• Question: will humans ever evolve further

    Asked by star499her to Zoe V, Michael S, Martin M, Lisa M, Barbara, Alexander DB on 27 Feb 2024.
    • Photo: Zoe Vance

      Zoe Vance answered on 27 Feb 2024:

      Every living species continues to evolve. Evolution happens when different individuals are more or less likely to survive and have babies. Individuals that are able to produce more surviving offspring contribute more to the gene pool of the next generation and this changes the population over the course of many generations. Humans aren’t immune to these effects, though there are some things that make it a little more complicated in humans like modern medicine and the ability to decide how many children you have. But we still see changes in human populations in response to the environment, like higher rates of mutations that make you resistant to a disease that’s common in the area the population lives in, for example.

      Also sometimes changes happen due to chance because new mutations in our DNA happen all the time. If they aren’t actively bad, sometimes they just end up present in a lot of the population even if they don’t give any benefits.

      So humans, and all other living things, are always evolving, though the changes are probably too small to see over short amounts of time.

    • Photo: Alexander De Bruin

      Alexander De Bruin answered on 27 Feb 2024:

      Absolutely, it’s a constant process and with enough time humans may be as different to us as we are to the original homo sapiens

    • Photo: Martin McCoustra

      Martin McCoustra answered on 28 Feb 2024:

      That’s an interesting question… There is an argument that say that when we can control our environment sufficiently to remove the environmental pressures that promote evolution then we will stop evolving. But as Zoe said evolution is an on-going process… eventually our appendices will disappear as we don’t need them!

    • Photo: Michael Schubert

      Michael Schubert answered on 29 Feb 2024:

      Yes, humans are always evolving! This can be as simple as a change in our appearance or behaviour in response to a change in our environment. For instance, humans behave very differently nowadays to thousands of years ago, so we are better adapted for the way we behave today.

      Humans have the advantage of changing their environment around them, though. Most of the time, evolutionary changes happen to make organisms fit their environment better, but we can change our environment to fit us, so we don’t necessarily need to be able to change as much as we once did.

    • Photo: Barbara Shih

      Barbara Shih answered on 29 Feb 2024:

      Yes we’re always evolving to the environment and the selection pressure exerted on us. A research group has suggested that due to the use of c-section (an operation used to helps pregnant woman giving birth), the population as a whole has “evolved” to be more likely to have babies too big to be given birth naturally. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-38210837
      The theory is that previously, mothers with narrow hips or babies with large head would be more likely to die of child birth, but modern medicine prevented these death.
      There are likely lots more subtle things that affects birth-/death-rate for people with different versions of genes, and therefore contribute to the evolution of modern day human.

    • Photo: Lisa Mullan

      Lisa Mullan answered on 7 Mar 2024:

      Evolution isn’t a process that stops at any given time. The changes that drive evolution involve changes to our DNA – the instruction manual for all living things – and that is happening all the time. If these changes result in something (known as a trait) that helps us get ahead, then it is likely we will pass them to our children and if they can get ahead too, then they will pass these traits to their children. Over the very long term, if this trait remains beneficial, then it will become standard in our make up and we will have evolved further.