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Evolution's Path May Lead To Shorter, Heavier Women

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the short-but-neither-brutish-nor-nasty dept.

Biotech 411

Hugh Pickens writes "Yale University researchers believe that if evolutionary pressures of sexual selection and reproductive fitness continue for another 10 generations, the trends detected in their study may mean that the average woman in 2409 AD will be 2 cm shorter, 1 kg heavier, will bear her first child five months earlier, and enter menopause 10 months later. 'There is this idea that because medicine has been so good at reducing mortality rates, that means that natural selection is no longer operating in humans,' says Stephen Stearns of Yale University. 'That's just plain false.' Stearns and his team studied the medical histories of 14,000 residents of the Massachusetts town of Framingham, using medical data from a study going back to 1948 spanning three generations, and found that shorter, heavier women had more children than lighter, taller ones. Women with lower blood pressure and cholesterol were also more likely to have large families as were women who gave birth early or had a late menopause. More importantly, these traits are then passed on to their daughters, who also, on average, had more children. The study has not determined why these factors are linked to reproductive success, but it is likely that they indicate genetic, rather than environmental, effects. 'The evolution that's going on in the Framingham women is like average rates of evolution measured in other plants and animals,' says Stearns. 'These results place humans in the medium-to-slow end of the range of rates observed for other living things.'"

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411 comments

What a headline (4, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941201)

Evolution's Path May Lead To Shorter, Heavier Women

Well, shit. That sucks.

Population trends and the direction of evolution (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941229)

Seriously, though, the logic is sound and the current population trends [census.gov] are clear.

Re:Population trends and the direction of evolutio (3, Funny)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941253)

(stops eating)

Alright. We gotta lick this problem right now. (puts milk back in fridge). Just think of all the money we'll save if we only eat half as much.

Re:Population trends and the direction of evolutio (-1, Flamebait)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941295)

It's a GIGO type of situation. If you don't like it, go rape some tall and skinny women into pregnancy, and ensure the children survive to perpetuate the cycle. Otherwise, the tall and skinny mutation will be driven extinct. Go be a sweaty God, till the soil and sow some life.

Re:Population trends and the direction of evolutio (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29941309)

Look, if slim tall people were to begin having sex, do you know what would happen to the price of children?

Re:Population trends and the direction of evolutio (3, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941461)

1) The children will take some characteristics from their dads as well.
2) A few generations of people doing what you say and you might have a breed of humans more likely to rape.

Re:Population trends and the direction of evolutio (2, Interesting)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941483)

A "breed" of humans with a genetic propensity towards violence and lawlessness... I hope no one mentions the elephant in the middle of the room.

That's right. Pit bulls.

Re:Population trends and the direction of evolutio (5, Funny)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941755)

>>>If you don't like it, go rape some tall and skinny women into pregnancy, and ensure the children survive to perpetuate the cycle.

C'mon we're geeks No need for such crudities:

- Donate sperm to a bunch of banks (this should be easy for us)
- Hack the computer and replace your specs with some hot-looking guy's specs
- Unsuspecting women pick the man of their dreams, and instead get your sperm.
- Eighteen years later these women will be wondering why their kids look like Bill Gates instead of Tom Cruise
- ???
- Profit (genetically speaking)

Personally, I think it is a matter of social class (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29941485)

Tall, thin women also tend to be wealthy, either from having been born into wealth, or from having married into wealth (obviously, they have higher value on the meat market) or from having earned it themselves (if you don't think tall thin women make more than short fat ones, you are kidding yourself).

And, based on many studies I read about in college, wealthy people tend to have fewer children, if any at all. The average was something like 1.1 per family I think.

Poor people, on the other hand, breed like rabbits. The average I read was close to 6 per family. And here's the kicker: in western culture (not just America) the abundance of cheap fattening food combined with jobs that are not physically intensive means the poor can get fat. Once-upon-a-time the poor were all farmers and therefore got enough exercise to stay thin. Now the poor all work in retail (or similar) and can get quite fat.

So, yes, the trend will be for short-fat women. But the trend in rich families will still be for tall, thin women.

I wonder if our race will bifurcate into two separate species someday.

Re:Personally, I think it is a matter of social cl (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29941509)

Tall, thin women also tend to be wealthy, either from having been born into wealth, or from having married into wealth (obviously, they have higher value on the meat market) or from having earned it themselves (if you don't think tall thin women make more than short fat ones, you are kidding yourself).

And yet after all of these observations, there's still so many fatties. WHY?

Unsound extrapolation (4, Insightful)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941691)

The logic is not sound. First, modern humans have been in our current form for something like ten thousand generations; ten generations is trivial. Second, Framingham MA is a far too small a portion the human ecological range to extrapolate from-- unless this trend holds equally well in Addis Ababa, Singapore, Kiev, Kyoto, and the Brazilian rainforest, it has no meaning to human evolution whatsoever.

