Stumpy = evolution’s triumph

March 19th, 2010  |  Published in Stumpblog  |  3 Comments

From Macleans.ca:

For years, some scientists heralded the end of human evolution. The post-industrial homo sapiens, they argued, was free of the kinds of “survival-of-the-fittest” pressures that could drive large-scale genetic change. Yet new research suggests that humans continue to evolve.

What might our granddaughter’s granddaughter’s granddaughter’s granddaughter’s granddaughter look like? Shorter and stouter, says a report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. If current trends continue, its authors predict, then by 2409 descendants of the women in the study will have evolved to be one kilogram heavier and two centimetres shorter than their 2010 foremothers.

Responses

  1. Braidwood says:

    March 19th, 2010at 2:55 pm(#)

    I highly doubt that. Tall is a dominant gene over short. I think we will probably be browner -dominant, and balder- also dominant.

  2. inge says:

    March 23rd, 2010at 5:27 pm(#)

    I’m getting an error on the link, but colour me sceptical.

    First, one kilogram and two centimetres over 400 years? That’s not evolution, that’s noise. Also, if the research acutally had reason to conclude that these changes will affect only women, what is the mechanism they suggest?

    If we assume continued or improved levels of food security, I would suspect that a larger number of people with a high metabolism survive into adulthood and reproduce successfully. So, more naturally skinny people who have a hard time gaining weight.

    Braidwood: As we have become quite good in protecting ourselves from the sun and getting enough folic acid to pregnant women, I don’t think “browner” is overall likely, as paleness will not cause a significant reproductive disadvantage. For similar reason, high resistance to disease and parasites as well as broad food tolerances might become rarer as selection pressure for it lessens.

    Also, balder? Why? As a secondary expression or side effect of a gene selected for, or not selected against anymore?

  3. zoltan says:

    March 29th, 2010at 6:12 pm(#)

    LOL, inge, I think “browner” is due to more multiracial children, not more sun exposure, regardless of ozone levels.


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