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Thread: Are Humans Still Evolving or Is Evolution Coming to a Halt?

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    Senior Member Thrymheim's Avatar
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    Genetic Experts: Human Evolution Coming to a Halt

    Human evolution is grinding to a halt, according to a leading genetics expert.

    The gloomy message from Professor Steve Jones is: this is as good as it gets.

    Prof Jones, from the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at University College London, believes the mechanisms of evolution are winding down in the human race.

    At least in the developed world, humans are now as close to utopia as they are ever likely to be, he argues. Speaking at a UCL Lunch Hour Lecture in London, Prof Jones said there were three components to evolution - natural selection, mutation and random change.

    He said: "In ancient times half our children would have died by the age of twenty. Now, in the Western world, 98% of them are surviving to the age of 21. Our life expectancy is now so good that eliminating all accidents and infectious diseases would only raise it by a further two years. Natural selection no longer has death as a handy tool."

    Mutation rate was also slowing down, he said. Although chemicals and radioactive pollution could cause genetic changes, one of the most important mutation triggers was advanced age in men. "Perhaps surprisingly, the age of reproduction has gone down - the mean age of male reproduction means that most conceive no children after the age of 35," said Prof Jones. "Fewer older fathers means that if anything, mutation is going down."

    Random alterations to the human genetic blueprint were also less likely in a world that had become an ethnic melting pot, according to Prof Jones.

    He said: "Humans are 10,000 times more common than we should be, according to the rules of the animal kingdom, and we have agriculture to thank for that. Without farming, the world population would probably have reached half a million by now - about the size of the population of Glasgow.

    "Small populations which are isolated can change - evolve - at random as genes are accidentally lost. Worldwide, all populations are becoming connected and the opportunity for random change is dwindling. History is made in bed, but nowadays the beds are getting closer together. Almost everywhere, inbreeding is becoming less common. In Britain, one marriage in fifty or so is between members of a different ethnic group, and the country is one of the most sexually open in the world. We are mixing into a global mass, and the future is brown."

    He added: "So, if you are worried about what utopia is going to be like, don't; at least in the developed world, and at least for the time being, you are living in it now."
    http://uk.news.yahoo.com/pressass/20...t-6323e80.html

    So inbreeding is required for improvement quick grab a cousin
    Cattle die, kinsmen die,
    the self must also die;
    but glory never dies,
    For the one who is able to achieve it.

    Sayings of the High One.

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    Probaly not that extreme. But I do read alot that the present massimmigration across the globe, comming arm in arm with racemixing, does slow evolution severly down. If it doesn't stop it at all.

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    Senior Member Pino's Avatar
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    the reason it's coming to a halt is because the system which promotes evolution has come to a complete halt.

    The best genes mateing with the best genes dont take place anymore, it seems to be the best female genes mateing with the best money.

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    Senior Member rainman's Avatar
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    This actually is a cornerstone argument of the need for folks communities and small scale organization (tribalism, familialism, "cells" however you want to do it).

    The cells or small communities should not be completley isolated but should relatively breed within themselves. Another big reason is social altruism.

    In a large transient society it is beneficial to have uncivilized traits. Lying, cheating, stealing, being a rude *sshole. It all gets you ahead. Which leads to worse citizens and a weaker, less civilized, basically third world society.

    Good social behavior must be reinforced both socially and genetically through small groups. Groups where everyone knows everybody else and actions that are bad for the community are well known and punished. You know if someone is a liar, theif etc. It allows for trust and cooperation. In a city you cannot trust anyone or you are a "sucker" for instance.

    Basically small churches that are family based can fullfill this function. Or large organizations that split themselves into small local groups would work. Whatever. The Amish have a good model.

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    Smile "So inbreeding is required for improvement - quick grab a cousin." actually, closer would be better.


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    Are Humans Still Evolving or Is Evolution Coming to a Halt?

    Modern Homo sapiens is still evolving. Despite the long-held view that natural selection has ceased to affect humans because almost everybody now lives long enough to have children, a new study of a contemporary Massachusetts population offers evidence of evolution still in action.

    A team of scientists led by Yale University evolutionary biologist Stephen Stearns suggests that if the natural selection of fitter traits is no longer driven by survival, perhaps it owes to differences in women's fertility. "Variations in reproductive success still exist among humans, and therefore some traits related to fertility continue to be shaped by natural selection," Stearns says. That is, women who have more children are more likely to pass on certain traits to their progeny.

