The SCOOTER SICKLE CELL DISEASE project is very proud to announce that today we are releasing as an open education resource one of the key works of one of the greatest anthropologists of the twentieth century, FB Livingstone. The work is: Livingstone, FB (1985) Frequencies of Hemoglobin Variants, Thalassemia, The Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase Deficiency, G6PD Variants, and Ovalocytosis in Human Populations New York: Oxford University Press.
Frank B Livingstone (December 8, 1928 – March 21, 2005) is best known for elucidating one of the key insights underpinning theories of human evolution, namely the role of sickle cell and malaria in explaining human genetic variation. His classic article “Anthropological Implications of Sickle Cell Gene Distribution in West Africa,” published in 1958 in American Anthropologist, explored how the sickle cell gene was relatively absent in 1950s Liberia even though malaria was endemic. Livingstone tracked this apparent anomaly to the fact that, as relatively late adopters of agriculture (which meant clearing forests that previously had shaded and cooled flowing waters – conditions less favourable to mosquitoes, who require heated shallow pools of water for their larvae to breed) Liberians had only recently created the ecological niche suitable for the mosquitoes responsible for spreading falciparum malaria against which sickle cell trait provides a strong survival advantage during early infancy. As the selective genetic advantage takes a number of generations to build up, this explained the relative lack of the sickle cell gene in a malarial environment.
The book, Frequencies of Hemoglobin Variants, has been out of print for a number of years, but after discussion with Oxford University Press and with the kind permission of Frank’s daughter Amy, we have great pleasure in making the book available again through this open education resource.
Professor Simon Dyson, De Montfort University
Thalassaemia and Sickle Cell Disease Unit