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Humans to keep getting taller? No.

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File:A small cup of coffee.JPG Let’s start our day off right with some nonsense from the BBC

The average human height has gone up in industrialised countries ranging from the United Kingdom to the United States to Japan, with gains of up to 10 centimetres. But for height gains over the last 150 years, one nation stands head and shoulders above all others. Today, young Dutch men and women average around 184cm and 170cm in height, respectively – both, on average, 19cm taller than their mid-19th Century counterparts. “That’s a good number to shock people with,” says John Komlos, professor emeritus of economic history at the University of Munich.

Why have humans in general, and the Dutch in particular, got taller? Does this altitudinous trend show any sign of continuing and, for that matter, where might it end? Will our descendants living on space stations or on other worlds look upon their Earth-bound ancestors as hobbits?

The trend is most likely due to the prevalence of industrialized farming (cheap food), which means that people reach their maximum possible height. It would reverse itself pretty quickly if the whole foods people ruled.

Note: Your (News writer is less than five feet tall. That’s been quite helpful when living in crowded, cramped spaces.

See also: What we know about human evolution

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8 Replies to “Humans to keep getting taller? No.

  1. 1
    ppolish says:

    Taller Dutch people can plug higher holes in dikes. Giraffes can reach higher leaves in trees. Survival of the fittest.

  2. 2
    Bob O'H says:

    I’m not sure it’s the holes at the tops of dikes that are the problem.

    My theory is that it’s to do with the Netherlands mostly being below sea level, so there is an advantage to having your nose above sea level.

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    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.
    http://thetruthwins.com/archiv.....and-weaker

    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.”
    http://discovermagazine.com/20.....-shrinking

    “Neanderthals are known for their large cranial capacity, which at 1600cc is larger on average than modern humans.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neanderthal#Anatomy

    Human Genetic Variation Recent, Varies Among Populations – (Nov. 28, 2012)
    Excerpt: Nearly three-quarters of mutations in genes that code for proteins — the workhorses of the cell — occurred within the past 5,000 to 10,000 years,,,
    “One of the most interesting points is that Europeans have more new deleterious (potentially disease-causing) mutations than Africans,”,,,
    “Having so many of these new variants can be partially explained by the population explosion in the European population. However, variation that occur in genes that are involved in Mendelian traits and in those that affect genes essential to the proper functioning of the cell tend to be much older.” (A Mendelian trait is controlled by a single gene. Mutations in that gene can have devastating effects.) The amount variation or mutation identified in protein-coding genes (the exome) in this study is very different from what would have been seen 5,000 years ago,,,
    The report shows that “recent” events have a potent effect on the human genome. Eighty-six percent of the genetic variation or mutations that are expected to be harmful arose in European-Americans in the last five thousand years, said the researchers.
    The researchers used established bioinformatics techniques to calculate the age of more than a million changes in single base pairs (the A-T, C-G of the genetic code) that are part of the exome or protein-coding portion of the genomes (human genetic blueprint) of 6,515 people of both European-American and African-American decent.,,,
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....132259.htm

    GIANT study reveals giant number of genes linked to height – Oct. 5, 2014
    Excerpt: The largest genome-wide association study (GWAS) to date, involving more than 300 institutions and more than 250,000 subjects, roughly doubles the number of known gene regions influencing height to more than 400.
    http://medicalxpress.com/news/.....eight.html

    The next evolutionary synthesis: from Lamarck and Darwin to genomic variation and systems biology – Bard – 2011
    Excerpt: If more than about three genes (nature unspecified) underpin a phenotype, the mathematics of population genetics, while qualitatively analyzable, requires too many unknown parameters to make quantitatively testable predictions [6]. The inadequacy of this approach is demonstrated by illustrations of the molecular pathways that generates traits [7]: the network underpinning something as simple as growth may have forty or fifty participating proteins whose production involves perhaps twice as many DNA sequences, if one includes enhancers, splice variants etc. Theoretical genetics simply cannot handle this level of complexity, let alone analyse the effects of mutation..
    http://www.biosignaling.com/co.....X-9-30.pdf

    The Fairyland of Evolutionary Modeling – May 7, 2013
    Excerpt: Salazar-Ciudad and Marín-Riera have shown that not only are suboptimal dead ends an evolutionary possibility, but they are also exceedingly likely to occur in real, developmentally complex structures when fitness is determined by the exact form of the phenotype.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....71901.html

    With a Startling Candor, Oxford Scientist Admits a Gaping Hole in Evolutionary Theory – November 2011
    Excerpt: As of now, we have no good theory of how to read [genetic] networks, how to model them mathematically or how one network meshes with another; worse, we have no obvious experimental lines of investigation for studying these areas. There is a great deal for systems biology to do in order to produce a full explanation of how genotypes generate phenotypes,,,
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....52821.html

  4. 4
    daveS says:

    BA77,

    Scientists Discover Proof That Humanity Is Getting Dumber, Smaller And Weaker By Michael Snyder, on April 29th, 2014

    Heh. Sounds very science-y.

    Why not just link to the actual papers or the authors’ website(s)? Rather than this clickbaity thetruthwins.com outfit, which actually sources material from the Daily Fail?

    Anyway, the Shaw work concludes that the decrease in leg bone strength coincides with the rise of agriculture and more sedentary lifestyles.

    Does Shaw give any indication that “The biggest reason for this, of course, is the degradation of the human genome”? (our journo Michael Snyder’s words).

  5. 5
    daveS says:

    I don’t have access to the Shaw papers, but from this press release:

    Latest analysis of prehistoric bones show there is no anatomical reason why a person born today could not develop the skeletal strength of a prehistoric forager or a modern orangutan. Findings support the idea that activity throughout life is the key to building bone strength and preventing osteoporosis risk in later years, say researchers.

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    daveS, I don’t think I will take advise on papers from someone who never references his claims, much less clearly defining his position.

    I find your claim that there is ‘no anatomical reason’ why we can’t have stronger bones interesting since I referenced genetic, not anatomical, evidence showing why humanity is degenerating.,,, (I referenced anatomical evidence simply to show that we are degenerating, not why the degeneration is occurring)

    If this is the level of discourse you aspire to try to support your atheistic worldview, then by all means let me step aside and let the dog chase his tail.

    I’ve got better things to do today!

  7. 7
    daveS says:

    BA77,

    My position is that Michael Snyder’s claim that “The biggest reason for this, of course, is the degradation of the human genome.” is unsupported with regard to the Shaw work. That’s because Shaw himself associates the decrease in leg bone strength with sedentary lifestyles, and apparently isn’t saying anything about genetic entropy.

    Given your statement:

    (I referenced anatomical evidence simply to show that we are degenerating, not why the degeneration is occurring)

    I take it you agree?

  8. 8
    Robert Byers says:

    People are and should be getting taller. Its about health. Pygmys are not right. They were small because of food problems.
    Holland simply is a more controlled case of all the top nations in the world.
    Our real height I think should be six feet for men etc. the bible implies healthy mankind and a bigger one.
    its not from evolution but our innate naturalness of body size.
    People were too short centuries ago. by the way I think dutch etc were big/bigger thousands of years ago. they shrunck due to poor habits.

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