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5-10,000 years of nutrient dependent pheromone controlled adaptive evolution

Posted on May 18, 2013 by James Kohl.

New discovery of ancient diet shatters conventional ideas of how agriculture emerged (reported 5/17/13)

News article excerpt: “We have used a relatively new method known as ancient starch analysis to analyse ancient human diet. This technique can tell us things about human diet in the past that no other method can.

Article excerpt:The initial cultural migration from southern China is thought to have occurred sometime around or prior to 5,000 years ago. The dominant starches… suggest that the sago palms were an important plant food prior to the rice in south subtropical China. This… provides the first evidence for the exploitation of resources in a coastal village community in southern subtropical China around 5,000 years ago, and may represent a common strategy that prevailed in Southeast Asia before rice farming was practised widely (Yang et al., 2013).

See also: Analysis of 6,515 exomes reveals the recent origin of most human protein-coding variants (e.g, during the past 5-10,000 years of nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled adaptive evolution).

My comment: Ancient starch analysis is a technique that tells us it is time to replace misrepresentations about the role of mutations in adaptive evolution with biological facts, which are exemplified in model organisms from microbes to man. The technique challenges the misrepresentations of adaptive evolution commonly accepted by evolutionary theorists and incorporated into their “Just-So” stories. Thus, it may be important to put the latest information on what might at first appear to be cultural evolution (e.g., as in agriculture) into its proper perspective of nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled adaptive evolution. Fortunately, there is a model for that. The mammalian model can be used to specifically address the influence of starch in the diet and its metabolism to pheromones that control social behavior and reproduction.

Differences in their diet and in their metabolism of starch (Axelsson et al., 2013) contribute to differences in the socialization dogs and wolves. The differences in socialization of these subspecies can be attributed to explorations involving only olfactory/pheromonal input in 2 week-old wolf pups. For comparison, by the time dog exploration begins approximately 2 weeks later,  visual and tactile input have added details of the sensory environment. A dog’s perspective develops  in the context of  multisensory input (Lord, 2013). A developmental delay of approximately 2 weeks allows multisensory input and additional details in dogs to complement what is learned by wolves from only olfactory/pheromonal input.

The developmental differences exemplify the epigenetic effects of olfactory/pheromonal input on nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled brain development and socialization during a critical period of interaction with the environment. The differences in behavior extend across a life-time of more aggressive behavior in wolves. It seems likely that wolves have not been domesticated because the impact of their diet (i.e., less digested starch) genetically predisposes wolf pups to begin exploration of their postnatal environment using only their sense of smell. The wolf pups are then somewhat ‘shocked’ when associations with other sensory input begin to alter their behavior. They may be less trusting of other large mammals that also smell like a nutrient source. The handling by humans of cute little puppy-dogs that occurs in the context of multisensory input might make a huge difference in their adult behavior and their trust and ‘love’ of some people, but not all people. Learned behaviors are genetically predisposed and experience-dependent. Some dogs may not be as trusting as others, and the experience of some dogs with some people may make a dog’s behavior more wolf-like.


If only the species-specific differences in the development of behavior between wolves and dogs were considered, it would be clear that there are differences in the nutrient-dependent production of species-specific mammalian pheromones, and that these differences are important to the development of behavior in sub-species. Does that fact help to explain the importance of discussing nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled adaptive evolution in the context of olfactory/pheromonal control of adaptively evolved hormone-organized and hormone-activated socioaffective neuroscience and psychology (Kohl, 2012)?


Indeed, mammalian pheromones are included in discussions that are essential to understanding the role of molecular epigenetics and the ecological epigenetics of nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled reproduction in species from microbes to man. Furthermore, the concept of nutrient–dependent pheromone–controlled reproduction is important to neuroscientific progress. For example, it is essential to better understanding of evolutionary endocrinology (Zafon, 2012) and its role in evolutionary medicine (Stearns, 2012).


The opportunity has again arisen to discuss mutations theory in the context of cultural evolution, agriculture, and nutrient-dependent adaptive evolution in a population in China. Everyone is welcome to start the discussion of how mutations led to agriculture, culture, or anything else involved in the adaptive evolution of the human brain and behavior, which is obviously nutrient-dependent and pheromone-controlled.


Who will now begin to tell us how mutations are involved and how their effects on adaptive evolution are controlled?  




Axelsson, E., Ratnakumar, A., Arendt, M.-L., Maqbool, K., Webster, M. T., Perloski, M., et al. (2013). The genomic signature of dog domestication reveals adaptation to a starch-rich diet. Nature, 495, 360–364.

Kohl, J. V. (2012). Human pheromones and food odors: epigenetic influences on the socioaffective nature of evolved behaviors. Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology, 2(17338).

Lord, K. (2013). A Comparison of the Sensory Development of Wolves (Canis lupus lupus) and Dogs (Canis lupus familiaris). Ethology, 119(2), 110-120.

Stearns, S. C. (2012). Evolutionary medicine: its scope, interest and potential. Proc Biol Sci 279(1746), 4305-4321.

Yang, X., Barton, H. J., Wan, Z., Li, Q., Ma, Z., Li, M., et al. (2013). Sago-Type Palms Were an Important Plant Food Prior to Rice in Southern Subtropical China. PLoS ONE, 8(5), e63148.

Zafon, C. (2012). Evolutionary endocrinology: A pending matter. Endocrinologia y Nutricion (English Edition), 59(1), 62-68.




James Kohl
Retired medical laboratory scientist

James Kohl

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