Lunar / “Asian” New Years is always an occasion for me to reflect on how different South (brown) Asians are from East and Southeast (yellow) Asians. However, there is an area in which we, apparently, are a mix of both African/European and East Asian genotypes. The area in question is earwax:
Earwax comes in two types, wet and dry. The wet form predominates in Africa and Europe, where 97 percent or more of people have it, and the dry form among East Asians. The populations of South and Central Asia are roughly half and half. [Link]
p>This is evidence, apparently, of some yellow in the woodpile:
The dry form, the researchers say, presumably arose later in northern Asia, because they detected it almost universally in their tests of northern Han Chinese and Koreans. The dry form becomes less common in southern Asia, probably because the northerners with the dry earwax gene intermarried with southern Asians carrying the default wet earwax gene. [Link]
p>There must have been a lot of intermarriage if half the populations of South Asia have the East Asian gene. It turns out that the earwax gene is also related to that other, oh so polite topic of conversation, body odor:
Since it seems unlikely that having wet or dry earwax could have made much difference to an individual’s fitness, the earwax gene may have some other, more important function. Dr. Yoshiura and his colleagues suggest that the gene would have been favored because of its role in sweating. They write that earwax type and armpit odor are correlated, since populations with dry earwax, such as those of East Asia, tend to sweat less and have little or no body odor, while the wet earwax populations of Africa and Europe sweat more and so may have more body odor. [Link]
This would imply that half of all South Asians sweat little and have little B.O. Having recently ridden the Delhi metro, my question is … where are they ?