Human (Genetic) Evolution

A recent large-scale project on human genetic evolution has found, not surprisingly, that most human genetic variation is recent (last 200 generations).  This is not surprising because we spread over the globe in the last 200 generations.

The article suggests that humanity has been able to gain a lot of variation through demographic processes in these last 200 years, but that selection has not had time to catch up, and cull that variation.  This sort of evidence is useful in the ongoing discussion in the United States about the veracity of evolution.  But I am interested in how these genetic results compare with cultural variation and selection over the same time period.
We have many reasons to believe that during this recent human expansion in the last 200 generations, the dominant mode of evolution has been cultural.  Human culture has diversified, and been selected to fit countless environments, giving local human populations highly adapted, and very successful behavioral suites for each local environment.  Thus cultural selection has not lagged behind during this expansion.  It would be nice to see a comparison (although difficult to accomplish) between the genetic and cultural histories during the same time.  Similar comparative research has been done, however:

Culture rather than genes provides greater scope for the evolution of large-scale human prosociality

About Tim Waring

I study the role of cooperation and culture in environmental sustainability, at the University of Maine.
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1 Response to Human (Genetic) Evolution

  1. Marie Waring says:

    Whoa! That will be fun to read in greater depth. M


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