Has evolution halted? Only TIME will tell

Have the comforts and supports of modern life ended the process of natural selection in humans? Steve Jones, genetics supremo at University College London believes so:

Before modernity, life was so tough that most children died before they reached adolescence. It was a race for survival and only the strongest made it, making out a case for natural selection. This means babies with genetic mutations that made them more resilient had better chances of survival as well as passing on their genes to their offspring.

Jones’ argument is that in a modern world of central heating and plenty of food, the same mutation is far less likely to give a child any advantage. A baby born today can expect to live a long and healthy life, which in turn works against the evolutionary tool of natural selection.

George Dvorsky opines that the theory that human beings have “stopped evolving” is incorrect because it discounts things like genetic drift, sexual selection, and of course, the self-guided evolution of transhumanists.

[image from kevindooley on flickr]

7 thoughts on “Has evolution halted? Only TIME will tell”

  1. Not exactly a new idea. It’s the idea behind sterilising numerous Germans, Jews, US-Americans in the 1940ies (in Germany, done by the likes of Mengele) and until the 1960ies in the USA.

  2. Yup, we stopped evolving by and large a few millenia ago, when early man started shaping his environment to fit him instead of adapting to it. Since then we’ve only evolved in social terms, e.g., from tribalism to oligarchy. I’m not sure it’s working too well.

  3. So, let me get this straight: the environment has changed radically (has *been* changed radically, by us) and that’s going to slow evolution down? I think it will accelerate it, both in the sense of going faster, and also (especially) in the sense of changing its vector. Add me to the list of Dvorskyites.

  4. So people who are less suited to the changing environment are going to die out or not find anyone to mate with?

  5. I agree that we have stopped evolving purely by means of traditional natural/sexual selection, however, I think that the human being as a species will continue to change, radically, based on other factors such as gene therapy and the simple fact that modern transportation enables far more racial mixing now than previously in human history.

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