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STUDY: Human Brain evolved in abnormally short burst of mutations

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posted on Jan, 3 2005 @ 05:48 PM
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Researchers at the University of Chicago have recently published information that concludes that humans evolved through a process that involved an extremely high number of mutations that appeared in a relatively short time. This process -- and the genetic record of these changes -- is noticeably differant than anything that has been seen in any other species.

Since (I guess) I'm considered long-winded, let me just point out that this *could* be used to bolster the notion that human culture has influenced human biology to an extreme degree... or that there may be some truth to 'un-natural' theories on human evolution (creationsim, ET intervention, etc).

From the Guardian:
www.guardian.co.uk...

"The sophistication of the human brain is not simply the result of steady evolution, according to new research. Instead, humans are truly privileged animals with brains that have developed in a type of extraordinarily fast evolution that is unique to the species.
'"Simply put, evolution has been working very hard to produce us humans," said Bruce Lahn, an assistant professor of human genetics at the University of Chicago and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
'"Our study offers the first genetic evidence that humans occupy a unique position in the tree of life."
"Professor Lahn's research, published this week in the journal Cell, suggests that humans evolved their cognitive abilities not owing to a few sporadic and accidental genetic mutations - as is the usual way with traits in living things - but rather from an enormous number of mutations in a short period of time, acquired though an intense selection process favouring complex cognitive abilities."




posted on Jan, 3 2005 @ 05:58 PM
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well think about this then if where beeing geneticaly forced to evolve same as any forced or genetic change there are drawbacks that cant be overcome thus in the end will see our deaths like cancer

scares u realy when u think bout it

it means where not all realy human then part human and alien

only the elite and succesfull are top of the petri dish
burn they buggers



posted on Jan, 3 2005 @ 06:11 PM
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Originally posted by Rugoolian
well think about this then if where beeing geneticaly forced to evolve same as any forced or genetic change there are drawbacks that cant be overcome thus in the end will see our deaths like cancer

scares u realy when u think bout it

it means where not all realy human then part human and alien

only the elite and succesfull are top of the petri dish
burn they buggers



Well... this doesn't say that humans have alien dna in them... just that we are 'human' because our DNA went through an extraordinarily high number of mutations in a short time period. I suggested that this could support the notion that we were tinkered with... but being genetically reconfigured doesn't necessarily mean that we have entirely alien DNA snippings in us. The 'aliens' may just have reconfigured what was already there.

As for your comment about 'burning' the aliens/gov elites... I must ask: Would you rather be picking termites off of your mom's neck right now... or eating rotten fruit in the middle of an african jungle. I enjoy my command of language, long-range planning, and basic sentience... so, even if ancient aliens did 'upgrade' our lineage, I don't really have any complaints about it.



posted on Jan, 3 2005 @ 06:24 PM
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... I must ask: Would you rather be picking termites off of your mom's neck right now... or eating rotten fruit in the middle of an african jungle. I enjoy my command of language, long-range planning, and basic sentience... so, even if ancient aliens did 'upgrade' our lineage, I don't really have any complaints about it.




Ihave to say that is a good perspective to have.....but dissatisfaction is a motivator for evolution....



posted on Jan, 3 2005 @ 06:55 PM
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I hate articles like that, which give a sampling and miss the really good stuff.

For instance, I'd dearly love to know what TIMELINE the researcher is proposing. "Rapid" can mean 2 million years. The genetic changes could have come from the stages where Ardapithecus developed into Australopithecus (a huge leap... walking upright and using hands, and beginning to use and make tools in less than a million years) happened then.

We'll have to check back later in the year. There should be some discussion of their methodology in the next 2 months, as well as the discussion of what this means to evolutionary theory (note: it doesn't destroy it, but it does make the case that human social behaviors may drive evolutionary processes FASTER.)



posted on Jan, 3 2005 @ 07:53 PM
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Originally posted by onlyinmydreams



Researchers at the University of Chicago have recently published information that concludes that humans evolved through a process that involved an extremely high number of mutations that appeared in a relatively short time. This process -- and the genetic record of these changes -- is noticeably differant than anything that has been seen in any other species.

Since (I guess) I'm considered long-winded, let me just point out that this *could* be used to bolster the notion that human culture has influenced human biology to an extreme degree... or that there may be some truth to 'un-natural' theories on human evolution (creationsim, ET intervention, etc).

From the Guardian:
www.guardian.co.uk...

