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Humans Evolving Faster Than Ever

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the nerdrage-in-three-two-one dept.

Earth 253

Kwyj1b0 writes "In a massive study on genetic variation among humans, researchers found that most changes have occurred in the last 200 generations, too fast for natural selection to catch up. Recent papers show that rare genetic variations have a more drastic effect than previously believed. Another result shows that 'we carry a much larger load of deleterious variants' (as well as positive variants) than our ancestors 200 generations ago."

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first (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42153001)

trolololol

This this not evolution (5, Insightful)

Ubi_NL (313657) | about 2 years ago | (#42153003)

Acquisition of mutations is not evolution. Evolution is the combination of variations AND selection of those traits that increase fitness. The fact that we only acquire more genetic mutations means that selectionhas gone down and evolution with it. The simple explanation is that healt care enabled us to cheat on selection.

Re:This this not evolution (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42153023)

Well, at least until December 21...

Re:This this not evolution (3, Funny)

Johann Lau (1040920) | about 2 years ago | (#42153479)

Well, that would not be necessary, Mr. President. It could easily be accomplished with a computer. And a computer could be set and programmed to accept factors from youth, health, sexual fertility, intelligence, and a cross-section of necessary skills. Of course, it would be absolutely vital that our top government and military men be included to foster and impart the required principles of leadership and tradition. Naturally, they would breed prodigiously, eh? There would be much time, and little to do. Ha, ha.

Re:This this not evolution (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42153033)

Evolution is change in allele frequencies over generations in a population. Introduction of a new allele does that just as much as selection for an existing allele. Your overly narrow definition excludes genetic drift from being considered evolution.

Re:This this not evolution (3, Insightful)

Ubi_NL (313657) | about 2 years ago | (#42153053)

According to your definition any genetic alteration is evolution (indluding being exposed to gamma sources). But then you bring genetic drift as an example, which is strange as genetic drift is not an increase in variation, but a SELECTION of a specific allele within a pool, resulting in increased frequency.

Re:This this not evolution (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42153093)

Any HERITABLE variation, yes. Genetic drift and selection are different things. Drift is random, selection is non-random.

Re:This this not evolution (2, Insightful)

Ubi_NL (313657) | about 2 years ago | (#42153119)

But even if you define genetic drift as change in variation due to random sampling, there STILL is selection, just not a biased selection. You refer to bottle-neck populations such as pioneers or disaster survivors. That is however not what tfa is about.

If you wish to continue this discussion stop posting as ac, as i will no longer read these posts

Re:This this not evolution (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42153393)

Fuck you, you pompous cheesehead asshole.

Re:This this not evolution (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42153061)

This this not evolution

I I agree. You you are correct. Meesa meesa not evolution.

Re:This this not evolution (1)

michelcolman (1208008) | about 2 years ago | (#42153577)

OK, if you define evolution as "things are changing", then there's lots of evolution. But if you define it as "things are changing for the better" then no, we're definitely going the wrong way.

I don't care which definition is correct, as long as we understand what's really happening.

Re:This this not evolution (2, Interesting)

Ubi_NL (313657) | about 2 years ago | (#42153065)

I should add that selection based on culture (love, pre-arranged weddings etc) rather than fitness also does not help evolution.

Re:This this not evolution (5, Insightful)

Fallingcow (213461) | about 2 years ago | (#42153113)

What does "help" mean, in an evolutionary context?

Seems to me that culture is just another factor to which an organism may, over generations, adapt.

Re:This this not evolution (1, Interesting)

Ubi_NL (313657) | about 2 years ago | (#42153165)

So is fabrication of fire arms, but both are not evolution in theway we have defined the term evolution.

Re:This this not evolution (4, Insightful)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#42153407)

Evolution can occur on things that aren't coded in DNA. Software, for example.

Dawkins, memes. Does that ring a bell?

Re:This this not evolution (2)

tempmpi (233132) | about 2 years ago | (#42153509)

Evolution can occur on things that are not coded in DNA, but Software is mostly "intelligent design" not evolution. Software engineering does not introduce random mutations into the Software and then selects the mutations that made a the Software a little bit more useable, but instead it introduces more or less intelligent changes that are believed to increase the fitness of the software for the given tasks.

