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December 15, 2006

Study Detects Recent Instance of Human Evolution

Here's an interesting article from the New York Times:

A surprisingly recent instance of human evolution has been detected among the peoples of East Africa. It is the ability to digest milk in adulthood, conferred by genetic changes that occurred as recently as 3,000 years ago, a team of geneticists has found.

The finding is a striking example of a cultural practice — the raising of dairy cattle — feeding back into the human genome. It also seems to be one of the first instances of convergent human evolution to be documented at the genetic level. Convergent evolution refers to two or more populations acquiring the same trait independently.

Coincidentally, I happen to be reading "Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies" by Jared Diamond. (The book came out in 1997. I'm a little behind.) One of the things he discusses is how the practice of domesticating large animals (e.g. cattle) for food and other uses helped some societies to succeed and eventually dominate others.

Link: Study Detects Recent Instance of Human Evolution.

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December 15, 2006 in Creationism and Evolution | Permalink


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