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Humans Evolving 100 Times Faster Than Ever

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the or-maybe-we're-just-getting-more-intelligently-designed dept.

Science 584

John Hawks writes "A new genomics study in PNAS shows that humans have been evolving new adaptive genes during the past 10,000 years much faster than ever before. The study says that evolution has sped up because of population growth, making people adapt faster to new diseases, new diets, and social changes like cities. Oh, and I'm the lead author. I've been reading Slashdot for a long time, and let me just say that our study doesn't necessarily apply to trolls."

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584 comments

prist fost! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21653395)

yoo hooooooo!

Re:prist fost! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21653745)

Get a second post, then attach some small but strong threads between the two posts, connecting the two posts together, then you might be able to start climbing the evolutionary ladder.

adaptation? (5, Funny)

IAR80 (598046) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653397)

Is that implying evolution? 10,000 years!! I thought Earth is only 7,000 years old. I declare this article a heresy.

Re:adaptation? (-1, Troll)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653699)

Hmmm one wonders what religion you're defending ... clearly you're not a muslim ... I noticed a distinct lack of threats in your post ...

http://atheism.about.com/b/2005/05/09/creationist-thugs-in-turkey-allied-with-american-creationists.htm [about.com]

(that's physical attacks and murders they're talking about, just in case you were wondering)

Is it fun ? Attacking reasonable people irrationally ?

Re:adaptation? (0)

marafa (745042) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653763)

so if i threaten you that makes me a muslim?
if i dont threaten you does it make me a non-muslim like you? i should hope not!

Re:adaptation? (-1, Flamebait)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653991)

Have you read the article ? Muslims threaten their own academics (with death) about creationism. Please show me some Christians doing the same ...

Re:adaptation? (1, Insightful)

eebra82 (907996) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653779)

Hmmm one wonders what religion you're defending ... clearly you're not a muslim ... I noticed a distinct lack of threats in your post ...
What makes you think he's defending any religion at all? Is atheism out of the question here?

Is it fun ? Attacking reasonable people irrationally ?
Actually, his post was kind of funny, or at least from an atheist's point of view. Or an open-minded religious person's point of view. Furthermore, he is not really targeting 'reasonable people' but more the religion itself. Blasting a theology is not the same thing as blasting its believers.

Re:adaptation? (0, Offtopic)

IAR80 (598046) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653931)

Touche! I thought it was an obvious atheist joke but it scares me that it wasn't immediately perceived as such. It scares me that some people thought I was serious. Anyway I got a good funny rating. :)

Re:adaptation? (-1, Troll)

eebra82 (907996) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653715)

Is that implying evolution? 10,000 years!! I thought Earth is only 7,000 years old. I declare this article a heresy.
Depends on how you interpret it. Most Christians believe horses were introduced sometime during the 17th century. Other believers say horses came a century later - a delay caused by a late introduction of dinosaurs [bluegrassreport.org] . So you might be off a century or so.

Re:adaptation? (0, Offtopic)

IAR80 (598046) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653943)

17th century! Maybe 17th century BC. I don't believe they can be THAT irrational (17th century BC is bad enough though). What about the crusades? Were they fighting on dinosaurs?

Re:adaptation? (-1, Flamebait)

QuickFox (311231) | more than 6 years ago | (#21654031)

The Crusades never occurred, that's a fabrication by the devil. That's obvious if you consider that the Crusades were evil. Of course Christianity isn't evil.

The witch hunts were evil too, so obviously they are fabrications by the devil too. As are the evil passages in the Bible [evilbible.com] .

Re:adaptation? (0, Offtopic)

rizzo420 (136707) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653955)

i've read some pretty dumb things on slashdot, but i think that takes the cake. consider this... most christians know that people were riding horses before jesus was born. 'nuff said.

creationists are certainly not make up "most christians", nor do they represent the beliefs of "most christians". in fact, they're actually just a small subset of christians. they just happen to be quite vocal.

Re:adaptation? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21653741)

our study doesn't necessarily apply to trolls

Darn, and I was going to say that unicorns are flying 100 times faster now, but the author cleverly anticipated responding to his myth-based assertion with other myth-based assertions. At least one scientist definitely is aware that he's become religious.

us trolls will rise up against you (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21653421)

you fear our mutation rate!

