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Friday, December 14, 2007

Human Evolution Faster Than Thought?

Contrary to the popular notion that human evolution has slowed dramatically, US scientists say that it has actually increased - at a rate approximately 100 times faster than any other in history!

Prof. Henry Harpending, author of the study conducted at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), said "Genes are evolving fast in Europe, Asia and Africa, but almost all of these are unique to their continent of origin. We are getting less alike, not merging into a single, mixed humanity." The professor said this is happening because there has not been much "flow" between different regions since humans first left Africa for the rest of the world.

The researchers provided two theories for why evolution is speeding up:
  1. There are more people, meaning advantageous mutations have more chance to appear
  2. Environmental and dietary changes
Professor Steve Jones of the University College London, a geneticist, called the first theory "contentious," as the evidence is not clear. He said that it is clear that human evolution has sped-up over the past 10,000 years, but to suggest that it is happening at this instant is "probably wrong."

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