Selection Spurred Recent Evolution, Researchers Say –  The gist of this new study is that recent evolution = large populations + moving from ancestral environments to quite different ones (jungle to desert for instance).  The authors claim there has been significant evolution in the last 40 years and it varies between population groups around the world.  Larger populations have more potential mutations, some of them being good and eventually sweeping across the population.  You will have more selection for a  mutation if you move to a place where they are advantageous.  If you stay in the same place and do not leave for hundreds of thousand of years and the environment rarely changes you will not evolve as fast, because you do not need to adapt to change. 

This paper is not scientific law, there are a lot of holes that need to be filled  The researchers are getting their sample data from the  hapmap, but keep in mind that although we have mapped the human genome, we do not know what most genes do.  all Humans are about 99% similar, so we are talking about  1% of the genome.  The issue I have is that people (racists with low IQs) read these studies and think evolution means “becoming superior” or that the fact different groups of people are more superior to each other or very different from each other, almost to the point of species or subspecies.  That is not the case.  Evolution just means acquire traits that will allow a person to reproduce offspring.  In some societies that can mean being more intelligent, having shinny skin, or being more less muscular or hairy.  It depends.   Most of the genes they are tracking,  that we know vary in humans, have to do with things like cancer rates, skin coloring, lactose tolerance, etc.  In everyday life for most people this is not significant.  My wife and I are “genetically distant”, especially when compared to some of my relatives, but I get on with her and her family much better than I do with some of my extended family, so although different groups might have different average frequency of genes, that does not mean there is no overlap or that different frequencies of some genes make people significantly different, especially in behavior.  Genes do not operate in a vacuum they interact with the environment as well.  The picture is much more complicated.  

Racists and other types of idiots read “divergent” and “population group” as “far apart” and “political race”.  In reality if I told you that my house was closer to the nearest store than the post office, that tells you nothing about the actual distance you need to travel or how far apart the buildings are in relations to each other in miles (km).  It could be my house is right next to the store and the post office is two buildings over from the store, or the store is 50 miles from my house and the post office is 80 miles from the store.  Without comparing “divergence” to something and giving a measure of what it means people tend to get carried away with their own political bias or stupidity. 

In the end, the old belief, that people have not evolved since the dawn of civilization (about 10K years ago) is likely false but the extent of that evolution on the species and the resulting utility is still largely “educated guess work”.

Japan completes missile intercept test from ship – Bonzai! Looks like Japan will not be burning in a sea of North Koreans nuclear fire in the near future.

Inquiry opened into S. Korean front-runner – Another investigation into Lee Myung-bak’s business dealings.  I’m do not know enough about the issue to determine if it is purely politically motivated or not.   I blogged Sunday on Lee’s popularity, hinging primarily on faith that he is the person who can renew the economy. Here is another interesting article on what is going on in S.Korea.  It looks like no one is sure if a sitting president can legally stand trial, so hopefully this mess will resolved without more fighting. 🙂

Signs of TB in Ancient Skull Support Theory on Vitamin D –  The long and short of it is that tuberculosis has been found in ancient people, and scientists believe that it was an environmental pressure that led to the selection of light skin in populations that lived too far from the equator to produce enough Vitamin D, due to sun exposure, in order to maintain a healthy immune system.  Today we have fortified milk and multivitamins, in ancient times if you were dark skinned and lived in the England or Siberia you would likely get various infections, rickets, and not live very long, unless (like Inuits) you eat something rich in Vitamin D to make up the differences, such as seal blubber.  The other side of that is light skinned people who live in the tropics have to monitor their sun exposure or risk sun burn.  In ancient times repeated sunburn could lead to infection and death, you likely would not live long enough to get cancer.  Since light skin (and eyes for Europeans) is relatively recent and evolved convergently in East Asia and Europe,  I am guessing people avoided the far North due to the ice age(s) so it would not matter.

Nigeria: Fayose, Ibori Sent to Prison – “The two men are being tried for several offences, bordering on abuse of office, corruption and money laundering”.  This is always a positive thing.  The loyalists are up in arms because they know their gravy train of kick-backs has just stopped.  The “rule of law” has to start somewhere, there is bound to be push-back.