Re:us trolls will rise up against you (0, Offtopic)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653705)

Rant on, troll
In foul tones brave
Humanity never shall
Be your mutated slave
Unless that memory fall:
Burma Shave

Not anymore (5, Insightful)

GeLeTo (527660) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653425)

Rapid evolution in the past 10000 years - maybe. In the past 50 years - no way. Nowdays everybody can have an offspring no matter what diseases, diets or social changes he is subjected to.

Re:Not anymore (0)

Slashidiot (1179447) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653479)

I certainly agree. I think that the last 50 years, humans have been evolving backwards, as many of the things that were good for survival some centuries ago, are now bad for aesthetics, or not close to the beauty canon. Now it's bad to get fat easily, it's better to be anorexic (which would have killed you a few centuries ago). We are certainly going backwards. But don't worry, as soon as we get a pandemic disease, all the weak thin people will die, and the fat and strong will rule the earth. MWAHAHAHAHAAAA!!

Backwards? (3, Insightful)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653643)

You have the concept of "backwards"... um... backwards. Backward evolution means that you become less adapted to your surroundings, and are less likely to survive. It doesn't aim for some lofty ideal of perfection, where anorexia will kill you, and all our survival mechanisms are aesthetically pleasing.

some comments (2, Insightful)

ickeicke (927264) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653729)

(...) anorexic (which would have killed you a few centuries ago).
As opposed to nowadays? [wikipedia.org]

Anorexia is thought to have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder, with approximately 10% of those who are diagnosed with the disorder eventually dying due to related causes. The suicide rate of people with anorexia is also higher than that of the general population and is thought to be the major cause of death for those with the condition. A recent review suggested that less than one-half recover fully, one-third improve, and 20% remain chronically ill.


as soon as we get a pandemic disease, all the weak thin people will die, and the fat and strong will rule the earth. MWAHAHAHAHAAAA!!
I do not share your confidence in the natural selection merits of pandemics. According to this blog [futurehs.com] , during the 1918 pandemic, the death rate for people aged between 25 and 34 was as high as that for people between 1 and 4 and between 70 and 80 (graph [umn.edu] ).

(...) the beauty canon.
I, for one, welcome our new artillery wielding supermodel overlords. Oh wait [wsu.edu] .

Re:Not anymore (3, Insightful)

jackpot777 (1159971) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653963)

I think that the last 50 years, humans have been evolving backwards


There's no such thing. Your group either stays as it is because situations don't force a change, or your group undergoes some change and certain traits become more desirable than others. And either way, the group then either prospers or it doesn't, either because of the change or in spite of the change (but in the long run, usually because of the change).

Saying that evolution has a direction indicates you think that there's some end design that evolution is heading for. There isn't.

Re:Not anymore (5, Insightful)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653493)

If everybody can have offspring no matter what, it means there is MORE genetic diversity. If people with weaker genes can have their own children, maybe there will be some beneficial mutation in two or three generations? Look how people with higher chance of hemophilia are less likely to suffer from malaria. Not every mutation beneficial in long term may be beneficial in short term and vice versa.

Re:Not anymore (5, Informative)

Rezazur (677119) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653691)

I think you meant sickle cell anaemia where defective red blood cells are less prone to malaria infection.

Re:Not anymore (1)

LucidBeast (601749) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653855)

Like being a really bad driver in combination with really bad social skill would perhaps reduce your chances of dying in car accidents. No license and no friends giving rides while drunk.

Re:Not anymore (5, Insightful)

Tlosk (761023) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653515)

Perhaps you don't understand what evolution means, it's simply change. The more change that takes place, the more something has evolved. It doesn't mean better or worse or closer to some ultimate goal.

And what you describe allows lots of evolution to occur. Extremely high selective pressures will punish variability. But when everyone (or almost everyone) can reproduce and selective pressures are low (abundant resources and few dangers) then all those little mutations that would have been selected against get to be passed on to a new generation. Resulting in much faster rates of change over time, as well as much higher variability in the population.

