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Qwickdraw
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un-natural evolution
      #6109226 - 09/30/13 12:43 PM

So here are my thoughts of the last couple days.
Are humans inadvertently skewing the natural selection process by artificially allowing disease to continue in humans to the point that procreation is not hindered. Lets take diabetes for example. Are we promoting the disease by allowing those with it to have offspring after their normal termination would occur? I am not suggesting any different course of action ATM as I am a diabetic but just looking for wondering if we are missing the larger picture.
Any thoughts?


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starbux
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Re: un-natural evolution new [Re: Qwickdraw]
      #6109270 - 09/30/13 01:19 PM

Well this probably isn't the best forum for that question, but I am inclined to agree with your observation. Increased longevity has in many ways opened up cans of worms for society and humanity.


Edited by FirstSight (09/30/13 11:06 PM)


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Qwickdraw
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Re: un-natural evolution new [Re: starbux]
      #6109289 - 09/30/13 01:32 PM

Interesting, I didn't think of it on terms of negative social behaviors being catered to hence increasing the same tendencies of slothfulness, alcoholism, etc. I certainly feel we as a society are obligated to take care for those who through no fault of their own are unable to but if it is a conscience choice, I can easily say too bad.

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FirstSightModerator
Duke of Deneb
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Re: un-natural evolution new [Re: starbux]
      #6109372 - 09/30/13 02:38 PM

CAUTION: This thread involves subject-matter which offers worthwhile territory for discussion within CN's TOS, but which is potentially vulnerable to interjection of political hot-button tangents which are not. Another potential problem area that's inherent to the subject-matter is if it wanders off into eugenics, i.e. mandated selection of eligibility for further procreation of the human gene pool.

That said, this is the Science forum, where the member-participants presumably are, by self-selective interest in the typically more challenging technical issues involved in threads here, more likely to be able to maintain a self-disciplined, objective inquiry over a more extended discussion than the average bear. Please help prove us right, and keep the CN TOS in mind when you post to this thread.

Edited by FirstSight (10/01/13 03:10 AM)


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rockethead26
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Re: un-natural evolution new [Re: Qwickdraw]
      #6109392 - 09/30/13 02:48 PM

Good point, Quickdraw. NPR just had a discussion on this the other day. A couple of points were made that seemed rather logical.

1) Our disease control efforts will most likely have a long term effect on the natural evolution of our species. People with diseases that would have led to sickness or death before procreation are now fewer in number and natural selection is hindered, keeping those defective genes in the pool when they should have been weeded out. Long term effects? Who knows.

2) We are the first species on Earth who has stopped (or almost stopped) adapting to our environment and started adapting the environment to suit our needs. This comes with all the associated dire consequences for the rest of the planet's species and most likely, our own.


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Qwickdraw
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Re: un-natural evolution new [Re: rockethead26]
      #6109459 - 09/30/13 03:26 PM

Thanks for the caution Firstsite. I knew going into this that it was subject to much abuse but this is after all a science forum. An interesting topic (at least to me) if it can be kept under the TOS.

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Qwickdraw
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Re: un-natural evolution new [Re: Qwickdraw]
      #6109464 - 09/30/13 03:27 PM

Rocket, no, I didn't hear of this discussion but it would appear I may be a genetics genius even reviling jarad?

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shawnhar
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Re: un-natural evolution new [Re: Qwickdraw]
      #6109793 - 09/30/13 06:41 PM

Quote:

So here are my thoughts of the last couple days.
Are humans inadvertently skewing the natural selection process by artificially allowing disease to continue in humans to the point that procreation is not hindered. Lets take diabetes for example. Are we promoting the disease by allowing those with it to have offspring after their normal termination would occur? I am not suggesting any different course of action ATM as I am a diabetic but just looking for wondering if we are missing the larger picture.
Any thoughts?




Yes, without a doubt. BUT....
Look on the bright side. Nature will always come up with new and wonderful ways to kill us.
Humans have been un-naturally changing the course of their own evolution for about 10,000 years now. The abiltiy to digest cow's milk, lighter skin to produce more vitiman C from the Sun, lots of things have changed and are passed on through the genes, but even though some individuals reproduce that would not have in an earlier time does not, in my opinion, lead to more disease. I used to think that the gene pool was being "weakened" by this reproduction of folks that in the past would have died before passing on genes, but now I view it as a gene diversification, which can only be good for the population in the long run.
Actual statistics are very weird, at least to me. In 1997 more people died from diarrhoea than HIV/Aids, that's just weird to me, a person that lives in a "modern/civilized" society where almost no one dies from dehydration due to the runs.
http://www.who.int/whr/1998/media_centre/50facts/en/


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Qwickdraw
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Re: un-natural evolution new [Re: shawnhar]
      #6109936 - 09/30/13 08:16 PM

Quote:

Yes, without a doubt. BUT....
Look on the bright side. Nature will always come up with new and wonderful ways to kill us.





Yes, now I feel better

Edited by Jarad (10/01/13 06:13 AM)


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Jay_Bird
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Re: un-natural evolution new [Re: shawnhar]
      #6109972 - 09/30/13 08:33 PM

Humanity's effect on and control of environment, or vaccines and disease eradication, pre-natal and neo-natal care, the 'green revolution', and more are all *more reasonable* topics for how natural selection is being blunted in some ways, but sharply resurgent in others like antibiotic resistance or migrating disease vectors.

