Sunday, 26 September 2010


Idle wonderings...

In recent news, studies show that crowded urban populations are evolving a greater resistance to "slum" diseases, such as TB. It even seems that cystic fibrosis is a side-effect of an evolved response to cholera - carriers of the CF gene are more resistant to cholera toxins. The occasional instance of CF is outweighed by the benefits of being better-able to resist cholera.

It seems human DNA has yet to catch up with modern medicine.

A related article from that give hints that human evolution is accelerating.

We already know that populations around the world have taken different evolutionary paths to our Rift Valley ancestors - those who moved North, to less sunny latitudes, developed paler skin to aid the formation of Vitamin D; those at higher altitudes developed larger lungs and hearts; cold environments selected for eye-insulating epicanthic folds...

In the past, predictions of "future humanity" tended to involve words like "melange" and "melting pot". Increased global travel, growing acceptance of other cultures, all of these would see humanity becoming one homogeneous, undifferentiated population.

Now, though, storytellers and futurists must allow for the possibility - the strengthening possibility - that human populations are isolated enough (and the loss of cheap fuel will only increase the isolation) for speciation to occur.

But, what an odd event it will be - assuming the occupants of this planet retain easy communication for long after we lose easy travel, that some descendent of the internet persists, these new divisions of genus Homo will still share so much; language, culture, humour. To an outside viewer, it would look as though several disparate species had arisen and yet found enough common ground to unite under one cultural umbrella.

Or, maybe, Wells was more on the mark than he thought...

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