Re:Not anymore (4, Insightful)

Slashidiot (1179447) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653983)

I do understand that evolution means simply change, and there is no forward or backward change. What I am saying is that some characteristics of individual that were a disadvantage a few thousands of years before, are now an advantage, so the change now happens in the opposite direction of the last few millenia. I'm not judging good and bad, I'm just saying that if conditions happen to move to "more agressive", due to a famine, a plague, or whatever, humankind will be less prepared than 3000 years ago, due to this "backwards evolution".

This is perfectly normal, as conditions have changed, so has humankind, and now humans are worse prepared for some conditions, although better for the ones we have now. Thing is, the conditions we have now are created by humans, and not neccesarily in accordance with the real changes outside civilised areas. Therefore, we have evolved, moved by the conditions we have created, so if we cannot maintain these conditions, we will suddenly be far worse off than if they had never been created.

It is some kind of artificial evolution, that is supported on changes made to the environment, which create more changes on the species, that change environment again. I think up until now, on evolution, environment has never been so much under control of the evolving species. I just don't know how good is that.

I don't know if what I wrote is understandable, I'm not too good with long explanations in english.

Re:Not anymore (4, Interesting)

QuickFox (311231) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653603)

This does not make evolution slower.

Mutations that in earlier times were fatal are now viable. They may now lead to offspring. So these mutations will live on more than before. We have more mutations surviving and spreading, we have more diversity, not less.

Among this diversity, a few will be a leap ahead. Just like we can have a mental genius with a physical disability, who could not survive in an earlier age but can survive today, similarly we can have evolutionary changes that are in some way a leap forward but come combined with disability, able to survive today. Later recombinations through procreation might keep the leap forward while overcoming the disability.

The probability is of course low, but that's the case with all evolution through random mutations. You need long time spans.

With a greater diversity we should have faster evolution.

Re:Not anymore (1)

shungi (977531) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653799)

Whilst I understand that there is no such thing as 'devolution' http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biological_devolution [wikipedia.org] . It is interesting that TFA doesn't mention any 'negative' traits. How would one define negative, viz, a gene that has gained prevalence that actually decreases ones chance of survival. I understand that such genes die out over time, but given the 'evolution explosion', there should be many of them around now should there not?

Don't mate cripples (-1, Flamebait)

Wiseman1024 (993899) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653663)

Truth. Compassion has completely stopped, even reverted, natural selection and thus evolution. Not only illnesses and disabilities don't kill, but we even help these people and find companions for them. In some cases, genetic problems are spreading because of compassion.

It's not that I'd gas cripples, but there should be coupons for reproduction. People who have genetic conditions widely-recognized as problems that don't allow them to live as well as others (e.g. missing legs, liver failures, etc.; NOT Asperger Syndrome and rare conditions which take some things but give or improve some other skills), as well as people who are too poor to maintain children shouldn't be allowed to reproduce. Sex? All they want. In any way they want it as long as all involved parties agree. But reproduction should be taken with a dose of responsibility.

Re:Don't mate cripples (2, Interesting)

Anomolous Cowturd (190524) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653907)

The fittest specimens will still get the best mates, and the losers will get to bonk only other losers. Someone with one or two serious defects might get to shag someone else with only one or two serious defects, but their offspring, with a cluster-fuck of defects, will be increasingly less likely to reproduce. We can still ensure they have a good quality of life, however, their patent genetic crappiness will make "being allowed to reproduce" moot. Fuck authoritarianism, we don't need it.

Re:Not anymore (2, Insightful)

tgd (2822) | more than 6 years ago | (#21654049)

Huh, what?

Natural selection (the thinning of the gene pool based on external pressures) is not the same as rapid evolution (the exploding of the gene pool based on the rate of change).

If anything the situation in the last 50 years has meant the human population can support MORE evolution at the genetic level, not less. In some areas this can be visibly obvious (people with physical or mental disabilities who can lead relatively normal lives, or at least... well... live), in most ways its safe to assume its not visible.

