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Evolution Essay

3594 words - 15 pages

Are Modern Humans Still Evolving?In the year eighteen fifty-nine, Charles Darwin published a book which he called “The Origin of Species”. In this book Darwin theorized that populations evolve over the years through a process called natural selection. Darwin realized that in a population, more individuals were born than could possibly survive, he also recognized that the individuals that survived and reproduced were the ones with some sort of competitive advantage over rival animals, therefore they were more likely to pass their useful traits down to their offspring (Darwin, 1859). As this process of natural selection occurred for millions of years, these desirable traits that were once only ...view middle of the document...

As a result of a number of medical advancements, doctors are able to sustain life that would not have lasted back in Darwin’s time. This means that humans with genetic advantages are not the only ones to survive (Nasrallah, 2009). In today’s world, genes are not as important for survival as they once were, with about ninety-eight percent of children in well-developed areas living until adulthood (Belluz, 2008). When considering how evolution might be happening, experts say the human species may be “in a sort of genetic drift in which changes happen randomly with no driving force behind evolutionary changes” (Douglas, 2006). Upcoming technological advancements may also play a big role in changing the way in which evolution functions. If genetic engineering becomes common, humans will be able to choose certain genes and get rid of others; the future of evolution will be dependent on which genetic traits parents will choose for their children. This would have huge implications; humans would essentially have evolution in their hands (Adams, 2004). It seems that in modern society, humans have more of a say in natural selection than nature and the environment does. Additionally, survival of the fittest has been taken out of the equation with the “survival regardless of fitness” (Nasrallah, 2009) replacing it.

On the other hand, some scientists like to believe that evolution was halted between fifty thousand and a hundred thousand years ago, before the races diverged (Douglas, 2006). Geneticist Steve Jones theorizes that evolution has come to a halt as a result of societal changes on earth (McKie, 2005). He says that natural selection, mutation, and random change were the three things that drove evolution, and he believes that these factors are no longer present in the modern, western society. He further argues that the likelihood of mutations in genes is declining because of a generally younger age for fathers; he says fathers over the age of 35 are more likely to pass on mutations. This is because cell divisions in males increase with age, and increasing the number of cell divisions increases the chance for an error or a mutation (Belluz, 2008). Natural selection is also not as prevalent in modern society, years ago almost half the children died before twenty, whereas nowadays most people reach adulthood regardless of their genetics (Douglas, 2006). The final factor that Jones believed was responsible for the slowing down of evolution is the decreasing of random change in human genes. According to the rules of the animal kingdom, the human population should be ten thousand times smaller than it actually is (Belluz, 2008). Small populations are much more likely to undergo random evolution than large populations because genes can be accidentally lost. Because the earth’s population of humans is so large, it is very unlikely that any genes will be accidentally lost (Belluz, 2008). Furthermore, human races are now being constantly mixed, which makes...

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