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Hyper Evolution -- Human Population Growth is Accelerating Species Change

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  • derhexer@aol.com
    URL to an article from Daily Galaxy _http://tinyurl.com/3rlnvev_ (http://tinyurl.com/3rlnvev) Comments anyone? First few paragraphs We are more different
    Message 1 of 1 , May 23, 2011
      URL to an article from Daily Galaxy
      _http://tinyurl.com/3rlnvev_ (http://tinyurl.com/3rlnvev)

      Comments anyone?

      First few paragraphs
      "We are more different genetically from people living 5,000 years ago than
      they were different from Neanderthals."
      John Hawks -- University of Wisconsin anthropologist

      In a fascinating discovery that counters a common theory that human
      evolution has slowed to a crawl or even stopped in modern humans, a study
      examining data from an international genomics project describes the past 40,000
      years as a time of supercharged evolutionary change, driven by exponential
      population growth and cultural shifts.

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      Thanks to stunning advances in sequencing and deciphering DNA in recent
      years, scientists had begun uncovering, one by one, genes that boost
      evolutionary fitness. These variants, which emerged after the Stone Age, seemed to
      help populations better combat infectious organisms, survive frigid
      temperatures, or otherwise adapt to local conditions.

      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.

      A team led by University of Wisconsin-Madison anthropologist John Hawks
      estimated that positive selection just in the past 5,000 years alone --
      dating back to the Stone Age -- has occurred at a rate roughly 100 times higher
      than any other period of human evolution. 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.

      "In evolutionary terms, cultures that grow slowly are at a disadvantage,
      but the massive growth of human populations has led to far more genetic
      mutations," says Hawks. "And every mutation that is advantageous to people has
      a chance of being selected and driven toward fixation. What we are catching
      is an exceptional time."

      While the correlation between population size and natural selection is
      nothing new -- it was a core premise of Charles Darwin, Hawks says -- the
      ability to bring quantifiable evidence to the table is a new and exciting
      outgrowth of the Human Genome Project.

      Chris Rohrs

      (Just a pawn on the great chessboard of life)

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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