October 5, 2011
Humans Are Continuing To Evolve
According to new research, humans are still continuing to change and evolve as a response to their environment.
Researchers found a genetic push toward younger age at first reproduction and larger families while studying an island population in Quebec.
The team used data from 30 families who settled on Ãle aux Coudres between 1720 and 1773.
The researchers analyzed data from women who married between 1799 and 1940 and compared their family relationships, any social, cultural or economic differences, as well as the age at which they had their first child.
The team found that over 140 years, the age at first reproduction dropped from 26 to 22.
The University of Quebec geneticist Emmanuel Milot and colleagues reported that though "it is often claimed that modern humans have stopped evolving because cultural and technological advancements have annihilated natural selection, this study supports the idea that humans are still evolving.”
"What we learn from that population is that evolution is possible in relatively modern times in modern humans," Milot wrote in the study. "Where it is going to occur and in what ways is a different question."
The study was published on Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
On the Net: