Human evolution Intelligent Design News

Claim: Key gene shows how humans evolved to live longer

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From Cell :

•The long human lifespan evolved when our ancestors were homozygous for APOE e4.

•The e4 allele is associated with heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and reduced lifespan.

•High levels of physical activity reduce disease risks in e4 carriers.

•We propose that human longevity evolved due to a shift toward high activity levels.

•Current lifespan constraints may reflect a mismatch between lifestyle and evolutionary history.
Humans have exceptionally long lifespans compared with other mammals. However, our longevity evolved when our ancestors had two copies of the apolipoprotein E (APOE) e4 allele, a genotype that leads to a high risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), cardiovascular disease, and increased mortality. How did human aging evolve within this genetic constraint? Drawing from neuroscience, anthropology, and brain-imaging research, we propose the hypothesis that the evolution of increased physical activity approximately 2 million years ago served to reduce the amyloid plaque and vascular burden of APOE e4, relaxing genetic constraints on aging. This multidisciplinary approach links human evolution with health and provides a complementary perspective on aging and neurodegenerative disease that may help identify key mechanisms and targets for intervention.

And no other primate twigged to this APOE e4 thing? Interesting.

See also: The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (human evolution)

12 Replies to “Claim: Key gene shows how humans evolved to live longer

  1. 1
    Aceofspades25 says:

    It is fairly difficult to make an argument for the gain of longevity from selective pressures. This is because the evolutionary process doesn’t care for how long you live (after child bearing age) – it only cares for how many children you have and how successful those children are at producing offspring of our own.

    An argument can be made from the idea that grandparents were particularly helpful (with their increased experience and ability to mind children, freeing up the parents to better provide for them). This is something that other primates don’t practice.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    as to

    ‘the evolutionary process,, only cares for how many children you have and how successful those children are at producing offspring of our own.’

    to wit:

    Richard Dawkins interview with a ‘Darwinian’ physician goes off track – video
    Excerpt: “I am amazed, Richard, that what we call metazoans, multi-celled organisms, have actually been able to evolve, and the reason [for amazement] is that bacteria and viruses replicate so quickly — a few hours sometimes, they can reproduce themselves — that they can evolve very, very quickly. And we’re stuck with twenty years at least between generations. How is it that we resist infection when they can evolve so quickly to find ways around our defenses?”

    i.e. Since successful reproduction is all that really matters on a neo-Darwinian view of things, how can anything but successful reproduction be realistically ‘selected’ for? Any other function besides reproduction, such as sight, hearing, thinking, etc.., would be highly superfluous to the primary criteria of successfully reproducing!

    Of related note:

    Scant search for the Maker
    Excerpt: But where is the experimental evidence? None exists in the literature claiming that one species has been shown to evolve into another. Bacteria, the simplest form of independent life, are ideal for this kind of study, with generation times of 20 to 30 minutes, and populations achieved after 18 hours. But throughout 150 years of the science of bacteriology, there is no evidence that one species of bacteria has changed into another, in spite of the fact that populations have been exposed to potent chemical and physical mutagens and that, uniquely, bacteria possess extrachromosomal, transmissible plasmids. Since there is no evidence for species changes between the simplest forms of unicellular life, it is not surprising that there is no evidence for evolution from prokaryotic to eukaryotic cells, let alone throughout the whole array of higher multicellular organisms. – Alan H. Linton – emeritus professor of bacteriology, University of Bristol.

  3. 3
    awstar says:

    we propose the hypothesis that the evolution of increased physical activity approximately 2 million years ago served to reduce the amyloid plaque and vascular burden of APOE e4, relaxing genetic constraints on aging.

    If evolutionary biology hypotheses point to anything, it’s that they are always wrong. Which would mean that the oposite is more probably true. i.e. humans probably had longer life spans in the past and brokenness (typos in God’s Word as stored in the DNA) kept reducing that life span, until we finally figure out what is causing the breakage and designing a fix. Which by the way is what the Bible has said all along, and what real science — the science of medicine — is built upon.

  4. 4

    Medical research is like people who don’t know how to write computer programs trying to debug them.

