Peter Frost

Peter Frost
Laval University | ULAVAL · Department of Anthropology

Ph.D.

About

57
Publications
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Introduction
Most humans have black hair, brown eyes, and brown skin. Europeans have a different color scheme, their hair being also brown, flaxen, golden, or red and their eyes being also blue, gray, hazel, or green. Finally, their skin is pale, almost like an albino’s. This color scheme seems to be due to a selection pressure that acted primarily on women within an area centered on northern and eastern Europe. My current research aim is to investigate and test this hypothesis.

Publications

Publications (57)
Article
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Tay-Sachs, an inherited neurological disorder, is unusually common among French Canadians from eastern Quebec. Two alleles are responsible, one being specific to the north shore of the St. Lawrence and the other to the south shore. This pattern of convergent evolution suggests the presence of a selection pressure limited to eastern Quebec. Both all...
Article
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Face recognition takes place within a distinct heritable module of the brain and includes the ability to distinguish between male and female human faces. To identify gender, this module targets a number of sexually dimorphic features, particularly the hue and luminosity of facial skin. Men look browner and ruddier in hue because melanin and blood a...
Article
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Europeans, particularly northern and eastern Europeans, are unusually colored. Their hair can be not only black but also brown, flaxen, golden, or red, and their eyes not only brown but also blue, gray, hazel, or green. Their skin is pale, almost like an albino’s. This color scheme is more developed in women than in men and seems to have been selec...
Article
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Through its monopoly on violence, the State tends to pacify social relations. Such pacification proceeded slowly in Western Europe between the 5th and 11th centuries, being hindered by the rudimentary nature of law enforcement, the belief in a man's right to settle personal disputes as he saw fit, and the Church's opposition to the death penalty. T...
Article
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Kinship was the organizing principle of early societies, defining how people should behave toward each other. Social and economic activity was thus organized mostly among closely related individuals, a limitation that would keep societies from realizing their full potential as they grew larger. The “large society problem” has not been fully solved...
Article
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As hunter-gatherers, humans used their sense of smell to identify plants and animals, to find their way within a foraging area, or to distinguish each other by gender, age, kinship, or social dominance. Because women gathered while men hunted, the sexes evolved different sensitivities to plant and animal odors. They also ended up emitting different...
Article
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European women dominate images of beauty, presumably because Europe has dominated the world for the past few centuries. Yet this presumed cause poorly explains "white slavery"—the commodification of European women for export at a time when their continent was much less dominant. Actually, there has long been a cross-cultural preference for lighter-...
Article
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Social change can be accelerated by events that eliminate or incapacitate large numbers of people who are in the prime of their lives and who, therefore, can best enforce social norms. One such event was the double shock of the Spanish flu and the First World War. By disrupting established ways and by increasing openness to new ways, it accelerated...
Article
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Coronaviruses enter lung tissue via the ACE2 receptor, which varies structurally among human populations. In particular, the Chinese population has fewer variants that bind weakly to the coronavirus S-protein. This global variation suggests that the ACE2 receptor has coevolved with different environments, some of which have favored susceptibility t...
Article
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Many pathogens, especially fungi, have evolved the capacity to manipulate host behavior, usually to improve their chances of spreading to other hosts. Such manipulation is difficult to observe in long-lived hosts, like humans. First, much time may separate cause from effect in the case of an infection that develops over a human life span. Second, t...
Article
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Rushton and Jensen argued that cognitive ability differs between human populations. But why are such differences expectable? Their answer: as modern humans spread out of Africa and into northern Eurasia, they entered colder and more seasonal climates that selected for the ability to plan ahead, in order to store food, make clothes, and build shelte...
Article
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Inuit have vitamin D blood levels that generally fall within the range of insufficiency, even when they live on a traditional diet of fish and game meat. Without this vitamin, bones soften and become deformed, a condition called rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Until recent times, however, this condition was much rarer among Inuit th...
Article
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This is a text I published in the Russian online magazine Cultura VRN, January 15 http://culturavrn.ru/world/23304 English version: It's known that red-haired women, but not red-haired men, are more sensitive to pain. Red hair is also associated with a higher risk of developing endometriosis, Parkinson's disease, and decreased platelet function....
Article
