• Question: Do you think that humans might evolve in the later future?

    Asked by michellerana to Cesar, Emily, Jamie, Kate, Philippa on 19 Jun 2011.
    • Photo: Kate Clancy

      Kate Clancy answered on 17 Jun 2011:

      I think we’re evolving right now! A scientific paper just came out a few years ago that used the women of the Framingham Heart Study (a long-term sample of women who have been surveyed and poked and prodded most of their lives). They did some cool mathematical modeling to look at what they observed and related it to genes and heritability. They were able to predict the direction of selection for humans — that means, they have a sense of how the environment is driving evolution.

      These researchers found that we are getting a little shorter, a little fatter, yet will have lower cholesterol and blood pressure. They also found that we are having kids a little younger, but reaching menopause (the end of getting your period) later. All very interesting stuff!

    • Photo: Emily Robinson

      Emily Robinson answered on 17 Jun 2011:

      I think humans are still evolving (or at least they definitely have to potential to evolve further). The thing is that humans have cheated natural selection a little. In animals it is ‘survival of the fittest’ which drives evolution, as if you die and don’t reproduce then your genes can’t be passed on to the next generation. But humans have created a society in which it is normal and very much excepted for us to help each other and not to allow other humans to die if we can help it. Think about how we have developed medicines and treatments to stop people dying. So humans don’t evolve in the exact same manner as other animals… but saying that the fact that we do ‘care’ so much about each other as humans and we try to live in ‘fair’ societies means that me must have socially evolved! 😀

    • Photo: Jamie Gallagher

      Jamie Gallagher answered on 17 Jun 2011:

      Hi Michelle,

      We will always continue to change a little a few interesting changes that I have heard possible are that we will lose out little toe (as it is not really needed) that we will continue to lose most of our body hair and there will be less distinction between the colour of peoples skin.
      The skin colour is an interesing one, it is predicted that at some point in the future the races will mingle to the point that we no longer have very distinct races like caucasian
      or black.

      Unlike Kate I think we are getting taller though. I think there is room to debate.

    • Photo: Philippa Demonte

      Philippa Demonte answered on 19 Jun 2011:

      @michellerana I agree with the others – humans are evolving all the time. More of us are living longer because of improved health care, and I agree with Jamie – I think we’re getting taller compared with our ancestors (but maybe our generation is also suffering more from lower back ache?).

      It’s interesting that @Emily mentioned natural selection. Because there are more people living for longer and the world’s population is increasing, this unfortunately means that more people will die every time there is a natural disaster, particularly earthquakes, and in the future from drinking water shortages. So human evolution will not just affect physical characteristics, but also the way that we behave in order to survive.