Re:This this not evolution (4, Informative)

dvice_null (981029) | about 2 years ago | (#42153783)

> Software engineering does not introduce random mutations into the Software and then selects the mutations that made a the Software a little bit more useable

I think the he was talking about evolutionary algorithms: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionary_algorithm [wikipedia.org]

Re:This this not evolution (5, Informative)

binarstu (720435) | about 2 years ago | (#42153133)

The parent is simply wrong. Acquisition of mutations most certainly is evolution, and evolution does not require natural selection.

Natural selection is one mechanism of evolution, but not the only one, and evolution does not have to increase fitness. Ever since the "modern evolutionary synthesis," evolution is often defined as the change of allele frequencies in a population over time. Such change might be due to natural selection, or it might be due to other non-selective forces, such as genetic drift. To say that again, natural selection is not required for evolution. Introduction of new alleles due to mutations, random fixation or loss of alleles due to genetic drift, changes in allele frequencies due to population bottleneck events, and so on, all can cause evolution without natural selection.

Wikipedia has more information about natural selection and non-selective factors contributing to evolutionary change [wikipedia.org] .

Re:This this not evolution (5, Insightful)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 2 years ago | (#42153153)

Wrong.

Humans are still reproducing, surviving and dying. Traits are still selected. They're just different traits than the ones that would have been selected if humanity were still living in caves. The fitness function has been loosened, and the net is cast wider now - instead of mutations having to benefit (or not adversely affect) the immediate survival of the individual, there is more room for variety.

A species with a secured infrastructure can afford to gamble on outliers, who would not have survived prior to modern technology. Those gambles can pay off big-time. [wikipedia.org] The absence of an outdated pre-civilization fitness function killing everyone with motor paralysis is what allows our species to benefit from a genius with motor paralysis.

Re:This this not evolution (3, Insightful)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about 2 years ago | (#42153235)

And this, good Sir, should end all the "idiocracy" bullshit. It won't, but it should. I wouldn't necessarily say that the fitness function has been loosened, though - only if you look at the physical aspects of it. Social aspects, sexual selection etc. are probably getting more important, the more the physical aspects are getting lost.

Re:This this not evolution (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#42153435)

And this, good Sir, should end all the "idiocracy" bullshit. It won't, but it should.

Why?

Re:This this not evolution (2)

feepness (543479) | about 2 years ago | (#42153441)

If you're looking at sexual and social selection characteristics, the peacock is an example that I do not find compelling as a direction for our species.

Re:This this not evolution (4, Interesting)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 years ago | (#42153801)

At least the peacock is natural. We're looking at selecting for things which are acquired through surgery and hair extensions, i.e. things bought with money. That's pretty much the same as selecting for shallow self-centeredness.

Re:This this not evolution (4, Interesting)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 2 years ago | (#42153451)

Idiocracy could happen, but not necessarily due to biology. It's always possible to have a moron revolution that sticks. We nearly had an asshole revolution in the 40s. The dark ages we're basically idiocracy.

Re:This this not evolution (1, Funny)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 2 years ago | (#42153461)

Damn iPad changed my were to we're.

Now see, in my defense I got my iPad for free as a gift. But many people worship these. What if that worship grows?

Re:This this not evolution (0)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 2 years ago | (#42153811)

And this, good Sir, should end all the "idiocracy" bullshit. It won't, but it should

+1

Re:This this not evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42153427)

Evolution proceeds quickly when the fitness function is both tight, and centred on something other than the species' current genotype - for example, just after an abrupt change in the environment. The fitness function is now, as you say, looser in terms of the traits which have historically important (strength, speed, eyesight etc. are less important with modern technology and medicine). Has it tightened in other respects: are new traits, historically unimportant, but useful in modern times, now being selected for? Possibly...

You cite Stephen Hawking as an example, and you're correct that our species has benefited from him in a way that would have been impossible before modern medicine. But as an example of evolution, he's terrible. Evolution doesn't occur at a species level, with one species competing against another - it occurs as competition between individuals (or, if you want to get really technical, between genes). Stephen Hawking has three children, which is slightly below the average for humanity: despite his intelligence, he's being outcompeted in a genetic sense by most of the rest of the species.

Re:This this not evolution (2)

rtb61 (674572) | about 2 years ago | (#42153671)

Almost but not quite right. Think of evolution over time cutting from the bottom rather than adding to the top. As long as they can achieve breeding age and it is repeated in the next generation, no matter how badly equipped they are, they will continue to affect the evolutionary pool.

