'race' vs 'subspecies'

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by RioNapo, Dec 22, 2011.

  1. RioNapo Registered Member

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    I was wondering what others think about the possibility that race is a 'just' way of describing what would be considered as 'subspecies' in any other species. I am half black and half white so I would not offend anyone asking such a thing. in any other species, if there are populations isolated in different geographical regions of one species that have distinct physical features fully common in a group, they consider it a subspecies. just like different human races, mating and fertility between subspecies is equally possible, but the offspring will contain genes representing both variations of the species. this has been adressed in the past century by scientists. Could it be that the only difference between 'human race' and 'subspecies' is the name of the terms? If that happens to be true it would be because humans are best viewed all equal with no comparison of differences and race is a fare way of describing differences if necessary. Maybe if we were subspecies of some other intelligent species, we would argue against the word 'subspecies' and say 'race' for unity across the species.
     
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  3. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Extinct archaic groups of humans have perhaps seized the "subspecies" label, at least to whatever extent the faction of taxonomists advocating such are holding-up in the definitions battle. Evidence of interbreeding between anatomically modern humans and archaics cast a cloud over the older classification standard. However, there is so much subsumed under the Prezygotic and Postzygotic reasons for why species (usually) don't interbreed that there may be loopholes keeping the old camp in business, whereby they contend archaics should continue to be viewed as different species rather than subspecies. But I suspect the former will eventually win the "war".
     
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  5. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Your logic is correct. However, there are a couple of good reasons why we don't classify humans into subspecies.
    • The populations are no longer separated by geography or any other force. Since the invention of the wheel made it practical for humans to travel relatively long distances, we have been interbreeding enthusiastically. The invention of full-rigged sailing ships exacerbated that by greatly expanding the distances we can travel in our quest to homogenize the gene pool. Finally, industrial transportation technology (railroads, gigantic engine-driven ships, automobiles, and now airplanes) has completely broken down all barriers to interbreeding.
    • As a result, there are no populations of Homo sapiens that come even halfway close to satisfying the definition of a subspecies. I'm a dog breeder and I can assure you without a shadow of a doubt that by the standards we use to identify our dog breeds, all human beings would be called "mongrels."
    Just as some non-purebred dogs can be identified as "mostly Labrador retriever but with a little bit of Great Dane and a few other ingredients not readily identified," the most African-looking African or the most Chinese-looking Chinese or the most Icelandic-looking Icelander or the most Navajo-looking Navajo are just "mostly this" with a "some of that" and "a little bit of something else that we can't quite identify." Except of course now we can identify it with DNA analysis.

    You have to go into the backwoods of New Guinea or Paraguay to find pre-civilized people who have had so little contact with outsiders that their DNA is still very close to that of their ancestors a few thousand years ago. And those tribes don't qualify as subspecies because they're just too small.

    In any case, humans never tried to use the word "race" in a scientific way. It was always used to separate people by culture rather than ancestry. The Nazis called themselves "the Master Race," but there's very little difference between the DNA of a German and that of a Dutchman or a Swede. They all go back to the Proto-Germanic tribes of 3,000 years ago, but the Romans spread their civilization all over Europe and their seed came with it. It would be very hard to find a person in any Western European country who doesn't have some Roman DNA. Even the Irish, the Scots and the Basques.
     
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  7. KilljoyKlown Whatever Valued Senior Member

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    If you want to talk about a subspecies, can you please identify the primary species?
     
  8. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Uh... just a wild guess here, how about Homo sapiens?
     
  9. Robittybob1 Banned Banned

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    Now you are being racist!

    Tricky topic really.
    I think there is evidence that the human species was being divided into subspecies even if the division wasn't enough yet to stop interbreeding.

    It was reported that Eskimo have larger eyes to gather more light in the low light conditions, so that is an advantage if that was where they remained living. I have heard others have better nasal passages to retain humidity.

    These benefits held for long periods would result in subspecies developing.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  10. RioNapo Registered Member

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    My topic was about homo sapiens but the difference between different breeds of dogs is more interesting. It is very interesting that a bulldog and poodle are the same species! one behaves more like a lion and the other more resembles a titi monkey from the Amazon! those are a lot of different features for 'one species'
     
  11. KilljoyKlown Whatever Valued Senior Member

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    So what are the names of the subspecies of homo sapiens? I'm guessing there aren't any.
     
  12. RioNapo Registered Member

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    there are no subspecies named because as I said earlier, even if there were, mankind would deny that concept and that call it races. from wikipedia, an article about "negroid" says "In physical anthropology the term is one of the three general racial classifications of humans — Caucasoid, Mongoloid and Negroid." "classifications" and "races" are used wheather or not they are scientifically subspecies. I don't have a specific argument for or against the subspecies idea as I am wondering what is the truth. regardless of wheather or not races are equal to the concept of subspecies, it may always remain as 'race' as even scientists must keep things non-racist.
     
  13. RichW9090 Evolutionist Registered Senior Member

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    Well, of course there have been subspecies named for Homo sapiens, begining with Linnaeus in 1758.

    Race is a valid biological concept for describing geographically delineated populations of individuals of a species which share certain morphological characters. The complaint that races (or subspecies) can't exist today because geographical barriers have become eradicated by plane travel and intermarriage is specious claptrap. The boundary between races is always fuzzy - it is never sharp and charcterized by the presence of trait A on one side of the line, and the absence of trait A on the other. In a true 0-100% frequency incidence cline, the line might be drawn at 50%, or at any other arbitrary point along the continuum along the line for that character. It would be drawn where the zoogeographic break made the most sense. There is no reproductive isolation between races.

