Does evolution make us or are we just drifting that way?

May 16, 2018, University of Queensland
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Evolution may be responsible for a range of complex traits, including height and waist-to-hip ratio, and diseases such as schizophrenia, research from The University of Queensland shows.

The findings improve understanding of how shapes human populations, and could lead to better prevention, diagnosis and treatment of complex diseases through an enhanced knowledge of their underlying genetics.

The study, led by Professor Jian Yang from UQ's Institute for Molecular Bioscience and Queensland Brain Institute, used more than 400,000 genetic samples from African, East Asian and European populations.

"Many human complex traits are concentrated in different populations around the world," Professor Yang said.

"For example, populations in the Northern Hemisphere tend to get taller the further north you go, and European Americans have a lower (BMI) than African Americans, but higher than Chinese, Indonesians or Thais.

"Environmental factors currently play a role, but most complex traits have a genetic component.

"The question is whether or not these differences are the consequence of natural selection or simply the result of what we call 'genetic drift' – where gene mutations (also called genetic variants) become more or less frequent in a population by chance."

Professor Yang and his colleagues set out to answer the question by testing to see if genetic variants were more differentiated across African, East Asian and European populations than expected under genetic drift.

They looked at a range of complex traits – including height, BMI, waist-to-hip ratio and cholesterol levels – and four , type II diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia.

If genetic variants associated with a complex trait resulted from natural selection they should appear more frequently than expected under .

The analysis supported this, showing that the genetic variants associated with height, weight-to-hip ratio and schizophrenia were more differentiated than expected by random drift.

The genetic variants expected to affect height were higher in Europeans than Africans and East Asians and were consistent with observed differences between the populations.

"Our research was made possible by the availability of massive banks of genetic information that are being harnessed to shed new light on modifiable health risks that underlie common diseases."

The methods developed in the study, published in Nature Communications, are general and applicable to other complex traits.

Explore further: Natural selection still at work in humans

More information: Jing Guo et al. Global genetic differentiation of complex traits shaped by natural selection in humans, Nature Communications (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-04191-y

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TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (3) May 16, 2018
Humans are a domesticated species. They began to systematically eliminate the elements of natural selection hundreds of millennia ago, through their technology.

The result was chronic overpopulation. They improved their survival rate while their reproductive rate remained unchanged.

The competition over resources caused humans to band together in tribes for protection. Tribes with greater internal cohesion could beat others in conflict. Group selection replaced natural selection.

This cohesion required humans to surrender natural behaviors such as reproductive rights and independent thought. Members were selected for their ability to serve the tribe. Successful tribes had members who were better at cooperating, communicating, conceiving complex strategies and obeying complex commands.
Cont>
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (3) May 16, 2018
This caused our brains to grow to an unsustainable size; they are subsequently fragile and are prone to damage, genetic defect and deterioration with age.

Hence the mental illness and intellectual disparity exacerbated by the fact that, despite our domestication, we still harbor residual urges to act as the animals that we are.

Researchers should abandon the fallacy that we are still evolving and accept the fact that domestication is an ongoing process of intentional design meant to produce an artificial product to serve specific functions.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (3) May 16, 2018
But then academic research is part of this domestication, yes? These institutions were originally established by religions, not to explain our behavior but to modify it. Their purpose has always been to teach us what is expected of us.

And admitting that we are obviously a domesticated species would expose their crucial role in the process, and threaten to collapse the whole artifice.
Edenlegaia
5 / 5 (2) May 16, 2018
But then academic research is part of this domestication, yes? These institutions were originally established by religions, not to explain our behavior but to modify it. Their purpose has always been to teach us what is expected of us.

And admitting that we are obviously a domesticated species would expose their crucial role in the process, and threaten to collapse the whole artifice.


You may have been domesticated yourself to think that way.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (3) May 16, 2018
But then academic research is part of this domestication, yes? These institutions were originally established by religions, not to explain our behavior but to modify it. Their purpose has always been to teach us what is expected of us.

And admitting that we are obviously a domesticated species would expose their crucial role in the process, and threaten to collapse the whole artifice.


You may have been domesticated yourself to think that way.
And if you werent domesticated youd probably be in jail. Most of what we as tropical animals would consider natural and normal, is illegal.
jeffreyjoemiller
2 / 5 (1) May 16, 2018
It's quite facile to flatly assume that schizophrenia is an effect of natural selection when there is substantial evidence pointing toward schizophrenia, at least in some cases, being caused by environmental effects ... for example, in the Northern Hemisphere, people diagnosed with schizophrenia are more likely to have been born in Winter (similar to people born in early Winter having a statistically lower chance of developing multiple sclerosis than those born in early Summer).
FredJose
1 / 5 (10) May 17, 2018
"Evolution" must be some kind of god if it can invent all the wonderful ingenious systems we find in the environment. Some of the systems are so incredibly complex and the technology involved completely dumbfounds the most brilliant human beings today that the notion of random mutations and natural selection being responsible is really foolish.
One very good indication is that some biochemical processes and or reactions are at the absolute limit of what is possible physically and or chemically. This can only happen if a full knowledge of the physical properties is available to use. Again, this does not happen in isolation - it is always bound up in some system or systems which by itself precludes the idea that it could have been assembled by randomly throwing together components and hoping they integrate into a competent whole.
Darwinian evolution is becoming more and more absurd as our abilities to delve deeper leads to greater discoveries in the biological world.
FredJose
1 / 5 (10) May 17, 2018
An interesting side note to this study is that it's simply confirming that random mutations lead to disease, not better and more robust systems. The human being is not evolving into something better, rather they are becoming much more sickly and far less robust.
The only way to counter this is via lots more research to provide understanding of the way we mess up the environment and also how the body gets damaged by that mess. Plus of course a better understanding leads to improved lifestyle and environmental management, both of which might give the body a better chance of living a more productive life.