With humanity there is of course something far more important, as a social species, social evolution counts far more than individual evolution. How as a species we co-operatively survive and reproduce to our mutual advantage. So the most logical next advancement in human evolution is more effective social co-operation, a more effective shared consciousness. Of course in physical terms it will also mean how much worse we become and still survive.

So for example genius is valueless unless the genius is socially shared and the more effective the sharing the more competitive the society becomes. FOSS software is a very good example of social evolution, substituting software code for genetic code.

Re:This this not evolution (1)

Chrontius (654879) | about 2 years ago | (#42153253)

Evolution at the neutral rate is still evolution.

On the other hand, it looks like we may have seriously lowballed our estimates of the neutral rate of evolution.

Re:This this not evolution (1)

WaffleMonster (969671) | about 2 years ago | (#42153259)

The simple explanation is that healt care enabled us to cheat on selection.

What health care was there 200 generations ago?

Re:This this not evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42153387)

Incredibly good health care compared compared to the health care available for non-domesticated animals that have none whatsoever.

Re:This this not evolution (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#42153449)

Bloodletting & arsenic? Seems doctors were more likely to do harm than good.

It'd have been better to just let nature take its course.

Re:This this not evolution (2)

Jedi Alec (258881) | about 2 years ago | (#42153531)

Knowledge of plants that reduced fevers and fought infections, which kinds of food to ingest etc.

Just because our ancestors didn't know *why* something worked didn't mean they didn't experiment and observe.

Re:This this not evolution (2)

TheLink (130905) | about 2 years ago | (#42153643)

There was some healthcare. Wine, honey, oil, herbs, poultices, etc. But I'd say War and Agriculture was also around 200 generations ago. Agriculture allowed larger numbers of people, storage and supply of food and thus larger scale War. And War applied a fair bit of selection pressure to those numbers of people.

Maybe one more reason why humans can run for so long is because of War. Your genes are more likely to stick around if you can run till the sun sets then hide or run so more so the victors have even more difficulty finding and killing you.

Your genes are also more likely to stick around if you conquered cities, killed all the males, children and bred with the desirable females[1].

[1] Which was a common practice in those days - people may blame that on the Bible but the Bible just imposed some additional regulations on War. Prohibiting War would just mean getting wiped out. Prohibiting the common War-time practice of killing people and enslaving them would mean keeping the defeated around despite not having the resources to support them AND not being able to take advantage of their resources. That was often not viable in those days - no agricultural or industrial revolution, the defeated would also wait for the opportunity to wipe you out. There was no revolution in firepower that would allow a few armed soldiers to keep very many farmers subdued.

Re:This this not evolution (5, Insightful)

Qbertino (265505) | about 2 years ago | (#42153751)

What health care was there 200 generations ago?

Pretty good healthcare in some parts of the world. Arabia and parts of the Byzantine Era, for instance, were a high culture more than a thousand years ago with complete health care coverage and other public services. Including stuff you'd have considered high-tech right up to magical in other parts of the world. Water clocks, aquaeducts, mechanical devices, sophisticated smithery and metal working, a school system, superiour math, accounting and efficiency measurement techniques, etc. As for the public healthcare, there are written acounts of people being thrown out of hospitals because they were still enjoying the pampering even though they were well again.

Which, on a sidenote, goes to show how things go down the drain once religious fanatics take over.

Re:This this not evolution (0)

jellomizer (103300) | about 2 years ago | (#42153327)

Evolution doesn't always increase fitness it is random. It is a combination of generics, mutations, and the environment.
Now all we need to be is lucky enough to live long enough have offspring, who can live long enough to have their own.
There are many different ways this is done.
For some animals they lay thousands of eggs and die. With all those eggs chances are enough of them will survive to redo the process.
Humans need to live long enough to raise the children so they can survive and they only give off a small number.

The environment is one of the factors that usually kills us off. 200 generations that sounds like the dawn of civilizations, where we started plans to hedge our bets against environmental problems. Keep warm in the winter, move water around and save it for later, harvest food and store them for later...
So right now we have more genetic diversity. Because we made the environment easier on us.

Evolution is in play, right now there are a lot of variations in case of disaster there will be a better chance that there will be a good portion of the population who can survive it. and the wider diversity the greater number of disasters we can handle.

Re:This this not evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42153357)

I think I say this for everyone when I point out this one very significant point:
2 0 0 g e n e r a t i o n s.

Medicine wasn't even a word back then. Hell, English never even existed then!

