If we ponder on the evolution and development of humans, our brains go back thousands or even millions of years back to understand what it took for biological evolution to generate the postmodern man. It turns out there is no need to do so as we are continuously evolving, and we’re doing it quicker than we did eons ago. In fact, according to recent studies, people continue to advance despite technological advances and industrial development.
Over the past centuries, our species has accelerated, causing more mutation in our genomes and, therefore, more natural and biological selections.
The Lactose Evolution
There was a time when lactose intolerance was prevalent among humankind. The DNA that regulates our capability to digest milk has historically been knocked back when we stopped feeding on our mother’s milk. However, as mankind discovers how to domesticate goats, lambs, cows, and other dairy-producing farm animals, the ability to drink milk had become more accessible, thus cultivating us to digest it. It is an advantageous trait, and those who possessed the genetic mutation that enabled them to digest lactose can pass down that gene more easily.
The gene was initially detected approximately 6000 to 5000 years ago among a community of northern Europeans. Today, it was found that over 95% of their descendants currently carry the DNA to tolerate milk. Moreover, 2006 research reveals similar milk tolerance emerged anew in East Africa about 30 centuries ago, as ethnic, socio-economic, and evolutionary factors shape this genetic structure.
The Teeth Evolution
Our forefathers and mothers had far larger jaws compared to what we have now. This facial feature assisted them in chewing a rough diet of meat, bones, nuts, roots, and leaves. And whatever meal they consume, they ripped them up with their teeth, resulting in damaged gnashers that had to be replaced. That’s when our wisdom teeth come into play. An extra pair of molars is considered to have evolved in response to our forefathers’ feeding patterns.
Nowadays, we have food-cutting equipment and utensils. And because our food has become tastier and better to chew, our jaws have become considerably smaller, affecting our wisdom teeth as they now lack the room to develop and grow in. In comparison to the appendix, these adult teeth have disintegrated into primitive organs. Thus, the need for most of us to undergo surgeries facilitated by an oral surgeon is vital as it can cause chronic pain or even infection if left untreated.
Moreover, according to one study, 35% of the global population are born without wisdom teeth, entailing that they may eventually disappear.
The Eyes Evolution
Believe it or not, we all used to have brown eyes. However, some 10,000 years ago, a person living along the Black Sea got a chromosomal mutation that caused brown eyes to become blue. Although blue eyes’ origins remain unknown, one hypothesis holds that they can serve as valid proof for a paternity test.
According to 2006 research on the formation of blue eyes, a man’s eye color reflects a predictable, straightforward, and reliable genetic pattern of inheritance. Because creating a brown-eyed offspring is practically tricky for two blue-eyed partners, experts suspect that our male ancestors may even have selected partners of the same eye color to ensure fidelity. This might also partly explain why men with blue eyes considered women of the same eyes more appealing than their brown-eyed counterparts.
The Brain Evolution
Although we may feel that bigger brains make humans wiser compared to the rest of the animal kingdom, the truth is, our brains have actually shrunk volume to that of the size of a tennis ball in the past centuries.
There are various possible explanations for this. According to one set of scientists, our shrunken brains indicate that we are becoming less intelligent. The safety net of contemporary civilization appears to have neutralized the association between intellect and survival since brain size has dropped as societies have become larger and more complex.
However, a more optimistic view argues that our brains are decreasing because we are becoming more productive and efficient. According to this idea, our minds adapt to operate quicker while taking up less space as they reduce. There is also a belief that perhaps the development of smaller brains helps us become less aggressive, enabling us to try and solve issues rather than tearing each other to bits.
Eventually, we would observe other transformations that may occur to our very existence later on. We can improve ourselves using emerging innovations, such as genetic modification, as some experts even predict that humanity will accelerate the rate of evolution through them. Whether this occurs, one factor is apparent: our genetics will continuously evolve.