Are we still evolving?
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06-05-2011, 09:56 AM
Are we still evolving?
I didn't really think about it up to now, but I started to wonder if and how we are evolving. I wonder what we would look like in tens of thousands or maybe even a million years (supposing we still exist). Found some material that made me start to think about it:

This website gives some links to possible side effects of our current sedentary lifestyle.

From the BBC.co.uk website:
Dr Alice Roberts asks one of the great questions about our species: are we still evolving?
There's no doubt that we're a product of millions of years of evolution.
But thanks to modern technology and medicine, did we escape Darwin's law of the survival of the fittest?
Alice follows a trail of clues from ancient human bones to studies of remarkable people living in the most inhospitable parts of the planet and the frontiers of genetic research, to discover if we are still evolving - and where we might be heading.
(source)




A few cartoons to get your imagination rolling:

[Image: Evolution8-1.gif]
[Image: evolution-of-man.gif]
[Image: Effects-Of-Technology-On-Evolution-.jpg]

"Infinitus est numerus stultorum." (The number of fools is infinite)
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06-05-2011, 01:00 PM
RE: Are we still evolving?
Umm... Wat?

What significant benefit could an enlarged skull, extended thumbs, less body hair and losing a toa has to the genes?

We are still evolving, but I highly doubt that the predictions of the picture are correct. They can be right if we would adapt to sitting 10 hours a day, but currently only a tiny proportion of the population spends significant amounts of time just sitting around. I think that there will be a selection pressure against over-sitting, because of the health damage that it does, although that won't be a genetic selection pressure, but a selection pressure against behaviour.
I also don't think that the current lifestyle will last many hunred years. And even if it would last enough to significantly change the sitting population to that direction, there will come some crisises where that kind of people will have huge disadvantages when compared to the people who haven't been over-sitting. There will always be the need for acquiring resources through work, and that kind of a body isn't good for it.

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06-05-2011, 01:18 PM
 
RE: Are we still evolving?
In my personal opinion, given the amount of time required for any significant natural evolution, we will most likely be evolving through artificial means long before any real change occur naturally.

I am not a biologist or futurist though, so don't take my word for it. Rolleyes
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06-05-2011, 03:54 PM
RE: Are we still evolving?
I've often wondered this myself. Natural/Sexual selection is what drives evolution, and in what general direction. How many children we produce is the main criteria as to how strongly we are selected. How much does natural selection play a role in our lives? We try our hardest to give everyone a full life. Some people die before they can have a lot of children, but most people, even if they choose unhealthy life styles, still can have children on par with the rest of society. So I believe that as far as life and death goes, it provides little in the way of selective force.

As far as natural selection via sexual selection goes, I think that plays a larger role. There are definite qualities that the opposite sex looks for(and in this modern day, the same sex too Tongue), but people tend to settle if they can't find anyone else. There's always people who never get hitched(by choice or otherwise), but I'm not sure if sexual selection really provides for much change either. We might change a little bit, but I don't think modern selective pressures are strong enough for real change.

I've tried looking at various factors and how they relate to how many children a person has, but I haven't found a good site. Just because something is common today(little exercise, obesity, ect) doesn't mean it will be selected. There has to be some means that those people would produce more viable offspring that also holds the ability to produce viable offspring. Not that I'm against the idea of our continued evolution, but until I can understand how it's possible I'm not sure if I want to believe it.

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07-05-2011, 05:00 PM
RE: Are we still evolving?
I saw a science show that did a blurb on the idea that women with thinner hips may becoming more desirable, and if so it may be because we are less in need of extra bodyfat reserves for survival. If this is the case, then future child-birth may become harder for women, which would be a bad outcome in the long run.

When I find myself in times of trouble, Richard Dawkins comes to me, speaking words of reason, now I see, now I see.
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07-05-2011, 06:16 PM
RE: Are we still evolving?
The most logical evolution will be like in the movie Idiocracy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSROlfR7WTo

Perfectly logical explanation.

Smile

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07-05-2011, 07:59 PM
 
RE: Are we still evolving?
(07-05-2011 06:16 PM)Filox Wrote:  The most logical evolution will be like in the movie Idiocracy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSROlfR7WTo

Perfectly logical explanation.

Smile

That movie could have been so much funnier Sad

As far as evolution goes, I'd have to agree with helland. Our collective knowledge grows far too fast for any kind of evolution to keep up. As long as we don't cause our own extinction, I'd bet that we're going to learn how to program our own genes at some point.

You could also consider that we're passing on a lot of undesirable traits now that we have such good medical technology. I don't think extreme genetic defects would usually be passed on, but you could get an accumulation of more minor traits. I'm 100% unqualified to have an opinion though, so I'm just guessing Tongue
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08-05-2011, 02:41 AM
RE: Are we still evolving?
(07-05-2011 06:16 PM)Filox Wrote:  The most logical evolution will be like in the movie Idiocracy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSROlfR7WTo

Perfectly logical explanation.

Smile

I wanna see that movie. Tongue

It's logical if the idiocy would be genetic, but it's mostly about your upbringing, living conditions, etc..

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08-05-2011, 04:55 AM
RE: Are we still evolving?
(07-05-2011 06:16 PM)Filox Wrote:  The most logical evolution will be like in the movie Idiocracy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSROlfR7WTo

Perfectly logical explanation.

Smile

Great concept, horrible movie.

"Infinitus est numerus stultorum." (The number of fools is infinite)
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08-05-2011, 06:35 AM
RE: Are we still evolving?
(07-05-2011 06:16 PM)Filox Wrote:  The most logical evolution will be like in the movie Idiocracy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSROlfR7WTo

Perfectly logical explanation.

Smile

I wanted to write a post here but this video made it unnecessary. It expresses exactly my feeling on the matter.

..."we can be truly free - not because we can rebel against the the tyranny of the selfish replicators but because we know that there is no one to rebel."
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