Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Human Evolution May Be Accelerating

Humans are continuing to evolve as our genes respond to rapid changes in the world around us. In fact, according to some anthropologists, the pressures of modern life may be speeding up human evolution.

The idea that "human evolution is a continuing process is widely accepted among anthropologists,'' Robert Wald Sussman, editor of the Yearbook of Physical Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis, told McClatchy news. This concept contradicts the 20th-century assumption that modern medical practice, antibiotics, better diet and other advances would protect people from the perils and stresses that drive evolutionary change.

It's even conceivable, Sussman said, that our genes eventually will change enough to create an entirely new human species, one no longer able to breed with our own species, Homo sapiens.

"Someday in the far distant future, enough genetic changes might have occurred so that future populations could not interbreed with the current one,'' he speculates.

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