Saturday, 11 February 2012

Neoteny, why there's not any in a Neanderthal, and there's more of some in Autism.

Neoteny, one of the three directions of heterochrony, would seem at first appearance to be a blow to the 'Cannibals selected for non-cannibalism hypothesis' for autism.  It's neotenous nature led it to register before anyone else, yet it fails like all the others in that appears to be describing 'a subset of the tools in the workshop' rather than 'the reason for the kind of bicycle being constructed', as an explanation for the causation of a particular kind of bicycle, widget or person.

However, in case you missed it, neoteny is taken as a sign that cannibalism will not occur, and so it is preserved while the more ogrish amongst us are forced from the face of the earth.

Another perhaps less chilling explanation for the increased prevalence of neoteny in autistic populations is that autistic people behave inappropriately i.e. they make social mistakes. A social mistakes' cost is measured in terms of the consequences meted out, whether officially or otherwise, by society. Those who look young, child-like or pretty are more likely to go on to be allowed to build a family despite their social faux-pas.

This is also why cannabis for autism is facing formidable opposition. It is highly likely that the more intelligent, more attractive females asperger's are the ones least likely to have need for medication, the ones most likely to oppose the use of any medication, the ones least likely to understand the point of view of those in need of medication, and the ones who have most influence over the general public at large.

Cannabis for Autism Angels Required. Apply on Facebook.

1 comment:

  1. "there's not any in a Neanderthal"

    Yes, uthybridization is associated with neoteny:

    * Heterochrony is defined as a developmental change in the timing of events, leading to changes in size and shape.

    1) Heterochrony in Hybrid Macaques (2008)

    "In this report, we examine the effects of hybridization on growth allometry and the heterochronic growth process in a sample of hybrids of Macaca mulatta.

    "Only the comparison of the male weight-to-age regression was statistically significant. Female hybrids exhibited a visible pattern of acceleration (body weight and length to age), or slight acceleration coupled with slight hypermorphosis (length to weight). None of the female patterns, however, were statistically significant. The results of our study indicate hybridization can affect growth patterns, although the magnitude of the difference varies and may be sex specific."

    2) Heterochrony, maternal effects, and phenotypic variation among sympatric pupfishes (2007)

    "Offspring from two forms and two geographical areas and their hybrids were bred in the laboratory, and ontogenetic trajectories of their feeding morphology were followed until maturity. In the Bahamian pupfish the two forms grow along similar size but not shape trajectories. Two heterochronic parameters, onset and rate of growth, alter shape trajectories in the Bahamian pupfish. Similar forms from different geographical areas (Florida and the Bahamas) grow along parallel shape trajectories, differing only in one heterochronic parameter, the onset shape. Hybrids within and between the pupfish forms produced intermediate feeding morphologies that were influenced by their maternal phenotype, suggesting that maternal effects may be a source of phenotypic variation in shape that can persist to maturity."

    3) Caterpillars evolved from onychophorans by hybridogenesis (2009)

    "Rather I posit that, in animals that metamorphose, the basic types of larvae originated as adults of different lineages, i.e., larvae were transferred when, through hybridization, their genomes were acquired by distantly related animals."