Giving birth earlier and later menopause all sound like things that would improve selective fitness... but the question is, if they really are selected for, why weren't they selected for five thousand years ago? (Lower blood pressure and lower chloresterol are two that I can understand perhaps a little better-- the problems with heart trouble may have not been quite so much of a problem ten generations ago, when most humans did a lot more physical exercise just to stay alive).

Re:Unsound extrapolation (1)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941757)

well... their extrapolation for the entire species as it stands is worthless, but their prediction of the path of evolution for this town certainly has merit....

Note to self... move family far from framingham so my great great great great great great great great grand children do not have only short fat women to date.

Re:What a headline (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29941333)

i, for one, welcome our shorter, heavier overlords ;)

Preferences (3, Insightful)

Smivs (1197859) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941423)

It could just be that the Menfolk of Framingham fancy short fat women. Perhaps they're all short and fat as well.

Idocracy (1)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941205)

Evolution would just mean that whomever has the most children (that survive to also make children) becomes the dominant (in numbers) body type.

Re:Idocracy (0, Flamebait)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941297)

I completely and totally disagree with that cartoon. If you're a grumpy bastard then yes you'll scare off women, but there's nothing wrong with observing trends like "less intelligent people have tons of babies". It demonstrates higher reasoning, which demonstrates superior survival skills, and gets you hot women like Mrs. Obama who appreciate smart men.

BTW I think the Chinese have the right idea.

One child per couple may be anti-freedom, but living on an overpopulated planet is not fun either. We are quite literally soiling our own nest, and living in our own filth (air is polluted; water has toxic chemicals; and fossil energy is running out). I think by 2050 we'll experience a radical population decline - probably through starvation. Better to limit growth at birth, rather than through death.

Re:Idocracy (1, Insightful)

skine (1524819) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941415)

[T]here's nothing wrong with observing trends like "less intelligent people have tons of babies."

Actually, there is something wrong with observing false trends.

Re:Idocracy (4, Interesting)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941537)

There's also something wrong with spouting forth conclusions and condemning the opposing viewpoint as being idiotic without citing any evidence (which makes this [xkcd.com] somewhat ironic, I guess).

The Wikipedia article on the subject [wikipedia.org] is convoluted and doesn't really offer any strong conclusions, but at least some studies reported in the article have suggested a small negative correlation between intelligence and fertility (i.e., number of offspring), and another study showed a strong negative correlation between education and fertility (and education is sometimes used as a proxy for measuring intelligence). There's also a well-known negative correlation between economic well-being and fertility which may be related.

Re:Idocracy (1)

Baron_Yam (643147) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941589)

It may well be true that extremely bright people are generally less successful breeders... you can blame that on social awkwardness or indifference or whatever, it doesn't matter.

Humans are SMART. I don't think there is any doubt we have the best general intelligence on the planet, and evolution got us to that state. I'd bet that people who are _slightly_ more intelligent than average are better breeders, because there seems to be a very long term pressure for smarter people.

Of course, we don't know where the wall is for intelligence - at some point the biological trade off of supporting a smarter brain just won't be worth it.

Re:Idocracy (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941437)

There's much room to reduce birth rates without enforcement by force: http://warofillusions.wordpress.com/2009/03/16/the-eus-baby-blues-birth-rates-in-the-european-union-are-falling-fast/ [wordpress.com]

UH-OH... (1)

ComputerGeek01 (1182793) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941513)

You mean the EU is actually BEHIND the US in a social trend? Specifically that of what we call baby boomers not having childeren, so there is no one to replace them when they get old and retire? What will our US yuppies do when they can't point across the ocean and say "X handles this so much better then the US"? Oh Great Flying Spaghetti Monster I might have to listen to an origional idea from one of these neo-liberal ass-clowns... --- *curls in a ball and hides*

Re:Idocracy (5, Insightful)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941463)

Give that idiocracy shit a rest. It's not genetically dumber people who make more children, it's people lower on the social scale. As in, people in ghettos and immigrants. Poor education and poor nutrition (both which cause lower IQs) aren't genetically hereditary.

So-called smart people always confuse uneducated people with less intelligent people. Maybe they're not that smart after all.

Re:Idocracy (1, Interesting)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941695)

The ignorance of the poor is social engineering, not genetics.

The intelligence of the poor is on par with any other population - but the metrics are skewed for culture and training.

The rich ARE evil. One of the principal lacts of their evil is to sponsor a media-culture that gets ordinary schmucks like yourself to identify emotionally with them, aspire to their condition, and to assume an attack on the values of the truly rich to be a personal threat to your own status and mobility.
You are also trained to revile those perceived as less fortunate/gifted as yourself - never suspecting that to the real rich, the difference between you and the homeless doesn't amount to a rounding error.

