A Genetic Glimpse Into Human Evolution

A genetic glimpse into recent human evolution gives very interesting results. Studies indicate that the evolution of man from his ancestoral apes stretches over 6 million years. This evolution was characterized by development of various traits that include bigger brains, hunting, and bipedal walking in the earlier years. Human evolution enabled man to acquire culture and knowledge, leading to a new level of civilization. Interestingly, evolution is still happening to-date, and genetics could be the main cause.

Recent Human Evolution

Unknown to many, the human race continues to evolve, despite technological and industrial innovations. For example, today’s human brain is significantly smaller than that of our ancestors some 30,000 years ago. According to research, the human brain used to measure 1500 cubic centimeters, yet today’s average size of the human brain is just 1350 cubic centimeters, yet we possess far more intellect now than our ancestors did. Another recent milestone in the human evolutionary journey has to do with the ability to fight diseases. A study done in 2007 revealed that in the last 40,000 years, humans have developed 1800 genes devoted to fighting dangerous diseases such as Malaria. In addition humans have also developed lactose tolerance another indicator that human evolution is still ongoing. So, what is the link between the latest human evolution story and genetic make-up?

Biologists Had Problems since Darwin’s Time

The explanation of evolution and human genetics did not start with recent human evolution. More than a century ago, Darwin and other scientists had difficulties explaining to the world how complex structures in nature came to be. Darwin introduced the evolution idea about one and a half decades ago, but the debate about this issue is still raging. Recent human evolution researchers are still looking into the linkage between evolution and genetics, and are making significant headway. Examples areas biologists have been studying include the complex nature of the eye, the exquisite mechanism of the limbs, and the merging of trillions of cells to form an organism.

Although it is easier to buy the idea of an animal gaining new traits through natural selection, it is the possibility of development of new complex structures that still features, as revealed through a genetic glimpse into recent human evolution.

The East Asian Evolution Example

The study of the link between human genes and evolution has enabled researchers to discover a mutation gene in East Asians. East Asians have distinctive traits, for example smaller breasts, narrower nostrils, and thicker hair shafts. Scientists at Cambridge’s Broad Institute have established that a gene mutation in a gene called EDAR was responsible for this variation 35,000 years ago. This discovery could explain the evolution signs seen in the rest of human race. Scientists argue that human genome sites are responsible for the recent human evolution that varies from continent to continent. However, scientists are yet to determine which of the effects caused by the mutation was dominant for natural selection to occur.

Latest Support For Genetic Influence in Latest Human Evolution

In an effort to explain human evolution in East Asia and elsewhere, researchers have probed into a hypothesis that was developed 40 years ago. The hypothesis states that human evolution must be based on gene mutation because human and chimpanzee gene proteins are almost similar. Researchers at Cornell University have established that DNA mutations played a monumental role in the divergence between chimpanzees and humans 6 million years ago. Since the 1970’s, biologists and other scientists have tried to connect the concept of gene regulation to human evolution. All along, the argument has been that the genes proteins for both chimpanzees and humans are 99 percent identical (“New Research Backs”, 2013).


Given the findings of a genetic glimpse into recent human evolution, it is certain that Darwin’s natural selection argument still holds. Recent research has suggested that gene mutation is at the center of latest human evolution, as suggested in the East Asia case. East Asian variation may have happened thousands of years ago, but the entire human race continues to evolve in very distinctive ways. As genes continue to flow within populations, racial differences may finally disappear. In addition, the future human populations may be more resistant to killer diseases such as heart disease and AIDS.


Posted by Glimpse Team

The Glimpse offers a unique look at things we may or may not know exist, our past, present and future are what makes us unique.

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