"The sophistication of the human brain is not simply the result of steady evolution, according to new research. Instead, humans are truly privileged animals with brains that have developed in a type of extraordinarily fast evolution that is unique to the species.
'"Simply put, evolution has been working very hard to produce us humans," said Bruce Lahn, an assistant professor of human genetics at the University of Chicago and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
'"Our study offers the first genetic evidence that humans occupy a unique position in the tree of life."
"Professor Lahn's research, published this week in the journal Cell, suggests that humans evolved their cognitive abilities not owing to a few sporadic and accidental genetic mutations - as is the usual way with traits in living things - but rather from an enormous number of mutations in a short period of time, acquired though an intense selection process favouring complex cognitive abilities."


1- Has there been any cooraborating evidence to support this theory? If so, pls give us a link.

2- How can this study be conducted, with any authenticity, without brain/brains of earlier hominids? (I might be wrong here)

3 - If, going by cranial size, if this were true, prove that their brain was any-more-formed than any other primate/human?

4- Doesn't this prove to be supposition more than fact?

5- [FACT] Just because a Giant Squid's brain is larger than ours, does that mean that it is smarter????



posted on Jan, 3 2005 @ 08:10 PM
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Originally posted by Ohio_Ron

1- Has there been any cooraborating evidence to support this theory? If so, pls give us a link.

2- How can this study be conducted, with any authenticity, without brain/brains of earlier hominids? (I might be wrong here)

3 - If, going by cranial size, if this were true, prove that their brain was any-more-formed than any other primate/human?

4- Doesn't this prove to be supposition more than fact?

5- [FACT] Just because a Giant Squid's brain is larger than ours, does that mean that it is smarter????


1.This was a breaking science story. I haven't seen it anywhere else, yet. It should be noted that the scientists in question belong to highly esteemed institutions.

2.The scientists in question were looking at the genetics of the human race itself. They were not, I believe, looking at fossil evidence. By looking at the genetic record, though, they determined that X amount of mutations occured in X amount of time. They then compared that number/relationship to other animals. Basically, by looking at DNA itself, they found a record that pointed to far more mutations than one would expect.
I agree with Byrd, though -- we know nothing of their methodology. I suspect that the fault lies in the writer of the article for this, though.

3.Again, we don't know what other things they did for this study. The article is written in a way that makes it sound like their conclusions were based on the record of mutations. Hopefully future articles will elaborate.

4.Well... this is just an initial, 'day one' type story. I imagine that the paper these men will/have published will cite the genetic data they are talking about in the article.

5.The article didn't make any mention of comparing brain sizes. These researchers were saying that humans have an unusual number of mutations... and that this high number is not seen in other animals during similar time periods.



posted on Jan, 3 2005 @ 08:32 PM
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.
The majority of stress on any individual of a social species comes from members of its own species.

The sexual selection process in humans probably is the most cerebral of any species, not that even the majority of the decision is made that way.

The female selecting the male human will do so for subtle, exclusively internal things like a sense of humor, an ability to be commercially successful [math, accounting], charisma, the ability to be a good farmer [diligent, attentive].

Additionally, probably with the birth of language sophistication, the ability to reason, calculate, lie, detect lies, come up with creative solutions to problems started a neurological arms race.

The article cited sort of points this way

In an increasingly social environment, greater cognitive abilities probably became more of an advantage.

Standard evolutionary logic would say that the expense of an exagerated ability to process thoughts was worth the energy/nutrient overhead involved.

If you believe it was a completely natural process, It implies that cerebral capacity has a huge leverage of advantage for a species.
Judging from the fact that we have gone from a species of about 100,000 to now 6,000,000,000 would seem to support that perspective.
.



posted on Jan, 3 2005 @ 09:08 PM
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Quote:
The sexual selection process in humans probably is the most cerebral of any species, not that even the majority of the decision is made that way.

The female selecting the male human will do so for subtle, exclusively internal things like a sense of humor, an ability to be commercially successful [math, accounting], charisma, the ability to be a good farmer [diligent, attentive].
End Quote:

Is that the way it is today....I don't think so! The most desired male seems to be the rugged, tough-nut, kick-your-ass, frick on command, defend family...at all cost....



Maybe I'm out of contact with the new world, but that is the way it was just a few years ago, in my heyday!



posted on Jan, 3 2005 @ 11:45 PM
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This post is half to get the thread added to my watch list, but I've got some comments:

It probably won't be that hard for me to get copies of the actual article in cell once I'm back at work (tomorrow, maybe)...I'm not really at all knowledgeable in anthro, but if no one else has done this by tomorrow evening sometime I'll try to post a detailed summary of their methodology, findings, etc., and hopefully will do a better job than the guy at the Guardian (aka the Grauniad, for those familiar with that joke).

