Despite the comments of some of the political candidates now running for office, Evolution is real and it's still going on--in fact, we're evolving faster than ever. Scientists USED to think that human evolution was all over. What's causing this acceleration?
In BBC News, Anna-Marie Lever reports that in the past 5,000 years (a blink of the eye in geologic time), human beings have changed genetically 100 times more than in any other period of history. What?s happening?
Lever quotes researcher Henry Harpending as saying, "The dogma has been that these [differences] are cultural fluctuations, but almost any temperament trait you look at is under strong genetic influences. Genes are evolving fast in Europe, Asia and Africa, but almost all of these are unique to their continent of origin. We are getting less alike, not merging into a single, mixed humanity."
In Scientific American, David Biello writes that evolution is indeed speeding up and says that climate change has something to do with this. He quotes anthropologist Gregory Cochran as saying, "Not all populations show the same evolutionary speed. For example, Africans show a slightly lower mutation rate" [because they] haven't had to adapt to a fundamentally new climate." This is because modern humanity evolved where they live. Cochran says, "Europeans and East Asians, living in environments very different from those of their African ancestors and early adopters of agriculture, were more maladapted, less fitted to their environments," so they evolved to fit those environments.
Will climate change bring on EVEN FASTER evolution in the future?
Art credit: freeimages.co.uk
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