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Human Genes Still Evolving 810

MediumFormat writes "The New York Times is running an article that discusses the continuing evolution of human genes. From the article: 'The genes that show this evolutionary change include some responsible for the senses of taste and smell, digestion, bone structure, skin color and brain function.' Darwin Awards aside, what made people think that evolution stopped with the modern era?"
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Human Genes Still Evolving

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  • Original paper (Score:5, Informative)

    by lovebyte ( 81275 ) * <> on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @05:25AM (#14873403) Homepage
    The PLOS biology article [] is available to everyone via Open Access.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @05:37AM (#14873442)
    remains to be about zero...

    Please! Go read one Gould's short essays about what Evolution is, and isn't, or google around for five minutes.

    I can't imagine what it must be like to be an evolutionary biologist and have to see articles like this here on Slashdot.

  • Yesterday, I read this [] in the Guardian []. It's a very interesting article about how, over the last 10.000 years, our DNA has been altered by what we eat and where we live.
  • Re:Of course (Score:5, Informative)

    by mpe ( 36238 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @05:47AM (#14873478)
    Of course human genes are still evolving; you just have to examine what it is these days that limits people in reproductivity, and what encourages them. It's obvious that we, as a species, should ever so slightly more alcohol-resistant, because drunk driving kills a lot of young people before they can reproduce.

    Humans of European ancestory are already more resistant to alchol than most mammals. Because for a long time brewing was the normal method of purifying drinking water. Cars have only been around for just over a century, where as water living pathogens have been around a lot longer.
  • by maxwell demon ( 590494 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @06:44AM (#14873671) Journal
    Natural selection is the phenomena of being removed from the gene pool prior to reproduction. Anything else that happens will allow your genes to carry on, which is how evolution works.

    Well, that's not the complete picture [].
  • Re:Cost of living (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bazzalisk ( 869812 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @06:48AM (#14873691) Homepage
    I think you miss the point.

    An evolutionary advantage is whatever passes your genes on to the next generation. Hence it is the poor not the rich that have it. Quality of life doesn't make a difference. Evolution is a simple dumb process, it holds no moral judgements whatsoever.

  • by ShakaUVM ( 157947 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @07:46AM (#14873859) Homepage Journal
    >>Genetically, we have a concept called races.
    >No, we don't. Race is cultural, and is of little interest genetically.

    Really? Explain that to my black friend in 8th grade as he suffered during a sickle-cell anemia crisis.

    I'm sure he'd be happy to know that he can't have a disease that affects primarily African-Americans, because there are no genetic differences in races. enetics []

    Or to my Chinese roommate who lacks alcohol dehydrogenase enzymes in his liver and so has one drink and turns bright red. Embarassing for a guy who was in a frat that prized heavy drinking skills very highly. The enzyme deficiency has a huge penetration in Asia, something like up to 70% in some countries, a couple percent in Germany, 0% in Ireland. Go figure. []

    Or the Jewish student organization that sponsored a free screening day for Tay-Sachs. []

    The concept that race is solely a cultural construct is mere wishful thinking: "I wish there were no genetic differences in people, because then there'd be no racism, and we'd all live in a world filled with flowers and ponies." No, as we discover more about genetic diversity we learn which genes have greater tendencies in certain ethnic groups. This is NOT an excuse for racism -- the concept that one person can be somehow metaphysically superior than another due to skin pigmentation is absurd -- but denying uncontroversial science for political reasons is troubling as well.
  • Re:Prove that (Score:3, Informative)

    by SillyNickName4me ( 760022 ) <> on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @08:48AM (#14874085) Homepage
    Blahblahblahblah free market blahblahblah extreme individualism blahblah

    If all you have seen is the social security system in the USA then I can hardly blame you for your opinion, that system is horribly broken.

    There are extremely well working social security systems in other countries, take a look at most of Scandinavia for a good example of that. Interestingly, people there are not angry at 'the weak' at all, only at those who actually abuse the system.

    It is the free market fundamentalists that undo most of the help that is being given to third world countries, but despite that, a lot of help is going their way.

    For the rest, you are so caught up in free market fundamentalism that you cannot see beyond your own situation. Too bad your own situation is completely irrelevant. Please go learn something about this world and the different societies on it before believing that you have a solution for anything.
  • Re:Prove that (Score:3, Informative)

    by SillyNickName4me ( 760022 ) <> on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @09:12AM (#14874188) Homepage
    I am not suggesting free trade is a bad thing, but alone it doesn't solve much.

    If India didn't try to educate its people (on tax money) there would be no programmers for hire there.

    China has an education and healthcare system in line with socialist ideals, all state provided.

    It is not accidental that those are among the very few countries in the developing world that are making some real economic progress.

    There is trade with them because they actually have something to offer, and they have something to offer exactly because of spending tax money on helping those who cannot afford education and such themselves initially.

    When left to a pure 'free market' you get something like Nigeria. Lots of money available in theory, trade due to natural resources, but a population living in poverty and not able to provide anything worth trading.
  • Re:pretty obvious (Score:3, Informative)

    by sckeener ( 137243 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @09:23AM (#14874227)
    In fact, natural selection has clearly operated at a huge scale, when Europeans settled every corner of the globe, while indigenous populations have disappeared or mingled. Genes associated with those Europeans have spread, while many others have nearly disappeared.

    The European gene pool had little to do with their spread. Read
    • Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond
    or watch it on PBS []. Basically everyone was equal, but some had better resources / environment.

    My own example is imagine if our intelligence had developed underwater as amphibious creatures, but the world was 90% water. We would have a hard time discovering fire. Our environment would have restricted our progress. The group with access to land probably would have dominated the world after a time because their intelligence had more access to resources beyond the rest that were restricted just to the ocean.
  • Re:Original paper (Score:4, Informative)

    by Austerity Empowers ( 669817 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @11:28AM (#14875111)
    I don't think we need the original paper, I learned this in high school biology. Evolution never stops, there is no perfectly evolved thing. The question is whether our current evolution pattern is actually in our best interest, or if the dumb are outbreeding the smart (and on the side, are such things genetics based, or social).

    Some people feel that "forward" evolution has stopped. It's messy to define "forward", and messier to figure out if it has stopped.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @11:35AM (#14875219)
    "One generation is enough. I know someone who was born with six fingers and toes. They were aputated, but the genetic propensity to grow the appendages is still there somehow."

    Why would amputating the fingers "fix" the genes??? The DNA for making those 6-fingered hands is located throughout the entire body, not just in those extra fingers....
  • by Surt ( 22457 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @02:34PM (#14877156) Homepage Journal
    Just in case anyone out there wants to non-breed themselves out of the gene pool, but is in fact allergic to latex: ds!106&keyword=(sheepskin+condoms)&match_type= []

  • by narcc ( 412956 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @08:13PM (#14879680) Journal
    Oh, really? []

    (Yes, this nutcase is serious. I have a copy of his book, though I don't know why.)

You know, Callahan's is a peaceable bar, but if you ask that dog what his favorite formatter is, and he says "roff! roff!", well, I'll just have to...