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Author Topic: Are humans now de-evolving?  (Read 2762 times)

Peter Morris

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Are humans now de-evolving?
« on: 10/06/2009 17:30:02 »
Peter Morris  asked the Naked Scientists:
   
Hi Naked Scientists
  
Love your show - it makes household chores and other boring tasks so much more enjoyable if done while listening to your enlightening podcasts.
  
I am concerned that the human species has begun to go backwards in an evolutionary sense.   For example: every time a woman is judged to have too narrow a pelvis to give birth safely she is given a caesarian, as is right and proper.   This means, however, that she passes her narrow pelvis genes on to her daughters and granddaughters instead of dying painfully in childbirth as would have happened in days gone by.   This situation could of course apply to any number of genetically related medical conditions.
  
My two-part question is therefore:
1.             Is the human species currently undergoing negative evolution (devolution?) as a result of our medical sophistication, and
2.             If yes, do you think we will be able to reverse this and get back to the status-quo, or even continue to improve, via the various gene therapies now in an early stage of development.
  
This issue has been bugging me for a long time but I have never been able to get any good answers.
  
Regards
Peter Morris
Adelaide, South Australia.

What do you think?


 

Offline Madidus_Scientia

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Are humans now de-evolving?
« Reply #1 on: 10/06/2009 18:17:45 »
Well there's no such thing as devolution, we evolve to our environment. If our environment is a hospital full of surgeons that can save you and your baby if your pelvis is too narrow, then it turns out that a narrow pelvis may actually be an advantage, because it won't kill you and your baby will probably be fine. And you gain the advantage of possibly being more attractive, which may get you pregnant more often.

But yes I agree that the path evolution is taking us on will render us less suitable for an environment without hospitals and the like. It's like how we lost our hair because we didn't need it so much after we started using clothes.

To reverse things we would pretty much have to reverse the environment, well in terms of evolving naturally anyway. Who knows what we may be able to do by artificially manipulating our own DNA.
 

Offline kaukcz

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Are humans now de-evolving?
« Reply #2 on: 11/06/2009 05:27:49 »
I wouldn't worry about de-evolving as you call it.  Once we fully understand genomics and proteomics, I suspect, the human race will be hyper-evolving.
 

Offline echochartruse

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Are humans now de-evolving?
« Reply #3 on: 11/06/2009 06:03:56 »
I think the only evolving we will ever do is in the lab.

A lot of woman have narrow pelvis and still have natural birth. Doctors these days give Caesars to save their insurance firstly.

does giving antibodies for say measles make the next generation more susceptible, less susceptible?

Hopefully it will be far in the future or not at all when a company puts patents on the human genome and human life comes entirely from a lab.

Sorry for the cynical view. just that I think humans haven't evolved/devolved at all. Remembering that the common diseases always existed and we still haven't evolved to a state where we are not effected by, say, cancers, rheumatism etc. That our hair doesn't fall out when we get old even when our previous ancestors lived in cold climates for thousands of years.

 

Offline Madidus_Scientia

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Are humans now de-evolving?
« Reply #4 on: 11/06/2009 06:19:45 »
Most people, especially in ancient times, have long had several children before they are effected by the ailments you list, so the selective pressure against these traits is weak.

Do you expect that humans should be super creatures immune to all ailments?
« Last Edit: 11/06/2009 06:23:26 by Madidus_Scientia »
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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Are humans now de-evolving?
« Reply #5 on: 11/06/2009 06:27:41 »
Do you expect that humans should be super creatures immune to all ailments?
No.
My brain is de-evolving!
 

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Are humans now de-evolving?
« Reply #5 on: 11/06/2009 06:27:41 »

 

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