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The Domestication of Man: The Social Implications of Darwin
July 20, 2010 10:10 AM   Subscribe

New Adventures in Recent Evolution - In the last few years, biologists peering into the human genome have found evidence of recent natural selection. cf. Social Darwinism: 21st century edition [previously] (via ip)

BONUS
Primordial Sperm Gene Found - A gene involved in the production of sperm is shared by almost all living animals, including sea anemones, worms, insects, marine invertebrates, fish and humans. The finding suggests the ability to produce sperm arose just once, 600 million years ago, and has been conserved through all subsequent animal evolution.

Birds Chose Different Path to Manage Their Sexes - After reconstructing many of the steps in the evolution of the human sex chromosomes, a scientist has started to analyze birds.

Evolution of homosexuality in birds explained - When birds have help on the parenting front, it leaves wiggle room for homosexual behavior without sacrificing evolutionary efficiency.

Tracking the Evolution of Malaria - Scientists have long speculated about just how old malaria is, with wildly varying estimates. cf. Scientists create a mosquito that's 'malaria-proof' & Malaria's Tenacious Buzz

When ideas have sex - At TEDGlobal 2010, author Matt Ridley shows how, throughout history, the engine of human progress has been the meeting and mating of ideas to make new ideas. It's not important how clever individuals are, he says; what really matters is how smart the collective brain is.
posted by kliuless (19 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
When birds have help on the parenting front, it leaves wiggle room for homosexual behavior without sacrificing evolutionary efficiency

Known in the scientific community as The Full House Effect.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 10:16 AM on July 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


I totally read that as "biologists peeing into the human genome."

I imagined a bunch of drunk and disgruntled dudes in white coats in the lab after hours, peeing into all the experiments.
posted by Ratio at 10:23 AM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Gregory Clark is an economist and his original work in that article relies entirely on what amounts to census research, so I'm not sure his piece belongs in that first sentence (*biologists* peering into the human genome...).

"The rich in pre-industrial England also had different abilities and aptitudes than the poor." Yeah, they could often force the poor from ancestral lands using enclosure laws. I'm not sure how this relates to being hard working, patient, and less violent. Maybe less direct violence, more institutional violence?

I also lost track of the number of un-cited, unsupported assertions in that article sooo quickly.


I should probably read the other links, but Clark's article left a horrible taste in my mouth.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 10:32 AM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Seems as if a couple of these studies throw a small sabot into the academic machinery that is Evolutionary Psychology, which generally asserts that our psychology is mostly a product of our long history as hunter-gatherers. This is not a death knoll for the field - for which I have great admiration - but warrants a little more attention to possible recent evolutionary changes. EP has always recognized the connection between cultural and biological evolution, but these studies are making claims for damn recent biological evolution.

And I'm not sure about that claim about Asians and alcohol. Sure, they turn red when they drink, but that doesn't keep them from throwing up all over Tokyo at two in the morning.
posted by kozad at 10:41 AM on July 20, 2010


I agree the article has a lot of leaps of faith, unsubstantiated assertions and questionable axioms. It certainly doesn't read like a biological study and his proposed links between behaviour and genes are tenuous at best. I don't doubt human populations continue to evolve but his correlations between wealth and surviving progeny are pretty simplistic.
posted by binturong at 11:09 AM on July 20, 2010


Ratio: "I totally read that as 'biologists peeing into the human genome.'"

  ┏━━━━━━━━━━━━┴━━━━━━━━━━━━━┓
  ┃      We don't breed in your toilet       ┃
  ┃   so please don't pee in our gene pool.  ┃
  ┗━━━━━━━━━━━━┬━━━━━━━━━━━━━┛
                       ┃
                       ┃

posted by Riki tiki at 11:11 AM on July 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


I totally read that as "biologists peeing into the human genome."

I guess it would be better to have them inside the genome, peeing out....
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:11 AM on July 20, 2010


It was the Puppeteers, breeding for luck.
posted by mr vino at 11:59 AM on July 20, 2010


People pay good money to see homosexual birds.
posted by an egg at 12:10 PM on July 20, 2010


Another great post, kliuless. Thanks!

Recent post related to the first link.
posted by homunculus at 12:14 PM on July 20, 2010


Human evolution ended?
posted by edgeways at 12:14 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Human evolution ended?
Nah, that was history that ended.
posted by binturong at 12:31 PM on July 20, 2010


Could someone unbork the "recent natural selection" -link? it should lead straight to this PDF without passing Google.
posted by dabitch at 12:33 PM on July 20, 2010


Does this mean we are not fundamentally different from other living things? If we are exempt from natural laws are there other animals that are also?
posted by Tashtego at 12:54 PM on July 20, 2010


Does this mean we are not fundamentally different from other living things? If we are exempt from natural laws are there other animals that are also?

Well it might be another attempted retread of "humans-are-special-because-they-are-the-only-animals-to..."
posted by edgeways at 2:28 PM on July 20, 2010


But in the last few years, biologists peering into the human genome sequences now available from around the world have found increasing evidence of natural selection at work in the last few thousand years, leading many to assume that human evolution is still in progress.

Did any biologist ever really think that human evolution ended because we learned how to make fur coats? A comparatively benign environment is still an environment exerting selection pressures, just not the same ones as a harsh environment.
posted by Sparx at 2:48 PM on July 20, 2010


kozad: "Seems as if a couple of these studies throw a small sabot into the academic machinery that is Evolutionary Psychology"

Assuming Evolutionary Psychology is completely analogous to biological evolution is wrong headed. In biology a newly evolved species usually replaces its ancestor. However when new behaviors evolve they don't erase the old ones. For example most people assume early humans formed matrilineal groups (with males being kicked out at adolescence) and much of matrilineal behavior was innate. Then patrilineal groups evolved because (by kin altruism) they were much more effective at warfare. Today patrilineal groups are the most common but matrilineal and patrilineal behaviors both sill exist in society.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 3:47 PM on July 20, 2010


New Hypothesis for Human Evolution and Human Nature

"It's no secret to any dog-lover or cat-lover that humans have a special connection with animals. But in a new journal article and forthcoming book, paleoanthropologist Pat Shipman of Penn State University argues that this human-animal connection goes well beyond simple affection. Shipman proposes that the interdependency of ancestral humans with other animal species — 'the animal connection' — played a crucial and beneficial role in human evolution over the last 2.6 million years."
posted by homunculus at 6:04 PM on July 22, 2010


in some ways i think it's the very concept of evolution that's, uh, evolving... like what are the selection pressures of a post-industrialised society? do they lead to a kind of idiocracy? or perhaps a directed evolution led by an intentional conscious collective cultural aesthetic?

if we have entered a post-evolutionary era, then i think group evolution where information signaling (thru 'memes' if you will) play an ever increasing role...
posted by kliuless at 7:43 AM on July 25, 2010


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