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Are Humans Evolving Faster?

pickens (49171) writes | more than 6 years ago

Biotech 0

Hugh Pickens writes "A new study examining data from the International Haplotype Mapping Project describes the past 40,000 years as a time of supercharged evolutionary change driven by exponential population growth and cultural shifts. The findings may lead to a very broad rethinking of human evolution, especially in the view that modern culture has essentially relaxed the need for physical genetic changes in humans to improve survival. Anthropologist John Hawks estimates that positive selection in the past 5,000 years has occurred at a rate roughly 100 times higher than any other period of human evolution because large populations have more genetic variation. Many of the new genetic adjustments are occurring around changes in the human diet brought on by the advent of agriculture, and resistance to epidemic diseases that became major killers after the growth of human civilizations. Malaria is one of the clearest examples, Hawks says, given that there are now more than two dozen identified genetic adaptations that relate to malaria resistance, including an entirely new blood type known as the Duffy blood type. "We are more different genetically from people living 5,000 years ago than they were different from Neanderthals," Hawks adds."

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