Obl. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21653429)

Where does it come from, this quest? This need to solve life's mysteries when the simplest of questions can never be answered? Why are we here? What is the soul? Why do we dream? Perhaps we'd be better off not looking at all. Not delving, not yearning. But that's not human nature. Not the human heart. That is not why we are here. Yet still we struggle to make a difference, to change the world, to dream of hope, never knowing for certain who we will meet along the way. Who among the world of strangers will hold our hand, touch our hearts, and share the pain of trying?

Intelligent Design (-1, Flamebait)

vodevil (856500) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653449)

I think the author meant to say that Jesus has been performing more miracles in the last 2000 years (the earth isn't even 10,000 years old yet). He has helped us prevent diseases and adapt to city life.

bad timing (1, Funny)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653531)

I think the author meant to say that Jesus has been performing more miracles in the last 2000 years (the earth isn't even 10,000 years old yet).
Heresy! It's well-known that the world has been created last Thursday [wikipedia.org] !

I for one... (1)

madbawa (929673) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653455)

...welcome our new 100x evolving human... ZZZZTTTTTT WTF??? Why aren't you neanderthals welcoming me??

Quick, I need black woman (-1, Redundant)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653457)

Beneficial genetic changes have appeared at a rate roughly 100 times higher in the past 5,000 years than at any previous period of human evolution, the researchers determined. They added that about 7 percent of human genes are undergoing rapid, relatively recent evolution.
If we are evolving so fast who knows, maybe I will mutate some superhuman powers? I, for one, welcome our new evolved superhuman overlords.

Re:Quick, I need black woman (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21653777)

I too welcome our new heroes.

evolution. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21653459)

Evolution is bad... NOT.

Evolution of the first post is not good :O)

Check Out the Sample Size (4, Insightful)

dwm (151474) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653501)

From the article:

The researchers looked for the appearance of favorable gene mutations over the past 80,000 years of human history by analyzing voluminous DNA information on 270 people from different populations worldwide. (Emphasis mine)

This is what I can't stand about science by press release (and yes, I'm a scientist). Pretty sweeping conclusion drawn from a miniscule sample size.

Re:Check Out the Sample Size (5, Insightful)

smallfries (601545) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653513)

If the lead author on the study submitted the summary - why didn't he link to a proper paper rather than the press release junk?

Re:Check Out the Sample Size (5, Informative)

hansg (264039) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653723)

If the lead author on the study submitted the summary - why didn't he link to a proper paper rather than the press release junk?
Maybe because it's not a press release, but a news article from Reuters? And if you bothered to RTFA (yes, i know, I'm new here) it says that the study is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [wikipedia.org] , which is a pretty important paper.

Since they peer-review their articles, I would imagine that other experts thought 270 people ought to be good enough for everyone...

/Hans

Re:Check Out the Sample Size (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21653797)

Why? I have just one sample response from you, and I can draw LOADS of conclusions...........

Quite an opinion... (5, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653509)

I've been reading Slashdot for a long time, and let me just say that our study doesn't necessarily apply to trolls.

The irony of this statement is overwhelming.

Re:Quite an opinion... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21653563)

There's a car analogy in there somewhere I'm sure of it.

Re:Quite an opinion... (1)

QuickFox (311231) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653671)

Of course there is. Just think how slowly the horse buggy evolved and how fast modern car models appear.

There's always a car analogy.

Re:Quite an opinion... (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653665)

Yeah, that's right. You trolls can find your own study, your own set of scientific rules, your own system of logic. Quit polluting ours!

What? No not me! I'm no troll! I love evolving at 100x normal rate! I love it! Don't kick me out, I can change!

Re:Quite an opinion... (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653867)

Would you say it's like rain on your wedding day?

(Sorry BadAnalogyGuy, I can't help but feel you dropped the ball on that one.)
=Smidge=

Funny (-1, Flamebait)

djupedal (584558) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653517)

...that someone would consider themselves knowledgeable about evolution to the point of discussing something as meaningless as 'rate'.

'rate of evolution' is redundant.

An organism either evolves or it doesn't. Fast or slow has nothing to do with it. Declaring that there is a quantifiable amount of change involved is just that...change. Changing in reaction to outside stimulation isn't automatically defined as evolving. Sorry. Try again.