    I'm always amused by the PC cultural anthropology crowd who tell their students that "race" is an evil concept that does not exist in human populations, while on the 3rd floor of the anthropology dpeartment, in a lab right above them, their physical anthropologist colleague is determining the probably racial affiliation of a set of human remains in order to help police identify the victim of a crime.

    Rich
     
  14. Hercules Rockefeller Beatings will continue until morale improves. Moderator

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    Perhaps it has some validity at the morphological level; I don’t know enough about that to comment meaningfully. But at the genetic level there is no such thing as ‘race’.

    Human genetic variation is certainly geographically structured, in accord with historical patterns of gene flow and genetic drift. It’s this clustering of individuals correlated with geographic origin or ancestry that you, and many others, are confusing with the cultural concept of ‘race’.

    In this era of genomics we know that humans are genetically homogeneous and that genetic variation tends to be shared widely among populations. Yes, genetic variation is (broadly) geographically structured; this is expected from the partial isolation of human populations during much of their history. However, human populations are seldom demarcated by precise genetic boundaries. Substantial overlap can therefore occur between populations, invalidating the concept that populations (or races) are discrete genetic types.

    Sometimes the correlations are informative, especially when applied to biomedical settings, but the correlations are imperfect (sometimes greatly) because genetic variation is distributed in a continuous, overlapping fashion among populations. There is simply no consistent genetic basis to the cultural and geographical concepts of 'race'.
     
  15. RichW9090 Evolutionist Registered Senior Member

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    Absoultely false, Herc. If there is a consistent morphological differentiation of a species into populations, there has to be a genetic basis. And there is in the case of humans, as well.

    You are aware that dog breeds can be identified by their genetics, are you not? There is a new book on dog genetics coming out in about two or three months, which includes chapters on the genetics of dog morphological variation, and the genetics of behaviour. You might find that book of interest. I'll find the title and publisher and post it.

    It is you who is confused. The concept of "race" has absolutely nothing to do with culture - it is a purely biological concept, as used everyday by biologists the world over. I'm a biologist. That's how I use it.

    Now you may not like the fact that there is such a thing as races of a species - but that doesn't change the fact. If you, and other humans, are unable to stop yourselves from assigning value propositions to those races, that is a problem with you, and with those humans who do so. It is not a problem with the scientific concept of race.

    There is no such thing as a "cultural concept of race", at least as it applies to biology.

    I'm amazed that thinking human beings with a decent education can be so confused about so simple a thing.

    Rich
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2011
  16. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

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    If race were to be defined taxonomically, would it not be more correct to define two races--the human race, and the rest: mostly human, but with a trace of Neanderthal?

    If so, the newly discovered subspecies might be called Quasisapiens.

    I know it sounds funny--and it is kind of funny--but isn't it also kind of weird, kind of profound? (And doesn't it just blow a lot of racial baggage to hell?)
     
  17. KilljoyKlown Whatever Valued Senior Member

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    RichW9090

    I've only heard the term race used when referring to humans. But if I'm hearing you correctly, when we talk about dogs we could actually substitute race for breed and it would mean virtually the same thing?
     
  18. RioNapo Registered Member

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    I was going to bring that up earlier. I was watching natgeo channel in spanish about dogs when I hear the word "raz" meaning race in spanish. they used it in the show. that must mean that it is a common, proper term for dogs too, which makes sense because just like humans, they are 'one species' yet there are so many variations. lets not forget about felis catus (cats) they are varied, yet 'one species' as well. I remembered the scientific name from watching the magic school bus!
     
  19. RichW9090 Evolutionist Registered Senior Member

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    Killjoy, purely as a convention, we don't talk about races of domestic animals (and plants) - those are referred to as varieties, or, as you note, breeds.

    But the term race appears all throughout biology - you can find the term "race" in the titles of many papers, such as:

    Races of Zea Mays: Their recognition and Classification, 1942, Edgar Anderson.

    A New Geographic Race of Leaf-nosed Snake from Sonora, Mexico, 1952, Hobart M. Smith and David Langbartel

    A New Race of Black-chinned Sparrow from the San Francisco bay District, 1929, Alden H. Miller

    Hanson, H. C. 1952. “A new race of red-backed vole (Clethriommys) from the Barren Grounds of Canada.” J. Mammal. Vol. 33, pp. 500-2.

    I just picked 4 quick examples to cover plants, reptiles, birds, mammals

    Rich
     
  20. KilljoyKlown Whatever Valued Senior Member

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    Damn! I've lived all my life without knowing that. I've watched a lot of programs on NatGeo, Animal Planet, History and Sci channels and they have never mentioned race being used with animals. Do you know the reason for that?
     
  21. RioNapo Registered Member

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    maybe it's because it actually isn't that normal to use the word race with animals. maybe that was just random terminalogy I heard on natgeo that time. those channals you mentioned are my favorite kinds of channels by the way. I like to watch them in spanish and I learn new spanish along with the things that are shown on the channels.
     
  22. RichW9090 Evolutionist Registered Senior Member

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    I suspect it is because of the negative connotations the word "race" carries today. Sort of political correctness, I guess. Shame, because it is a useful concept in biology. But it is getting harder to find, particularly in the more recent literature.

    Rich
     
  23. arauca Banned Banned

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    No, tu eres cafe con leche, ( moreno ) Moreno pintan a Cristo
    We are like bread some overbaked some underbaked and the Asian are just right.
     

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