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    OT: Doubting Darwin: Algae Findings Surprise Scientists – April 28, 2014
    Excerpt: One of Charles Darwin’s hypotheses posits that closely related species will compete for food and other resources more strongly with one another than with distant relatives, because they occupy similar ecological niches. Most biologists long have accepted this to be true.
    Thus, three researchers were more than a little shaken to find that their experiments on fresh water green algae failed to support Darwin’s theory — at least in one case.
    One of Charles Darwin’s hypotheses posits that closely related species will compete for food and other resources more strongly with one another than with distant relatives, because they occupy similar ecological niches. Most biologists long have accepted this to be true.
    Thus, three researchers were more than a little shaken to find that their experiments on fresh water green algae failed to support Darwin’s theory — at least in one case.
    “It was completely unexpected,” says Bradley Cardinale, associate professor in the University of Michigan’s school of natural resources & environment. “When we saw the results, we said ‘this can’t be.”‘ We sat there banging our heads against the wall. Darwin’s hypothesis has been with us for so long, how can it not be right?”
    The researchers ,,,— were so uncomfortable with their results that they spent the next several months trying to disprove their own work. But the research held up.,,,
    The scientists did not set out to disprove Darwin, but, in fact, to learn more about the genetic and ecological uniqueness of fresh water green algae so they could provide conservationists with useful data for decision-making. “We went into it assuming Darwin to be right, and expecting to come up with some real numbers for conservationists,” Cardinale says. “When we started coming up with numbers that showed he wasn’t right, we were completely baffled.”,,,
    Darwin “was obsessed with competition,” Cardinale says. “He assumed the whole world was composed of species competing with each other, but we found that one-third of the species of algae we studied actually like each other. They don’t grow as well unless you put them with another species. It may be that nature has a heck of a lot more mutualisms than we ever expected.
    “Maybe species are co-evolving,” he adds. “Maybe they are evolving together so they are more productive as a team than they are individually. We found that more than one-third of the time, that they like to be together. Maybe Darwin’s presumption that the world may be dominated by competition is wrong.”

  6. 6
    ScuzzaMan says:


    … and those early asexual self-replicators would hardly seem to be less fit, in the Darwinian sense described, than vastly more complicated creatures who reproduce sexually.

    Given the observed reproductive rates of sexual and asexual life forms, how is it that the first sexually reproducing life forms ever survived? Their close relatives who still reproduced asexually should have eliminated them in the first generation.

    Yet again the theory demands resort to conditions not now in evidence, but if anyone else does this the theorists scream “superstition!” at them.

    It’s just not very convincing, is it?

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:


    No Sir! Not very convincing at all!

  8. 8
    Barb says:

    A fundamental characteristic of living organisms is self-repair. Our bodies repair themselves after injury. “Seemingly inert when viewed from the outside, bone is a living tissue that ceaselessly destroys and rebuilds itself throughout adult life,” explains Scientific American magazine. “This remodeling essentially replaces the entire skeleton every 10 years.” Other parts of your body are renewed more often. Some cells in your skin, liver, and intestines may be replaced almost daily. Every second, your body produces about 25 million new cells as replacements.
    When cells are regenerated, each cell must have a copy of your DNA. However, the quality of DNA does not deteriorate or wear out as the cells divide. This is due the cells’ ability to repair DNA copy errors. Research into epigenetics may lead to effective therapies for improving health, fighting disease—including cancer—and therefore extending life.

    Why, though, do humans go to so much trouble to extend life? Why do we want to live indefinitely? The British newspaper The Times asked: “Why this universal human obsession with cheating death, whether through immortality, resurrection, afterlife or reincarnation?” For thousands of years, thinking people have wrestled with that question. Physical evidence that humans were originally designed to live much longer than we do can be seen in the power of the brain, especially in its potential to learn. The Encyclopedia of the Brain and Brain Disorders states that the long-term memory capacity of the human brain “is virtually unlimited.” Why have this capacity if it were not meant to be used?

  9. 9
    Eric Anderson says:


    Good point. The idea that creature B developed because it was more “fit” than creature A is questionable, certainly in the context of more complexity, more resources required, longer and more difficult reproduction cycles, fewer offspring, etc. Why anything could be seen as more “fit” than early mono-cellular organisms is very much an open question.

    The response to this perfectly reasonable observation will typically be that new creatures developed, not because they were necessarily more fit than the existing creatures, but because there were “available niches” in the environment. And yet, it is a trivial matter to find niches that have not been filled. Why not? Well, some niches get filled, others don’t. Some things work; others don’t.

    At the end of the day, the whole evolutionary “explanation” for why this or that creature arrived or survived boils down to:

    Stuff Happens.

  10. 10
    bornagain77 says:

    Of related note

    Scientists Discover Proof That Humanity Is Getting Dumber, Smaller And Weaker By Michael Snyder, on April 29th, 2014
    Excerpt: An earlier study by Cambridge University found that mankind is shrinking in size significantly.
    Experts say humans are past their peak and that modern-day people are 10 percent smaller and shorter than their hunter-gatherer ancestors.
    And if that’s not depressing enough, our brains are also smaller.
    The findings reverse perceived wisdom that humans have grown taller and larger, a belief which has grown from data on more recent physical development.
    The decline, said scientists, has happened over the past 10,000 years.