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Red hair is associated in women with pain sensitivity. This medical condition, and perhaps others, seems facilitated by the combination of being red-haired and female. We tested this hypothesis by questioning a large sample of Czech and Slovak respondents about the natural redness and darkness of their hair, their natural eye color, their physical...
Article
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North and west of a line running from Trieste to St. Petersburg, social relations have long conformed to the Western European Marriage Pattern, i.e., men and women marry relatively late; many people never marry; children usually leave the nuclear family to form new households, and households often have non-kin members. This pattern goes back at lea...
Article
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In many humans, head hair can grow to a much greater length than hair elsewhere on the body. This is a “derived” form that evolved outside Africa and probably in northern Eurasia. The ancestral form, which is frizzier and much shorter, survives in sub-Saharan Africans and in other groups whose ancestors never left the tropics. This original hair fo...
Article
The Parsis are dying out. This people of western India, originally from Iran and famous for their role in trade, science, and industry, may disappear by mid-century, having already fallen from 114,890 in 1941 to 69,001 in 2011. Deaths outnumber births by a ratio of almost three to one. What has caused this calamity? War? Disease? Natural disaster?...
Book
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The Burakumin of Japan, the Paekchong of Korea, and the Cagots of France … What do they have in common? All three were despised castes—closed groups of people who married among themselves. A despised caste is not just a low class. Otherwise, it would always be gaining and losing members, with some moving up and out and others down and in. As Gregor...
Chapter
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Within each human population, skin color varies mainly by age and by sex. These two sources of variation dominate the range of complexions one sees as long as the third source, ethnicity, contributes little. This is the situation that once prevailed in most human societies. Relatively pale complexions signified infants or women; red-brown complexio...
Chapter
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Article
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We tested whether eye color influences perception of trustworthiness. Facial photographs of 40 female and 40 male students were rated for perceived trustworthiness. Eye color had a significant effect, the brown-eyed faces being perceived as more trustworthy than the blue-eyed ones. Geometric morphometrics, however, revealed significant correlations...
Article
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Vitamin D deficiency seems to be common among northern Native peoples, notably Inuit and Amerindians. It has usually been attributed to: (1) higher latitudes that prevent vitamin D synthesis most of the year; (2) darker skin that blocks solar UVB; and (3) fewer dietary sources of vitamin D. Although vitamin D levels are clearly lower among northern...
Article
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Most evolutionary psychologists share a belief in one key concept: the environment of evolutionary adaptedness (EEA), i.e., the ancestral environment that shaped the heritable mental and behavioral traits of present-day humans. It is usually placed in the African savannah of the Pleistocene, long before our ancestors began to spread to other contin...
Article
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Over the last 10,000 years, the human genome has changed at an accelerating rate. The change seems to reflect adaptations to new social environments, including the rise of the State and its monopoly on violence. State societies punish young men who act violently on their own initiative. In contrast, non-State societies usually reward such behavior...
Book
Nous n’apprenons pas à reconnaître le visage humain. Nous n’apprenons pas non plus à identifier si c’est un homme ou une femme. Ce type d’image est traité par un mécanisme inné que nous héritons indépendamment des autres capacités cognitives. Si ce mécanisme cesse de fonctionner, à la suite d’une lésion cérébrale, le résultat est une pathologie ass...
Article
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Among early modern humans, a woman would face stronger competition for a mate the further away she was from the equator. Men were less available because they 1) hunted over longer distances that increased male mortality proportionately and 2) were less able to offset the resulting man shortage through polygyny. The longer the winter, the costlier i...
Article
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ASPM, a gene that regulates brain growth, has evolved considerably in the primate lineage that leads to humans. It continued to evolve even after the emergence of modern humans, with the latest ASPM variant arising about 6000 years ago somewhere in the Middle East. The new variant then proliferated within and outside this region, reaching higher in...
Article
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Human hair and eye color is unusually diverse in northern and eastern Europe. The many alleles involved (at least seven for hair color) and their independent origin over a short span of evolutionary time indicate some kind of selection. Sexual selection is particularly indicated because it is known to favor color traits and color polymorphisms. In...
Conference Paper
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A major source of exogenous estrogen is human urine, particularly when wastewater is untreated, separated from solid waste, and rapidly discharged into cold bodies of water. High exposure to this source in North America and Northern Europe would have begun in the late 19th century, with the widespread introduction of modern sewer systems, and ended...
