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Is Humanity Still Evolving?

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the survival-of-the-fit-ish dept.

Science 374

sciencehabit writes "In a world where we've tamed our environment and largely protected ourselves from the vagaries of nature, we may think we're immune to the forces of natural selection. But a new study finds that the process that drives evolution was still shaping us as recently as the 19th century (abstract). 'The finding comes from an analysis of the birth, death, and marital records of 5923 people born between 1760 and 1849 in four farming or fishing villages in Finland. ... Natural selection was alive and well in all of the villages the researchers surveyed."

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It's around everywhere else, too... (4, Insightful)

abroadwin (1273704) | about 2 years ago | (#39851031)

What do you think is happening any time someone gets killed by disease? Heck, even when someone is run over by a semi. Natural selection will shape us forever unless we conquer death itself.

Re:It's around everywhere else, too... (3, Insightful)

bolthole (122186) | about 2 years ago | (#39851297)

That being said, it was a LOUSY article, scientifically speaking.

From the records they had, the researchers could not tell which traits were being selected for, but the variation in the number of offspringâ"from zero to 17â"indicates there was a large opportunity for selection to occur.

paraphrase, "well, we cant actually prove anything, but we're really hopeful that it coulda-shoulda happened!! Partyyyy!"

yeeesh. Go back to undergraduate studies.

Re:It's around everywhere else, too... (5, Informative)

Nemba (805178) | about 2 years ago | (#39851369)

No. The article was poorly written, but you missed the point of this research. They were looking at historical records, OF COURSE they didn't expect to actively identify where evolution was taking place. The point is, they can establish that the same conditions which are necessary for evolution everywhere else, were also present in this relatively agricultural/industrialised society, and hence that unless the entire way we think about evolution is wrong, it was also happening here. That's actually more proof than you get in most studies. It's correlational, sure, but the association between sex selection and evolution is so strong that it's stupid to think that this is being "really hopeful that it coulda-shoulda happened".

Re:It's around everywhere else, too... (4, Funny)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#39851805)

Variance in mating success explained most of the higher variance in reproductive success in males compared with females, but mating success also influenced reproductive success in females, allowing for sexual selection to operate in both sexes.

OK, So during that time, successfully obtaining a mate generally lead to children. Got it. Thanks.

Any trip to Walmart will convince you that the situation today seems less clear, and obtaining children seems entirely disassociated with the ability to attract a mate.

Re:It's around everywhere else, too... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39851999)

The fact that natural selection isn't favoring traits you like doesn't mean natural selection isn't happening.

Re:It's around everywhere else, too... (4, Insightful)

Mithent (2515236) | about 2 years ago | (#39851313)

Yes... provided that they die prior to reproducing. In the Western world, few people die of disease before they reach reproductive age, what with modern medicine, so there's not a lot of selection pressure exerted there.

Automobile accidents, on the other hand...

Re:It's around everywhere else, too... (2, Interesting)

RichMan (8097) | about 2 years ago | (#39851419)

If the death of a parent results in a lack of resources(or sickness or anything else) for an offspring causing the offspring to have fewer dependents than otherwide would happen, then evolution is still working. Just at a lesser rate.

Re:It's around everywhere else, too... (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39851571)

What if it causes the dependent to start popping out welfare babies instead?

Re:It's around everywhere else, too... (2)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 2 years ago | (#39851541)

provided that they die prior to reproducing

Actually, I don't think that's an absolute requirement. Take the black plague for example. Many people who died already had children. But, many of the survivors went on with their lives, married, and had additional children. These children now have the genetic benefits of their surviving parents. A benefit they wouldn't have had until after both their parents lost their previous spouse in a previous relationship.

Re:It's around everywhere else, too... (4, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 years ago | (#39851769)

But in today's world, if you can't care for your children, then there are resources to help with that, pushing them to reproductive age, even if their parents and grandparents were "genetically inferior" and all died of heart attack at 20. These safety nets support the reversal of evolution - Idiocracy (the movie where the dumbest people reproduce at the greatest rate, making the planet dumber and dumber).

Re:It's around everywhere else, too... (1)

Charcharodon (611187) | about 2 years ago | (#39851811)

few people die of disease before they reach reproductive age

Not so. Infant mortality may be very low in modern countries, but abortions and miscarriages are not, also there is the growing number of people who have fertility issues.

