(Stillness in the Storm Editor) In a study conducted ten years ago, gene researchers discovered that human evolution is speeding up. The researchers theorized that these changes are related to environmental and dietary factors, but there are likely other causes not considered, such as cosmic influences. The end of the last ice-age appears to be when this rapid increase took place. Could this be an indication of what some consider a shift in human consciousness corresponding to evolutionary changes in the human organism?
While the study isn’t conclusive, what it does suggest is that genetic expression is altered by environmental factors. Epigenetics is the study of genetic expression, which has established that changes in the environment of the organism play a role in expression. Consciousness seems to be a factor here, whereby what we think and feel, how we interpret experience, augments emotions, which in turn influence genes.
Furthermore, the body and mind are influenced profoundly by electromagnetic fields, particularly the geomagnetic field. As a result, energy perturbations caused by solar weather and cosmic influences likely contribute to evolutionary changes.
Prof. Henrik Svensmark of the Technical University of Denmark studied major evolutionary periods during 500 million years of Earth’s history and found increased frequency of nearby supernovae correlated to evolutionary changes. This suggests that cosmic influences play a major role in biological evolution.
What science has yet to discover is how this process works. At the moment, it seems only deleterious effects of cosmic and solar influences are acknowledged. Ultra violet rays from the sun are thought to cause genetic mutations, along with cosmic rays. And by examining phylogenetic changes across large periods of time, a definite boom and bust cycle can be seen, corresponding to mass extinction events.
The question is, are these changes only related to the extinction events or is there a cosmic influence as well?
Other not so well acknowledged researchers assert that the cosmos is a living organism and that it is playing a direct role in evolutionary development. Some even think the sun is a conscious being, citing the earth-facing solar quiet effect, wherein earth-threatening solar activity diminishes when facing the earth.
While mainstream science has yet to explain these not so well acknowledged factors, it is believed by many that evolution is speeding up and the planet is currently in a phase of transition.
The following article provides more detailed information to support this viewpoint.
by John Roach, December 11th, 2007
Explosive population growth is driving human evolution to speed up around the world, according to a new study.
The pace of change accelerated about 40,000 years ago and then picked up even more with the advent of agriculture about 10,000 years ago, the study says.
And while humans are evolving quickly around the world, local cultural and environmental factors are shaping evolution differently on different continents.
“We’re evolving away from each other. We’re getting more and more different,” said Henry Harpending, an anthropologist at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City who co-authored the study.
For example, in Europe natural selection has favored genes for pigmentation like light skin, blue eyes, and blond hair. Asians also have genes selected for light skin, but they are different from the European ones.
“Europeans and Asians are both bleached Africans, but the way they got bleached is different in the two areas,” Harpending said.
He and colleagues report the finding this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Snips of DNA
The researchers analyzed the DNA from 270 people in the International HapMap Project, an effort to identify variation in human genes that cause disease and serve as targets for new medicines.
The study specifically looked for genetic variations called single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs (pronounced “snips”), which are mutations at a single point on a chromosome.
“We look for parts of chromosomes that are common in the population but are new, and if they are common but recent, they must have gotten to high frequency by selection,” Harpending explained.
“And the reason we know they are new or recent … is that they haven’t had time to break and re-form,” he added.
Over time, chromosomes randomly break and recombine to create new sequences of SNPs along the chromosome. A large number of identical SNPs means the mutation is advantageous and new.
The researchers’ analysis found that 7 percent of human genes have been undergoing rapid, recent evolution.
If humans had always evolved at this rate, the difference between modern humans and chimps should be 160 times greater than it really is.
“We realized we must be in a transient [phase], that evolution hasn’t been going this fast for long in our species,” Harpending said. “And so we wondered why.”
According to Charles Darwin’s famous theory, evolution happens faster in big populations.
Harpending said the timing of the newly observed evolution acceleration coincides with explosive growth in human population, coupled with humans living in new environments and changing cultures.
The biggest changes have come since the end of the last ice age, about 10,000 years ago, which opened up new environments for the quickly expanding human population to grow from millions to billions.
More people mean more mutations, Harpending noted.
“You are also giving them the potential to be adaptive mutations,” said Brian Verrelli, who studies population genetics and evolution at Arizona State University in Tempe and was not involved in the research.
Verrelli said the new study is interesting and accurately explains the accelerated evolution with a plausible model based on demographics.
Importantly, he said, the research indicates that any speed-up in evolution “had to have happened differently in different geographic regions.”
While Harpending and colleagues have yet to connect all the different evolving genes with specific traits, they have linked a few.
For example, Europeans as recently as 8,000 years ago developed lactose tolerance, which allows adults to drink fresh milk—a staple of the agricultural economy.
Genes that suppress body odor and dry ear wax are spreading rapidly in Asia. In Africa, a speed-up is found in genes that thwart malaria.
Many of the evolving genes appear related to changes in diet that accompanied the widespread adoption of agriculture, Harpending noted.
For example, Europeans can easily digest cereal grains, but Kalahari Bushmen (or San) in Africa, Australian Aborigines, and Native Americans often become diabetic when eating a high-carbohydrate diet.
“We can see the genes changing. We are evolving to cope with these new cereals,” Harpending said.
Eventually, this rapid pace of genetic evolution should slow, assuming the human environment and diet stabilize, Harpending said.
However, infectious diseases evolve more quickly in large, sedentary populations, which may keep the adaptation cycle ramped up for the foreseeable future.
“It’s going to take a while to stabilize,” he said. “By ‘a while,’ I’m talking tens of thousands of years.”
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