 

...In 2006 and 2007, Goldman Sachs Group peddled more than $40 billion in securities backed by at least 200,000 risky home mortgages, but never told the buyers it was secretly betting that a sharp drop in U.S. housing prices would send the value of those securities plummeting.

Goldman's sales and its clandestine wagers, completed at the brink of the housing market meltdown, enabled the nation's premier investment bank to pass most of its potential losses to others before a flood of mortgage defaults staggered the U.S. and global economies.

Only later did investors discover that what Goldman had promoted as triple-A rated investments were closer to junk... [mcclatchydc.com]

Re:Idocracy (1)

bigpat (158134) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941579)

Evolution would just mean that whomever has the most children (that survive to also make children) becomes the dominant (in numbers) body type.

Yes, that is how evolution works.

But run this same study in other places and maybe you get a different result. It could be that in Framingham the people that want to reproduce the most happen to be shorter. Or maybe there is something about being a bit shorter that opens up more mating possibilities. And the heavier part needs a bit more investigation, because people that have a lot of kids usually don't lose all the weight after the pregnancy.

There is a very complicated cultural interplay that is part of human reproduction. Government policy, language differences, religious beliefs etc.

Re:Idocracy (1)

noundi (1044080) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941657)

Evolution would just mean that whomever has the most children (that survive to also make children) becomes the dominant (in numbers) body type.

Not entirely, in you're assuming that nothing would change during this period, and that just because mother A got 5 children, so will daughter A, but of course it would as evolution itself is caused by change. It is true that evolution ultimately depends on offspring, but you can't neglect the path to having and raising that offspring. These are all events heavily based on environmental factors, and your second mistake is that evolution in our case depends on second set of genes -- our partners. You can't assume that a gene or a trait is good and that's de facto. Our traits are always based on our environments, thus what if you would mix (just as a silly example) high probability with having many children with high probability of dying during childbirth? [msn.com]
 
So you see the only assumption you can make on evolution without being subjected to the fallancy of the single cause is: whichever creatures who are best (or good enough) adapted to their environment will become a genetic base for future generations. Any simplification on that will be incorrect as it will be based on false assumptions.

Reproductive "success" is not genetic. (3, Insightful)

acon1modm (1009947) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941211)

I think evolutionary change is being stifled by both medicine and civilization. Reproductive "success" is not genetic anymore, its based on social factors. The goal of most humans is no longer to spawn the most progeny.

I come from a small backwoods town and women in these areas (e.g. low income, low education) have more children, and have them at a younger age. ( This is a generalization, no anecdotes please. And no I don't feel like looking up stats, maybe someone else can post some).

Also, regardless of the details, I hope TFA is wrong. Have you seen dwarven females?

Re:Reproductive "success" is not genetic. (2, Informative)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941331)

But social factors have at least some roots in genetics (blah blah blah nature vs nurture, well guess what, it isn't 100% of either one).

Also, reproductive rates over 2 or 3 generations may not be particularly meaningful over the long term (if those people are dying substantially faster or whatever).

(read the summary carefully, 1 kg and 2 cm isn't much to worry about, there will still be plenty of taller and leaner women after those changes)

Re:Reproductive "success" is not genetic. (2, Insightful)

NoOneInParticular (221808) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941379)

I think the article argues that your 'impression' that evolutionary change is being stifled by both medicine and civilization is plain false. Also, it might be that the goal of most humans is to lead an fruitful and interesting lifes, but also that's irrelevant. Bottom line remains that whoever spawns most progeny will spread their genes. It is that simple.

You might want to think things through a bit more, as your preliminary paragraph displays a very incorrect view of how selection operates. Whoever makes most kids, takes over the population, genetically. Also, if dwarven females are that ugly, there you have an immediate selection pressure against them taking over.

Re:Reproductive "success" is not genetic. (1)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941663)

You're showing a breathtaking middle-class, First World bias in that assumption about reproductive goals. There are still plenty of places where the odds of a single child surviving to adulthood are tragically poor, and where having a number of children to help with the family business is advantageous.

Alrighty Then (5, Funny)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941213)

Evolution's Path May Lead To Shorter, Heavier Women

Wow. I had no idea when I went to sleep last night that I would wake up against Evolution. Where's the ID/Creationism Kool-Aid? Comin' on board... make some room.

Re:Alrighty Then (1)

PRMan (959735) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941435)

Creationists believe in Natural Selection. They just don't believe that molecules turned into a man. They don't believe that anyone has proven a mutation that resulted in better DNA. Sometimes the result might be better (resistance to medicine or freezing), but the DNA is more corrupt overall.

