Anthropologist Drobyshevsky: "In polymorphism is our strength"

Anthropologist Drobyshevsky: "In polymorphism is our strength"
Anthropologist Drobyshevsky: "In polymorphism is our strength"

How and when did modern races appear? Why were there more of them in the Upper Paleolithic than now? What do Russians really look like and why is a beard good for a Caucasian, but death for a Mongoloid? The famous anthropologist Stanislav Drobyshevsky told us about this and many other things.


Stanislav Vladimirovich, how many races are there in the world?

There are as many classifications of races as there are anthropologists themselves. Not every anthropologist is also aware of all research. Therefore, if any specialist is unfamiliar with the characteristics of the Melanesians in the Solomon Islands, he simply ignores them and does not include them in his classification. And the other does not know about the Evenks and ignores them.

Moreover, there are many people on the planet, and they all change. And there is no clear boundary between racial types either. It is at school that, to facilitate understanding, children are told that there are Negroids, Mongoloids and Caucasians. But in fact, there are a lot of all kinds of average options. For example, some East African race that is equally Negroid and Caucasian. It can be distinguished into a separate race, but then there will be an intermediate between it and some other, neighboring one. In this way, a great many races can be classified. Therefore, the question of their number is rather philosophical and relates to what criteria and approaches we use in identifying them.


Nevertheless, in the modern classic version, such main races can be named as Negroid, South African, East African, Caucasoid, Mongoloid, Australoid, South Indian, Polynesian, Ainu and Americanoid. This is at least.

What are small and large races?

Previously, it was often assumed that there are large and small races. But the big race is not one whose representatives are numerous, but one that has long been separated from others. Therefore, some Ainu race, which numbers several thousand people, is actually a large race, because it was formed 10-12 thousand years ago. The same can be said, for example, in relation to the Andaman aborigines, of whom there are very few, but at the same time they separated from others for a very, very long time.

And most of the numerous races are divided into even less numerous. Caucasians, for example, are subdivided into northern, middle, Balkan-Caucasian, Indo-Mediterranean, and others. That is, small races are not something separate from large ones, they are parts of large races.

How are races formed? Tell us about the mechanisms of race formation

The mechanisms are very simple. The most classic is natural selection, because many adaptive traits are racial at the same time. For example, a dark skin color protects from the deadly ultraviolet radiation, while a light skin color, on the contrary, allows the passage of the amount of vitamin D necessary for synthesis in those regions where the sun is not enough.


A wide nose and strongly protruding jaws, like in Negroids, allow cooling the air, thick lips are needed to protect from overheating, and a "cap" of curly hair, possibly, protects the head from sunstroke, cooling it. Stocky body proportions, like those of the peoples of the North, allow you to keep warm, and narrow, tropical, on the contrary, help to cool the body better.


The second mechanism is sexual selection: like it or not. There are not many such signs, but they are. For example, a beard. Its presence or absence does not affect adaptation to the environment. But the girls like it. But, again, not everyone.The ancestors of Mongoloid women were apparently not attracted by bearded men, so this race has the lowest beard and mustache growth on the planet, while Caucasians have the opposite. The same applies to the sloping forehead, flattening of the face, epicanthus (a characteristic fold of the upper eyelid in Mongoloids. - NS) or the shape of the nasal bridge. None of these signs affect survival, but are attractive or, conversely, repulsive for the opposite sex.

The third mechanism is genetic-automatic processes, that is, a simple accident. Let's say a mutant with red hair is born on an island, and on this island the population is only twenty people. And if this redhead has many children, then the probability that all people on the island in two generations will have hair of the same color is quite high. Moreover, this may be not only a new mutation that has been passed down from generation to generation, but banal statistics. One redhead among ten people and he among a billion Chinese are completely different things. Therefore, even a simple movement of groups of people from place to place, oddly enough, can already create a new combination of racial characteristics. When a small group separates from a large one and migrates, as a rule, nothing happens and new offspring are not born completely different, but the frequencies of the traits are already different.

