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Ain't Nothing Gonna Break My Stride

Using genome-wide scans, the New York Times' Nicholas Wade says that researchers are searching for evidence of recent natural selection in the human genome, adding that the recent finding that Tibetans have a set of genes that allow them to live in areas of low oxygen could "be the most recent known instance of human evolution." These studies have had a stutter-start, he says, but signals of selection may be seen in genes involved in diet and skin color and are more commonly seen in people of East Asian and European descent — "possibly because the people who left Africa were then forced to adapt to different environments."

Larry Moran at the Sandwalk takes issue with an aspect of Wade's article. Wade writes that:

Many have assumed that humans ceased to evolve in the distant past, perhaps when people first learned to protect themselves against cold, famine and other harsh agents of natural selection. But in the last few years, biologists peering into the human genome sequences now available from around the world have found increasing evidence of natural selection at work in the last few thousand years, leading many to assume that human evolution is still in progress.

Moran says: "Anyone who assumed that 'humans ceased to evolve in the distant past' simply doesn't understand evolution. You can't stop evolution."

The Scan

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