) version and it is impossible. It redirects to your localized site (where there are different articles and posts) and doesn't let you choose.

Horrible UX


In Finland I get historytv.fi. Google Cache to the rescue: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:ehTZ26r...



Redirects to history.de for me. (Which is correct in some geofencing sense, using a vpn solves the problem.)

Sort of fun to have a light challenge to obtain documents THEY (history.com) don't want you to see.


I'm in the Netherlands, and have the same problem


Redirects to www.historytv.se in sweden


Same here in Spain. Utterly retarded.



I'm not an expert in this domain, but something seems a little off to me. Are we saying that all male populations around the planet 5000 to 7000 years ago were engaged in serious clan wars, or are we just focused on the Asian and/or African continents?

What about populations in Australia, the Pacific Islands and other places?


I'd suggest reading the Nature article linked in the top comment by hn user mazsa.

Alternatively, you can follow the links and read the actual papers outlining the data.

But in answer to your question, the actual data says none of those things. The data says ONLY that male populations DECREASED long long ago. And they decreased throughout the world. Europe, MidEast, Asia, Africa, Americas. (Though the numbers indicate that whatever happened, more of it happened in Europe and MidEast regions than anywhere else. Consistent with data that hunter-gatherers proximate to agriculturalists fared particularly poorly in this regard.)

The reasons presented to explain this decline are just hypotheses. But they, (clan wars), are plausible to me. (Given my lay understanding of history. Which means exactly nothing. As in most science, it's the data that's meaningful here, and that's what you should pay attention to.)


I think the argument is more that primitive societies were, well, primitive, and the societies that didn’t advance were wiped out.

Remember that women had a shelf-life in those days due to childbirth mortality. They were a hot commodity (literally) and were taken as property to be married/raped.

The men were redundant, either put to the sword or put to work.


While I do think this is an interesting argument, I fear that this may somehow be spinned into the toxic masculinity narrative.

edit: I'm getting downvoted for adding to an argument with an unpopular opinion?

It would be more educative of people responding to me to tell how I'm wrong, instead of just downvoting.


Perhaps people just don't believe you'll believe it when they tell you. Perhaps they instead suspect you will argue the toss, back and forth, endlessly, like the proverbial muddy pig fight (that only the pig enjoys).

This belief could be wrong, but would it better explain the behaviour?


I do believe you are on point. Yet this is not exactly reddit or facebook and I'm not a baiting troll (as can be seen from my comment history etc.)


Anybody who uses that narrative as a point against men is stupid. Men were made to fight. We would be cavemen still if it weren’t for the competitiveness of males.


Raising "made to" in a discussion of evolution is missing the point. We are who we are because we survived the filters, but that doesn't imply any particular purpose or intent let alone that we have to stay this way.


You're probably right, but you might be underestimating the number of stupid people out there.


I admit don't fully understand Y-chromosome lineage, but from a layman's perspective this doesn't seem to fit.

Imagine 5 - 7000 years ago humans first started experimenting with animal husbandry, and sedentary lifestyles in meaningful numbers. This would expose humans to new diseases that would wipe out large portions of the population, similar to what happened in North America when white settlers first arrived.

Imagine that certain genetic traits, found primarily in the y-chromosome makes people more susceptible to these diseases. Or even that genetic traits found on the x-chromosome, helped people fight off these diseases. Wouldn't that create a similar bottleneck to what the scientists found now?

Also, since this study uses Y-chromosome DNA, isn't it possible that there was a similar bottleneck of the female population that we simply haven't been able to detect through DNA analysis?

Granted there were a lot of depictions of warfare in this time period, but I don't see how that makes it different from any other period in human history.


I thought this was a parody on the impact of video games to our current population.

I was wrong.


Those Y shaped chromosomes in the splash art made my eye twitch. For anyone curious, your Y chromosome is not Y shaped.


And the helix in the background...

At least the cave painting of the battle proves the research is valid.


Great, I get redirected to "https://canalhistoria.es/" instead of the article.

Smart devs who can read IPs strike again...


tl;dr, over the course of 1,000 years clans fought themselves over resources and only a few families/males survived.

As a result, a male may have hundreds of children.

This is somewhat similar to the Genghis Kahn situation where millions of people has his DNA.

Btw, I didnt think this was a surprise.


"5,000 to 7,000 years ago wasn’t the best time to be a male". Not now either. In a different way. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrhHkQhglig. Of course, no one cares. Once we build a sperm in lab, we can get rid of men for good.


Go back to /r/blackpill. Hackernews isn't the place for this kind of thing.




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