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Study finds evidence of natural selection in modern human populations

Uncategorized By Mar 21, 2023

A study by the University of California has shown that humans are continuing to evolve due to environmental pressures like any other species. Genetic data obtained from more than 210,000 people from multiple global regions revealed genetic variations associated with differences in reproductive success, indicating natural selection. The results showed certain genetic variants were more common in some populations than others, which allowed researchers to identify biological pathways and traits influenced by these variants. Recent natural selection was also found in some populations, with variants associated with lactose intolerance favoured by those that traditionally practised dairying.

Study Finds Evidence of Natural Selection in Modern Human Populations

A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, has found evidence of natural selection in modern human populations. The research suggests that humans continue to evolve in response to environmental pressures, just like any other species.

The study analyzed genetic data from over 210,000 individuals from several regions around the world, including Europe, Asia, and the Americas. The researchers searched for genetic variations that were associated with differences in reproductive success – a hallmark of natural selection.

They found that certain genetic variants were more common in some populations than others, indicating that those variants were likely favored by natural selection. The researchers also identified specific biological pathways and traits that were influenced by these genetic variants, such as height, body mass index, and immune function.

Interestingly, the study also found evidence of recent natural selection – within the past few thousand years – in some populations. For example, the researchers found evidence of natural selection favoring genetic variants associated with lactose intolerance in populations that traditionally practiced dairying, such as Europeans and some African and Middle Eastern populations.

Overall, the study provides compelling evidence that natural selection continues to shape modern human populations. However, it’s important to note that the researchers only analyzed a small fraction of the human genome, and there may be many other genetic variations that are subject to natural selection.

FAQs

Q: What is natural selection?
A: Natural selection is the process by which certain traits become more or less common in a population over time. Traits that are associated with greater reproductive success are more likely to be passed on to future generations, while traits associated with lower reproductive success are less likely to be passed on.

Q: How does natural selection work in humans?
A: Natural selection works in humans just like any other species. Individuals with certain traits that confer an advantage in their environment are more likely to survive and reproduce, passing those traits on to their offspring. Over time, these advantageous traits become more common in the population.

Q: Can humans still evolve through natural selection?
A: Yes, humans can still evolve through natural selection. The study discussed in this article provides evidence that natural selection is still active in modern human populations.

Q: Does this mean humans are getting better over time?
A: Not necessarily. “Better” is a subjective term and depends on the environment in which a population finds itself. Traits that are advantageous in one environment may be disadvantageous in another. Additionally, natural selection only acts on traits that affect reproductive success, so other aspects of human biology may not change through natural selection.

Q: Could this research have practical applications?
A: Yes, understanding which genetic variants are subject to natural selection can provide insights into the biology of human disease and inform medical interventions. For example, if a certain genetic variant is associated with greater resistance to a certain disease, researchers may be able to develop targeted therapies that exploit that knowledge.

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