Culture Nature

Mutants and the Dutch

I recently read Mutants by Armand Marie Leroi, which is a book that uses mutation as a way of understanding the development of the body. It’s interesting but quite medical; I have a pretty high tolerance for stuff about chemical pathways, gene mutations, hormones and so on, but I still found all the polysyllabic chemical names tended to make my eyes glaze over.

Lots of interesting snippets along the way, though. For example, the chapter about growth mutations had to distinguish them from ‘normal’ variation, whether racial or environmental. Apparently, young Dutch men now have an *average* height of six foot – which makes them taller than famously genetically tall people like the Masai and the Dinka. Almost more strikingly, in Holland there is no longer any correlation between young people’s social class and their height. That is certainly not true in the UK, and I find it an incredibly impressive advertisment for Dutch social policy.

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