No it isn't (5, Insightful)

maroberts (15852) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653677)

A rate of change of distance is velocity. A rate of change of velocity is acceleration.

Evolution is how many changes are occuring over a period of time. You can measure a rate of evolution, i.e. whether the number of changes over time is increasing or decreasing.

Re:Funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21653681)

Since "evolution" is "change", your ignorant and ill-informed pedantry
will also outlaw the concept of "rate of change". So much for Newton,
the Calculus, and dynamics of any kind. Newton stood on the shoulders
of giants, what a pity he couldn't have waited for dwarves like you.

Re:Funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21653727)

Rate of change is quantifiable and meaningful in general. As is change, and rate of change of change. What are you talking about?

Re:Funny (2, Insightful)

mattpalmer1086 (707360) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653769)

Organisms don't evolve - they are rather fixed by the DNA they have. Species evolve over time, not individuals.

Re:Funny (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21653881)

Go back to math class, redundancy boy.

Evolution or mutation? (2, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653521)

Maybe it's all that pollution...

And maybe Chernobyl helped ;).

Re:Evolution or mutation? (2)

$pearhead (1021201) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653927)

Actually, you may not be that far off... From the article Unnatural evolution [newscientist.com]

"We see lots of mice [and voles] there, they look normal, they have babies, everything looks fine," says Ron Chesser, a population geneticist at the University of Georgia's Savannah River Ecology Laboratory in Aiken, South Carolina, who is investigating Chernobyl's wildlife. "But these are the most contaminated animals I've seen anywhere. They're living on radioactive materials. How are they managing to survive?"

To help answer that question, Chesser, Robert Baker from Texas Tech University in Lubbock and Ron Van Den Bussche at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater have analysed the sequence of a gene in voles and mice living in the shadow of Chernobyl's doomed reactor. The gene, which codes for an energy-producing protein called cytochrome b, is located in the cell's mitochondria rather than the nucleus. Under normal circumstances it changes at the steady rate of one mutation in every million letters of genetic code per generation. The rate supplies biologists with a handy evolutionary ruler - the greater the number of differences in their cytochrome b genes, the more distantly related are two animals or two species.

The researchers were astonished to find that the cytochrome b genes of two different species of Chernobyl vole were riddled with new mutations - one new mutation for every 10 000 letters of DNA code. Voles of the same species living in uncontaminated areas 30 kilometres away did not share this rapid rate of mutation. "We're seeing more diversity in the mitochondrial DNA between two individual Chernobyl voles than we see between two different species, such as mice and rats, which parted company about 15 million years ago," Chesser says.

Millenia of "progress" (4, Funny)

El Yanqui (1111145) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653529)

OMFG! dat so kewl evolution is da r0xx0r! we r the 1337!!!11 LOLZ

Re:Millenia of "progress" for Trolls (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653805)

"Today's Troll has a much harder task.

Whereas before, in an age of highly restrictive religious environment, a Troll could be put to death for merely a casual remark about the authorities.

Today's Troll had to evolve a much more sophisticated repetoire because his former target is likely to laugh off the response, as shown above. Generating true resentment now requires a much more sustained attack."

Time scales (4, Interesting)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653537)

A question for Professor Hawks:

An interesting result to be sure, and not far-fetched at all, considering things like Belyaev's silver fox research from the mid-20th century, where artificial selection was shown to greatly accelerate the evolutionary process in terms of behavior.

My question, though, concerns the time scale of accelerated human evolution over the past 10,000 years versus the apparently much faster rate of "evolution" of technology. Some have argued that technological advancements stunt evolutionary change by reducing the severity of natural selection pressures such as the ability to provide food for oneself or to make contact with a mate. (For example, my vision, while corrected to normal levels through the technology of lenses, would have made my chances of reproduction several hundred years ago even lower than they are now.)

Since technology progression has increased to such a fast rate in the past 100 to 200 years, has the rate of technological improvement outstripped the capability of evolutionary processes to keep up? Will we see a decrease in the rate of evolution during very recent history (and, er, future history) due to this increasing difference in time scales, i.e., was the accelerated evolution rate during the past 10,000 years due in part to technological advancement reaching a sort of "sweet spot" that has since been (or will be) surpassed?

