Most people think that humans evolved from apes. Most people are wrong. Realistically, both we and the primates evolved from the same ancestor. And we haven’t stopped evolving, and we probably never will. That is the wonderful thing about evolution; it is a never-ending process. The process of evolution is hard to track. The best way to learn how evolution works is to track single cell organisms like bacteria. As the bacteria multiply, you can witness the process of evolution first hand.
As previously stated, evolution is an ongoing process and it affects all living organisms on Earth. The issue is that tracking evolution in complex organisms is much more difficult than tracking it in bacteria that live shorter.
During a study in 2017 scientists tracked more than two hundred thousand people and eight million mutations in order to gain a clearer picture of how evolution works in humans. The study showed that some genes are becoming uncommon in old people, even if they do not directly affect procreation. This makes sense since a gene that directly affects reproduction makes it difficult for the gene to spread from the initial host. Genes that fall into this category are, for example, the variant that creates a predisposition in people to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, genes that predispose people to issues with cholesterol, a high BMI, asthma, and general coronary issues are becoming less and less common.
Scientists think that this happens because people who carry this gene have an overall smaller chance of having children. Unfortunately, in order to prove this an even larger study is needed with a much bigger number of participants. Another effect that needs to be taken into consideration is the grandmother hypothesis. According to this, if the grandmother lives longer, she is more likely to help take care of her grandchildren. This, in turn, gives the children a higher chance of survival. As a result, her genes are preserved and passed on to following generations. The good thing about the grandmother hypothesis is that it influences evolution in a way that because of it the genes that cause diseases later in life become less common as time passes by.
A great example of evolution is our ability to drink milk. After birth, an enzyme called lactase is turned on in the baby’s body in order to help it digest milk. As the child grows, the gene is supposed to shut down. But during a point in history, some of our ancestors developed a mutation that kept the enzyme turned on even during adulthood. This probably helped people survive during one point in Earth’s history, which makes sense due to the availability of milk, and its high nutritional value. This gene has been passed on and more and more people can successfully digest milk today as a result.
Another, more modern example of evolution is the height of people in the Netherlands. The average male in the Netherlands is six feet tall or over. And this is because Dutch women prefer taller men. Dutch women mostly are average in height but their partners tend to tower over them and as a result, they usually produce taller babies. This affected the people from the Netherlands so much that the average height is about 8 inches more than it was 200 years ago.
If we take this into consideration it is more than likely that over time, we will see more and more of these superior genes surface, because the only constant in nature is change. Genes constantly mutate, and usually, those mutations prove to be advantageous.
Scientists discover amazing new facts about evolution.