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The Great Evolutionary Speedup

John Hawks and his colleagues have a new paper that says human evolution has accelerated in past 40,000 years as a result of human culture. The researchers analyzed HapMap data to determine the rate at which adaptive mutations appear in humans, according to their paper in PNAS. As the human population grew larger due to cultural and ecological changes, there was a greater chance that adaptive changes would spring up in the human genome -- and they did, say the researchers. But not all populations have evolved at the same rate because some migrated to new climates where they had to adapt more quickly, points out this Scientific American article. On the Gene Expression blog, p-ter expresses concern that the authors do not provide enough evidence for acceleration. Hawks replies to p-ter on his own blog, along with answers to other questions they could not fully address in their paper.

 

The Scan

Tens of Millions Saved

The Associated Press writes that vaccines against COVID-19 saved an estimated 20 million lives in their first year.

Supersized Bacterium

NPR reports that researchers have found and characterized a bacterium that is visible to the naked eye.

Also Subvariants

Moderna says its bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine leads to a strong immune response against Omicron subvariants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Science Papers Present Gene-Edited Mouse Models of Liver Cancer, Hürthle Cell Carcinoma Analysis

In Science this week: a collection of mouse models of primary liver cancer, and more.