Not that any of this will matter once our new robotic overlords take over the planet, but it's still academically interesting.

Re:Time scales (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653701)

Since technology progression has increased to such a fast rate in the past 100 to 200 years, has the rate of technological improvement outstripped the capability of evolutionary processes to keep up? Will we see a decrease in the rate of evolution during very recent history (and, er, future history) due to this increasing difference in time scales, i.e., was the accelerated evolution rate during the past 10,000 years due in part to technological advancement reaching a sort of "sweet spot" that has since been (or will be) surpassed?

As I recall, historically only about half of males have kids. Don't know what the numbers are like now, but each halving of the likelihood of having kids (for whatever reason) is basically a crude ceiling (as I understand it) of a bit on how much new genetic information averaged over the entire population can be added via evolution to a descendant. My take is that we're probably kicking out a bit of information per generation. Given that there's also wide variation in how many kids a person can have, so there may be genetic information coming from that as well. Some hereditary groups with a high fertility and high dropout rate (ie, higher than 50%) might have higher rates of genetic information generation.

My take is that, given a generation is around 20-30 years long and that new information comes in at a slow rate, it doesn't make sense to assume evolution can by itself keep up with the rate of technological improvement. This has probably been the case since some point after the development of agriculture. Instead, I imagine human culture has served as the interface, if you will, between humans with relatively static genetic information and the tools, capabilities, and demands of technology and society.

Re:Time scales (3, Insightful)

mattpalmer1086 (707360) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653839)

Evolution is simply change - there is no purpose or progress to it. If more people survive to reproduce, there will be more genetic diversity, not less. In that sense, there will be more "evolution". By removing certain natural selection pressures through technology, it is true that the resulting changes will stop being directed towards fitness in a non-technological environment.

Evolving OR Mutating faster? (5, Insightful)

JumperCable (673155) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653539)

Are we really evolving faster, or are we, as a population experiencing a higher rate of mutations? Not all mutations are good, but with our advanced medicine, poor mutations are now survivable.

I thought evolution, didn't occur until selective environmental pressure, weeded out the non-favorable traits. I really don't *think* that happening at a higher rate. I suspect we just have a giant gene pool with a lot of variability.

So which is it John? Are we mutating faster or evolving faster?

P.S. Fascinating work. Kudos.

One and the same (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653683)

The simple fact is that a mutation is a jump in a sequence. Evolution is a mutation that is now part of the genome, though not necessarily good. For example, sicle cell anemia was a minor mutation. But it stayed as part of our genome because it confers immunity to malaria. For the sub tropics that is a NEEDED mutation. OTH, those who had it, might be struck by the gods as they ascended Kilimanjaro. This shows that mutation are not good/bad, just needed at the time.

As to the gene pool, I do not think that we started with a lot of variability. Instead, as I point out further down in this article, I believe that viruses are responsible for shaking up our gene pool. In fact, our body is rigged to handle the small amount of radiation that most are exposed to, but really little defense against a virus once it inserts itself into our DNA.

As to your final question, almost certainly the answer is yes. Since mutations are increasing, so will evolution.

Re:One and the same - nah, I don't buy it. (0, Troll)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653847)

Mutation is not a "jump in a sequence". It's a new trait.

There is no sequence as there is no "path" that human evolution is following. It's a random selection of those who adapt best to changes in the environment surviving to sexual maturity. Nothing more.

The really interesting question would be: what are we evolving into?

Re:One and the same - nah, I don't buy it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21653993)

With "jump in a sequence" I think he ment DNA-sequence. That is, you change a base from one to another, this is a jump from one sequence to another.

A new trait might result from a mutation but most mutations are neutral (won't change the protein the gene codes for) and won't result in new traits.

And finally, as you said, there is no "path" that the human evolution is following so the question "what are we evolving into?" dosn't make any sense.

Genes Evolving huh ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21653549)

Really?
If people are evolving faster, then the youngsters should be the best examples .
when I talk to most people under 30 about Genes , they will quote price brand name snd desire to have that brand of jeans .

I think this more accurately shows how well we are evolving ?

