Science have ensured human survival. Factors in

Science has proven that evolution exists. Evolution can
happen quickly, within a few short generations, or gradually over millions of
years. Although there are differences of opinion regarding whether humans continue
to evolve, scientific evidence strongly supports the fact that evolution is
ongoing in humans. Natural selection continues to occur throughout the world,
perhaps more frequently in some regions than others. Cultural innovations have
shaped human evolution for thousands of years and will continue to do so. Human
intervention may be affecting the gene pool, but long-term effects of such
intervention are not yet determined.  

Keywords:  Natural selection, evolution, culture,
technology, gene pool

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The Ever-Evolving Human

The earth is in a state of continual
transition. Currently, the environment is changing and global warming is
happening. Over thousands of years, human culture has shifted to adapt to the changing
environment through agricultural and dietary changes, disease resistance, and
technological advances that have ensured human survival. 

Factors in Evolution

Environmental Factors

            Our earth
has moved through epochs of differing global conditions. Global warming and
cooling have occurred multiple times over millions of years, forcing species to
develop adaptations to environmental conditions in order to survive. Human evolution
is no different, relying on natural selection to promote traits that ensure
survival.  Jay T. Stock, in his article
titled “Are Humans Still Evolving?” states that “human populations display
variation in features such as stature, hair and skin color, which corresponds with
environmental conditions. This variation can be used to identify trends…and
patterns of environmental adaptation.” (Stock, 2008).

            We also
rely on the environment for our agricultural needs.  Stock states that “Another lesson from the
archaeological record is that those regions of our plant that are agriculturally
most productive today will not necessarily remain so in the future.”

Cultural Factors.

As the human population has increased by leaps and bounds,
so too has the pool of adaptive mutations. In fact, rather than human evolution
ceasing it appears to have accelerated as a result of “rapid population growth…coupled
with changes in cultures and ecology…creating new opportunities for adaptation”
(Hawks et. al., 2007). In correlation with an increased populous, humans have
also expanded geographically, increasing the distribution area of adaptive
mutations.  Using data based on allele
ages, Hawks points out that “the rate of adaptive evolution in human
populations had indeed accelerated within the past 80,000 years.”  It is important to note the period of time
considered. People today don’t consider 80,000 years as a short period of time,
but the data needs to be evaluated in context. An 80,000 year time span in geological
terms is actually quite short considering that the fossil record identifies the
first Homo sapien existing in Africa approximately 200,000 years ago (Stock,
2008) and that the earth is more than four billions years old (Redd, 2014).

A prime example of cultural factors on human evolution is
found in their genes. Hullinger states that “living in cities has produced a
genetic variant that allows us to be more resistant to diseases like
tuberculosis and leprosy.”  As the population
has increased and pushed people to live in closer proximity, genetic variations
have occurred offering protection from certain communicable diseases. Dr. Ian
Barnes states that this is a “very recent aspect of our evolution as a species,
the development of cities as a selective force.” (Hullinger, 2015).

Gene Pool Interference.

Questions have been raised about the use of technology in
treating diseases or extending human life, and the impact of these processes on
human evolution. Humans have developed vaccinations to prevent disease and
cures for conditions that would have surely caused the death of our not-so-distant
ancestors. The consequence is that bad mutations continue to exist and are
passed on to future generations (Palca, 2010).  Due to the large human population, however,
and the limited numbers of people that have access to technology such as
vaccinations and modern medicine, the human genome is not significantly affected.
(Dorey, 2009).  Additionally, Dorey
states that “In the developed world, over-use of antibiotics has led to most of
the harmful bacteria becoming immune…infectious diseases are once again
becoming significant killers.”  

Scientists will not be able to fully determine the effect of
technology on the human genome until more data has been assessed. Meanwhile,
human evolution will continue and there will be new opportunities to study the
environmental, cultural and technological impacts on that process.  

  

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