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Gene Change in Cannibals Reveals Evolution in Action

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posted on Nov, 23 2009 @ 12:32 AM
Its discoverers are calling it a textbook case of how evolution happens: cannibals who have developed a genetic defence against kuru, a degenerative disease of the brain like CJD or Alzheimer's disease, which is caused by eating human brains.

When members of the Fore people in Papua New Guinea died, others would eat the dead person's brain during funeral rituals as a mark of respect. Kuru passed on in this way killed at least 2500 Fore in the 20th century until the cause was identified in the late 1950s and the practice halted.

Identification of kuru and how it was spread helped researchers identify how BSE – mad cow disease – spread through the feeding of infected cattle brains to other animals, and how this eventually led to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), which has killed 166 people so far in the UK.

Simon Mead of the British prion research centre at University College London says the discovery of an "anti-kuru" gene is the most clear-cut evidence yet of human evolution in action.

"I hope it will become a textbook example of how evolution happens," he says. "It's a striking and timely example.' New Scientist

Have another piece of Aunt Hilda, she's good for you.

[edit on 23/11/09 by Astyanax]

posted on Nov, 23 2009 @ 12:44 AM
When you go too far down the road of cultural stupidity, apparently even your genes rebel.

posted on Nov, 23 2009 @ 01:07 AM
Very interesting.

Sort of makes you wonder how drinking something else's blood can affect your genetic structure...

The elite are big on that stuff.

[edit on 23/11/09 by NuclearPaul]

posted on Nov, 23 2009 @ 01:32 AM
reply to post by NuclearPaul

It will give you hemophilia probably...

Do we know of any elite families with that blood disorder? Hrrrrm!

posted on Nov, 23 2009 @ 01:40 AM
reply to post by Astyanax

This is actually really cool and interesting.

Thank you for sharing! I don't think I would have found this article, otherwise. I found this paragraph the most interesting:

The mutation first arose about 200 years ago by accident in a single individual, who then passed it down to his or her descendants. "When the kuru epidemic peaked about 100 years back, there were maybe a couple of families who found that they and their children survived while all their neighbours were dying, and so on to today's generation, who still carry the gene," says Mead. "So it was a very sudden genetic change under intense selection pressure from the disease," he says.

posted on Nov, 25 2009 @ 12:25 AM
reply to post by ravenshadow13

Do you known any more examples, perhaps less extreme, of such development? You'd have to look to population groups in extreme environments, I suppose--the Arctic, the desert, above the snowline, or under plague conditions--to find them.

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