October 10, 2006

South Asian doublejointedness

To preview a more elaborate and annotated post either here or at GNXP on the topic of global variation in phenotypic hypermobility, I thought I'd include some relevant YouTube finds. Hypermobility is most frequent in South Asia, is also high in Egypt and Iraq (and maybe other Near/Middle Eastern countries; I haven't seen data on the others), slightly less frequent in sub-Saharan Africa, and low frequency in Northern Europe. My idea is that hypermobility was selected for due to its enhancement of dancing skills, which would have given a fitness advantage to people in pathogen-swamped environments in which "good looks" matter much more than elsewhere, and presumably where other, more active, displays of one's robust immune system also count for more in the mating competition. This increased dancing skill may bring unfortunate costs along with it, but if that's outweighed by the benefit from being reknowned as the best, hottest dancer in the village, while most other people are fatigued or bed-ridden from disease, then polymorphisms that confer better dancing abilities through hypermobility would increase in frequency.

But now what you came for. I'm going to limit this to three clips, since I could post a zillion. YouTube can be fritzy when you watch their videos on someone's blog, so if the video cuts out, just click the image anywhere other than the "play" button, and the video will launch in a separate window on YouTube's website. First up is Shilpa Shetty in the "Baras Ja remix" from the movie Fareb (I know some of the readers here like tall, leggy girls -- she's 5'10).

Next is some hot girl (anyone know her name?) in the video for "Ho Gaya Sharabi" by Punjabi MC.

And last, "Sweeta Sweeta" by Indo-Trinidadian (?) songstress Sharlene Boodram.

Again, just three among a zillion clips to search through, so I don't claim they're the most representative of the phenomenon, but they convey the gist. There was some pressure that increased hypermobility in people of South Asian descent, and by looking at these brief clips, it's not hard to imagine what it had to do with.


  1. I nominate this as the most intriguing new hbd theory of 2006.


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