Of course even without the environmental pressures and with good lifestyle practice the humans cannot escape the curse of sin: Death. That has been decreed over 6000 years ago by the One who created us - it cannot be changed or escaped. Mercifully, though, the creator has made it possible for us to live forever - by accepting the propitiation made by His Son. There is no other way.
jonesdave
4.4 / 5 (7) May 17, 2018
Of course even without the environmental pressures and with good lifestyle practice the humans cannot escape the curse of sin: Death. That has been decreed over 6000 years ago by the One who created us....


Right.......... so my ancestors 20 000 years ago lived forever did they?

rrwillsj
3.8 / 5 (4) May 17, 2018
Whenever I see the repetitious twaddle of religious stupostition advocated on a science site? I immediately recognize 'Stupid Design' by drunken deities engaging in sadistic practical jokes!
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet May 18, 2018
Mercifully, though, the creator has made it possible for us to live forever - by accepting the propitiation made by His Son... no other way
Unmercifully though, this god of infinite love and mercy will nevertheless torture us for eternity just because we can't ignore all the evidence he himself left strewn about, that he doesn't exist.

This horrific and absurd dichotomy is perhaps why the pope recently declared that hell doesn't exist and that bad souls simply evaporate.

Xians are reacting to this revelation with anger and resentment, that fellow human beings won't be savaged and brutalized for eternity. What now of RETRIBUTION oh lord?

How come? Why aren't good and merciful and empathic xians RELIEVED that hell doesn't exist???

So now we know the power and purpose of religionist bigotry. It is to dehumanize the enemy so it is easier to savage and brutalize them while they are here on earth.

History of course bears this out.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet May 18, 2018
The desire for retribution in humans is greater and longer-lasting than perhaps any other animal, even elephants that never forget or manic white whales or vengeful orcas.

It is a regretful byproduct of our memories, unnaturally extended and fortified by the demands of tribal living. It is debilitating. It can drive us insane like captain ahab. And it is disruptive to tribal harmony and cohesion when directed against fellow members.

Religionists discovered that the promise of an all-powerful god who would wreak vengeance upon their enemies was a very powerful tool for securing trust and devotion. It could redirect and strengthen animosity outward, toward other tribes, where it belonged.

So of course they added it to the canon.
Whydening Gyre
4 / 5 (1) May 21, 2018
"Evolution" must be some kind of god if it can invent all the wonderful ingenious systems we find in the environment. Some of the systems are so incredibly complex and the technology involved completely dumbfounds the most brilliant human beings today that the notion of random mutations and natural selection being responsible is really foolish.

"Evolution" is a word for a process that seeks to explain the process of all the chaotic patterns (made up of a plethora of other chaotic systems) that we observe. Nothing more.
Know thine enemy first, Fred.
...
Darwinian evolution is becoming more and more absurd as our abilities to delve deeper leads to greater discoveries in the biological world.

What's absurd is people that believe there is a limit to all the discoveries we make.
Chaos breeds more chaos. What survives (an evolving environment) is "evolved".
It doesn't necessarily get BETTER - it just changes...
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (2) May 21, 2018
An interesting side note to this study is that it's simply confirming that random mutations lead to disease, not better and more robust systems. The human being is not evolving into something better, rather they are becoming much more sickly and far less robust.

Extinction is one state of evolution.
... which might give the body a better chance of living a more productive life.

So would opening your mind...

humans cannot escape the curse of sin: Death.

Er .. Death is a curse of living in the first place...
That has been decreed over 6000 years ago by the One who created us

Er, is was "decreed by the environment that shaped us (Decreed a bit more that 6k yrs ago...)
Mercifully, though, the creator has made it possible for us to live forever - ...

Then why did he create a body that can't keep up with environmental changes?
There is no other way.

Sure there is - we live in a Universe of Infinite possibilities...
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
3.7 / 5 (3) May 24, 2018
This adds to the many recent similar results on human populations, some which is linked to belowthe article.

@TGO, jjm: Domestication is also part of evolution, and the results was only separating between drift - which is also evolution "making us so", but not selectively - and selection as responsible for part of the traits. E.g. height alleles were also discerned, but the environment influences adult height too; starvation and disease can depress it.

@FJ, mackita: Neither religion nor transpermia can explain evolutionary observations, such as common ancestors. Evolution is simply change in genomes of populations, and as the article explains selection is specifically in play and the result *rejected* drift such as "random mutation". Please read the article - and check what evolution is in a decent encyclopedia - before commenting easily avoidable errors and irrelevancies.

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