Re:Alrighty Then (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29941559)

Don't talk sense around here. You'll have some fucktard on here screaming that the universe is more than 6000 years old.
 
Funny how those who don't want religion and don't know religion are the first to tell the religious what they believe and how they should live.

Re:Alrighty Then (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29941569)

Creationists believe in Natural Selection ... snip ... but the DNA is more corrupt overall.

So... Creationists don't believe in Natural Selection, and clearly don't even understand what Natural Selection is.

There is no "perfect" DNA defining the "ideal" genotype, against which a particular creature's DNA can be said to be "corrupt". Corrupt is a weird choice of word anyway because it implies a moral comparison. If a mutation results in traits that increase the odds of reproductive success, it is more likely to be included in the DNA of future generations than the "un-mutated" version or versions with deleterious mutations.

It's wonderful sophistry though. Any time somebody shows them an example of genetic change generating beneficial adaption, it can be dismissed as "sure, the bacteria now has the ability to survive a previously unknown antibiotic, but I feel that the new genotype should be marked down on some mysterious aesthetic grounds".

Re:Alrighty Then (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941645)

I have a horrible, horrible idea for you:

ID/Creationism will not ever change basic facts. You can only look away. The hammer will hit you anyway.

So do you really want to look away, and lose your only chance to change something? ^^

Ok, sorry... in case you are a stone with no own ability to change anything, then of course I did not want to offend you, and am an insensitive clod. :P

Where is the evolution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29941225)

Where is evolution in that?

I want evolution to produce a three boob'd woman. Who cares if evolution is producing folks within the same genetic parameters.

Re:Where is the evolution? (4, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941259)

Symmetry plays a large role in physiology, so it would be very unlikely to see an evolutionary step that leads to 3 boobs. Lateral symmetry dictates that you'd be more likely to see 4 or 6 before that.

There is the possibility of radial symmetry kicking in and getting a non-even number of boobs, but that's just weird.

Re:Where is the evolution? (1)

Bob54321 (911744) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941365)

Well, we can have lateral symmetry of three....
( . )( . )( . )
Symmetrical on the middle nipple.
What makes it more likely to see 4 or 6 is that other mammals already do.

Re:Where is the evolution? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941411)

What the heck?

(shrug). Some women like Lily Allen have 4 nipples... but I'm not aware of any that have 4 boobs. It appears the trend is for the same number as now (2) but with larger sizes, with the typical American woman already one cup larger than the 1970s. I consider this bad. Yes it makes logical sense that more food == bigger body parts, but I personally find larger breasts unattractive.

Re:Where is the evolution? (1)

Baron_Yam (643147) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941623)

There was once an experiment to breed sheep with more teats. It was a failure, not because they failed to get another pair of milk-producing teats, but because the sheep rudely refused to produce bigger litters of offspring to make use of the new milk taps.

It's probably not too difficult to genetically engineer a four-breasted woman (nature often produces people with additional nipples below the normal ones) but it won't happen due to medical research and experimentation ethics. Also, you'd be creating a sideshow freak even if you got it right on the first try.

It's far more likely we'll create women with a third breast on the back (for dancing).

Re:Where is the evolution? (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941495)

Why you could still have a third boob right dead in the middle. Still symmetric. If that didn't work that way, imagine that, we'd probably have two penises and women would have two vaginas.

Although now that I think of it it does sound good!

Soooo..... the typical American woman (3, Funny)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941235)

Heavier.

And people say we americans are falling behind. We're just 500 years ahead and all the rest of ye are catching up. ;-)#

Re:Soooo..... the typical American woman (1)

rattaroaz (1491445) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941387)

In that case, I will make a prediction of my own. In 2409, beer will be more popular than ever.

Re:Soooo..... the typical American woman (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941675)

Nope. Typical Framingham woman. Biiig difference!

.
.
.
That'll make $500 then. Thank you for using our Hurricane(78) (emotional) relief services!

Fat Americans Breed Fat Americans! Film at 11 (1, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941261)

Change the diet, and you'll see the "trend" reverse.

Re:Fat Americans Breed Fat Americans! Film at 11 (2, Informative)

Baron_Yam (643147) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941289)

I doubt it. It probably reflects the fact that skinny women are less fit hosts for a fetus than heavier women. At some point, you run into high weight causing health issues that also make the woman a less fit incubator.

Earlier maturity and later menopause extend the fertility period (duh)... in times past women needed more time to build up a healthy body to have children, and there was no genetic point in delaying menopause since pregnancies towards the end of female fertility were less likely to be viable. Modern medicine and diet are probably the enabler here, making girls healthy and heavy enough quickly enough to bear children when younger without significant risk of death, and making a higher percentage of near-menopause pregnacies successful.