    Stearns' team examined the vital statistics of 2,238 postmenopausal women participating in the Framingham Heart Study, which has tracked the medical histories of some 14,000 residents of Framingham, Mass., since 1948. Investigators searched for correlations between women's physical characteristics - including height, weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels - and the number of offspring they produced. According to their findings, it was stout, slightly plump (but not obese) women who tended to have more children - "Women with very low body fat don't ovulate," Stearns explains - as did women with lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Using a sophisticated statistical analysis that controlled for any social or cultural factors that could impact childbearing, researchers determined that these characteristics were passed on genetically from mothers to daughters and granddaughters.

    If these trends were to continue with no cultural changes in the town for the next 10 generations, by 2409 the average Framingham woman would be 2 cm (0.8 in) shorter, 1 kg (2.2 lb.) heavier, have a healthier heart, have her first child five months earlier and enter menopause 10 months later than a woman today, the study found. "That rate of evolution is slow but pretty similar to what we see in other plants and animals. Humans don't seem to be any exception," Stearns says.

    Douglas Ewbank, a demographer at the University of Pennsylvania who undertook the statistical analysis for the study, which was published Oct. 21 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), says that because cultural factors tend to have a much more prominent impact than natural selection in the shaping of future generations, people tend to write off the effect of evolution. "Those changes we predict for 2409 could be wiped out by something as simple as a new school-lunch program. But whatever happens, it's likely that in 2409, Framingham women will be 2 cm shorter and 1 kg heavier than they would have been without natural selection. Evolution is a very slow process. We don't see it if we look at our grandparents, but it's there."

    Other recent genetic research has backed up that notion. One study, published in PNAS in 2007 and led by John Hawks, an anthropologist at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, found that some 1,800 human gene variations had become widespread in recent generations because of their modern-day evolutionary benefits. Among those genetic changes, discovered by examining more than 3 million DNA variants in 269 individuals: mutations that allow people to digest milk or resist malaria and others that govern brain development.

    But not all evolutionary changes make inherent sense. Since the Industrial Revolution, modern humans have grown taller and stronger, so it's easy to assume that evolution is making humans fitter. But according to anthropologist Peter McAllister, author of Manthropology: the Science of Inadequate Modern Man, the contemporary male has evolved, at least physically, into "the sorriest cohort of masculine Homo sapiens to ever walk the planet." Thanks to genetic differences, an average Neanderthal woman, McAllister notes, could have whupped Arnold Schwarzenegger at his muscular peak in an arm-wrestling match. And prehistoric Australian Aborigines, who typically built up great strength in their joints and muscles through childhood and adolescence, could have easily beat Usain Bolt in a 100-m dash.

    Steve Jones, an evolutionary biologist at University College London who has previously held that human evolution was nearing its end, says the Framingham study is indeed an important example of how natural selection still operates through inherited differences in reproductive ability. But Jones argues that variation in female fertility - as measured in the Framingham study - is a much less important factor in human evolution than differences in male fertility. Sperm hold a much higher chance of carrying an error or mutation than an egg, especially among older men. "While it used to be that men had many children in older age to many different women, now men tend to have only a few children at a younger age with one wife. The drop in the number of older fathers has had a major effect on the rate of mutation and has at least reduced the amount of new diversity - the raw material of evolution. Darwin's machine has not stopped, but it surely has slowed greatly," Jones says.

    Despite evidence that human evolution still functions, biologists concede that it's anyone's guess where it will take us from here. Artificial selection in the form of genetic medicine could push natural selection into obsolescence, but a lethal pandemic or other cataclysm could suddenly make natural selection central to the future of the species. Whatever happens, Jones says, it is worth remembering that Darwin's beautiful theory has suffered a long history of abuse. The bastard science of eugenics, he says, will haunt humanity as long as people are tempted to confuse evolution with improvement. "Uniquely in the living world, what makes humans what we are is in our minds, in our society, and not in our evolution," he says.
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/2009102...08599193175700

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    Despite evidence that human evolution still functions, biologists concede that it's anyone's guess where it will take us from here. Artificial selection in the form of genetic medicine could push natural selection into obsolescence, but a lethal pandemic or other cataclysm could suddenly make natural selection central to the future of the species.
    I believe & support the theory of Evolution, but I would argue, as some of the contributors to the article above, would suggest that our medical technology and other advances are speeding up the process. Human Evolution is not totally organic anymore.

