Sunday, October 14, 2012
Many people mistakenly believe that evolution is no longer happening in humans. That we have reached the end of our evolution and the species is now stagnate. But this is in no way true! Evolution is still at work and this article in the New York Times is an elucidating report on how mankind has been changing and why it has been changing.
One of the examples they used was “Asian Flush.” When people in China discovered that they could convert cereal into liquor, drunkenness must have posed a threat to their survival. As a result a variant gene that protects agains alchol became prevalent in almost all of China as rice cultivation became universal. The gene transforms the intoxicating effect of alcohol to a chemical that makes people flush. This is an example of how cultural changes are shaping evolution. This population responded on the molecular level to changes in their local environment. East Asians have a genetic variant absent from European and African populations of having thicker hair. This presumably is to help protect themselves from the cold.
A government project called the Hap Map s a way of seeing the force of natural selection across the whole human genome. This is meant to discover the root and patterns of disease/ But it also provides the DNA data to see where evolution is occurring. It appears from data that 13% of our genes have been shaped by recent evolution! Evolution has not reached a standstill, and as our environment continues to rapidly change so will we!