top of page
  • Writer's pictureArnold Schroder

#60: Revolutionary Biology pt. 2: The Development and Evolution of Sasquatch

(03/10/2023) As an illustration of the extraordinary plasticity of the human species, we examine the story of Zana, whose genetics, described in a 2021 paper, establish her as a member of a modern human population. Zana, who was captured living wild in the Caucasus Mountains in the 19th century and held in captivity for forty years, was two meters tall, covered in hair, superhumanly strong, lacked speech, slept naked outside all winter, could crush bones with her teeth, swam in rivers during their full spring flood, and could outrun a horse. She was described by the many locals who were familiar with her as an Almasty, or Sasquatch. Building on the early biological descriptions of two species of human and the contemporary evidence on feral children, we postulate that our own developmentally delayed, self-domesticated form of humanity has—as is the case among other species for whom developmental change has been central to their evolution—a developmentally accelerated, wild form, induced by a lack of care in early development, and that reproducing populations of such individuals are what we know as Sasquatch.

Bibliography for episode 60:

Brown, D. E. (1991)Human Universals. McGraw-Hill.

Davis, H. E. (2014) Variable Education Exposure and Cognitive Task Performance Among the Tsimane, Forager-Horticulturalists.

Gilbert, S. F. and Epel, D. (2015) Ecological Developmental Biology: The Environmental Regulation of Development, Health, and Evolution. 2nd edition. Sinauer Associates.

Gowlett, J. A. J. (2016) The discovery of fire by humans: a long and convoluted process.Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B371: 20150164.

Hare, B. and Woods, V. (2020) Survival of the Friendliest: Understanding Our Origins and Rediscovering Our Common Humanity. Random House.

Henrich, J., Heine, S. J., & Norenzayan, A. (2010). The weirdest people in the world? Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 33(2-3):61–83. doi:10.1017/s0140525x0999152x

Holldobler, B. & Wilson, E. O. (2008)The Superorganism: The Beauty, Elegance, and Strangeness of Insect Societies.W. W. Norton and Company.

Hrdy, S. B, (2006) Comes the child before man: How cooperative breeding and prolonged postweaning dependence shaped human potential. In: Hewlett, B. S. and Lamb, M. E., eds. Hunter-Gatherer Childhoods: Evolutionary, Developmental, and Cultural Perspectives. Aldine Transactions.

Hrdy, S. B. (2009) Mothers and Others: The Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Understanding. Harvard University Press.

Isler, K., & van Schaik, C. P. (2012). How our ancestors broke through the gray ceiling. Current Anthropology, 53(S6), S453–S465. Doi:10.1086/667623

Lee, R. (1984) The Dobe !Kung. Holt Rinehart and Winston.

Margaryan A, Sinding M-HS, Carøe C, Yamshchikov V, Burtsev I, Gilbert MTP. (2021) The genomic origin of Zana of Abkhazia. Advanced Genetics 2(2):e10051.

McNeil, M. C., Polloway, E. A. and Smith, J. D. (1984) Feral and isolated children. Education and Training of the Mentally Retarded 19(1):70-79.

Somel, M., Franz, H., Yan, Z., Lorenc, A., Guo, S., Giger, T., Kelso, J., Nickel, B., Dannemann, M. & Bahn, S. (2009) Transcriptional neoteny in the human brain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A. 106:5743-8.

Sykes, B. (2014) The Nature of the Beast: The First Scientific Evidence on the Survival of Apemen into Modern Times. Coronet.

Trut, L. N., Plyusnina, I. Z. & Oskina, I. N. (2004) An experiment on fox domestication and debatable issues of evolution of the dog. Russian Journal of Genetics 40(6):644–55.

West Eberhard, M. J. (2003) Developmental Plasticity and Evolution. Oxford University Press.

Wilkins, A. S., Wrangham, R. W., & Fitch, W. T. (2014). The “domestication syndrome” in mammals: A unified explanation based on neural crest cell behavior and genetics. Genetics, 197(3), 795–808. doi:10.1534/genetics.114.165423

Wrangham, R. W. (2009) Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human. Basic Books.

Wrangham, R. W. (2019). Hypotheses for the evolution of reduced reactive aggression in the context of human self-domestication. Frontiers in Psychology10. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01914

Wrangham, R. W. (2021) Targeted conspiratorial killing, human self-domestication and the evolution of groupishness. Evolutionary Human Sciences 3, e26, DOI: 10.1017/ehs.2021.20

1,125 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

1 Yorum

23 Mar 2023

So delighted to be able to continue on, so I’m no longer at the end of your podcasts. I’m now going back to do them all again and about to re-listen to #3 now. The first time round I was wowed by all your ideas presented in a chatty way. This time around, I am appreciating how you sequence and synthesise all the concepts and ideas into a cohesive journey.

bottom of page