The fourth mechanism of race formation is crossbreeding. Mixing races tends to yield tricky new combinations. And, what is most interesting, mixing of the two types usually does not lead to their disappearance, just something new, additional appears. When, for example, the South Siberian race arose - the present-day Kazakhs and Kyrgyz - neither Mongols nor Tajiks disappeared.

How did modern races appear, and when? And how do they differ from those who lived in the Upper Paleolithic?

The Palaeolithic races are not at all the same as they are now. In those days, there was not a single race that exists today. This is because races change rapidly, especially when people live in small groups of 20-30 people, which is exactly what happened in the Upper Paleolithic. By chance, racial traits will change very quickly in this case. And also due to the fact that they were hunter-gatherers, they moved around the planet a lot. Therefore, in those days there were no large habitats of races. Races in the Paleolithic are simply many small groups roaming the earth in a completely random order.


But when the Neolithic began and people switched to a productive economy (cattle breeding and agriculture), it was just that modern large races appeared. Somewhere between 12 and 4 thousand years ago (these terms are different for different races) they all acquire modern features. And this applies not only to those who moved to the Neolithic, but also to those who remained a hunter-gatherer. For example, the Australian aborigines acquired their modern appearance about 4 thousand years ago, the Bushmen - 12 thousand years ago, and those races that arose as a mixed form were formed even later. The same South Siberian race (Kazakhs, Kyrgyz) appeared already in the 16th century.


Active racial formation continues to this day. Around the world. But especially, for example, this is noticeable in South America or the Caribbean. In Polynesia, for example, there is a Pitcairn island, on which a ship called the Bounty landed in the 18th century. The team members cut each other, leaving only one man alive. With him were five women from Tahiti. As a result, the entire population of Pitcairn Island is their descendants. And it turned out such a well-mixed race - the Caucasian-Polynesian.

And now, when the people from the Middle East have poured into Europe, there is no way to go - race formation will go on.

And this is neither bad nor good?

Rather good. Because, biologically speaking, the more variety the better. Indeed, as soon as stagnation begins in any one variant, the probability increases sharply that when external conditions change for the worse, extinction will occur.And if we have a lot of variations, then at least someone will survive. There is a saying among anthropologists: "Polymorphism is our strength."

How did it happen that against the background of numerous races, less numerous were formed and the former did not absorb the latter?

Numerous races were just lucky: they were in the right place at the right time. It was on these populations that the invention of the producing economy fell. Due to this, their number has increased dramatically (because more food has appeared - NS). And those who did not switch to agriculture and cattle breeding, or switched later, either partially merged into these races, forming private variants, or are still sitting on remote islands or in the mountains. Because a little more time has passed, and other races rarely mix with them.

An example of this is the Ainu, who lived on Sakhalin and the Kuriles for a long time, fished, that is, they did not have any productive economy. Then rice farmers came there - the ancestors of the Japanese. They slaughtered the Ainu, and drove the remains to the north of Hokkaido, to the Kuriles and Sakhalin, where they, in fact, still live. There are ten Ainu people in Russia, and those who stayed in Japan were also well Japaneseized in literally a hundred years. Another two hundred years will pass, and they have a chance to dissolve among the Japanese altogether. Therefore, as for the small races, somewhere they have already dissolved, and somewhere else they simply did not have time to do this.

Where did these small races come from?

These are all remnants of that Upper Paleolithic polymorphism, when people were more diverse than they are now. Some of them merged into numerous races and gave some local options, and some did not merge and still exist in the form of Bushmen, Andamans, etc. Nevertheless, they have all changed a lot since those times - more than numerous "neolithic" races (which have become modern). Because when the population of a race reaches several million people, the probability that a new mutation will take hold is close to zero, and with a population of ten, this probability is very high. Therefore, the small races cannot be considered primitive, they are precisely progressive in comparison with the numerous.


Another thing is that natural selection could have more influence on them, because they live in the wild, and adaptation is more important for them than for us living in the bosom of civilization. Therefore, their adaptive features can be quite archaic. For example, dark skin color (our ancestors, as you know, came from Africa, so with a high degree of probability we can say that ancient people had dark skin, so this sign is archaic. - NS).


