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Modern life may be speeding up evolution


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Image credit: Wikipedia
Image credit: Wikipedia
Some anthropologists believe that the rapid changes in the world around us coupled with the pressures of modern life are speeding up the pace of human evolution.

"We're not finished yet. Even today, scientists say that human beings are continuing to evolve as our genes respond to rapid changes in the world around us. In fact, the pressures of modern life may be speeding up the pace of human evolution, some anthropologists think."

arrow3.gifView: Full Article | arrow3.gifSource: Yahoo! News
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Is it surprising that modern life is speeding up evolution? We are evolving due to our constant progress.

What I DO regard as surprising is to what extent, :o

It's even conceivable, he said, that our genes eventually will change enough to create an entirely new human species, one no longer able to breed with our own species, Homo sapiens.

"Someday in the far distant future, enough genetic changes might have occurred so that future populations could not interbreed with the current one,'' Sussman said in an e-mail message.

and this,

The changes are so rapid that "we could, in the very near future, compare the genes of old people and young people'' to detect newly evolving genes, Cochran said. Skeletons from a few thousand or even a few hundred years ago also might provide evidence of genetic change.
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I highly doubt are genes would change that rapidly. The article would have been more believeable if they said we would evolve quicker intellectually.

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Their view contradicts the widespread 20th-century assumption that modern medical practice, antibiotics, better diet and other advances would protect people from the perils and stresses that drive evolutionary change.

Why did they think it stopped in the first place? There's always room for improvement, no matter how well people eat or how much medicine we take. I'd think that the only way for any species to stop evolving would be to get completely wiped out.

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This article seems both factual and incredibly misleading.

Yes, we still, and will continue to, evolve - however there is no indication that such evolution will result in either gross physical changes to our form or the inability to interbreed with some future human. Given that we are simply using technology to adapt against the stresses of our environment, it is possible that such evolution that takes place in humans will be the loss of specific immunities to be replaced by technological substitutes for the genetic resistances.

There is little to no evidence, in my understanding, of any environmental pressure on us to change our physical form in any way - nor any pressure we put on ourselves through our technological adaption of the environment. Without this pressure there is no stimulus for any drift to a different form to take place.

What will happen (and is happening) is that we, as a species, begin to express (as we have been) our full genotype including the alleles which would be detrimental to our reproductive success in a non-technological environment. Detrimental alleles and mutations will often take much longer to (and sometimes will never) drift out of the genetic population.

Evolution seems to be progressing more rapidly because we are experiencing more genetic variation as a species due to our diminishing reliance on the natural environmental pressures alone being the impetus for genetic selection.

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There is little to no evidence, in my understanding, of any environmental pressure on us to change our physical form in any way - nor any pressure we put on ourselves through our technological adaption of the environment. Without this pressure there is no stimulus for any drift to a different form to take place.

Actually, there is one environmental pressure that humans have never experienced before, and which we are subjected to almost 24 hours a day.

We currently live within electrical fields, and are exposed to various electrical and electronic devices. This environment hasn't really been around long enough for us to study its effects, however I would not be at all surprised to find that it does indeed have some consequences.

I was actually talking about this with a friend yesterday. I was wondering if the increase in ADD (of which I was diagnosed with a few years ago), could be a result of the continued immersion in these electric fields, and if it might constitute an evolutionary advantage in that people with ADD tend to make fairly decent computer people.

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Actually, there is one environmental pressure that humans have never experienced before, and which we are subjected to almost 24 hours a day.

We currently live within electrical fields, and are exposed to various electrical and electronic devices. This environment hasn't really been around long enough for us to study its effects, however I would not be at all surprised to find that it does indeed have some consequences.

I was actually talking about this with a friend yesterday. I was wondering if the increase in ADD (of which I was diagnosed with a few years ago), could be a result of the continued immersion in these electric fields, and if it might constitute an evolutionary advantage in that people with ADD tend to make fairly decent computer people.

There have been fields of magnetic force (equivalent to electrical fields) around on Earth since near the beginning of the formation of the planet without which we (and life) would probably not be here. There are also many other forms of natural energy fields - such as ultra-low frequency sonic fields caused by seismic activity - that have been relatively omni-present (albeit, in localised effect) during our tenure on the planet.

Saying that, I find the subject of the artificially generated fields an interesting talking point. I know there have been studies which show both for and against their culpability for various ailments and I admit I lean towards the 'for' camp. Whether this constitutes an evolutionary pressure is for time and science to conclude. It may be that other technology (such as medical pharmaceuticals) mitigate the effect of such fields towards being one of the deciding factors in evolutionary success.

Edited by Leonardo
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Naw, I don't buy it, not at all. If anything, the modern world, in eliminating or overcoming barriers that in the past contributed to evolution, has brought evolution to a stand-still. One might even argue that, through democratic leveling, we're devolving as a species. We probably have the same percentages of geniuses, intelligent people, average people, and stupid people now as there were in past ages; but there are so many more people now living at one time, the gross numbers obscure that fact. Average people and stupid people still predominate in the population--only more so.