Re:Fat Americans Breed Fat Americans! Film at 11 (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941361)

If women are maturing earlier, then maybe the age of aduthood should be lowered from 18 to 17 (or 17 downto 16 in Denmark).

Also I'm not convinced that thinner == less capable of carrying children. I would think the exact-opposite since the thin women I've known had "easy" pregnancies with quick labor, while the heavier women had more difficult, painful times.

Re:Fat Americans Breed Fat Americans! Film at 11 (5, Informative)

Baron_Yam (643147) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941453)

Any GP or OB/GYN will tell you that there is a minimum percentage of body fat below which a woman won't even menstruate.

They'll also tell you a woman should gain some weight during pregnancy, and that generally speaking the outcome of the pregnancy is better if a certain amount of weight is gained (unless the woman is already overweight, of course).

Again, I don't think they're saying thinner = bad, I think they're saying the population is shifting towards the optimum range. Skinny women have less, and less healthy children on average, so the average weight is rising by a small amount as they're outbred by heavier women.

There will be an upper limit to this effect as well - morbid obesity is not a good thing for getting or being pregnant, either.

Re:Fat Americans Breed Fat Americans! Film at 11 (1)

rattaroaz (1491445) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941707)

Again, I don't think they're saying thinner = bad, I think they're saying the population is shifting towards the optimum range. Skinny women have less, and less healthy children on average, so the average weight is rising by a small amount as they're outbred by heavier women.

I didn't RTFA, but I don't think that is a good conclusion at all. In my nonscientific, anecdotal observations, skinnier women have less children due to birth control, not because of some genetic problem. Increasing weight as a "shift towards optimum range" seems a bit of a stretch to me. I agree that any extreme of skinny or fat is bad, but I just see this as more of a social change leading to a biological change, rather than an ability to breed due to genetics thing.

Re:Fat Americans Breed Fat Americans! Film at 11 (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941479)

I would think the exact-opposite since the thin women I've known had "easy" pregnancies with quick labor, while the heavier women had more difficult, painful times.

Since the "heavier" women we're talking about are averaging 1 kg heavier, and the "shorter" ones average 2.5 cm shorter, I'd think you'd have a hard time sorting out the "shorter, heavier" ones from the "taller, lighter" ones being talked about in this study.

Re:Fat Americans Breed Fat Americans! Film at 11 (2, Insightful)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941383)

skinny women are less fit hosts for a fetus than heavier women

Maybe they've got cause and effect the wrong way round. Maybe after the first baby, the women in this study put on weight. Women who didn't have children didn't gain weight so skewed the samples and results?

Re:Fat Americans Breed Fat Americans! Film at 11 (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29941561)

The only intelligent reply herein. From a female, this is not new information. Historically, as you can see depicted in paintings such as Rubens, women tended to be shorter and heavier. From my history recollection, it was not until the 1920's in America that "thinner" women became something that was even desired. In many cultures, a heavier trunk and chest is indicative of better reproduction health, and as such, more desireable to the male counterparts. (The fetus survives off of fat stores in the hips and abdomen for I believe the first 2 trimesters.) I have known very many thin women who were majorly reproductively challenged even at younger ages.

The truth here is that there is a critical limit of "fat" for good reproductive health. You need enough fat to get pregnant and maintain a pregnancy, but too much fat can actually prevent ovulation, and as such, pregnancy.

It is not evolution that is causing girls to mature at a younger age, it is diet. You have to get a certain amount of fat (what we used to call "baby fat") to start menstruation. Many girls are now getting that because of diet at an earier age than our mothers. Also, the trend of an earlier menarche equaling a later menopause is not new knowledge. I learned that 30 years ago in SexEd.

And trust me, there may be a lot of women who like those toothpicks on their arms, but those same men are going behind the scenes looking for some women with a little bit more junk in their trunks.

Re:Fat Americans Breed Fat Americans! Film at 11 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29941637)

That should have read "lot of MEN who like those toothpicks" LOL. But, the same may be true for lesbians, I am straight, but have gotten hit on by a lot of lesbians in my life.

Re:Fat Americans Breed Fat Americans! Film at 11 (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941519)

Genetics understanding fail. Diet doesn't change your genes.

Well actually... if everybody has a fattening diet, making people genetically predisposed to obesity more likely to become obese out of proportions, and that such obscenely obese people are more likely to die alone (without any offsprings) (wild assumption, I'm not sure that's true), then wouldn't that be an evolutionary pressure to get rid of people who get fat easily?

I blame birth control (1, Flamebait)

Lalakis (308990) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941285)

It's obvious that lighter and taller women have more sex than the heavier and shorter ones, so it's birth control that we should blame for the study's results!