Yes the ever present automobile makes an excellent replacement for large preditorial carnivors. If anything we should help natural selection along by making it mandatory for predrivers to walk to school and post drivers ride scooters until they are 25. That should help flush out the clogged filter in our gene pool.

Re:It's around everywhere else, too... (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 2 years ago | (#39851933)

But countless numbers die before reproducing, even if they're at reproductive age. Ie, dying in wars before marriage. Also there is more to evolution than merely reproducing. Those who don't reproduce are still a part of the environment, they may help or hinder offsprings of others. Ie, ants in a colony, most will never reproduce but they will feed and care for the colony as a whole. For humans, someone coming up with a cure for a disease may influence the evolution of humans to a vastly greater degree than that of the few children that were directly produced.

Re:It's around everywhere else, too... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39851471)

In developed countries diseases kill people after the reproductive age in most cases.

Some people live to be a hundred and have one or two children with the same woman. Others die at 40 and leave 12 children of different women.
Who has succeeded biologically?

Re:It's around everywhere else, too... (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about 2 years ago | (#39851949)

Others die at 40 and leave 12 children of different women.
Who has succeeded biologically?

It rather depends on what happens to those children.

Re:It's around everywhere else, too... (0)

Spy Handler (822350) | about 2 years ago | (#39851507)

Death is meaningless unless it happens before the specimen has a chance to breed. There is no selective pressure against things that happen in old age, like heart attacks. (which is why they're still with us)

On the other hand, there seems to be a strong selective pressure against high IQ in modern society. It only started recently - only a couple of generations ago - so we haven't seen much effect yet.... but if this keeps up, the entire planet is going to be 3rd world eventually.

Re:It's around everywhere else, too... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39851861)

This kind of simple-minded analysis does no-one any favors.

1. Breeding isn't a one-time event.

2. Grand parents play an important role in bringing up children in a complex human societies (even pre-technology). Having living grand-parents is leads to more successful offspring with knowledge and experience passed on - up to a point when hanging around just begins to suck resource away from the next generation.

To say there's no selection pressure after breeding is idiotic.

Re:It's around everywhere else, too... (2)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 years ago | (#39851727)

Doesn't work if they procreated first.

Re:It's around everywhere else, too... (1)

abroadwin (1273704) | about 2 years ago | (#39851761)

Well... yeah. Same was true thousands of generations back when we were getting eaten by wild animals instead of hit by trucks.

Re:It's around everywhere else, too... (0)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 years ago | (#39852025)

Not as much. Many tribes had rules preventing procreation unless you proved your worth. That would thin the tribe of the genetic undesirables.

Re:It's around everywhere else, too... (4, Insightful)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 2 years ago | (#39851857)

Too many people misunderstand evolution and natural selection. There are a lot of myths and sayings that just don't fit with science. As in "humans are more evolved than cockroaches" doesn't really mean anything; or in thinking that there must be a "purpose" to all physical, mental, or social characteristics. So the very subject of this summary is just more of the same thing. The "I don't know anything about the subject but I am willing to talk about it at cocktail parties" sort of science.

Of course there is still natural selection! People still die while still being able to reproduce, thus evolution would still be occurring. Diseases have a high rate of change so humans are adapting to this. We still have wars that kill off a huge number of fertile people and which create environmental and social stress. People are moving to new environments all the time, more are in cities than before, more people are in professions where you sit all day long, nutrition is changing quite a lot, etc.

Why would anyone who knows anything about evolution think that it stops with all the variability? A more sensible question would be to ask is the rate of change slowing down or not.

Yes. (5, Insightful)

LordGr8one (1174233) | about 2 years ago | (#39851051)

Yes, we're still evolving. The things being selected for may change, but we are evolving.

Re:Yes. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 2 years ago | (#39851431)

But do we really want the traits that mean the most offspring today in "civilized" societies (I use the term loosely here) to propagate? When I look around myself and ponder who of the people I know breed like rabbits, it ain't exactly the Nobel Prize material...

Re:Yes. (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#39851543)

It is not as simple as, "whoever has the most babies wins." What evolution will do is produce ratios of geniuses to average humans that best fit the selection pressure. Our survival depends on our intelligence, or more precisely, our ability to produce the occasional genius whose intelligence will benefit everyone else.

Selection of the sexiest v survival of the fittest (5, Insightful)

Yvanhoe (564877) | about 2 years ago | (#39851087)

Survival is just one evolutionary pressure. As long as we will use inheritable criterion for choosing mating partners, evolution will continue.

