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Is human evolution happening faster than ever?


File:DNA simple.svg Killer quote: “Realising evolution doesn’t only happen by natural selection makes it clear the process isn’t likely to ever stop.” So says an evolutionary geneticist:

We measure the speed of gene evolution by comparing human DNA with that of other species, which also allows us to determine which genes are fast-evolving in humans alone. One fast-evolving gene is human accelerated region 1 (HAR1), which is needed during brain development. A random section of human DNA is on average more than 98% identical to the chimp comparator, but HAR1 is so fast evolving that it’s only around 85% similar.

Though scientists can see these changes are happening – and how quickly – we still don’t fully understand why fast evolution happens to some genes but not others. Originally thought to be the result of natural selection exclusively, we now know this isn’t always true.

Recently attention has focused on the process of biased gene conversion, which occurs when our DNA is passed on via our sperm and eggs. Making these sex cells involves breaking DNA molecules, recombining them, then repairing the break. However, molecular repairs tend to happen in a biased manner.Laurence D. Hurst, “Human evolution is still happening – possibly faster than ever” at The Conversation

If humans evolve to meet the demands of our environment, as the prof says, how will that affect the a-crock-a-lypse market in assorted doomsdays?

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See also: No one evolved faster than the Neanderthal Look how smart he got in the last few decades (if you go by a discussion of Neanderthals and language)


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