There is a fascinating article about human evolution at the washingtonpost.com that explains how human genome research has helped understand specific changes in the human DNA around the world :
Europeans seem to be adapting to the increased availability of dairy products, with genetic changes that allow the enzyme lactase, which breaks down lactose in milk, to be available throughout life, not just in infancy. Similarly, East Asians show genetic changes that affect the metabolism of the sugar sucrose, while the Yoruba people in sub-Saharan Africa show genetic changes that alter how they metabolize the sugar mannose.
This quote hit home with me since I sometimes feel I'm the odd one out with everybody being really intent on a 'nice tan'. Frying under the sun is not something I really participate in that much :
Europeans, for example, show strong changes over the past 10,000 years in genes that affect skin color -- as humans moved into northern Europe, where there was less ultraviolet light, there was a strong evolutionary advantage to having lighter skin to allow in more ultraviolet light, which is needed to synthesize Vitamin D.
I find it incredible to read information about myself that is so profound, you've really got to love Internet for that...
The impact we have on our environment is a hot debate. Scientists, like those that lead research into human evolution quoted in the article, have alerted us to the disastrous effect we have and are having on the world and environment we live in. It seems that our body is far more intelligent than we thought. It is adapting to these occasionally drastic changes. Iâ€™m not sure whether the idea of our bodies adapting to the decrease in physical exercise and the increase in food consumption is good. Turning that trend around might be a far better idea !
On a humorous note (which can be expected over at blogjam.com) there may be a solution to the English hangover issues. This is not really evolutionary since the English have been drinking for a long time and this hasnâ€™t really changed much, LOL 😉 As explained above it seems a good idea since it also takes into account the evolution of Europeans with the availability of the enzyme lactase!
If anyone is interested, the PLoS Biology paper the Washington Post refers to can be found here:
A Map of Recent Positive Selection in the Human Genome
John Latter / Jorolat
Thanks for the info on that paper I had tried looking for a reference to it in Google.
For those of you who have more than a passing interest in the evolution subject I suggest you take a look at John Latter's site Evolution Research.
You're welcome for the info John - and thank you for the recommendation 🙂
While I'm here, there's an editorial entitled Being Positive about Selection in the same PLoS Biology edition as 'A Map of Recent Positive Selection in the Human Genome'
John Latter / Jorolat