Re:Selection of the sexiest v survival of the fitt (4, Insightful)

butchersong (1222796) | about 2 years ago | (#39851223)

I would say the trend is opposite of that at least in the US and Europe. Take a look at the most successful people from a biological point of view these days. It tends to be the poorest educated and least equipped to care for themselves and these aren't the pretty plastic people. These are the people that exist essentially as a dependents of the welfare state.

Re:Selection of the sexiest v survival of the fitt (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39851463)

Which is a good thing as it means that eventually they'll win out over the greedy psychopaths that have all the power.

The poorest could do better if they demanded a fair shake and with a substantial population advantage they could pretty much just refuse to give things to the upper classes. If you think about it, it's questionable as to why that hasn't already happened in the US>

Re:Selection of the sexiest v survival of the fitt (2)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about 2 years ago | (#39851729)

Go back 100 years and you'd say the same thing, except your grandparents would be part of the "poorly education and least equipped to care for themselves" section.

they ARE the fittest (5, Insightful)

poppopret (1740742) | about 2 years ago | (#39851823)

Evolution doesn't have a value system that prefers education, a comfortable life, or the ability to exist without government help. Personifying the inherently unthinking force of evolution, we might say that evolution cares about exactly one thing: the number of creatures in the Nth generation with similar DNA. Adapting to the environment is key, and note that our current environment does include government services. Fit organisms take full advantage of the environment to maximize reproduction.

Fitness can mean screwing up the birth control or deciding that God would disapprove. Fitness can mean a non-reproducing individual (gay, elderly, too ugly, whatever...) finding dates for siblings and cousins. Fitness can mean getting the kids taken away by the government (they'll survive) so that time can be focused on activities that might produce more.

It's only in a difficult environment, like Finland a few centuries ago, that fitness means the traits that most of us respect: hard work, planning ahead, faithfulness, etc. We have changed the environment, and now it will change us.

Re:Selection of the sexiest v survival of the fitt (2)

get_your_guns (1380583) | about 2 years ago | (#39851305)

More and more earth citizens are choosing sex partners than mating partners. People are having more sex but less children. Look at Japan, they do not have a sustainable birthrate. Then you have religions that force their people to have more babies so they become the majority only so their religious practices can be protected.

Re:Selection of the sexiest v survival of the fitt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39851605)

I know you probably meant Catholicism, but Islam is taking the lead in this arena in far off countries like the UK, France and Scandinavia.

Re:Selection of the sexiest v survival of the fitt (1)

icebraining (1313345) | about 2 years ago | (#39851913)

Worry not; my country is proof that you can go from "God - Homeland - Family" and heavy Church influence to "Yeah, we're Catholics, but contraception is fine (95%) and abortion shouldn't be a crime (54%)" in a few decades.

Genetic influence (1)

RichardJenkins (1362463) | about 2 years ago | (#39851095)

Is this the same as asking if their genetic makeup influences a person's chances of having kids?

Re:Genetic influence (4, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | about 2 years ago | (#39851443)

Well, if your parents were infertile, it's likely you will be as well.

Uh... wait ... something doesn't sound right here...

K-rist! (5, Informative)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 2 years ago | (#39851097)

If you have to ask the question, then you don't know what evolution is.

Re:K-rist! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39851421)

Are wasps evolving?
They've stayed the same for the past 65 million years.

Re:K-rist! (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 2 years ago | (#39851557)

First of all, I doubt that's true, and the only thing we have to tell that is the fossils, which do not give us any genetic information, so how do you imagine you could make such a bold statement?

Re:K-rist! (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 2 years ago | (#39851959)

Yes they are evolving. Maybe not into that many species but their environments do change so they will adapt. Environment isn't just weather either, it also includes diseases, the animals around them, etc). Evolution is not necessarily change from one species to another.

Intellectual Evolution (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39851099)

Now down to those that can best shape their environment to suit their needs.

Of course, we could be left with generations of Brawndo drinkers.

Re:Intellectual Evolution (2)

Opportunist (166417) | about 2 years ago | (#39851465)

Oddly, those are also the ones that don't really propagate too broadly. I mean, take a look around the super rich and powerful. Do they have more than maybe 2 kids? If that?

Evolution is not just who dies, but who reproduces (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39851111)

Of course it is. Evolution is determined by who reproduces, not (just) by who dies. Some believe evolution to actually be accelerating, as global mobility increases the mixing of genes from different populations.

