Natural Selection Driving Human Evolution As Late as the 19th Century

Writes ScienceNow via WIRED Science:

In a world where we’ve tamed our environment and largely protected ourselves from the vagaries of nature, we may think we’re immune to the forces of natural selection. But a new study finds that the process that drives evolution was still shaping us as recently as the 19th century.

The finding comes from an analysis of the birth, death, and marital records of 5,923 people born between 1760 and 1849 in four farming or fishing villages in Finland. Researchers led by evolutionary biologist Alexandre Courtiol of the Institute for Advanced Study Berlin picked this time period because agriculture was well established by then and there were strict rules against divorce and extramarital affairs. The team looked at four aspects of life that affect survival and reproduction, key signposts of natural selection: Who lived beyond age 15, who got married and who didn’t, how many marriages each person had (second marriages were possible only if a spouse died), and how many children were born in each marriage. “All these steps can influence the number of offspring you have,” says Courtiol.

Natural selection was alive and well in all of the villages the researchers surveyed. Almost half of the people died before age 15, for example, suggesting that they had traits disfavored by natural selection, such as susceptibility to disease. As a result, they contributed none of their genes to the next generation…

Read More: ScienceNow via WIRED Science

  • Anarchy Pony

    You won’t escape natural selection ever. Not until you’re entirely robot, or can rewrite you genetic code nearly at will. And even then not really, because different forms of selection will be at work, robot people would be changing for efficiency and style and the demands of being space imperialists, and geno freaks will be changing to live underwater or whatever and coping with the pollution of the robot people. 

    • Scruffy

      I know right? but even if we were were robots we’d still be subject to natural selection.

    • Okarin

       eh haven’t ya watched the beginning of ‘idiocracy’? 😉

  • Bender B Rodriguez

     Natural Selection has never waxed, never faltered.
    We simply continue to alter the parameters of what traits are “best”.

  • Mrtchops

    personally, i’m doing my best to de-evolve.. a few more beers and i’ll be a lung-fish

  • tooCents

    I can’t believe this article states evolution somehow stops. Weird!