According to folk wisdom - which is not
supported by any scientific evidence - human beings have long since stopped evolving. People reason
that civilization and modern science protect human beings from predators and other agents of natural selection to which their wild ancestors were
vulnerable, so that nearly everyone, even the physically or mentally handicapped, can live to a ripe old age and reproduce successfully.
I have never accepted this. The way I see it, the artificial environment in which we live exerts numberless selective pressures of its own. Some
people survive and reproduce under these pressures more successfully than others*. Thus natural selection still affects human reproduction. Evolution
Now, a new scientific study suggests that not only is human evolution continuing, but that it has been speeding up for the last 20,000 years (roughly
the time at which humans began evolving culture) and has been faster in the last 5,000 years than at any time in the past.
The reasons given are the exponential growth of the human population (more genetic variation for evolution to operate on), more interbreeding (the
results of large population movements in historic times and, nowadays, of mass private travel) and the effects of culture.
Here is a link to a story on the study
. The page contains links to other information sources on the same
What do you
feel? Do you agree with the study? Do you think we're evolving faster? In which direction, if any, do you think we're headed? May
we even split into more than one species
in the future?
And what, if anything, should we be doing about it?
*By the way, 'reproducing successfully' doesn't mean having children; for reasons that become obvious when you think about reproduction from a
genetic point of view, it means having grandchildren