On the Origin of Species was a book published by Charles Robert Darwin in 1859. The book contained the theory of evolution, along with its most compelling evidences. It took the human race 6 million years to evolve from chimpanzees to modern-day Homo sapiens, according to Darwin. So the question now is, has the human race reached its physical and mental peak? Or will humans ever evolve again? Let’s have a look.
Due to the fact that evolution is about a species adapting itself to its environment, many skeptics argue that humans have reached their evolutionary peak. Why? Because we have learned to make the environment adapt to us. For example, we’ve learned to build a house around us and install heating, instead of the body having to adapt to living in a cold climate. We then have instant warmth, and the problem is solved. Evolution was no longer needed at this point.
Humans evolved to see further away in the distance to aid us when hunting animals, thousands of years ago. But now we don’t need to run anywhere because we have cars, and we now buy our food from the shop. We spend all day staring at computer screens, making the need to see distant people, places, and things irrelevant. The rules of evolution state that humans have no further need to evolve and will therefore never evolve again.
Modern medicine is also another factor to consider. Medicine prohibits evolution. Only the strongest and fittest would be able to pass on their genes to the next generation because the weak would die out. But that was the case before modern medicine.
Nowadays, modern medicine allows weak individuals who previously wouldn’t have survived a disease or an injury to survive. However, this would also mean that the strong genes will no longer be the ones that’ll be passed on. The weak genes would also get passed on just as much. The theory of “survival of the fittest” is deemed null and void in the modern times because now basically everyone has a chance to live.
However, another school of thought, which is far more titillating, is being entertained by leading anthropologists. They believe that the results will be quite shocking as there are ways we can—and will—evolve in the modern world. There is hard proof that humans are still evolving, so it’s not just speculation. Shorter and slightly plumper women tend to have more children than their taller, skinny counterparts, according to studies by the evolutionary biology team at Yale University. The reason behind this is the shape and size of their ovaries.
Yes, evolution is happening right under our noses, and we don’t even notice it.
The first thing that will change is our brain size, if we do evolve in the near future. It is a theory that many scientists agree on. Language and abstract thinking led us to new inventions, which means that the biggest evolutionary changes came from the brain. And so it follows that the brain will be the next thing to develop, which makes perfect sense in our modern world where information rules. But can our brains, physically, get any larger?
The biggest factor that has limited human brain size is the birthing process. Babies’ heads must fit into the birth canal. Because it will be hard to get them out if their head gets any larger, this has stopped their brains from growing in the womb. But with the massive rise in number of Caesarian sections in recent years, this could all be about to change.
Today, over 50 percent of babies in China are delivered via C-section. And of course, a C-section means no more limits on the size a baby’s head can grow. Some anthropologists believe this growing C-section trend could give way to babies being born with increasingly larger brains and heads in the future. Some theorize that in a few generations down the line, humans could have huge heads and scrawny bodies, just like aliens in science fiction films.
When it comes to our physical appearance, scientists think that we will change for the better and look different, despite it not having any real benefits in terms of survival. The reason for this is that males are choosing their sexual partners based on looks and intelligence level as opposed to their ability to produce healthy offspring.
This type of selection based on attractiveness does of course happen with both genders, but research has shown it’s considerably more prominent among males. Therefore, more attractive and more intelligent females will get more chances to reproduce and pass on their genes. The human race will ultimately evolve to be smarter and generally more good-looking as a consequence.
Humans themselves are now deciding which genes get passed on and which don’t because it’s no longer our environment or Mother Nature that chooses how we evolve. Scientists refer to this newly emerging evolutionary phenomenon as artificial selection, as opposed to the natural one.
However, our environment still poses a massive risk to us, which means that natural selection isn’t dead just yet. As we become a more globalized community, traveling back and forth to every corner of the planet, and as the population of the human race increases, pathogens are now being spread easier and quicker than ever before. Huge chunks of the population with weak immune systems and poor access to modern healthcare will be killed off, since biologists predict that we’re going to get a lot more virus epidemics in the coming years. Humans will then evolve to become less dependent on medicine and have stronger immune systems, and the global life expectancy will consequentially rise. However, we can only notice the difference after thousands of years.
In conclusion, there’s still a lot more weird and wacky mutations to come in the future because humans are still only in their infancy when it comes to evolution. But one thing’s for sure: in a million years, the human race will look remarkably different and function in completely different ways than they do today.
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Here is another science-related article: 15 Unbelievable Facts About the Human Body