Re:This this not evolution (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42153437)

Wrong. Even 4000 years ago surgery has been performed - and the patients survived.
There is proof that craniums had been cut open to help people in old Egypt without killing them. (the same is done today!)

Re:This this not evolution (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#42153525)

Wrong. Even 4000 years ago surgery has been performed - and some of the patients survived.

FTFY.

It'd be interesting to know how many butchery victims (I mean surgery patients) died of infection or other complications and how many untreated people recovered spontaneously.

Re:This this not evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42153557)

Desinfection has been performed since 800 BC.

The oldest reference to disinfection of premises with a chemical product seems to be that described in 800 BC by Homer in book XII of the Odyssey, where the hero, having killed his rivals, demanded that sulphur be burnt in the house which they had occupied. See : BLOCK S.S. (ed.) (1991). - Disinfection, sterilization, and preservation, 4th Ed. Lea & Febiger, Philadelphia & London, 1,162 pp

Re:This this not evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42153617)

I once saw in a TV report that medicinemen were just using cooking water to sterilize their knifes. Simple and effective

Re:This this not evolution (2)

Kerstyun (832278) | about 2 years ago | (#42153487)

How could english exist befor the world was craeted?

Re:This this not evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42153793)

Everyone knows that God speaks English. The Holy Bible (which was written in English) is a proof of this.

Re:This this not evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42153815)

You have not experienced the Bible until you have read it in the original Klingon

Re:This this not evolution (1)

craigminah (1885846) | about 2 years ago | (#42153697)

That's what I was going to say. I've read similar stories on BigThink about how humans are "evolving" but it's hard to evolve until some form of stress is placed on humankind which enables a mutation to benefit the holder of said mutation.

Re:This this not evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42153777)

Explains the peanut-allergic people as their genetic composition would normally be treated as an undesirable mutation and they'd all die or adapt to the environment. The sooner humans die off the better for the planet.

My ex (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42153007)

"we carry a much larger load of deleterious variants"

My ex wife is finally explained!

Re:My ex (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42153083)

. . . says the fat, unevolved Slashdotter in his basement

Re:My ex (1)

akeeneye (1788292) | about 2 years ago | (#42153311)

He said he had a wife, which casts doubt on your speculations. Current Slashdot theory holds that participants ARE indeed wankers in the basement, WoW glowing on the screen, surrounded by greasy old pizza boxes and assorted filth. Relationships with the opposite hand would strain the theory (it would show initiative) but relationships with the opposite sex would shatter it, as there is no known mechanism for the introduction of mating females into such habitats. That said, it's possible that he became a Slashdotter post-marriage.

You don't supppose, do you... (1)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | about 2 years ago | (#42153009)

...that it's because in the last 200 years humans have had to live with exposure to chemicals that no life, not even our single-celled ancestors, had to evolve in the presence of... so now we don't have the tools in our genetic toolkit to deal with the effects of those substances that are completely alien to this particular Earth-bound strain of life?

Just a thought.

Re:You don't supppose, do you... (2)

pjt33 (739471) | about 2 years ago | (#42153025)

200 generations, not 200 years. The difference is a factor of 20 or so.

Re:You don't supppose, do you... (5, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#42153537)

200 generations, not 200 years. The difference is a factor of 20 or so.

It's left as an exercise for the reader to make a joke about Pakistan, Utah or Rotherham.

Re:You don't supppose, do you... (1)

Nrrqshrr (1879148) | about 2 years ago | (#42153629)

A mod point! A mod point! My reply, for a mod point.

Re:You don't supppose, do you... (0)

DerPflanz (525793) | about 2 years ago | (#42153039)

200 generations, not years. With an average of three generations per 100 years, that accounts to roughly 7500 years, which is basically "modern man" in terms of evolution.

Re:You don't supppose, do you... (2)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 2 years ago | (#42153195)

7500 years, which is basically "modern man" in terms of evolution

We're a young species, but not quite that young. In anatomical terms, ~250,000 years seems to be about the line for "modern" as far as we can tell from fossil evidence. This looks more like a function of agriculture than anything; our hunter-gatherer ancestors may in fact have been healthier in most respects than their descendants, but they couldn't sustain anything like the population density farmers can.

Re:You don't supppose, do you... (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about 2 years ago | (#42153257)

The point still stands. We've developed a lot of things in 8000 years. The Bronze Age began about 5000 years ago, at which point man was exposed to industrial pollution for the first time.