Re:I blame birth control (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29941373)

That's not obvious at all. It may be that more men want to have sex with lighter, taller woman, but that does not mean they get it. It may very well be that the lighter, taller mutation also lowers the sex drive. or the fertility. or it may increase pregnant related mortality rates. etc.

Re:I blame birth control (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29941487)

Not in an evolutionary sense: the fad of skinny women seems linked to extending puberty, and the women looking nearly pre-menstrual so they're unlikely to have had a chance to breed with anyone else.

There's nothing quite like porking fat chicks, though. They're warm, they're padded, there's lots of tit to play with, and they're *so grateful*, at least in America. The only problem is feeding them, but some of them are so grateful they'll buy dinner or cook. Just make sure you keep a spare throwaway cell phone so you don't have to give your real phone number, and to have a throwaway gmail account with fake contact information in case their mom gets a court order.

Re:I blame birth control (1)

qbzzt (11136) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941647)

it's birth control that we should blame for the study's results!

Probably birth control is playing a big role. I predict that in two centuries most people will be descended from those who wanted children or had bad impulse control. Probably we'll have a more religious population (religion tends to correlate with fertility in western societies).

Re:I blame birth control (1)

Jesselnz (866138) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941739)

Aren't all people descended from those who wanted kids or had bad impulse control?

This is already happining in the Midwest. (2, Funny)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941299)

Here in Illinois, we just call them "corn fed". I had just assumed it was the climate.

Re:This is already happining in the Midwest. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29941489)

I call them "German". Have you looked at the family trees of those husky blonde Aryan girls?

makes one wonder... (2, Interesting)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941305)

http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/07/27/1455253 [slashdot.org]

is shorter and heavier "more beautiful"?

Re:makes one wonder... (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941321)

To a male hippopotamus, a female hippopotamus is the most beautiful thing in the world.

shorter heavier women (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29941307)

It's simply because shorter, heavier women are less choosy about who they sleep with/marry/end up with.

Bad misquote in summary (0)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941323)

'There is this idea that because medicine has been so good at reducing mortality rates, that means that natural selection is no longer operating in humans,' says Stephen Stearns of Yale University.

What he says in the opposite:

“The idea that natural selection has stopped operating in humans because we have gotten better at keeping people alive is just plain wrong,” said Stephen C. Stearns,

Reproductive selection will always operate, it is just that the ''selection criteria'' may change, physical fitness may no longer be so important, supplanted by taking advantage of social security/... to enable them to have more children than they can support by the ''sweat of their own brows'', the government picks up the bill.

Re:Bad misquote in summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29941343)

No yours is the bad misquote.

'There is this idea that because medicine has been so good at reducing mortality rates, that means that natural selection is no longer operating in humans,' says Stephen Stearns of Yale University. 'That's just plain false.'

Re:Bad misquote in summary (3, Informative)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941403)

Reproductive selection will always operate, it is just that the ''selection criteria'' may change, physical fitness may no longer be so important, supplanted by taking advantage of social security/... to enable them to have more children than they can support by the ''sweat of their own brows'', the government picks up the bill.

To quote Monty Python: "Look at them bloody Catholics, filling up the bloody world with children they can't afford to bloody feed." At least, I assume that's what you were referring to.

But seriously, the idea of a "welfare queen" is a myth (and typically a racist one at that). The vast majority of welfare recipients are trying to work, are unable to, but find work within about 2 years. Among other things, the per-child benefit that is given via WIC, TANF, and food stamps doesn't completely cover the cost of having the extra child, so having more kids makes even welfare recipients poorer.

Re:Bad misquote in summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29941639)

What the hell are you talking about? Do you really need to bring your neocon bullshit into every thread? High cholesterol = has no job? The government will pay to raise a child from 1-18? Do you realize how stupid you are?

I disagree (1)

sleeponthemic (1253494) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941339)

I suspect that genetics and nutrition will mitigate these factors. Whilst the trend is towards fat, now, this is likely to plateau and fall.

I'll take a crack at it (1, Interesting)

jdevivre (923797) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941347)

The problem with most biologists and geneticists (I'm one) is a lack of objectivity. They should talk to more engineers when solving problems (I'm one of those too).

Process A
Most planned pregnancies happen in later life.
Most unplanned pregnancies happen while drunk.
Most drunk intercourse is with the first willing partner.
Most willing partners are more homely than gorgeous.
Most homely women are shorter and fatter.

Process B
Most unplanned pregnancies are followed by unplanned marriages.
Most marriages starting with an unplanned child are followed by subsequent progeny (it started with sex, so sex is what you do together for the first while)
Most social traits carry on through generations - daughters of young mothers often have early pregnancies (these may involve factors expressed in Process A)

Thus, homely Mom, homely daughters, Mom got drunk and had sex early so why can't I, followed by more homely daughters...