Actually, it makes sense (3, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653575)

Evolution is most likely encouraged by viruses. The reason is that they will grab a snippet from one person (and other entity), and insert it into our genomes. Almost certainly we have only found a fraction of these viruses, and will find more once we start looking in the right places. The interesting thing is that as we get denser in terms of population, I believe it will increase even faster. Likewise, we will see interesting issues such as general increase in miscarriages (incompatable genes being spread around).

Re:Actually, it makes sense (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653675)

Evolution is most likely encouraged by viruses. The reason is that they will grab a snippet from one person (and other entity), and insert it into our genomes.

So how about those humans who engage in behaviour which promotes the spread of viruses, and tend not to reproduce? Perhaps they are genuinely participating in evolution, appearances to the contrary.

Kurt Vonnegut may have been right after all.

Re:Actually, it makes sense (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653719)

We all participate, one way or another. About the only one who does not, are those that are not born. Once we are born we will either reproduce (a massive shakeup of DNA using acceptable genomes i.e. able to create life), or will serve as a carrier of viruses that mix-in with tiny amounts of genome.

The interesting question is how many diseases occur because of multiple viruses working in conjunction? IOW, assume you have some mutation that is too big for 1 virus to transfer. But multiple viruses could transfer the gene. Of course, the likelihood of you infecting me with 1 is ok, but with multiple, is low. But a spouse or roommate may slowly become infected with the gene. That would account for the odd diseases that we see these day (pseorosis comes to mind). The trick is to look for these multiple viruses that act as carriers.

Re:Actually, it makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21653989)

Great! So I get the cold virus from some stupid person and now I get their stupid gene. Great! ;-)

Mutation is in itself an evolutionary advantage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21653581)

Here's a thought:

The characteristics of a species of having a high rate of mutations and propensity to genetic drift should be an evolutionary advantage.

Extraterrestrial intervention? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21653587)

Maybe this drastic change is as a result of external intervention by outsiders applying genetic modifications?

I mean, this study really support all those theories that suggest about aliens posing as gods in the biblical times..

Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21653595)

Earth is dying 100 times faster than ever.

Utter rubbish! (-1, Flamebait)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653629)

is what our Creationist Overlords in the US Government (the sweetest smelling Government in the world!) would say. God created the Earth 6600 years ago, not some perchance aggregation of dust and goop.

In other news, common sense and the acceptance of blindingly solid evidence contrary to creationist theory prevails and evolution ensures the survival of the Sensible.

PNAS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21653661)

PNAS? I guess that's one acronym that you pronounce the letters individually.

...huh (1)

kitsunewarlock (971818) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653669)

Isn't Cancer theoretically evolution? I mean, at least 1 cell is mutated...

Just goes to show that God hates evolution.

And that I don't know what the hell I'm talking about.

Just to be different (1)

reboot246 (623534) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653709)

I pray to God that we're still evolving!

I see no conflict between science and my religion.

Bad Science (4, Insightful)

giafly (926567) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653717)

Beneficial genetic changes have appeared at a rate roughly 100 times higher in the past 5,000 years than at any previous period of human evolution, the researchers determined ... but almost all of the changes have been unique to their corner of the world.
There are more gene changes because there are many more people today than 5K years ago. This does not mean that the mutation rate has increased. The speed of evolution is how different the average person today is from the average person back then and nobody has more than a few of these new genes.

people today are genetically more different from people living 5,000 years ago than those humans were different from the Neanderthals who vanished 30,000 years ago
Nonsense. The only way this might be true is if you selectively bred a human with all these recent gene changes. Like the Kwisatz_Haderach [wikipedia.org] out of Dune.

No, they're right (1)

Henry V .009 (518000) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653843)

This does not mean that the mutation rate has increased.
Correct, these researchers do not claim that the mutation rate has changed. As you say, this is entirely a population effect.

The speed of evolution is how different the average person today is from the average person back then and nobody has more than a few of these new genes.
Ever heard of natural selection causing a gene to go to fixation?

Nonsense.
Check out the paper. The number of recent selection events and their average age is well-known from some recent gene studies.