But in numerous races, natural selection is also going, just in other directions. Some Caucasians near Moscow are susceptible to an excess of food, which, by the way, is also stress for the body, not like hunger, but still. Their houses are always warm, which can be equated with tropical conditions, they sit a lot, and this is an unnatural state for our body. Therefore, heart problems, diabetes, obesity are the action of natural selection in their case. And the same Caucasians, but in a remote Russian village, already live differently, and they are affected by other variants of natural selection.

And if we talk about some mysterious races, are there such?

The most interesting thing is that the most mysterious races like the Andamans and Tasmanians are better studied than the numerous, well-known races. The same Chinese have been very poorly researched. Europeans are also for the most part very superficial. Because if an anthropologist has a choice of whom to study - the Russian city of Moscow or the Andaman aborigines - guess three times over who he will choose. Of course, exotic, because it is interesting and unusual. And the Russians, of which there are 100 million people, were normally studied once and for a long time. Strictly speaking, no one really knows what modern Russians look like.

Moreover, the study of races is invariably associated with racism …

This is true.In our country, fortunately, this is not very developed, but in the rest of the world, of course, the topic of the study of races is strictly prohibited. Therefore, even in cases where such a possibility is potentially available, anthropologists are wary of doing it. Renowned anthropologist Marina Butovskaya has been studying hadza and has been visiting them for many years. But she examines their behavior. When I asked why she couldn’t make measurements along the way, she explained that this would lead to an international scandal, and everyone would say that the vicious racist Butovskaya was measuring the heads of poor Hadza’s. And her scientific career after that, in general, will be over for her.


Moreover, racialists are doing exactly the opposite of what racists are doing. But only racialists know this, and to prove that you are not a camel, at times, is very, very difficult.

Although there are positive examples. For example, two of our students, at their own expense, went to the island of Sulawesi and measured the local aborigines there. Fortunately, there are no racist prejudices in Sulawesi, and if they went somewhere in Africa, they could be killed there for such things.

Did the echoes of the Third Reich reach them?

Rather, echoes of political correctness. This is already some kind of cliché that studying people is bad. I was told that the inhabitants of Nigeria and Africa, in principle, do not call Nigeria Nigeria. They say Naijiriya just not to say the word "nigga" because it is "a terrible curse."

Returning to the races, what about those that existed in the Upper Paleolithic? For example, the Grimaldian, Cro-Magnon, Barma Grande, Chancelladic, Brunnian and other races are distinguished

The Grimaldian race is two skulls, the Chancelladic one, and the Brunn-Przhedmost race are broken-down skulls, which are also quite different. Therefore, all these are, rather, attempts to highlight some certainty in relation to the Upper Paleolithic races, but they were all undertaken when genetics, as an established science, did not yet exist. What is heredity and how it changes, no one really knew then. Therefore, the races were perceived a little differently than they are now. Today, races are, in fact, the history of the gene pool with all its collisions. And earlier it was thought that all modern races are clearly deduced from the Upper Paleolithic and that they have not changed for thousands of years.

Therefore, the races that you named really were. The only question is how long they existed and how many people were included in them. There was, for example, a tribe of Chancelads, but there were, say, only forty people and they existed for five generations. And then they died out or mixed with others, and all their features were leveled. What can I say here?

Of course, there are quite a few Upper Paleolithic skulls, but there are long distances between the known finds and often thousands of years. Therefore, no matter how hard they tried, they cannot be reduced to some big races. Among other things, most of the remains simply have not survived, as you understand. But if all of them were at our disposal, we would see an incredible and very dynamically changing mosaic, and not at all stable morphological types.

People of the Upper Paleolithic, even within the same group, differed much more from each other than today. For example, if we compare a boy and a girl (probably a brother and sister) from the famous burial in Sungir, then the differences between them are at the level of large races.

It used to be thought that this was because the races were in the process of formation. In fact, the races cannot take shape completely. They are in this process all the time. For race formation to end, it is necessary that the laws of evolution cease to operate, and this is possible only with the final disappearance of the species, which, fortunately, is not yet happening.


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