    And, as if that is bad enough from the evolutionary standpoint of believing man is evolving to greater and greater heights, we have this:

    Inside the Human Genome: A Case for Non-Intelligent Design – Pg. 57 By John C. Avise
    Excerpt: “Another compilation of gene lesions responsible for inherited diseases is the web-based Human Gene Mutation Database (HGMD). Recent versions of HGMD describe more than 75,000 different disease causing mutations identified to date in Homo-sapiens.”

    I went to the mutation database website cited by John Avise and found:

    Mutation total (as of 2014-05-02) – 148,413

    Further notes:

    Human Genome in Meltdown – January 11, 2013
    Excerpt: According to a study published Jan. 10 in Nature by geneticists from 4 universities including Harvard, “Analysis of 6,515 exomes reveals the recent origin of most human protein-coding variants.”,,,:
    “We estimate that approximately 73% of all protein-coding SNVs [single-nucleotide variants] and approximately 86% of SNVs predicted to be deleterious arose in the past 5,000 -10,000 years. The average age of deleterious SNVs varied significantly across molecular pathways, and disease genes contained a significantly higher proportion of recently arisen deleterious SNVs than other genes.”,,,
    As for advantageous mutations, they provided NO examples,,,

    Critic ignores reality of Genetic Entropy – Dr John Sanford – 7 March 2013
    Excerpt: Where are the beneficial mutations in man? It is very well documented that there are thousands of deleterious Mendelian mutations accumulating in the human gene pool, even though there is strong selection against such mutations. Yet such easily recognized deleterious mutations are just the tip of the iceberg. The vast majority of deleterious mutations will not display any clear phenotype at all. There is a very high rate of visible birth defects, all of which appear deleterious. Again, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Why are no beneficial birth anomalies being seen? This is not just a matter of identifying positive changes. If there are so many beneficial mutations happening in the human population, selection should very effectively amplify them. They should be popping up virtually everywhere. They should be much more common than genetic pathologies. Where are they? European adult lactose tolerance appears to be due to a broken lactase promoter [see Can’t drink milk? You’re ‘normal’! Ed.].
    African resistance to malaria is due to a broken hemoglobin protein [see Sickle-cell disease. Also, immunity of an estimated 20% of western Europeans to HIV infection is due to a broken chemokine receptor—see CCR5-delta32: a very beneficial mutation. Ed.] Beneficials happen, but generally they are loss-of-function mutations, and even then they are very rare!

    Genetic Entropy – Dr. John Sanford – Evolution vs. Reality – video

    Daily thought: blue eyes and other gene mutations, April 25, 2013
    Excerpt: “Research on blue-eyes has led many scientist to further affirm that humans are truly mere variations of the same origin. About 8% of the world’s total population has blue eyes so blue eyes are fairly rare. In fact, blue eyes are actually a gene mutation that scientist have researched and found to have happened when the OCA2 gene “turned off the ability to produce brown eyes.”

    Excerpt: The melanin in the skin is produced by melanocytes, which are found in the basal layer of the epidermis. Although, in general, human beings possess a similar concentration of melanocytes in their skin, the melanocytes in some individuals and ethnic groups more frequently or less frequently express the melanin-producing genes, thereby conferring a greater or lesser concentration of skin melanin. Some individual animals and humans have very little or no melanin synthesis in their bodies, a condition known as albinism.

    If Modern Humans Are So Smart, Why Are Our Brains Shrinking? – January 20, 2011
    Excerpt: John Hawks is in the middle of explaining his research on human evolution when he drops a bombshell. Running down a list of changes that have occurred in our skeleton and skull since the Stone Age, the University of Wisconsin anthropologist nonchalantly adds, “And it’s also clear the brain has been shrinking.”
    “Shrinking?” I ask. “I thought it was getting larger.” The whole ascent-of-man thing.,,,
    He rattles off some dismaying numbers: Over the past 20,000 years, the average volume of the human male brain has decreased from 1,500 cubic centimeters to 1,350 cc, losing a chunk the size of a tennis ball. The female brain has shrunk by about the same proportion. “I’d call that major downsizing in an evolutionary eyeblink,” he says. “This happened in China, Europe, Africa—everywhere we look.”

