In what ways has the human species evolved biologically over the last 1,000 years?
Our teeth used to meet, top and bottom. Now a large proportion of people have the top teeth extending out over the bottom teeth.
I read somewhere the wisdom tooth situation has gotten worse, that is, fewer people have the jaw structure for them to come in. Perhaps for that reason, evolution is now getting rid of wisdom teeth altogether, and people are now born who either never develop them, or develop them only as small buds that don't threaten neighboring teeth.
Increase of many medical conditions that used to make one unlikely to reproduce, because science/medicine can now compensate for them, such as diabetes.
Isolated populations that move to high altitude environments quickly develop changes in their blood that enable it to carry more oxygen.
Resistance to countless diseases that appeared on the scene in that time frame, so that we are not as susceptible to them as we were when they first appeared. Often there is a co-evolution with the disease, with viruses and bacteria mutating to be less fatal, so their hosts will survive longer to spread them.
Defect in the MC1R gene causes red hair, freckling and an increased incidence of melanoma (1000 years give or take a few centuries)
New mutations appearing recently, not yet widely spread:
Apolipoprotein AI-Milano Improves processing of cholesterol and lowers odds of heart disease and arterial blockage
One of the genes that governs bone density in human beings is called low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 5, or LRP5 for short. Mutations which impair the function of LRP5 are known to cause osteoporosis. But a different kind of mutation can amplify its function, causing one of the most unusual human mutations known.
This mutation was first discovered fortuitously, when a young person from a Midwest family was in a serious car crash from which they walked away with no broken bones. X-rays found that they, as well as other members of the same family, had bones significantly. (One doctor who's studied the condition said, "None of those people, ranging in age from 3 to 93, had ever had a broken bone.") In fact, they seem resistant not just to injury, but to normal age-related skeletal degeneration. Some of them have benign bony growths on the roof of their mouths, but other than that, the condition has no side effects - although, as the article notes dryly, it does make it more difficult to float. As with Apo-AIM, some drug companies are researching how to use this as the basis for a therapy that could help people with osteoporosis and other skeletal diseases.
( ), Italian researchers studying the population of the African country of Burkina Faso found a protective effect associated with a different variant of hemoglobin, named HbC. People with just one copy of this gene are 29% less likely to get malaria, while people with two copies enjoy a 93% reduction in risk. And this gene variant causes, at worst, a mild anemia, nowhere near as debilitating as sickle-cell disease.
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Do you know more examples of human evolution? Tell us in the comments below!
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