Re:You don't supppose, do you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42153073)

Note that the OP is referring to 200 generations, not 200 years. That would go back to early in ancient Egyptian times. The nastiest substance around was probably crocodile dung.

Medicine? (1)

Kergan (780543) | about 2 years ago | (#42153027)

Any odds that, instead of or in addition to the rate of mutation going faster, the survival rate has also increased over the same period?

It's "Survival of the Fit-enough"... (1)

DontScotty (978874) | about 2 years ago | (#42153035)

It's "Survival of the Fit-enough"... no longer "survival of the fittest".

With medical technology - babies that would have died lived on. They had families of their own. Thus, passing along 'defects'/'evolutions' which would have died out as those babies would not have made it to a reproduction age.

Doomed by our technology which was designed to save us.

Re:It's "Survival of the Fit-enough"... (4, Insightful)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 2 years ago | (#42153091)

All those babies surviving is something of the last five, maybe ten generations at most. And that's in the Western world. TFA is talking about 200 generations.

Re:It's "Survival of the Fit-enough"... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42153121)

Actually, this is how evolution works, so "Survival of the Fittest" is still applicable. If the current environment allows those individuals to reproduce and pass on those traits, they are the most fit. We will be a bunch of fat-ass couch potatoes eating chips watching CSI-dancing with the honey boo boo. Just as if the weather turns bad and only gingers can survive, then they are the most fit. Evolution does not care how the fittest are created, whether by man made environments or by natural influences. My favorite story is the American Indians who believed that albinos were unfit. The Albino Indians were considered inferior and were left behind when the warriors went on hunts for meat. Of course being left behind meant they were left with the women to procreate which meant more albinos. In this case the albinos were more fit and evolution favored them. Perhaps you do not so much believe in evolution as you do as creating a master race? I doubt I need to tell you where that leads.

Re:It's "Survival of the Fit-enough"... (5, Interesting)

flonker (526111) | about 2 years ago | (#42153149)

The frightening aspect of this is that population may expand its genetic diversity to fill the 'fit enough" gene pool. Then it will overflow the "fit enough" gene pool by creating mutations that can't survive even with health care, bringing survival back down, albeit with increased genetic variety such that many can't survive without constant medical treatment.

That is to say, we will evolve to require medical treatment.

Re:It's "Survival of the Fit-enough"... (4, Interesting)

Chrontius (654879) | about 2 years ago | (#42153283)

That's okay. In about a generation, everyone will be cyborgs anyway [wired.com] . Seriously, Intel plans on shipping 14 nanometer chips in 2013; 5 nanometer processes are under development already, and at that point we can start seriously thinking about using the 5nm process to make machines to make utility fog [wikipedia.org] .

Your natural body is just a device for building a brain and a pair of gonads, at that point, and selective pressures only work on it in this scenario are those that render cyborg-you sterile, destroy your brain before it can be transplanted into a cyberbody, or make you better able to talk a partner into raising a family with you.

Re:It's "Survival of the Fit-enough"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42153359)

The frightening aspect of this is that population may expand its genetic diversity to fill the 'fit enough" gene pool.

If your going to evolve something sufficiently complex the fallback objective function (death) can't be the only mechanism for progress. It can be useful to weed out failure but there must be other mechanisms that would have evolved from the objective function very early on.

That is to say, we will evolve to require medical treatment.

Unless you happen to be a nutcase the answer is to test for conditions and abort fetus which you know would just end up living short lives in agony.

In terms of the next 200 generations I would be more worried about consequences of growing trend for women opting to delay pregnancy.

Re:It's "Survival of the Fit-enough"... (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about 2 years ago | (#42153819)

Not necessarily. You can keep people alive while at the same time ban them from breeding.

Re:It's "Survival of the Fit-enough"... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42153185)

"Exactly! We are doomed by the survival of the degenerates and lesser races. If there were only more people who understood this problem like you and I do, then we could have solved this problem decades ago."

-Uncle Adolf

Re:It's "Survival of the Fit-enough"... (3, Insightful)

imidan (559239) | about 2 years ago | (#42153251)

Nonsense. Survival of the fittest is still occurring, it's just that the fitness criteria have changed. As you say, "babies that would have died lived on" -- but mostly that happens for those parents who have either the money or the health insurance (and the medical facilities) to deal with what would previously have been an "unfit" baby. Natural selection continues through societal means: the costs of birthing and raising viable children are inversely proportional to the health of the baby; children with difficulties are more expensive to raise.