Prof. Hawks, is this evolution evenly distributed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21653731)

To Prof. Hawks-

Did this study determine which geographic areas/racial-ethnic groups/environments (cities vs. farms) had the *most* amount of evolution? The article mentions that your samples came from all over the world, were some more different than others? Of course it would have to be measured against some sort of base reference I guess; did you come up with a reference?

I am sure you are aware of Dr. James Watson's recent controversial assertion that blacks are not as "endowed" intellectually as whites. While the few studies I have seen do not support this conclusion at all I am still curious as to know how evolution has made us different (obviously) in other ways.

I looked briefly at your website (how do you find so much time to put together such a nice site? :) and didn't see if you tried specific differences in population groups, will you now do so? Is the state of genomic information such that you can determine what phenotypes have been most evolved for?

Posting as A/C because yes, I am afraid of being pilloried for making un-PC questions. But I still am curious to know what my evolutionary pressures my particular population group might have been exposed to. Using this technique to see what evolutionary pressures have effected various groups over history might prove to be another tool in which to understand our heritage.

Isn't it fortunate that this accelerated evolution didn't cause us to split off into different species? I assume that this is no longer a danger because we can travel so freely now and mate with one another. If we were of different species, the wars would probably be one's of total extermination.

Re:Prof. Hawks, is this evolution evenly distribut (2, Interesting)

Henry V .009 (518000) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653791)

I am friends with one of the researchers involved, and yes they are quite aware of the non-PC consequences of this paper (just look up the USATODAY article for a good quote). Come on, Cochran is the same guy who wrote the Ashkenzai paper that hit Slashdot a couple years back, about selection for intelligence in Ashkenazi Jews.

Re:Prof. Hawks, is this evolution evenly distribut (0, Troll)

Henry V .009 (518000) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653905)

I am sure you are aware of Dr. James Watson's recent controversial assertion that blacks are not as "endowed" intellectually as whites. While the few studies I have seen do not support this conclusion at all I am still curious as to know how evolution has made us different (obviously) in other ways.
You haven't checked out very many studies. Just for grins, why don't you try to find last year's U.S. SAT scores on the internet separated by race (I haven't looked, but I can guess the numbers pretty closely anyway). Or count up the number of black grandmaster chess players, etc., etc. Watson is right, and the people attacking him were jokers. Jason Malloy wrote a great article defending him [gnxp.com] on GNXP.

the article said PNAS (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21653749)

lol

Hitting the wall ... (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653783)

TFA: Human evolution has been moving at breakneck speed in the past several thousand years, far from plodding along as some scientists had thought, researchers said on Monday. (emphasis mine)

And how is this an advantage if the system has emerged to only comfortably allow for a moderate change rate?

CC.

short version (2, Funny)

jovius (974690) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653801)

Successful copulation advances evolution. The more sex the better chances to have offspring, which seek adaptation. We should all have sex with every suitable body. The more diverse the better. Now. Forget about the thought systems and public codes, this is for the human race! Let's hyperseed!! Woohoo!!! oh yeah.

Earwax evolution (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653809)

In Asians, there is a gene that makes ear wax more dry.
The selective advantage of this is what, exactly? And is it strong enough to make this gene spread through a large part of the population in only 40 thousand years?

Trolls way ahead in evolution (2, Funny)

Xordin (66857) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653863)

What be happening mon?

You concept of evolution is slow compared to our daily respec.

LIARS!!! (3, Funny)

ocbwilg (259828) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653865)

It's not true! It's just that God has been intelligently re-designing us at a higher rate.

Not evolving faster. (2, Insightful)

headkase (533448) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653947)

We're not evolving faster, the increased population size just means we can explore a larger portion of the evolutionary search space at one time than we were able to previously. There is still the minimal time between reproduction(s) which currently stands at about ~14 years (not taking into account morality) which is needed to introduce change(s) into the population. And Evolution is based on negative feedback, we don't evolve towards something - everything that isn't suitable dies.

Why present tense? (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 6 years ago | (#21654001)

All of those big population expansions, with their requisite adaptations, are done and dusted. Epidemics and welfare states would seem to be the only remaining evolutionary/devolutionary pressures. How significant are they today?
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