After spending 30 minutes with my face in somebody's armpit during my morning commute, I often become pessimistic as to the fate of humanity. Surveying the surly, inexplicably moronic sea of humanity found on an average subway platform I am left left to conclude our species reached its evolutionary peak in 1840, and have been on some sort of inexorable decline ever since. So imagine my surprise when I read that not only are humans still evolving, but we're doing it faster than we ever have before.
According to new research, our genetic overachieving is due to two factors- there are a lot more of us, so there is more opportunity for beneficial mutations to take hold in our populations. We are also living in radically different climates than our early ancestors experienced in Africa. Africa is warm. Canada is not.
But the really interesting thing is that populations in Asia, Europe and North America are actually evolving in different ways. Says researcher Dr. Henry Harpending:
"The dogma has been these [differences] are cultural fluctuations, but almost any temperament trait you look at is under strong genetic influences. Genes are evolving fast in Europe, Asia and Africa, but almost all of these are unique to their continent of origin. We are getting less alike, not merging into a single, mixed humanity."
But, I should point out, that doesn't mean we can't all be friends.
Given our newfound powers of evolution, I'd like to request we all make a concerted effort to do the following:
1) Get better knees. Seriously, what the hell is wrong with those things?
2) Evolve the ability to predict the paths of fellow pedestrians, so we can avoid that awkward shuffle-dance thing you do when you try to get around them.
3) Be able to get all of our nutritional requirements from hot wings.
4) Shooting lasers out of our eyes. This will be useful in case of alien invasion and/or zombie attack.
Anything special you'd like to evolve? Let me know in the comments section and I'll do my best to give natural selection a shove in the right direction.
The Ascent of Man (Note lasers).