Category: recapitulation theory

Racial Recapitulation Theory Revisited

Do aging human phenotypes recapitulate ancestry?

I previously posted about this idea; please read it here. However, revisiting it is not only useful for newer readers, but every iteration of the idea expands and extends the analysis, allows for more ideas to come forth, more hypotheses to be tested, and more possibilities to be discussed and evaluated.

Read this about recapitulation theory:

The theory of recapitulation, also called the biogenetic law or embryological parallelism—often expressed using Ernst Haeckel’s phrase “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny”—is a historical hypothesis that the development of the embryo of an animal, from fertilization to gestation or hatching (ontogeny), goes through stages resembling or representing successive adult stages in the evolution of the animal’s remote ancestors (phylogeny). 

The idea of this post is this: Aging human phenotypes recapitulate ancestry.  In other words, as people age, their physical appearance (and perhaps other phenotypic markers including behavior) tend to reflect to greater or lesser degrees certain aspects of their ethnoracial ancestry.

Imagine a Greek-Danish hybrid.  Perhaps they look (and act?) “more Greek” when younger and “more Danish” when older.

Mono-ethnic individuals can display such trends; after all, modern ethnies are derived from mixtures of older stocks.

Here is a young Benito Mussolini, who looks remarkably like the Mexican General Mapache from The Wild Bunch, Mapache with obvious Amerind ancestry.

We can compare that to pictures of the Duce taken in later years:

Mussolini obviously looked more typically European as he aged.

This phenomenon may be restricted to just physical appearance, or, more interestingly, behavioral changes may track with appearance over time (see below), associated with phenotypes reflecting ancestral stocks. An individual may be a greasy, undisciplined southerner as a youth and a restrained, more gracile northerner in older age.

Does this tracking of ancestral phenotypes with aging follow a specific direction as does the ontology-phylogeny association (in that case toward greater evolved complexity and toward the final form of the organism)?  

In Mussolini’s case you can say that the direction was toward a more gracile and “northern” phenotype (but not by much, truth be told), although the coarseness of aging to a large extent counteracts any racial gracilization that occurs (perhaps this is why it is “not by much”), or from Mediterranid to Alpinid, or, perhaps more properly speaking, from East Mediterranean/Levantine toward a more West Mediterranean/Central European focus.  

That may be a specific case and not generalizable, or it may reflect some underlying trends, at least for some Europeans, as well as for people of part European descent (such as Ted Williams).  Here we see a young Ted Williams, who looks ready for a zoot suit riot; on the other hand, a John Wayne-esque older Ted Williams reflects more of his paternal heritage. Williams was of mixed British Isles (Welsh, Irish) and (diverse) Mexican ancestry.  

Getting back to Europeans – Mussolini was Northern Italian. What about a Southern Italian? A young Joe DiMaggio (Sicilian ancestry) looks like a S. Italian zip; an older Joe DiMaggio looks like a N. Italian banker. All anecdotal evidence to be sure; but provocative nevertheless.  A wholly Northern European celebrity?  Perhaps Sean Connery would be instructive here?

Does the same hold for unmixed non-Europeans?  Who knows?  Does it require some threshold level of different underlying ancestries and, if so, how far back?  Racial purity in the absolute sense it a myth, and, once again considering Europe, if you can far back enough all Europeans are mixes of different tribes or proportions of Hunter-Gatherer, Neolithic Farmer, Steppe, and other elements. In a case of someone of perhaps less “recent” “admixture” would they recapitulate their proportions of those ancient ancestral source populations?  These are all fruitful questions for more study.

Individuals of mixed race, crosses of different continental population groups, would be expected to show similar patterns of phenotypic change with age.

What could be possible mechanisms for this phenomenon?  Epigenetic changes with age? Hormonal changes with age, affecting gene expression (including by epigenetic effects)? Are there timed sequences of gene expression “cassettes” activated by some mechanism (including those just mentioned) that activate different phenotypic profiles at different ages.

Also, we can ask whether this phenomenon is just an emergent property of the complexities of gene expression from mixed ancestry, or whether there is some sort of selective pressure at work. Is reproductive success at younger ages emphasized by a less gracile, more “southern,” more r-selected type phenotype, and then, with increasing age, and the need to provide for family, to be a stable provider, to increase fitness of grandchildren and the extended family, and/or group selective mechanisms for prudent group activity, older people expresses a more k-selected, gracile, restrained, “northern” phenotype?

Does this imply that behavioral changes accompany the changes in physical appearance? The impetuous energetic youth looking more like a greasy swarthoid, and the same individual in a more prudent old age, looking more like the centroid of the European phenotypic range (for Europeans)?

No doubt, we can find pictures of people who look less racially gracile with age.  So, for the theory in its broadest sense, phenotypic change with age is key, not necessarily becoming more racially gracile with age. It may not even be a matter of a unidirectional trend – toward either greater or lesser racial gracility with age. One could imagine a situation where a person, at different stages of their life, reflects different aspects of their ancestry in their phenotype, possibly fluctuating back and forth between different degrees of racial gracility. 

How long does it take for these changes to occur?  Decades would certainly be enough time.  But less than a decade? Years?  I would think that changes may not be so noticeable for periods less than ten years.

The Face of the Duce

Also: Introducing Racial Recapitulation Theory.

What can the phenotype of the young Mussolini tell us?