    New analysis provides fuller picture of human expansion from Africa – October 22, 2012
    Excerpt: A new, comprehensive review of humans’ anthropological and genetic records gives the most up-to-date story of the “Out of Africa” expansion that occurred about 45,000 to 60,000 years ago.
    This expansion, detailed by three Stanford geneticists, had a dramatic effect on human genetic diversity, which persists in present-day populations. As a small group of modern humans migrated out of Africa into Eurasia and the Americas, their genetic diversity was substantially reduced.

    I bet Hitler would have really been miffed to know that Europeans are genetically inferior to Africans! 🙂

  11. 11
    bornagain77 says:

    Of related note to post 2, instead of bacteria eating us, as would be expected in a Darwinian worldview, we find that bacteria help us eat (among many other essential services they provide):

    NIH Human Microbiome Project defines normal bacterial makeup of the body – June 13, 2012
    Excerpt: Microbes inhabit just about every part of the human body, living on the skin, in the gut, and up the nose. Sometimes they cause sickness, but most of the time, microorganisms live in harmony with their human hosts, providing vital functions essential for human survival.

    Of related note: Immunity bacteria are shown to be, contrary to Darwinian thought, species specific

    Our Microbes, Ourselves: Billions of Bacteria Within, Essential for Immune Function, Are Ours Alone – ScienceDaily (June 21, 2012)
    Excerpt: Chung repeated the experiment, only this time populating a third group of mice with microbes common to rats. This new group showed the same immune system deficiency as the humanized mice. “I was very surprised to see that,” Chung said. “Naturally, I would have expected more of a half-way response.”

    Bacteria were even, very contrary to Darwinian thought, essential in terra-forming the earth so as to transform it from a toxic environment into a friendly environment that can support higher life:

    The Microbial Engines That Drive Earth’s Biogeochemical Cycles – Falkowski 2008
    Excerpt: Microbial life can easily live without us; we, however, cannot survive without the global catalysis and environmental transformations it provides. –
    Paul G. Falkowski – Professor Geological Sciences – Rutgers

    Just how fine tuned bacteria are to our survival is highlighted here:

    Engineering and Science Magazine – Caltech – March 2010
    Excerpt: “Without these microbes, the planet would run out of biologically available nitrogen in less than a month,” Realizations like this are stimulating a flourishing field of “geobiology” – the study of relationships between life and the earth. One member of the Caltech team commented, “If all bacteria and archaea just stopped functioning, life on Earth would come to an abrupt halt.” Microbes are key players in earth’s nutrient cycles. Dr. Orphan added, “…every fifth breath you take, thank a microbe.”

    Planet’s Nitrogen Cycle Overturned – Oct. 2009
    Excerpt: “Ammonia is a waste product that can be toxic to animals.,,, archaea can scavenge nitrogen-containing ammonia in the most barren environments of the deep sea, solving a long-running mystery of how the microorganisms can survive in that environment. Archaea therefore not only play a role, but are central to the planetary nitrogen cycles on which all life depends.,,,the organism can survive on a mere whiff of ammonia – 10 nanomolar concentration, equivalent to a teaspoon of ammonia salt in 10 million gallons of water.”

    even viruses, which are usually looked as ‘the enemy’ of man, are found to help us in essential ways:

    (Bacteriophage) Viruses in the gut protect from infection – 20 May 2013
    Excerpt: Barr and his colleagues,, show that animal mucus — whether from humans, fish or corals — is loaded with bacteria-killing viruses called phages. These protect their hosts from infection by destroying incoming bacteria. In return, the phages are exposed to a steady torrent of microbes in which to reproduce. “It’s a unique form of symbiosis, between animals and viruses,” says Rotem Sorek, a microbial geneticist ,,
    “It’s groundbreaking,” adds Frederic Bushman, a microbiologist ,, “The idea that phage can be viewed as part of the innate immune system is original and exciting.

  12. 12
    bornagain77 says:

    OT: Humanity’s Built-In G-Suit: A Product of Evolution or Creation? – April 28, 2014
    Excerpt: Like the accelerometer in the aircraft that detects changing g-forces, humans have baroreceptors in the sinuses of the carotid arteries that detect changes in blood (hydraulic) pressure. If these receptors detect a sudden drop in pressure, they emit a signal to the brainstem via the glossopharengeal nerve. After several connections and pathways, some excitatory and some inhibitory, activity of the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system increases and constricts the arteries (vasoconstriction) in the bilateral lower extremities.
    And like the air bladders in a pilot’s g-suit, this constriction impedes the flow of arterial blood traveling down the body and forces the blood in the upper arterial system higher into the neck and head, thus avoiding syncope.1

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