Where's the mystery?

1 study in 1 small town? (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941369)

Framingham is not America and America is not the world. While this report might hold true for a statistically insignificant group in one country, it tells us nothing about human evolution over the whole planet.

The traits described probably have more to do with proximity to the local McDonalds, than anythiing about "survival of the fa^Hittest"

Re:1 study in 1 small town? (3, Informative)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941385)

Framingham is not America and America is not the world. While this report might hold true for a statistically insignificant group in one country, it tells us nothing about human evolution over the whole planet.

The traits described probably have more to do with proximity to the local McDonalds, than anythiing about "survival of the fa^Hittest"

Only blame the summary. Stearns made no such generalization.

What will be the impact of docters (4, Interesting)

houghi (78078) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941395)

When I was young, an ongoing joke was the question 'Is fertility passed on by the parents." Now you could start asking that question. Also there is a trend of finding slimmer women more attractive. In the past this ment that those would be having more children.

However with the pill and other contraceptives, it looks as if the most attractive (in a biological way) females have LESS babies.

The result of this all will be that we have a lot of ugly kids. Perhaps the division becomes so great that we will separate as species and become two.

Re:What will be the impact of docters (1)

samkass (174571) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941421)

It depends on whether attraction to slimness (and big breasts, for that matter) have some other underlying benefit. For example, breasts tend to get bigger after a woman's first child, so perhaps men who favor flatter stomachs and bigger breasts are looking for women who are fertile yet not currently pregnant. While all sorts of societal factors would complicate that translating into reproductive success for such women, there would still be an underlying pressure that could push towards an equilibrium that avoids the opposite extreme.

Re:What will be the impact of docters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29941541)

Did you see the teabag rallies? Already happened - I think the Neanderthal genes (see previous story) have been inbred to the surface.

Re:What will be the impact of docters (2, Interesting)

dachshund (300733) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941611)

Also there is a trend of finding slimmer women more attractive. In the past this ment that those would be having more children. However with the pill and other contraceptives, it looks as if the most attractive (in a biological way) females have LESS babies.

It's not quite as simple as that. As I've grown older (my 30s) I've discovered (the perhaps obvious fact) that "slimness" is largely a function of age. It amazes me how easy it is for my early-20s colleagues to stay skinny while drinking corn syrup all day long, and the same goes for females. I look ridiculously thin in pictures of me when I was the same age (and at the time I thought I needed to slim down, yikes). Its obviously possible to stay thin as you get older, but it becomes harder.

The point I'm trying to make here is that our cultural fetish for "skinny = beautiful" can also be viewed as a fetish for "younger = beautiful". And youth and fertility go together like a horse and carriage. I'm not sure what this has to do with this study, since they obviously controlled for age, but don't imagine that things are as simple as you make out.

Also, let's pray there are no women reading Slashdot, oy...

Unconvincing. (2, Interesting)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941491)

I'm not convinced by these researchers' claims. Is there a trend towards people getting shorter? I thought the opposite was true. As for obesity, that's another story. But what I am convinced this reflects is not an evolutionary trend but rather a socioeconomic one. The better off people are the less likely they are to have children. So poorer people are the ones having children and unlike most of the rest of the world lower-class Americans are very likely to be obese. Do this study in parts of Asia or Africa and these researchers would be saying the trend was towards thinner humans. The US actually bucks the trend established by most developed nations in that many people still tend to have a few children, in Europe and Asia you're lucky if they have one. I'm not sure why there would be a shift towards bearing children sooner considering most people seem to be waiting longer to have kids. Again, it might simply be a reflection class.

That seems like a big assumption to me given how many variables exist. An interesting thing a gynecologist told me a couple of years ago was that obese women tend do deprive the fetus of nutrients more so than your average women, so they tend to have underweight babies far more frequently. So this evolutionary tend doesn't seem like a particularly good thing to me. But then there are so many variables affecting humanity that these findings are likely meaningless.

ignoring curvature and rumble (1)

epine (68316) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941499)

Normally you'd expect the psychology of priming to catch this one: a linear extrapolation is worthless when medical technology continues to change as fast as it does. Diabetes continues to exist in 50 years? On the near side of the apocalypse? I highly doubt it. Excepting curvature, we can thus conclude that women are getting fatter.

Some people see this phase we're in where the genomics/proteomics researchers are discovering that nothing is as simple as we told the investors as evidence that progress in medical science has taken a coffee break. Hardly. For the last century, the foundation of modern medicine has been statistical epidemiology: trying to find a needle in a haystack with a densitometer.

