Zoologist outlines how humans have altered evolution over past century

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Zoologist Sarah Otto, with the University of British Columbia, has published a report in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B regarding human influence on evolution over the past century. She notes that the number of changes that have occurred over such a short span of time is unprecedented.

The of humans has led to massive changes to planet Earth. Humans have cut down forests, polluted the air, rivers, streams, and even the ocean. We have warmed the planet, increased and have altered the course of for an untold number of species. In her report, Otto focuses on adaptation, speciation and extinction over just the past hundred years.

She points out that history is filled with extinctions—approximately 90 percent of all animals that have ever lived on Earth are now extinct. But most such extinctions, she notes, have been gradual. What is new is the speed at which species have gone extinct over the past century and the fact that just one species is responsible. She further notes that diversity has changed both between species and within them, and it has come about through intentional efforts such as cross-breeding and through inadvertent reactions to human activities. As an example, she cites swallows, which have quickly evolved to have shorter wingspans near roadways to avoid being struck by cars. She writes that humans have also greatly impacted the places where animals live, and have transported them to far-flung locales, and notes the tendency to hunt some species and kill those deemed pests.

Otto's main message is that we have altered the evolutionary paths of plants and animals to such an extent we have no way of measuring it. And that leads to questions of whether there is a new equilibrium ahead or if a time is coming when all of the other will follow those that have already disappeared. She pointedly acknowledges that no one really knows, which suggests perhaps we humans should be working a little harder to find out.

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More information: Adaptation, speciation and extinction in the Anthropocene, Proceedings of the Royal Society B (2018). rspb.royalsocietypublishing.or … .1098/rspb.2018.2047

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Nov 14, 2018
Centuries of forced monogamy had certainly filled humanity with beta males, hated today by women.

Nov 14, 2018
Humans have been altering evolution for many thousands of centuries. Any species that persists alters the evolutionary path of all species it interact with, both directly and indirectly.

Humans have of course had an outsized and accelerated alteration effect far longer than a century - perhaps for many thousands of centuries as well.

Nov 14, 2018
Ignored the incel.....

Nov 16, 2018
Centuries of forced monogamy had certainly filled humanity with beta males, hated today by women.

No, no, no and no.

- Marriage customs have varied, and there has always been a modicum of cheating.
- Breeding patterns with partner choice has obviously not affected complex traits in any discernible direction.
- Dunno what the biological relevance of "beta males" would be; in some species such as gorillas and wolves there are males respectively pairs designated "alpha" by behavioral studies, which are chosen by competition and has breeding privileges. But if you consider the remainder "beta" [why? and which genetic relevance?] humans don't have any of that.
- Breeding preferences has nothing to do with complex emotional outcomes of specific interactions; conversely many mate pairs have episodes of negative emotions.

Ignored the incel.....

I forgot that is a subculture now, [Again, why? And why blame others for own behavior?]

Nov 16, 2018
I had to look up what an incel was.... I thought we called them 'neckbeards' now.

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