Humans Are Still Evolving But In Ways That Might Surprise You

A sea of humans at a sporting match (Image: “orange and blue” by Rhett Maxwell'). Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA

Danielle Andrew 16 Nov 2016, 18:17

The Conversation

It’s often said that through our innovations in science, agriculture and medicine humans have become masters of our biological destiny.

That we’ve seized control of our evolution, eliminating most of the causes of death and suffering experienced by our ancient and not too distant ancestors.

We’ve wiped out hunger and famine and eliminated food shortages in most parts of the world.

Today, we have access to a wide variety of high quality foods. Items once only available to us seasonally can now be eaten all year round.

Humans have tamed many deadly diseases with antibiotics and even wiped some out completely through vaccination.

As we age and our body parts break or wear out we’re increasingly able to repair or even replace them with artificial ones.

We can control our fertility and decide whether to have children or not, even while maintaining active sex lives.

People mature earlier and delay having children until they’re ready to, after careers have been established and families are financially ready to raise kids.

Many of us can choose who we marry; people from across the planet rather than just the neighbourhood or tribe; from the opposite, or in some places, the same sex.

We’ve dramatically extended our lifespan: more people are living much longer than ever before.

Across the planet the number of centenarians is growing dramatically each year.

And with all of these changes in culture, health, nutrition and life expectancy the human population has grown dramatically over the last century.

It took hundreds of thousands of years to reach a population of just a billion people, but by the middle of the twentieth century there were two and a half billion of us.

And by the mid-twenty-first century predictions are there will be almost 10 billion of us on this tiny blue planet.

We’re rewriting not only our own future but sealing the evolutionary fate of millions of other species as well.

From the species within our bodies in our vast microbiome affected by shifts in diet and the use of medication, to the many species in the external environment we affect through pollution, land clearing and over exploitation.

What impact might all of these changes have on our future as a species? The future course of our evolution?

Geneticists have found clear evidence that the choices people make can have profound impacts on the evolution of entire populations, and ultimately, our species as well.

Full Article
Comments

If you liked this story, you'll love these

This website uses cookies

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By continuing to use our website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.