The profit model for the pharmaceutical industry is to spread the benefit of a drug over the largest study population where the effect remains statistically significant. Cholesterol levels too high? Add Lipitor to the water supply. It could be that only 10% of the people who take Lipitor actually benefit. But then, if this were determined, they'd have to charge ten times as much per treatment to maintain existing revenues, and fewer uninsured would be able to pay, and we might have to let some future president actually preside.

We are right now in the heart of the transition to etiology based medicine. Among the problems are how to pay for it without using giant studies designed to implicate everyone. This isn't so different from the transition of observational taxonomy (A and B share the same egg tooth dimple) to taxonomy with a genomics turbo assist. I recall in the early 1980s, this transition was not widely welcomed among traditional taxonomists. Unreliable, they complained. Now you couldn't do taxonomy any other way, and a lot of old arguments are long gone in the rear view mirror. The new bionic taxonomy is better, stronger, faster.

We're in that deceptive interlude after pressing the ignite button on the Saturn V rocket where the flame and rumble have erupted out the bottom, while the rocket itself just kind of shivers there, apparently going nowhere.

The combined propellant flow rate of the five F-1s in the Saturn V was 3,357 US gallons (12,710 l) per second, which would empty a 30,000 US gallons (110,000 l) swimming pool in 8.9 seconds. Each F-1 engine had more thrust than all three space shuttle main engines combined.

A decade or two later, you're praying for center-engine cutoff.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Apollo_8_acceleration.gif [wikipedia.org]
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/Genbank/genbankstats.html [nih.gov]

Swell time to extrapolate the fate of humanity on a straight line. Besides, I have evidence to the contrary [blogspot.com].

Mexicans? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29941523)

Mexicans and african americans follow both of these traits.

Bad news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29941551)

Shouldn't beauty and media imagery influence have at least some role in evolution?

Sure you can find more trends (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941555)

Here's another one for you. Genetically slutty women had more children than genetically prude women. Therefore, women are now genetically easier to get with than they used to be. Discuss.

Essentially reporting the obvious I should think (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941577)

It would be nice if evolution were driven by our ideals, but our ideals are not conducive to evolutionary drives and mechanisms which effectively boil down to "who gets laid more" and who don't.

In the western U.S., I think the situation is only slightly more complex than described, but I can't disagree with its general assertions. However, some of this is somewhat regional. This should be expanded to include other nations. The short-fat thing in other nations and cultures don't work the same way as they do in N.America. For example, many women in other nations and cultures don't gain lots of weight before childbirth or lose all of the extra weight after childbirth. They do this through force of will which is something N.American women lack quite often. Women who want to remain thinner and sexier (ironic since those are theoretically signs that make a woman more appealing to men who would want to make them pregnant in the first place) usually control pregnancy and simply have fewer, if any children.

Similar projections have been made with regards to intelligence or personality traits that lead to wealth and power as the more intelligent, wealthy and powerful people have fewer children when compared to people on the other end of that spectrum. Further, the same pattern is observed when comparing white and non-white people in terms of population shrinkage and growth numbers. (Did you know that in Texas "hispanics" can no longer be considered "minority"? It's true! Though they still seem to be collecting a lot of minority targeted benefits at the moment.)

While this is all pretty interesting, it is also pretty obvious in so many ways.

It's all good though. I like shorter, darker, softer women to begin with. The girl that plays Velma Dinkley is awesome cute! :)

You 7ail it (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29941585)

OF AMERICA) is the Woot battled in court, to th3 crowd in

Ep!?@! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29941605)

by simple fucking perspective, the a dead man walking. is EFNet, and you 1. Therefore it's to have to decide to 7his. For you aal is to let fucking confirmed:

TFS makes idiotic assumptions. (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941625)

TFS makes the assumption, that because the people in Framingham are like that, that the whole world must be like that.

Which of course, is total bullshit. This study is only meaningful for Framingham. If you want it to have a global meaning, do it globally.

I don't understand how someone can create that assumption, and absolutely not notice its wrongness...

Nasty, brutish and short (4, Funny)

Charles Dodgeson (248492) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941665)

Didn't Thomas Hobbes argue that in the state of nature "the wife of man is solitary, nasty, brutish, and short." Or have I misquoted somehow?

I like money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29941727)

It's all idocracy

But not in the Netherlands (2, Interesting)

kanweg (771128) | more than 4 years ago | (#29941761)

In the Netherlands people marry rather late, and many women get their kids in their (late) thirties. A good portion of women of that age miss the boat. There is an enormous selection pressure going on. Ignoring the emerging trend of freezing eggs, one may expect that in a couple of generations Dutch women will be able to bear children at even older age, and may well live even longer than they do now.

Bert

I win! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29941767)

My wife has already fully evolved.
Wait...... that makes her sound like a Bakugan.

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