There is still selection pressure, but in developed countries it's coming more from societal sources than from environmental sources. And the societal pressure isn't so worried about things like good eyesight or height, or those sort of physiological characteristics; it's about access to health care (whether that comes from parents with money or states with social safety nets).

And I would argue that even though humans are in charge of the programs and policies that affect these new fitness criteria, they are still fitness criteria because they are being applied to populations, rather than to individuals (except in very special and statistically insignificant cases). So, survival of the fittest is still alive and well, and being implemented inadvertently by human policy.

Mathematical dickwaving is exponentially annoying (0)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#42153561)

the costs of birthing and raising viable children are inversely proportional to the health of the baby

So C = K/H, where C is the cost, k is a constant and h is the health of the baby.

1) What units is H in? (10 marks)

2) Taking into account your previous answer, when C is in inflation adjusted New Zealand dollars what is the value of K? (15i marks)

Re:It's "Survival of the Fit-enough"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42153303)

With medical technology - babies that would have died lived on. They had families of their own. Thus, passing along 'defects'/'evolutions' which would have died out as those babies would not have made it to a reproduction age.

Makes sense... when atlantis finally sunk all of this magical technology of which ye speak must have gone with her.

We are the Fittest (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42153063)

Intelligence, technological capability, social abilities, and economic abilities are the traits being selected. They allow us to survive past our "natural" lifespans and allow us to breed when we would otherwise be unable to breed (e.g. fertility treatments). Whether these traits will remain selected rests entirely on us. We basically have traits and abilities that *may* allow us to transcend evolution, but the jury is still out on that one.

If we are unable to modify our own genetics in order to survive into the future, we are less capable of surviving at all thanks to the intelligence mutations...

That may be temporarily true, (2)

brad3378 (155304) | about 2 years ago | (#42153087)

....but I think we all know where evolution is headed [moufies.com] .

Re:That may be temporarily true, (1)

Chrontius (654879) | about 2 years ago | (#42153297)

I beg to differ. [topatoco.com]

And if enough people here like it, they might reprint that shirt. ;)

Well, Duh! (0)

BlueStrat (756137) | about 2 years ago | (#42153069)

Another result shows that 'we carry a much larger load of deleterious variants' (as well as positive variants) than our ancestors 200 generations ago."

Anyone who is familiar with and has read some of the comments on Slashdot could've told you *that*! Hell, "Idiocracy" is a documentary film!

Did someone actually pay these people for this "research"?

A Dire Straights song comes to mind. No, it's not "Sultans of Swing".

Strat

Re:Well, Duh! (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 2 years ago | (#42153163)

Well, your post certainly provides evidence for your thesis, but further study is probably needed.

Re:Well, Duh! (1)

deimtee (762122) | about 2 years ago | (#42153263)

A Dire Straights song comes to mind. No, it's not "Sultans of Swing".

Was it "Industrial Disease" ?

That's racist! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42153129)

This whole thread.

intelligent design wins !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42153145)

Hooray

Not the humans I know.... (1)

tokencode (1952944) | about 2 years ago | (#42153167)

This study obviously did not include most of the humans I encounter on a daily basis.

Times of plenty (5, Insightful)

chrisjbuck (950790) | about 2 years ago | (#42153203)

I think population dynamics show that in times of plenty (little natural selection, abundant food) populations explode, what the human population has been doing the last 100+ years. It's the spring that doesn't come or massive outbreak of disease or new dominant predator that culls the population, when that selection occurs the random genetic variations may give rise to competitive advantages. It is only after the population goes through the selection event that any mutations that proved advantageous will spread right through the population, then the population has evolved. Before the selection event the population is just randomly diverging.

Re:Times of plenty (1)

Chrontius (654879) | about 2 years ago | (#42153321)

Technically the "randomly diverging" is also evolution, but the parent is for the most part spot-on and I'm too tired to write this sort of thing at 4:44 AM. Instead, please enjoy the benefits of my karma; had I mod points, you'd have gotten an "insightful" from me.

Actually, I am a biologist.

Mods, please do me a favor and add some "insightful"?

Re:Times of plenty (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42153803)

Yet we keep propping up impoverished countries rather than allowing the genetically-inferior and intellectually-inferior to die off for the benefit of the greater good of humanity and the planet. If after 3 decades of intervention the continent of Africa, the acknowledged birthplace of the human race, cannot pull itself up from the tribal and prehistoric background maybe it is time to close the gate once and for all.

