By Joe Sims
Today’s news features a fascinating article on human evolution. It suggests that humanity is still evolving – thank God! This is heartening news: the continuing spate of suicides bombings, random killings of innocents by gun-toting lunatics in the US west, and the racist ravings of Charles Murray, James Watson and others had one almost losing hope.
BBC carried a story yesterday on “political correctness” and gave a platform to Charles Murray, co-author of the infamous Bell Curve, who functioned as an ideological defense attorney to the recently fired Watson. When asked if Watson was right in his assertions that Africans were intellectual inferior, Murray replied, “I don’t know” and then suggested that test scores indicate that “something” is going on.
In this regard it was interesting to see a recent scientific study of James Watson’s genetic profile. The study determined that Watson must have had very recent Black ancestors as 16 percent of his DNA was African. The likelihood is that he had an African American great-grandparent. Can you imagine?
The new evolutionary evidence reported in today’s LA Times, posits that with the introduction of widespread agriculture, the pace of evolution accelerated “100 times historical levels.” Staff writer Karen Kaplan continues, “the research team was able to conclude that infectious diseases and the introduction of new foods were the primary reasons that some genes swept through populations at such speed.” These genes allowed circumstances in which natural selection was able to occur.
The research determined that “race” as it is presently manifest today didn’t exist “until 20,000 years ago, when genes involved in skin pigmentation emerged … Paler skin allowed people in northern latitudes to absorb more sunlight to absord vitamin D.
The study suggested that that the “fastest-evolving genes were those related to brain development, but the researchers aren’t sure what made them desirable.”
Interesting stuff, especially when one considers that the Watson claimed that within ten years researchers would discover the “intelligence” gene, a project it seemed that was underway at the Cold Harbor Lab, he headed.
I’ve often wondered what humankind was evolving toward. What factors, known and unknown are effecting our genetic destiny and how will that effect appearance, shape etc. 20,000 years is just a second in a species evolution: how will we fare – if we fare at all – in another 20,000?