Of course humanity is evolving (4, Interesting)

TheLordPhantom (2527654) | about 2 years ago | (#39851121)

Why on Earth would natural selection ever stop? That makes almost no sense. Even if people are not dying at the same rate that they once were (or even if immortality was ever discovered), the reproduction of humans are still based on selection. Perhaps selection is no longer determined by the ability to resist disease, but there are new forces controlling selection. The only way that there would be no such thing as selection, is if humans reproduction was literally, and absolutely, random. Even geography and spatial relationships could not influence reproductive partners. Obviously, human reproduction is not even remotely random, thus reproduction is still being influenced by evolution.

Duh! (4, Informative)

TrumpetPower! (190615) | about 2 years ago | (#39851131)

Considering our environment is changing at a radical pace, I'd think it obvious that we're still subject to evolutionary pressures. Now more than ever.

No, not just climate change -- that's going at a much slower pace than the change in diet, access to medical care, exercise habits, and the rest.

(What, you thought that a higher proportion of people with genetic diseases surviving to reproductive age somehow doesn't contribute to the change in allele frequency in the human gene pool?)


Re:Duh! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39851559)

How old are crocodiles?

And when does the ability of a species to effect its own environment trump the environment's evolutionary effect on the species?

Why would it ever stop? (1)

medv4380 (1604309) | about 2 years ago | (#39851159)

I know some crazy people like to claim that Humanity stopped evolving because of our technology, but only fools actually believe it. We've just be evolving to use our technology better. Unless you stop random mutation though some sort of Genetic Purity process their will always be Evolution.

Re:Why would it ever stop? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39851519)

There's that, but there's also always the possibility of a pandemic sweeping through and revealing the mutations. Just because it isn't obvious that evolution is going on or it essentially pauses for a bit, doesn't mean it isn't there.

Until humans either conquer death or master the genome evolution will continue unabated.

Re:Why would it ever stop? (1)

jandar (304267) | about 2 years ago | (#39851661)

Unless you stop random mutation though some sort of Genetic Purity process their will always be Evolution.

Mutation doesn't have to be random, just happening. It could be thru artificial gen-engineering. I think this will be the source of the next major change in humanity (if the species could still be called human).

According to Fark... (3, Funny)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 2 years ago | (#39851199)

Natural Selection is alive and well in the 21st century.
If anything, mankind's crowning achievement is the creation of a vast variety of new and innovative ways to remove ourselves from the gene pool.
Darwin would be proud

Faster Than Ever (4, Interesting)

retroworks (652802) | about 2 years ago | (#39851221)

If the death rate reduces, and population increases, then evolution will be faster than ever, as no unique DNA trait goes extinct. Of course, all bets are off in the event of nuclear war etc. catches us up in the "natural selection" department. But assuming natural variance is continuing, and if anything society protects the "differently abled", then we could spawn several new species in even fewer hundreds of millions of years than "we" did last time.

Re:Faster Than Ever (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 2 years ago | (#39851545)

Mmm... I don't know what's going to trump in the end. The higher chance of mixing due to mobility or our much later onset of propagation, often doubling the age compared to a millennium ago, essentially halving the amount of generations per time frame. I'm uncertain whether the lower birth rates will have more of an effect than our ability to keep much more variety alive (unlike the aforementioned 10th century where only people of a certain "robustness" could survive).

So whether evolution continues faster or slower than it did so far is, at least in my opinion, not really easy to decide or predict. But one thing is certain, we will continue to evolve.

I should damn well hope so. (2, Interesting)

Nemba (805178) | about 2 years ago | (#39851285)

I don't know who started spreading the idea that we're not still evolving but this needs to stop; evolutionary processes by their nature act on all living things (on earth etc. etc. etc.). If we actually thought it wasn't happening anymore then we would have to look quite seriously at the possibility that it never happened in the first place, which is clearly not true.

Um, (1)

rickb928 (945187) | about 2 years ago | (#39851299)

"Courtiol is not certain how strong natural selection is today, particularly in the developed world"

Well, I would guess it's just as strong. The criteria and effects may be hard to discern, unexpected, undesireable, or any combination of these and other conditions, but why would you think natural selection is anything but strong.

Now, if he meant to express ihis uncertainty as to how current natural selection is either improving the human race or not, and geographic distributions of these effects, well, that's the job of these researchers, should they choose to accept that assignment.