Article
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Polygyny does not necessarily entail sexual selection of men. All factors that affect the operational sex ratio must be considered. Data from contemporary hunter-gatherers indicate higher mortality rates in men than in women, and lost female reproductive time. If sexual selection did occur in ancestral hunter-gatherers, it was probably men sel...
Article
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Dans les premières sociétés humaines, la signification de la couleur de la peau rele-vait surtout de la différence de teint entre les hommes et les femmes. Cet ancien sys-tème de représentations fournissait un cadre à l’intérieur duquel on évaluait égale-ment la variation pigmentaire entre individus. Par la suite, un autre système s’est peu à peu i...
Article
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Dans une population dont la variabilité génétique est minimale, les hommes possèdent une peau plusbrune et plus rouge que celle des femmes. C'est au cours de l'adolescence que le teint féminins'écarte du teint masculin, en s'éclaircissant. Ensuite, ce dernier tend à s'assombrir au cours de la vieadulte. Il en résulte un écart de pigmentation entre...
Thesis
Dans toutes les populations du monde, la peau des hommes contient davantage de mélanine et d’hémoglobine que celle des femmes. Cet écart hommes-femmes prédominait dans la variabilité pigmentaire des sociétés prémodernes, c’est-à-dire celles d’avant l’émergence de la couleur de la peau comme marque ethnique au cours des derniers siècles. Les études...
Article
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Six pairs of photographs showing human faces of both sexes were presented to 98 women who had to choose the more pleasing one of each pair. Faces within each pair were identical except for a slight difference in complexion. For women not taking oral contraceptives, skin-color preference differed significantly between two groups of subjects classifi...
Article
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Modern humans have been shaped by the cumulative action of natural selection, non-adaptive random change, and sexual selection. The last of these is not universal and has prevailed in one of two circumstances: (1) A surplus of females due to high male mortality, combined with ecological constraints on female participation in food procurement which...
Article
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Article
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Des recherches antérieures suggèrent que la psyché humaine comporte un mécanisme spécifique à l'évaluation des teints masculin et féminin. Pour mieux cerner le traitement de ces informations, on a fait enquête dans une communauté où la couleur de la peau varie surtout entre les sexes et les individus. Les informateurs associaient le teint clair des...
Conference Paper
In all human populations, men are darker in complexion than women. This sex difference may have generated diverging selection pressures on men and women to evaluate skin color differently. In support of this hypothesis, a previous study seemed to indicate an association between higher levels of estrogen and a more positive evaluation of darker comp...
Article
Full-text available
In all human populations, women are lighter in complexion than men. It is proposed that this sexual dimorphism led to selection pressures on women to react more positively to darker complexions. Data from Japan and North America is presented to support this hypothesis. It is unclear, however, whether sex differences in skin color preference reflect...
Conference Paper
Two dolls, one slightly darker in complexion than the other, were used to evaluate the preferences of 225 pre-school children towards lighter and darker complexions. Children preferring the darker-coloured doll were significantly more adipose than those preferring the lighter-coloured one. A hormonal influence is suggested, since individuals in who...
Thesis
Dans toutes les populations humaines ayant fait l’objet d’études d’anthropologie physique, la peau féminine apparaît comme plus claire que la peau masculine. Parallèlement, la plupart des sociétés humaines conçoivent la peau claire comme appartenant à la femme. Il est possible que la sélection naturelle ait pu agir sur l’impact visuel de cette diff...
Article
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Le préjugé de couleur a-t-il pris naissance dans l'esclavage des Noirs? Ou bien a-t-il précédé ce dernier, faisant de lui une institution plus déshumanisante que les formes de servitude précédentes? La deuxième proposition semble plus conforme au développement historique de l'esclavage, depuis l'institution mufti-ethnique du Moyen Âge jusqu'à celle...
Conference Paper
Spectrophotometric studies carried out across a wide range of human populations show that women are lighter in skin colour than men. Year by year breakdowns of changes in skin reflectance with respect to age show no significant sex difference from infancy to puberty. From puberty through adolescence both sexes lighten in colour, but this lightening...

Questions

Questions (2)
Question
Fungal pathogens have been recently implicated in the development of Alzheimer's and multiple sclerosis. I suspect these illnesses are the terminal stages of a less obvious parasitic relationship between a pathogen and its human host.
References
Benito-Leon, J. and M. Laurence. (2017). The Role of Fungi in the Etiology of Multiple Sclerosis. Frontiers in Neurology 16 October
Pisa, D., R. Alonso, A. Rabano, and I. Rodal. (2015). Different Brain Regions are Infected with Fungi in Alzheimer's Disease. Scientific Reports 5(15015)
Question
There is an extensive literature on sex differences in skin pigmentation, and these differences seem to be innate (although cultural practices can accentuate them). But I have never seen any studies on sex differences in the smoothness of skin.

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