Also: it is apparently the case that complex cognition is worth the energy cost. As a hypothetical example, though, would it still be worthwhile for, say, a garden slug or a sea cucumber (I'm thinking of animals without much ability to manipulate their environment) to augment their intelligence? I'd suspect that it wouldn't be -- certainly a smarter kind of slug is going to get eaten less often than a dumber slug if the slug's smarts relate to dodging predators, but I'd think that a slug with the smarts of, say, Kant or Einstein is probably wasting energy/nutrients on something counterproductive at best.... Not sure where I'm going with this other than to say that I'd be curious to see what's known about the possible existence of optimal intelligence levels for particular phenotypes, and how detrimental adding unnecessary brainpower can be.

On the other hand, the peacock's tale and other 'useless' developments have value for selection, so this may not be as clear-cut as I'm making it out to be: for survival too much smarts is possibly counterproductive, but for reproduction it might be a whole different matter...I look forward to seeing the details of this study.



posted on Jan, 4 2005 @ 03:25 AM
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Originally posted by Ohio_Ron

Quote:
The sexual selection process in humans probably is the most cerebral of any species, not that even the majority of the decision is made that way.

The female selecting the male human will do so for subtle, exclusively internal things like a sense of humor, an ability to be commercially successful [math, accounting], charisma, the ability to be a good farmer [diligent, attentive].
End Quote:

Is that the way it is today....I don't think so! The most desired male seems to be the rugged, tough-nut, kick-your-ass, frick on command, defend family...at all cost....



Maybe I'm out of contact with the new world, but that is the way it was just a few years ago, in my heyday!


More like thug's, killers and drug dealers.



posted on Jan, 4 2005 @ 11:07 AM
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Hmmm.... not sure why everyone has an issue with the methodology... after all this was published in Cell, one of the more prestigious life science journals... Could it be because a paper like this stands in opposition to what people have been taught?

Anyway... there is nothing obviously flawed about their methodology. This paper compares the evolutionary rates of nervous system genes in primates vs. rodents. It compares the sequence divergence between the two species by comparing roughly analogous members. The sequence divergence of numerous rat and mouse genes was compared relative to the sequence divergence between macaques and humans. The 'evolutionary separation' between each group is estimated to be 16-23 million years and 20-25 million years respectively. The paper says that based on the rodent control, primates leading to humans have exhibited much faster rates of evolution. It is further noteworthy that this evolutionary feature was observed only in the lines leading to humans, not other primate lines.

Interesting, definitely.

Not sure who posted this, but social behaviors can't "drive evolution faster." Social behaviors can alter which traits natural selection weeds out, but can't change the overall rates of evolution. The problem becomes even more difficult with complex organisms like humans. Complex organisms can't tolerate large scale mutations of the genome; Think: radiation sickness. A faster mutation rate in humans wouldn't lead to specific mutation of nervous system genes, it would lead to large scale mutation of all genes. However this large scale mutational difference isn't present in other studied aspects of primate genetics. To my knowledge, it's only been discovered in this paper. If anything, human social behavior slows down the rates of human evolution by permitting harmful alleles to persist in populations. Human society does much to eliminate the process of natural selection from its population.

As someone mentioned, certainly this paper doesn't mean the end of evolutionary theory, the paper is written in the context of molecular evolution. However, it does force the science community and ultimately the lay person to reconsider whether or not our theories re: evolution are as sophisticated and well developed as some would have us believe.



posted on Jan, 4 2005 @ 02:03 PM
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I saw something on the Science channel (used to be Discovery) from one of the chief scientists involved in unlocking the human genome. It was more entertaining than anything else because this was a major player in that study with a pleasantly comical attitude while still being completely fact based. I cannot remember his name, but I can remember one of the last things he implied on that show. He said there are latent genes in the human genome that don't imply complete origin or function of the human species genetically with being terrestrial to earth only. This of course could mean nothing more than we needed to understand the function of the gene more; but anyone with an open mind would likely be curious. Does anyone know anything more about this finding?



posted on Jan, 4 2005 @ 03:06 PM
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Originally posted by existence
He said there are latent genes in the human genome that don't imply complete origin or function of the human species genetically with being terrestrial to earth only.

I don't know what specifically you are referring to, or which scientist (JC Venter, possibly?) you are talking about, but this claim seems to have little basis in reality. What is that even supposed to mean? Since there has been no confirmation by the science community re: the existence of aliens, implies that scientists are ignorant as to the nature of the alien 'chemical blueprints.' Alien species are not obligated to possess DNA. Even if they do possess DNA (ET did!), we don't know anything about their genetic sequences, unless the gov't has some covert alien genome sequencing project we don't know about, but that's a topic for another thread.


This of course could mean nothing more than we needed to understand the function of the gene more; but anyone with an open mind would likely be curious. Does anyone know anything more about this finding?

Sounds to me like less of a finding than a bunch of speculation and hand-waving to me, but I didn't see the piece about which you wrote.

[edit on 4-1-2005 for grammar by mattison0922]

[edit on 4-1-2005 by mattison0922]



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