True! (5, Insightful)

rew (6140) | about 2 years ago | (#42153221)

Absolutely true!

Evolution works that way: In good times, a big population is generated that has great genetic variety. When bad times come along, the bad genetic variations will be removed from the population.

Suppose for instance that suddenly tomorrow all oaktrees had pollen that is deadly to most humans. The genetic variations builtup over the last 200 years might have provided a (possibly small) percentage of the population that is resistant to the deadly pollen. The result would be that a small group survives and starts working on a new gene-pool.

Yes, genetically we have been living in "good times" the last generations. More and more "slight defects" in the genetic pool are able to survive into mature ages.

A friend is totally colorblind. A genetic disadvantage, you'd say? Nope, his "grayvision" is a LOT better than that of most of us. Apparently he can spot camouflaged army-material from way further away than us normal people. When suddenly THAT becomes a winning trait (i.e. those that don't have it die), his descendants will form a larger part of the population.

This expansion of the gene pool also allows for combinations. Suppose the guy with the super-vision marries the gal with the super hearing?

Re:True! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42153369)

Wrong.
As Said in another post, that's 200 generations, not years. Big difference. It makes about 7500 years and your entire post goes down to the toilet.
And if colorblind was an advantage by those 7500 years we would all have been colorblind as well...

Re:True! (1)

Psychotria (953670) | about 2 years ago | (#42153507)

You're right about the generation thing. However the amount of misconception about what evolution is in replies to this story (as evidenced by your post) is astounding.

Re:True! (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#42153601)

His post was clearly hypothetical, since he mentioned changed circumstances. Or do you think oak pollen really is toxic?

P.S. if color blindness was such a disadvantage, surely it would have disappeared by now?

Re:True! (1)

Psychotria (953670) | about 2 years ago | (#42153619)

Oh, and 200 generations is probably more like 4000-5000 years, not 7500 years. Could even be slightly less than 4000 years.

Re:True! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42153649)

Actually about 1% of all men don't have red receptors. It is so many because it has an advantage. But I guess we don't have it all because seeing all colors is normally better. It is just good to have one colorblind guy in a hunter group, because sometimes he can see details that others can't see.

Re:True! (1, Troll)

Curupira (1899458) | about 2 years ago | (#42153597)

Absolutely true!

Suppose for instance that suddenly tomorrow all oaktrees had pollen that is deadly to most humans.

Hi, Mr. Shyamalan! I didn't know you had an Slashdot account!

Serious question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42153231)

Now that we can identify who is genetically and mentally inferior (with real science), and we have a ridiculous human population, why don't we bring back slavery?

Re:Serious question (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 2 years ago | (#42153367)

Your desire to bring back slavery marks you as mentally inferior. Get working, slave.

read the posts (1)

GarretSidzaka (1417217) | about 2 years ago | (#42153275)

if you read the posts on the submission page, it rapidly "devolves" (get it) into a spirited converesation on eugenics, which i read till i could no longer view Nazi Hate Speech.

i didnt read, but am assuming there some lovely eugenics in the /. comments, but im too sicked and scared to find out .....

Advantageous or deleterious mutations (2)

climb_no_fear (572210) | about 2 years ago | (#42153293)

depend on your environment sometimes. For example, heterozygous mutations in the gene that lead to cystic fibrosis probably increase resistance to cholera (by lowering electrolyte loss in the gut). Eliminate cholera in the modern world and the advantage apparently disappears. Similar for sickle cell anemia and malaria (depending of course, where you live or travel, this may still be highly relevant for you). And "fit enough" has always been good enough throughout evolution.

This is probably why primates need vitamin C, since we all lived in an environment with plenty of it and there was no selection against loss of the gene which occurred in one of our ancestors.

It is sometimes difficult to see the advantage of a particular mutation (resistance to dioxins because cytochromes don't metabolize them) or other mutations which are only beneficial in combination with others. Mutations in FoxP2 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FOXP2 [wikipedia.org] plus others probably led to human speech. There are rare individuals with mutations in a gene which regulates LDL (the "bad" cholesterol) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Familial_hypercholesterolemia#PCSK9 [wikipedia.org] that have very low LDL levels and are apparently perfectly healthy. They lack a gene most of us have and can eat a "modern" diet with a dramatically reduced cardiovascular risk. This is one of the ways in which speciation occurs.