    Bioengineers are focused on advancing human health and promoting environmental sustainability, two of the greatest challenges for our world. Understanding complex living systems is at the heart of meeting these challenges.
    The mission of Stanford's Department of Bioengineering is to create a fusion of engineering and the life sciences that promotes scientific discovery and the development of new biomedical technologies and therapies through research and education.

    The Department of Bioengineering is jointly supported by the Schools of Medicine and Engineering. It includes, in a single department, research and teaching programs that embrace biology as a new engineering paradigm and apply engineering principles to medical problems and biological systems.

    Bioengineering faculty, staff, and students are inventing the future of biomedicine.
    Retrieved From:http://bioengineering.stanford.edu/

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    Since the Industrial Revolution, modern humans have grown taller and stronger, so it's easy to assume that evolution is making humans fitter. But according to anthropologist Peter McAllister, author of Manthropology: the Science of Inadequate Modern Man, the contemporary male has evolved, at least physically, into "the sorriest cohort of masculine Homo sapiens to ever walk the planet." Thanks to genetic differences, an average Neanderthal woman, McAllister notes, could have whupped Arnold Schwarzenegger at his muscular peak in an arm-wrestling match.
    Things like this make me wish I could go back in time, and whisper in Darwin's ear: "Hey.... this is a great theory and all, but just for publicity and marketing purposes, why don't you use a different word than fitness."

    I don't know if this is a misunderstanding on the part of Mr. McAllister, or merely on the part of the author of the news article being quoted; but either way, the assumption that evolutionary "fitness" has anything to do with "not being a wimp" is just... wrong.

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    Senior Member velvet's Avatar
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    Ah, the beloved fitness misunderstanding

    Fitness is a term that has a lot of meanings, and the newest of them is in connection with sports.

    "It fits in" is the meaning Darwin implied, an organism that fits into his environment, carries a bunch of useful traits fitting for this environment etc.

    Fit doesnt mean 'superior', fittest (in the sports or more stupid, German sense), strong, or whatever there was interpreted into, it just means that the organism is optimally adjusted to the requirements of the specific environment.


    With regards to the article, I think humanity isnt evolving, it is devolving. Indeed, humanity as a whole gets weaker, who could imagine walking hundreds of kilometers today? Some thousands years back people crossed entire continents. 200 years ago caring for a household was really heavy work, today such an amount of real labor is done only by smiths maybe or similar jobs. In that sense, people some hundred years ago indeed where more fit in the sport sense too. Traits benefical back then are today quite unimportant, and this will leave its print on the human genome.

    In addition, selection doesnt happen at all any more. Every child born survives, no matter how weak or ill it is or was born four months too early. Retards survive and every child illness is survived by the most. All these people who were not really supposed to survive now reproduce themselves, spreading defective genes.

    The micro selection described in the article will not change the negative impact of the non-existing real selection process that bared people in recent ages from reproducing, for good reason.

    Right now we breed indeed the weakest human that ever walked the earth.
    Ein Leben ist nichts, deine Sprosse sind alles
    Aller Sturm nimmt nichts, weil dein Wurzelgriff zu stark ist
    und endet meine Frist, weiss ich dass du noch da bist
    Gefürchtet von der Zeit, mein Baum, mein Stamm in Ewigkeit

    my signature

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    Senior Member rainman's Avatar
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    Fitness means it is fit for survival.

    I love this quote-

    The bastard science of eugenics, he says, will haunt humanity as long as people are tempted to confuse evolution with improvement. "Uniquely in the living world, what makes humans what we are is in our minds, in our society, and not in our evolution,"

    According to this a horse fly, a pig, and a gorilla can all become humans if we just change their minds and drill enough education into their heads. Once they are part of our culture they are human. Genetics plays no role in their capacity to understand or fit into that culture hahahaha

    Maybe this answers a question in another thread: why they push anorexic sick looking models on us. Probably because they are infertile. Anything to push the birth rate down.

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