Let’s take a look at the physical appearance phenotype of the Northern Italian (from Predappio in Romagna) Benito Mussolini, as a young man, to dissect certain aspects of “movement” dogma about Italians.

Let’s be honest. If you showed someone those pictures, and if they didn’t know who it was other than being told “it’s an Italian,” you know very well they would immediately say “must be a Southern Italian,” “It’s a Sicilian,” etc. – the extreme non-gracile swarthoid qualities would give the impression that reflects popular stereotypes.  However, Mussolini was, as stated above, a Northern Italian.  I also note that General von Rundstedt once deeply offended Hitler by questioning Der Fuhrer’s friendship and alliance with the “Negroid Asshole” Mussolini.  Did the good general see ll Duce’s Swiss mugshots?

What conclusions can we make based on these photos?

I want to first reply to potential objections to this brief analysis:

1. “This is just anecdotal evidence, a single-point piece of data.”  That’s correct, but Der Movement does the same with all groups (especially S. Italians), using pictures of single individuals as representative of an entire group, so we can do the same here.  There are indeed N. Italians who look like the young Mussolini, so there’s some general utility in the analysis.

2. “I thought you value genotype over phenotype.”  That’s true.  But we do not have access to Mussolini’s autosomal genome.  We do have access to his physical appearance; I’ll use the data at hand.

3. “I thought you wrote that phenotype is an imprecise reflection of the underlying genotype, of the underlying ancestry.”  That’s true as well; however, that is most true for phenotype analyzed as a stand-alone evaluation, and when one ignores available genetic data in favor of a purely phenotypic analysis. In the absence of genetic information, combining phenotype with other pieces of information – such as an individual’s ethnic affiliation – can give some useful information.  It’s flawed and subjective, but insofar as I know, no one has genotyped Mussolini’s remains, so we use what we have.

So, what can we say?

Two major points.

First, it is almost certain that Mussolini could not have been of exclusive Celto-Germanic ancestry (remember that one of Der Movement’s memes is that Northern Italians are Celto-Germanic).

Second, even if Mussolini did have some Celto-Germanic ancestry, it is likely in the extreme that such ancestry was only a minority of his ancestry.  The majority of his ancestry likely derived from other sources.

So, we can ask: what were those other sources?

According to another school of “movement” “thought” (Duke/My Awakening, etc.) Northern Italians reflect ancestry from the original Romans (or at least the original peoples of Italy).  If so, Il Duce suggests that at least some of those original Romans/Italians were quite swarthy and non-gracile indeed.  That goes against that precinct of “movement” “thought” that asserts that the original Romans/Italians were all akin to Dolph Lundgren walking around in a toga.

On the other hand, if you deny that the original peoples of Rome and Italy – or at least some of them – looked like Mussolini, and instead assert that his Swiss mugshots reflect “the racial degeneration due to Roman slavery” then you have to admit that such degeneration spread to Northern Italy, and that the ancestral remains of such degeneration is still present there in modern times.

So, it would seem that Der Movement dogma is at an impasse. Il Duce suggests that either there were real swarthoids among the original Romans/Italians or that Northern Italians are not purebred Romans or not purebred Celto-Germanics, or not merely a mix of the two.  Is it one or the other? Swarthy original Roman populations or racial degeneration in Northern Italy?

The point is for Der Movement to get beyond kneejerk dogma and at least think and consider the implications of their mutually exclusive memes coming into contact with facts and logic.

I doubt that will occur though.

By the way, Mussolini’s phenotype through his life reflects an observation I have made in that European-derived swarthoids tend to be swarthiest and most non-gracile in young adulthood and become lighter and more gracile as they age.  Hormones?  Some sort of racial version of recapitulation theory – “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” – at different stages of their life individuals reflect, to a greater or lesser degree, different aspects of their ancestry (*)?  Thus, for individuals of multi-component ancestry, they would look more like different components of that ancestry at different ages, at different phases of their life.  Would that be from actual differences in gene expression from various ancestrally-different gene segments that affect phenotype?  If so, what is the trigger for the switch – the aforementioned differences in hormone levels?  Some other age-related changes, possibly including epigenetics?  Or is it simply that phenotypic changes in physical appearance that normally accompany aging mimic the effects of looking more like various ethnic types?  This would require further consideration and study.  The former possibility is much more interesting than the latter, and more in keeping with “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.”  Perhaps both possibilities operate.  Again, this would seem to be a potentially fruitful area of inquiry.

Finally, the purpose of this post is to critique Der Movement’s rigid, unquestioning dogma, certainly not to cast any dispersion at a historical leader I admire – Il Duce.  Indeed, with respect to Mussolini, my opinion of him is the same as Yockey’s – Il Duce was a great man, one of the great leaders of history, a flawed man of course, but a man of vision and force.  He was ultimately betrayed by Italian laziness, ineptitude, and hedonism – and he knew it, given his comments about Italians with an analogy of Michelangelo being forced to work with clay.  Mussolini’s phenotype is simply Italian – a reality that Der Movement misses with its view of Northern Italians all looking like actor Dolph Lundgren and Southern Italians all looking like boxer Mike Tyson.


Here is another picture. A Celto-Germanic Nordic on the left, a Nigerian Negro on the right.

*Racial recapitulation theory!  You read it at EGI Notes first.