Top 6 evolutions of the human body that are still in progress, long live genetics

Apart from giving his name to the dead idiots of the Darwin Awards, Charles Darwin was also the first to understand how the evolution of species worked, especially with natural selection. Basically, in the species, there are individuals who are born with small genetic modifications due to chance, and if these modifications are useful, they will more easily reproduce and transmit them to their descendants. Conversely, if you have a rotten modification, like having 18 legs, you have less chance of surviving and reproducing, so your mutation will go to the trash. Today, we have the impression of being the perfect human beings, at the pinnacle of evolution, but not at all! Evolution continues, and certain groups of humans exhibit more or less useful genetic modifications. They’re basically mutants.

Ps: You who read this article, you may have mutations so small that you do not see them and that will never influence the evolution of the species. Like the power to vomit after just 2 pints, which is very lame but won’t stop you from reproducing either.

1. Tibetans are genetically adapted to altitude

A DNA mutation allowed them to not suffer from altitude sickness. This change would have appeared 8000 years ago, which seems huge but is just the day before yesterday in the history of evolution. The funny thing is that the Chinese who live in the same region did not have this little genetic gift, probably because there was little mixing between the two peoples (or not enough for the gene spreads among the descendants).

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2. Our pronunciation of words evolved not so long ago and could still change

And there, you wonder what is the relationship with evolution and genetics, and we will tell you. Scientists believe that our diet can change the way the jaws fit. For example, they believe that it is the shift to agriculture and a more “soft” diet (compared to raw meat, for example) that would have allowed us to pronounce the sounds “f” and “v” in gradually changing the shape of our mouth. Suddenly, if tomorrow our diet changed completely, and this for a long time, some people with a different jaw would perhaps adapt better and transmit their mutant genes. Maybe one day we will have a new sound in our language, like “kjrl”. Who knows ?

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3. An Indonesian people can last 13 minutes in apnea thanks to evolution

It’s the Bajau people, who we don’t really know here but who are excellent divers. And their particularity is that evolution has given them a very large spleen (yes, it’s always funny to say that). And the spleen, it’s useful in diving because it contracts to increase the number of red blood cells in the blood (the cells that carry oxygen to the muscles). In short, the guys smash everyone in freediving competitions, and without forcing them.

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4. Cannibalism made a population of Papuans resistant to a disease

Before, the people of the Fores ate their dead (they “ate their dead”, yes). Women and children took the brains, and men ate the flesh of their deceased relatives. Only women and children would die of a disease called “kuru”, a dirty thing like mad cow disease, which ends up softening the brains of the sick. In short, in the middle of the 20th century, the practice was banned, and the diseases ceased. So far, nothing to do with genetics. However, today we see that the people of the Fores, both men and women, have developed a resistance to kuru thanks to the cannibalism of their ancestors. Better yet, they also resist Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (the famous mad cow disease), and suddenly they have become very useful for medicine.

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5. A long-lost knee bone is back

It is called the “fabulla”, it is a very small bone located behind the knee and whose usefulness is not well known. We know that it was present in primates and in the first humans but that it has almost completely disappeared (because it has become useless in evolution) over time. Only, since the 20th century, we have noticed that it has come back in force. In 1918, only 11% of the population had the fabulla, compared to 38% in 2018. It is not yet known why this bone has returned, even if our way of life richer than a century ago could be a beginning of ‘explanation.

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6. The Inuit would be more resistant to the cold thanks to a gene from Denisova’s man

Denisova’s man is another human species, and since they must have existed at the same time as homo sapiens, it is believed that the Inuit are partly descended from this species and that they inherited a gene allowing them to withstand very low temperatures. Finally, more specifically, two genes: TBX15 and WARS2. And they would have more recently transmitted them to other populations in the world following mixing, but in much less proportion. If they could inject them directly into our DNA so that we pay less for heating in the winter, we wouldn’t say no.

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