'not certain'. Sheesh, no wonder Science is held in such esteem. Is Courtiol on the verge of wondering if selection based on financial 'prowness', promiscuity, or profligate sperm donation, is 'natural', well, he's making some assumptions I won't. But clearly I am not a Scientist. I'm left with a moderate amount of rational thinking and occasional bursts of common sense. Logic is an exercise for me. Science is what I wish I could do more of.

Wikipedia as evolution driver? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39851327)

In the last few decades we have seen an increase in the value of reading ability related to the growth of the Internet.
Reading is even a skill need if one is to master the use of a smartphone.

We can leave it to the advocates of specific deities (and to some other bboard) to decide whether this is "natural selection".
Natural or not, reading ability seems valuable. And it is more valuable than recent (recorded!) history.

Is there any evidence that increased reading ability can be selected for?
Is there any evidence that reading ability IS increasing in the human population?

Hardy Weinberg equilibrium (3, Informative)

Epell (1866960) | about 2 years ago | (#39851351)

Anybody who studied introductory biology/genetics class knows that for a population to NOT evolve: 1. Mating must be completely random. 2. There must be no selection. 3. There must be no mutation. 4. There must be no migration. 5. Population size must be pseudo-infinitely large. Selection may be arguably weaker (the article argues otherwise) and population size may be big enough, but mating is obviously not random and mutation and migration still happens. Thus, humanity is evolving.

Not always for the better (5, Insightful)

Grayhand (2610049) | about 2 years ago | (#39851383)

Natural selection doesn't mean what most think. Fertility rates among the more intelligent members of society have dropped like a rock while birth rates are still high among the lower third. It can be argued that intelligence is a poor survival trait. Social factors create a form of evolution even if environmental ones are largely removed. What is seen as attractive socially is influx so evolutionary pressures created by society is also in flux. We aren't environmentally adapting so much as socially adapting. If society collapses the downside is it may leave us poor candidates to survive our environment.

Re:Not always for the better (1)

roeguard (1113267) | about 2 years ago | (#39851739)

Fertility rates among the more educated members of society have dropped like a rock while birth rates are still high among the lower third. It can be argued that education is a poor survival trait.

I think its important to point out that it isn't intelligence that is being selected against -- there are plenty of intelligent (albeit ignorant) people breeding up a storm.

It bothers me tremendously that this is the case. I believe the following to be true:
1) Natural Selection / Evolution are true, and select for "better" traits over "worse" ones.
2) Knowledge is power, and Education is a good thing.

So when I see what appears to be a selection against education in birth rates, my conclusion is that something about our educational system is broken. I don't know what that is specifically, but I'm not really open to challenging the above 2 assumptions right now. Maybe that makes me ignorant?

Re:Not always for the better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39851745)

we need someone to serve us burgers.

minor correction (1)

poppopret (1740742) | about 2 years ago | (#39851909)

RATIONAL AND PLANNING intelligence is a poor survival trait IN THE CURRENT ENVIRONMENT

Other types of thinking, such as recognition of social cues, are most likely still survival traits. Rational and planning intelligence are great survival traits in certain other environments, such as Finland a few centuries ago.

Re:Not always for the better (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 2 years ago | (#39851919)

It can be argued that intelligence is a poor survival trait.

- but it doesn't really matter to us, does it, we aren't as smart as we could be ;)

Seriously, outside of purely academic, what difference does it make today to anybody if something like Idiocracy comes true or not in the next 500 years? Actually it's possible to make a ton of money scaring the population into believing something and selling them something to 'fix' the perceived problem.

Backwards perhaps... (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | about 2 years ago | (#39851385)

Just look at the buffoons in our current congress and state legislatures, and the oblivious masses living on bread and circuses, and I would say that perhaps we are now naturally deselecting.

Re:Backwards perhaps... (0)

lordmetroid (708723) | about 2 years ago | (#39851517)

These masses you are talking about, you probably knew them, they are you, me and our present and past friends. The myth of the sheeple is highly over exagerated.

Of course we bloody are. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39851417)

Anyone thinking otherwise is a complete moron who doesn't understand the very basics of biology itself.

In a bunch of generations in a future time, we will notice a huge difference in the way that humans deal with fat and sugars, and salt.
How to deal with our increasingly stressful lives, our increasingly seated lives.

And that's if we haven't decided to self-evolve as a species.

