Blog 7: Evolution Continued

In looking at the history of our species, up to the modern human, it is clear to see that evolution plays a large part in how humans look and function today. Before this class, I had some idea of how large of a role evolution played in how modern humans behave and why, but after taking this course I understand the process of evolution much better. Evolution has definitely lead to many changes in the human species over millions of years, so it only makes sense that evolution continues today. However, since evolution usually takes many years to occur, it can be hard to spot exact instances of evolution, but it is not impossible.

When looking for evolution in modern humans, it is important to look at specific instances of mutations. Just because there are mutations in one certain human does not mean that it will lead to evolution, but evolution can come about from large scale mutations in a group of humans, or one mutation that transfers through generations. One of the examples we learned of this was how one gene that was protection against cardiovascular disease could be traced to a mutation in one specific man living in Italy. Because of this one mutation, several of his ancestors carried this gene and, if they reproduce in the future, this could lead to some sort of evolutionary trait, where people would be less prone to cardiovascular disease.

One example of a biological trait that points to evolution that I think is sometimes forgotten about, is the existence of the human appendix. Previously, the appendix was used to break down cellulose in a very highly leafy diet when leaves were the main staple of eating. Today, however, the appendix is pretty useless. In fact, many people have them taken out because they are actually a detriment to our health. Another example of a biological trait that humans no longer have a need for is our tailbone, or the coccyx. It is basically what is left of a tail, when our ancestors had one. This is another example of evolution because a long time ago we needed this feature in our bodies, however today it does not really serve a function because our bodies and lives have changed.

I think the most helpful and maybe the most obvious trait that is evolving in humans is our resistance to disease. Previously, most death occurred because of disease and wounds that our ancestors did not know how to treat and heal. This meant that live spans were incredibly short, because people were mainly dying from disease. Today, however, not only do we have very advanced medicines to keep this from happening, but we also just have evolved to have stronger immune systems that keep us from dying from many diseases. For example, a couple hundred years ago, humans could die simply from catching the common cold. Today, though, this is relatively uncommon and even if one does not take medicine they are most likely to be fine if they just wait it out. This type of resistance to disease is a very common example of evolution and in the future we will definitely be able to see more of this.

3 thoughts on “Blog 7: Evolution Continued

  1. Originally, we all had brown eyes. But about 10,000 years ago, someone who lived near the Black Sea developed a genetic mutation that turned brown eyes blue. While the reason blue eyes have persisted remains a bit of a mystery, one theory is that they act as a sort of paternity test. “There is strong evolutionary pressure for a man not to invest his paternal resources in another man’s child,” says the lead author of a study on the development of our baby blues. Because it is virtually impossible for two blue-eyed mates to create a brown-eyed baby, our blue-eyed male ancestors may have sought out blue-eyed mates as a way of ensuring fidelity. This would partially explain why, in a recent study, blue-eyed men rated blue-eyed women as more attractive compared to brown-eyed women, whereas females and brown-eyed men expressed no preference.

  2. Hello! I like you post. Your blog article is very well organized, and you brought up specific examples when you try to explain something. I agree with you that when looking for evolution in modern humans, we should look at specific instances of mutations. Not only mutations but other natural factors, such as the environment. Remember how the icy environment profoundly influenced the Neanderthals? We should take into account of every possible clue when we are trying to solve the puzzle of human evolution. But things will be much complicated in the future because we have developed strong technology, which could significantly impact our offspring, especially some genetic technologies. I hope we can create the perfect human genetically in the future! Overall, good job on your post, I enjoyed reading it.

  3. I agree evolution has played such a key role in how we interact and function in our everyday life. Everything from how we brush our teeth to how we throw a football. It has even had an influence on how we have funerals in our lives today. It is crazy to think that Neanderthals held funeral services, it just tells you how important life has always been. That is a very good point it is definitely hard to pinpoint an exact instance or example of evolution but they are out there and when you see one it is very special. I did not know that we don’t need our tailbone anymore that is very interesting. That makes sense though since we don’t use tails now obviously.

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