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There have been fields of magnetic force (equivalent to electrical fields) around on Earth since near the beginning of the formation of the planet without which we (and life) would probably not be here. There are also many other forms of natural energy fields - such as ultra-low frequency sonic fields caused by seismic activity - that have been relatively omni-present (albeit, in localised effect) during our tenure on the planet.

Saying that, I find the subject of the artificially generated fields an interesting talking point. I know there have been studies which show both for and against their culpability for various ailments and I admit I lean towards the 'for' camp. Whether this constitutes an evolutionary pressure is for time and science to conclude. It may be that other technology (such as medical pharmaceuticals) mitigate the effect of such fields towards being one of the deciding factors in evolutionary success.

Yeah, I agree with this as well. I don't think we know enough about the power generated from magnetic forces/fields and in particular electro magnetic forces/fields to overlook this potential. Somehow I believe electro magnetic energy will be an integral part of future human life and development. Whether this results in a hybrid human species in the future, well.....

Naw, I don't buy it, not at all. If anything, the modern world, in eliminating or overcoming barriers that in the past contributed to evolution, has brought evolution to a stand-still. One might even argue that, through democratic leveling, we're devolving as a species. We probably have the same percentages of geniuses, intelligent people, average people, and stupid people now as there were in past ages; but there are so many more people now living at one time, the gross numbers obscure that fact. Average people and stupid people still predominate in the population--only more so.

You've got to be joking right? You can say a lot of things about modern humans but we're definitely not devolving. Intellectual and technological progress in the last hunded of years has made giant leaps compared to the previous two thousand years. Physically we're living longer and, compared to our ancestors, have more recreational activities that help relieve the mind, at least momentarily, from all our troubles in life.

Studies show that improved nutrition, which is happening in most parts of the world and to a large number of humans, helps stimulate brain development which in turn helps in the discovery of new medicines, saving more lives, which in turn improves technology, contributing to progress and bettering lives...etc...etc.

http://www.brainpractices.com/brain-study/...ment-study.html

We're surely not living in a perfectly flawless world, whether progress eventually changes our metabolism & structure in such a short time as the article suggests, is the real bone of contention to the legitimacy of the article IMO, but progress will change us eventually, no doubts about it.

Edited by BlackRedLittleDevil
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On this part

- - -

"We're not finished yet. Even today, scientists say that human beings are continuing to evolve as our genes respond to rapid changes in the world around us. In fact, the pressures of modern life may be speeding up the pace of human evolution, some anthropologists think."

- - -

I can't help but think of all agendas/schedules/deadlines that 'must' be met, chemicals/drugs (elicit etc), GM foods (err McDonald's :rofl: ) etc, consumed by modern man today as opposed to, say 100 -150 years ago (eg) Not to forget the all important mainstream media pumping out that pounding pulverizing brain into jelly *wobble :wacko: wobble* hypnotic garbage *buy>consume>spent >buy more...then die* Maaan, it's a wonder two-thirds of the planet aren't wearing straight jackets already.

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You've got to be joking right? You can say a lot of things about modern humans but we're definitely not devolving. Intellectual and technological progress in the last hunded of years has made giant leaps compared to the previous two thousand years. Physically we're living longer and, compared to our ancestors, have more recreational activities that help relieve the mind, at least momentarily, from all our troubles in life.

Studies show that improved nutrition, which is happening in most parts of the world and to a large number of humans, helps stimulate brain development which in turn helps in the discovery of new medicines, saving more lives, which in turn improves technology, contributing to progress and bettering lives...etc...etc.

http://www.brainpractices.com/brain-study/...ment-study.html

We're surely not living in a perfectly flawless world, whether progress eventually changes our metabolism & structure in such a short time as the article suggests, is the real bone of contention to the legitimacy of the article IMO, but progress will change us eventually, no doubts about it.

No offense meant here BlackRedLittleDevil, but you seem to misunderstand biological evolution, which is not cultural (including our technology and lifestyle choices) evolution. We live longer because of improved culture.

You are correct on devolving though, such a thing is not possible because evolution is directionless. There is no forward or backward.

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No offense meant here BlackRedLittleDevil, but you seem to misunderstand biological evolution, which is not cultural (including our technology and lifestyle choices) evolution. We live longer because of improved culture.

You are correct on devolving though, such a thing is not possible because evolution is directionless. There is no forward or backward.

No problem mate, its a forum and everyone has a right to their opinion. I thought my post included both biological and intellectual/cultural evolution but I see your point. I'm not an expert on evolution so am expressing my opinions on pure logic.

You don't think improved nutrition might have an influence in infant development, which then has an impact on cells and genes and subsequently increases intellect?

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