Genetic Diversity (1)

novium (1680776) | about 2 years ago | (#42153363)

200 generations....well, that's not a very specific amount of time, so I can't really comment on that specifically, but I wonder if it the whole "more rare genetic variations" has something to do with having bigger and more diverse populations inter-mixing. If there's a general trend in the last couple hundred to couple thousand years, it's that you've got people clumping together in bigger groups, developing complex trade and migration, all of it adding up to a much broader gene pool than the days of the hunter-gatherers going around in relatively closely related groups of 100-200 people, and that in turn leading to a much big genetic variety.

Re:Genetic Diversity (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#42153607)

Eh? Migration in itself doesn't alter allele frequencies, it just rearranges the combinations.

Evolution of Virulence Is a Real Threat (2)

Baldrson (78598) | about 2 years ago | (#42153389)

It is the theocratic dogma that heterogeneity (localized diversity) yields symbiosis, as in "diversity is our strength". To even question whether this might be wrong is tantamount to being a pariah in all aspects of life from personal to professional -- so powerful is the state-sponsored religion incorporating this dogma.

As usual, theocratic dogmas, rigorously enforced, frequently have unintended consequences. In the case of the dogma of heterogeneity there is the unintended consequence which evolutionary dynamics calls "horizontal transmission". Horizontal transmission is a mode of evolutionary success is based on, what in the vernacular we might call, "hit and run": The evolutionary fate of a stationary system (organism or ecosystem) is decoupled that of another, temporarily co-located, but mobile, replicator.

The result is always the same: The mobile replicator's evolutionary optimum is to totally disregard the viability of its temporary "partner" since it does not share in the fate of the "partner". This relationship is sometimes called "parasitism". That, in an age of jumbo-jet air transport, we might see such evolutionary dynamics play out is as inevitable as it is "sinful" to even think about.

The religious dogma demands that heterogeneity be thought of as evolving only "symbiosis", not "parasitism". This would be the case if there were no escape route for the immigrant replicators -- as they would be forced into "vertical transmission" which, in the vernacular means "sleeping in the bed you made for yourself (and others)". Even if we were somehow able to shut off further migration after allowing immigration, the costs of evolving symbiosis are profound: The vast majority of the immobile heterogenous ecologies resulting from the initial period of immigration would include at least a few replicators that might be thought of as "defectors" in an evolutionary prisoner's dilemma. Therefore the vast majority of ecologies would experience at least pathology if not death outright.

Re:Evolution of Virulence Is a Real Threat (1, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#42153421)

Is this an attempt to Time Cube this thread?

The creationists were right! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42153539)

> Akey’s group found that rare variations tended to be relatively new, with some 73 percent of all genetic variation arising in just the last 5,000 years. Of variations that seem likely to cause harm, a full 91 percent emerged in this time.

If we regress linearly, there were no harmful variations 5000/0.91=5494 years ago, which must have been the year Adam fathered Cain ;-)

Everybody's an expert (2)

DuChamp Fitz (987592) | about 2 years ago | (#42153571)

If this discussion is any indicator, it's devolution that's accelerating.

Natural Selection does not drive our evolution (1)

Heebie (1163973) | about 2 years ago | (#42153725)

The level at which Homo Sapiens are affected by natural selection has steadily declined, since at least the advent of medicine, probably since the advent of the type of intelligence we posses, possibly even since the earliest vestiges of the ability to have empathy for another. Every generation has more humans who live and procreate, who would have previously perished as children or very young adults. The affect that Natural Selection has on the human race diminishes constantly. Other animals that are affected by this would be any domesticated animal. Dogs, cats, cattle. sheep etc.. If it is a domesticated animal, we have more effect on their evoution than natural selection does. We decide which domestical animals are "worth" allowing to breed, and keep others from breeding. We decide which ones should be "put down" We decide whether our pets are spayed or castrated. We also have more effect on the natural selection of plants we domesticate. There are probably house plants that would have gone extinct if we didn't like them. Banana trees are this point cannot reproduce without human cultivation. The effect we, as a species, have on everything around us seriously alters the function of natural selection. Natural Selection may never have zero effect on human evolution, since new diseases will keep cropping up, and those with immunity will survive to procreate, and those without immunity will die (but only until such time as science comes up with a cure or a vaccine.)
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