Combined with the fact that the human race is now a global species that can exist almost anywhere within a day, interracial DNA mixtures are causing havoc with DNA. (in a good way)
These people who dive in the deep end are going against what was once a basic survival instinct to stay away from those "not like our own" and told it to get lost because it isn't required in society anymore.
We are living in completely new areas all around the world, from the highest points to the hottest points.
We already know people living high up in mountains evolved to have more spider-web like vein structures to get oxygen around the body easier, but equally it also causes a very terrible illness if things go wrong.
The variety in the global gene pool right now is larger than ever, and continues to grow every year.

If evolution were to stop, there'd be countless millions more people dying every year, per year, because they couldn't adapt.

Whatever produces more grandchildren ... (4, Interesting)

Alain Williams (2972) | about 2 years ago | (#39851437)

some people have more grandchildren than others - evolution favours those people. Some ''traditional'' pressures physical are not so important (eg: resistance to polio, the ability to run fast & catch a meal, ...) others have become more important (ability to live while grossly overweight).

The mental pressures (ie differences) are often overlooked, eg: ability to produce lots of kids in a high pressure urban environment. Good mental ability seems selected against: those with good education tend to have fewer kids. The need to feel to work hard to produce much needed food for the family is not important, the ''social'' will provide the food if you don't; in fact since (in countries like the UK) the more kids you have the more money you have thrown at you: I fear that we are breeding people who are ignorant and don't work.

I expect to get flamed for the above: unfortunately the numbers seem to support my thesis.

Re:Whatever produces more grandchildren ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39851539)

A in depth study of this is at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0387808/

Why all these question headlines? (3, Insightful)

Galestar (1473827) | about 2 years ago | (#39851449)

3rd time this week

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betteridge's_Law_of_Headlines [wikipedia.org]

Betteridge's Law of Headlines is an adage that states, "Any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word 'no'".

Re:Why all these question headlines? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39851877)

unfortunate then that in this case the answer is a definite "yes"

as was put more succinctly above, "if you have to ask the question, you don't understand evolution"

Re:Why all these question headlines? (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about 2 years ago | (#39851967)

Betteridge's Law of Headlines is an adage that states, "Any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word 'no'".

Let's try that out with some current CNN headlines.

Gergen: Bin Laden death overplayed? "No."
Cafferty: Do you fear another Bush? "No."
How will the BCS be replaced? "No".
Self-defense or murder? "No."
Women: What's driving your vote? "No."
UPDATE: Where in the world ... ? "No."
Is al Qaeda on its last legs? "Yes."

Re:Why all these question headlines? (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about 2 years ago | (#39852021)

Damn, I stopped too soon.

What is male menopause? "Nooooo!"
Is it time for a new joint? "No.. actually yeah, if you've got one."

Everybody is evolving, except Clarence. (obl.) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39851515)

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas admits he isn't evolving: "I ain't evolving."

We will likely self-evolve extremely rapidly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39851527)

starting sometime later in this century or early 22nd. Regardless of ethical concerns, human self-engineering is bound to happen. And multiple humanoid species are inevitable. (Racism may finally disappear, but probably, to be taken over by other types of discrimination).

There you go... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39851553)

...with that faggy talk again. [Idiocracy]

really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39851595)

Is humanity still evolving; if that is not true, does that mean that humanity is not evolving? That it has reached it's peak?
That evolution is been there, done that, with it? No more chances, that is it? No more future, the future was what the present has been?

Oh please.

Well of course we are (4, Interesting)

Weaselmancer (533834) | about 2 years ago | (#39851655)

Just because today's evolutionary pressures are harder to define, it doesn't mean they are not there. For instance, natural selection will favor people with fast reflexes and better depth perception because most of us drive cars. College graduates are favored because they typically get higher paying jobs and therefore better healthcare.

Keep looking. Evolution isn't done with us yet.

I also have a sneaking suspicion that Autism/Aspergers is partially a function of evolutionary response to a technological lifestyle rather than an agricultural one. Name another genetic disease [wired.com] that occasionally provides benefits. [computerworld.co.nz] I'll betcha Autism spectrum disorders are nothing more than Mother Nature trying out new ideas for human brain version X+1, currently in beta and still a little buggy.

Morons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39851663)

Goldfish overeat and die if too much food is present. The fastest die first. That is evolution. Man's idea of evolution is IQ. Purebred dogs are deaf. Bible says to shepherd rightly, you kill the fittest. Genetic diversity of gene pool means something. Bible says "we are all members of the body of christ, foot is not more important than asshole." Don't worry about how dumb the foot is.

