Long Legs

May 22, 2009 | 1 Comment

Category: Autism Features, Neoteny

“…primary hypogonadism, a condition resulting from the lack of increased production of androgen (testosterone) hormones in the interstitial Leydig cells in the testes at puberty.  Because of this condition, emasculated singers may have been blessed with voices sweeter than a woman’s, but burdened by an infantile penis, an underdeveloped prostate, “eunuchoid” (disproportionately long) arms and legs, beardlessness, pubic hair distributed in the female opposed to the male pattern, and fat deposits on the hips, buttocks, and breast area.”  (Margulis, L. & Sagan, D. (1991) Mystery Dance, On the Evolution of Human Sexuality:  Summit Books, New York, p. 67.)

This may seem somewhat arcane, but in my explorations of the patterns and dynamics of neoteny there is a feature that does not appear in the literature on the subject.  This is the elongated legs and arms that appear in people displaying neotenous features.

I first came across a connection in a text that noted low testosterone in males was connected with longer legs.  Bonobo vs. chimpanzee comparisons suggest bonobos have lankier builds and are more neotenous than chimpanzees.  I’ve noted anecdotally that autistic and Asperger’s males seem to display an unusually high proportion of the tall.  Scandinavians are more neotenous in several features, including height.

It seems autism has more than one etiology.  I’ve been exploring autism as a condition connected to male maturational delay and female maturational acceleration.  Height might be an additional marker to help break out different causes.

Blond hair, blue eyes and a lanky build seem connected, all neotenous features.  We might expect a higher proportion of autistic and Asperger’s individuals to display blond hair, blue eyes and height.

Going farther out on this limb, I would expect matrifocal societies to display more height than patrifocal societies, and peoples perhaps 100,000–50,000 years ago, as we first departed Africa, still matrifocal-based, to display more height than societies 10,000–2,000 years ago when patrifocal society became fully engaged.

Right now, I’m Googled out.  Maybe a visitor to this site can bounce around and see if there are correlations.


This entry was posted on Friday, May 22nd, 2009 at 7:04 am and is filed under Autism Features, Neoteny. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
1 Comment so far

  1. a on October 27, 2009 1:58 am

    Further (anecdotal) evidence of the increased neoteny of Scandinavians might be that they seem to have proportionally greater trunks than average, and, staying true to the encephalization quotient, bigger heads to go with them. I know the latter is a commonly observed trait in autistics, but I have not seen it considered in relation to trunk size. Maybe you’re onto something.

    I got kinda obsessed with this stuff a while back– I was the only person in my family with “eunuchoid” skeletal structure, but in my case, this turned out to be a case of delayed puberty.

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