Malaria is often not a problem in the developed world. In fact, most developed nations rarely even see insects that carry malaria at all. But in places like Africa and parts of Asia, malaria is a huge problem. Yet the problem could reduce sooner rather than later thanks to human evolution. Back in the 1940s and 1950s, scientists J.B.S. Haldane and A.C. Allison found a sickle-cell mutation known as Glu6Val in the beta hemoglobin gene known as HBB. This mutation proved to be resistant to malaria.
More mutations have occurred in the HBB area as well. On top of this, the Duffy antigen gene or FY has also mutated for some people. FY is a membrane protein used by the Plasmodium Vivax malaria parasite to access human red blood cells. Mutation to this FY system stopped malaria right at the access point, preventing it from starting at all. In fact, this specific trait has now been seen in 100% of cases for people in Sub-Saharan Africa, but nowhere else as of yet.
We often assume those with big brains are smarter while those with smaller brains are less intelligent. But that has proven to not be true. In fact, our ancestors had brains far larger than us. Yet many scientists believe the Neanderthals were relatively dumb creatures in our human evolution cycle. In the last 20,000 years, brains have been shrinking and our heads/skulls have shrunk along with them. Obviously, our skull protects our brain, so if the brain is not massive then the skull shouldn’t be either.
The change over this 20,000 period, our brains have shrunk enough to compare the total change to a tennis ball. Basically, this is the amount of brain we no longer need. Likely, due to our brain smartly adjusting and evolving to do its job with less room needed to do it. However, it is not just humans that see this change. Dogs and cats also have smaller heads and smaller brains today versus what they were thousands of years ago.
It used to be that our bones needed to be relatively large. This was due to having to take down animals for food as well as fight among ourselves for food too. We now know that compared to other hominins in our history, our bones are now weaker and less dense. This changed roughly 12,000 years ago when humans began to get into farming and agriculture. Diets changed due to this, as well as the physical activity we took part in.
Now, our skeletons are lighter and more fragile than before. Dating back to 2015, a study on the trabecular bone tissue proved there was a decrease in thickness and volume. Due to no longer hunting and the adjustment to farming, we did not need heavier and more durable bones any longer. While researchers and scientists disagree on whether or not a diet or physical activity is more to blame, they all agree this change happened due to the rise of agriculture.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic began mostly back in the 1980s. It is said that it began originally in chimpanzees somewhere in Western Africa. While some assume that someone might have had to “get it on” with the chimp, that was not how it crossed over. Rather, since HIV can be passed via blood too, a person likely ate a chimp and caught the virus. This slowly increased and began to affect humans. While many assumed only gay men could catch and spread it, this all changed in the 1990s.
When LA Lakers star Magic Johnson caught HIV from unprotected relations with a woman, it was proven to be an issue for both sexes. Yet now we also know there are some with resistance to it. Studies found that a gene mutation known as CCR5-Delta 32 makes a person resistant to the human immunodeficiency virus. This also, by proxy, makes those with this mutation resistant to AIDS too. On top of this, scientists found this gene mutation could have also helped people survive the Black Plague. If that is the case, this is likely a gene mutation that has been happening in our human evolution for quite a while now.
While our bones are getting lighter, it seems this is freeing up our bodies to get taller. Yet there might also be a connection to higher education and even longevity. Both men and women are taller now than they ever wore in history. Evidence suggests the average male just 2,000 years ago was 5 foot, 5 inches. Anyone above this would be considered quite tall. Meanwhile, women 2,000 years ago had an average height between 5 feet to 5 feet, 2 inches.
Neanderthals seemed to lower our height during human evolution because previous ancestors were slightly taller. This could be why human height was so much shorter thousands of years ago. Today, the average male height is about 5 feet 9 inches or 5 feet, 10 inches. Yet women have an average height of 5 feet, 4 inches. Of course, there are anomalies to this for both sexes where people are well over 6 feet.
People do not really discuss this change in human evolution as much as they should. But many years ago, there was a big change for the Inuit people. Researchers found various, unique genetic mutations within the Inuit genome that allowed them to adapt to the severe cold much better than the average person. On top of this, they had a mutation that allowed them to have a high-fat diet.
The mutation allowed them to have a diet high in omega-4 fatty acids. While this often came with the side effect of being shorter, the Inuits still managed to live proper lives. Of course, this diet was high in seafood like fish and even seal or whale at times. The average human today could not handle such a diet without having some sort of health complication. But the Inuits, even those of today, have the ability to handle this diet.
It is stated that today, many kids are developing complications and sicknesses far more. However, the one community where this never happens is the Amish community. Why? Many people overprotect their children and do not allow them to get out and play in the dirt, with insects, and much more. However, the Amish community sees their children grow up around animals and agriculture, putting them outdoors and among potential viruses or infections often.
That slowly develops their immune system. A similar thing happens with doctors, and thanks to human evolution, healthcare workers often develop something known as Glutathione. It is an antioxidant and a protector of cells, which allows people like doctors and nurses to avoid getting sick from patients much easier. While things like their masks, uniforms, or classic coat also assist in protecting them from germs too, this antioxidant might be the prime reason they are so healthy.
During the human evolution process, we have often dropped things from our genetic makeup or altered them. Sometimes, things might develop or show in the womb but won’t be present when a baby is born. It used to be that we had an extra vein running down our forearm that formed temporarily in the womb. Yet this always vanished before birth. Now, many people are still being born with this according to researchers at Flinders University and the University of Adelaide.
Essentially, we are now seeing people born with what is basically an extra channel of vascular tissue that flows from under the wrist. The researchers found that the consistent nature of people being born more and more with this goes back to the 18th century. Roughly 10% were born with it in the mid-1880s but that popped up to 30% during the 20th century! Our median artery works just fine in humans, so anything extra is not exactly useful. Some assume that having this could offer some sort of extra aid like more dexterity or strength. Rather, it makes one more prone to carpal tunnel syndrome than anything else.
Human evolution can be a really cool thing. One would assume that we would not often see it in action among humans in such a major way. Since evolution is a slow process, we have to look at humans from an entire history, not just a few years. Yet the climate has only risen for the world. The massive rise is a direct result of human activity that is now out of control, along with the hole in our Ozone layer. As a result, humans are overheating.
Since the world also goes through a normal climate change, this has to happen along with what we are doing to it. Thus, making things happen quicker. This is thought to be why humans have dropped in temperature as a way to adapt. While the average temperature had been 98.6 Fahrenheit for most average, healthy humans. Today, we are seeing people more and more with temperatures of 97.3 to 97.9 degrees. As we know by climate, even one degree can be important.
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