God puppets me down to nanosecond and up to macro timescales. God controls who marries--meets at college--and what mutations happen at conception.

God says...

from his breast; the prisoner chancing to
look up in his hurried wonder as he wrote, the hand stopped, closing
upon something.

"Have you written `forget them'?" Carton asked.

"I have. Is that a weapon in your hand?"

"No; I am not armed."

"What is it in your hand?"

"You shall know directly. Write on; there are but a few words more."
He dictated again. "`I am thankful that the time has come, when I
can prove them. That I do so is no subject for regret or grief.'"
As he said these word

Over Generalisation (1)

LordLucless (582312) | about 2 years ago | (#39851705)

The finding comes from an analysis of the birth, death, and marital records of 5923 people born between 1760 and 1849 in four farming or fishing villages in Finland

So the headline might better have been "Was humanity still evolving 250 years ago in Finland?"

From TFA:
"Almost half of the people died before age 15, for example, suggesting that they had traits disfavored by natural selection, such as susceptibility to disease."
"the variation in the number of offspring—from zero to 17—indicates there was a large opportunity for selection to occur. "

So at least two of the properties they observed in the study from a fishing village 250 years ago in Finland are not mirrored in developed nations today.

Living fossils (1)

onebeaumond (1230624) | about 2 years ago | (#39851751)

are actually fairly common. If a particular species' environment doesn't change much over time, then "natural selection" is pretty much done with them. The article's points about juvenile death rates and mate selection are interesting, but would like to see a better description of evolutionary pressure, in order to agree that evolution could still be at work.

actually mankind marks an intersection (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 2 years ago | (#39851777)

the intersection where genetic evolution, while continuing, has become less important than the new and more important kind of evolution: memetic evolution

the words we say and the ideas we have now shape the world more than the genes we carry

genetic evolution is not over, it's just passe

memetic evolution is the new more important story on this planet

Sensationalist article (1)

postglock (917809) | about 2 years ago | (#39851869)

What a ridiculously sensationalist article! From TFA: "the researchers could not tell which traits were being selected for". So basically the results are that some people reproduced and some did not. Hence we infer that some were genetically predisposed to be fitter, whether through resistance to disease or sexual attractiveness or something else. Well, isn't that obvious? I'm sure this still happens today!

Re:Sensationalist article (1)

sugarmotor (621907) | about 2 years ago | (#39852027)

Thanks for pointing that out; had overlooked that for my reply.

However, it would be good to check with the original report.

Yes and no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39851901)

Humans are evolving but humanity is devolving.

Healthcare is driving evolution now (1)

Frans Faase (648933) | about 2 years ago | (#39851935)

An important factor in the current evolution of mankind is improved healthcare. Now that healthcare is improved, many more people survive their childhood, which actually mean that we as a species are becoming weaker and weaker. It seems that intelligence is a negative selection factor, because people with a high intelligence tend to have less children (or non at all) than people with an average intelligence. When healthcare improves even further, the effects may become even stronger. Who knows in 200 years we will not be able to walk anymore and all sitting in personal cars for most of our lives.

Are we not men? DEVO (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39851943)

They tell us that we lost our tails evolving up from little snails. I say it's all just wind in sails.

Natural Selection May Actually Not Be With Us (1)

sugarmotor (621907) | about 2 years ago | (#39851981)

The science-mag article says "the variation in the number of offspring—from zero to 17—indicates there was a large opportunity for selection to occur."

However, whether this "opportunity" resulted in any actual change is not mentioned. For example, if they found some feature change that correlated with the number of offspring, then you might say that is evidence that evolution is happening, but even only then if the correlation corresponds to some environmental pressures. Do they have statistics about traits at the beginning of their study period, and comparison with the statistics at the end?

Does the report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences have more details? Can't access it.

Fun: "The authors declare no conflict of interest." see http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/04/24/1118174109.abstract [pnas.org]


Survival of the fittest (1)

spudnic (32107) | about 2 years ago | (#39851983)

If evolution had its way I would have been dead a long time ago. Fortunately for me I have great corrective lenses so I can see the lions trying to kill me.

Take that, evolution! I may even procreate!

No. Definitely not. (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 2 years ago | (#39852029)

Evolution ! bah! It is so last billion years ago. We have already peaked and we are well on to devolution. Want evidence? If you are a Dem (or Rep) in USA, Rep (or Dem) in USA is all the evidence you need.
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