The "us vs. them" intra-human-species social judgments (unlike 150-years proven Natural Selection as the engine for inter-specific competition driving evolution) do not survive scrutiny as well, so better to avoid that pitfall.

Edited by Jay_Bird (09/30/13 08:47 PM)


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Jarad
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Re: un-natural evolution new [Re: Jay_Bird]
      #6110620 - 10/01/13 06:17 AM

Quote:

Look on the bright side. Nature will always come up with new and wonderful ways to kill us.




Quote:

...but sharply resurgent in others like antibiotic resistance




Yep.
CDC Antimicrobial Resistance Threat Report

Jarad


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mich_al
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Re: un-natural evolution new [Re: Jarad]
      #6110713 - 10/01/13 08:14 AM

Quote:

Look on the bright side. Nature will always come up with new and wonderful ways to kill us.





... and there are also the ways we come up with, outside of nature, to kill ourselves (car accidents, wars, etc).


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Qwickdraw
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Re: un-natural evolution new [Re: Jarad]
      #6111170 - 10/01/13 12:56 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Look on the bright side. Nature will always come up with new and wonderful ways to kill us.




Quote:

...but sharply resurgent in others like antibiotic resistance




Yep.
CDC Antimicrobial Resistance Threat Report

Jarad




But isn't this opposite of what I am suggesting? Bacteria , microbes etc becoming resistant to antibiotics will promote more deaths and shortening lifespans. I am referring to lifespans being lengthened long enough to procreate thereby skewing natural selection negatively, disease becomes more prevalent due to genetic disorders being passed on when they naturally would not be.

In your example it is the microorganism itself with is mutating causing more deaths, in my example it is humans deferring death and passing disorders on to their offspring.

Is this the same process because it does not seem like it to me.


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WaterMasterAdministrator
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Re: un-natural evolution new [Re: Qwickdraw]
      #6111216 - 10/01/13 01:25 PM

Preventing pre-reproductive death in offspring by disease prevention is mechanistically no different than any other 'invention' that promotes survival. As shawnhar mentioned, that's been going on for a while now. Agriculture, spears, and even fire all increased individual Darwinian fitness.

While we have decoupled some of our reproductive success from natural selection, the universe is a dynamic place. I believe the challenge to human survival will be our ability to provide technological answers to a universe that is bound to eventually be inhospitable to us in a timely manner.


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FirstSightModerator
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Re: un-natural evolution new [Re: Qwickdraw]
      #6111442 - 10/01/13 03:32 PM

Quote:

I am referring to lifespans being lengthened long enough to procreate thereby skewing natural selection negatively...




When I was about 13, I briefly had a friend whom my father disapproved of and advised me not to hang around with. My dad said: "Chris, that guy's poor protoplasm."

Edited by FirstSight (10/01/13 03:34 PM)


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petrus45
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Re: un-natural evolution new [Re: FirstSight]
      #6111661 - 10/01/13 05:59 PM

Interesting question. I wonder what would happen if there were a worldwide EMP. How many humans would be "fit" to survive without scientific and technological infrastructure?

You also should take into account the very non-darwinian-seeming culling of hardy offspring which otherwise would be conceived and survive, due to advances in family planning science over the past 100 years. Arguably conception "mistakes" are the fittest offspring of all, for they come into existence despite the parents' desire to the contrary. So, due to modern science, you have both a positive pressure on less "fit" offspring, and a negative pressure on "fitter" offspring. I wonder if there would be any way to scientifically gauge how much the overall "fitness" of the human race has declined. Or, more precisely, how much human "fitness" has become adapted to, symbiotic with, and dependent upon, modern technology.


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Mxplx2
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Re: un-natural evolution new [Re: petrus45]
      #6111853 - 10/01/13 07:49 PM

Humans left physical prowess in the dust when they figured out mental prowess ensured survival, so controlling physical maladies should have little effect on human survival I would think.

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UND_astrophysics
sage


Reged: 01/19/13

Re: un-natural evolution new [Re: petrus45]
      #6111873 - 10/01/13 07:59 PM

Quote:

Interesting question. I wonder what would happen if there were a worldwide EMP. How many humans would be "fit" to survive without scientific and technological infrastructure?

You also should take into account the very non-darwinian-seeming culling of hardy offspring which otherwise would be conceived and survive, due to advances in family planning science over the past 100 years. Arguably conception "mistakes" are the fittest offspring of all, for they come into existence despite the parents' desire to the contrary. So, due to modern science, you have both a positive pressure on less "fit" offspring, and a negative pressure on "fitter" offspring. I wonder if there would be any way to scientifically gauge how much the overall "fitness" of the human race has declined. Or, more precisely, how much human "fitness" has become adapted to, symbiotic with, and dependent upon, modern technology.




You obviously have confused Spencer and Fisher with Darwin. Social Darwinism and Darwinism are two completely different things, and well you are veering subtly into divisive politics.


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Jarad
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Re: un-natural evolution new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #6111922 - 10/01/13 08:36 PM

Technology has certainly changed what we select for in terms of "fitness". Without technology, I would be dead several times over. I was born by emergency C-section, I would have been stillborn without modern medicine. I have had a severe case of pneumonia that would probably have been fatal without antibiotics. I am very nearsighted, I would never have survived in a hunter-gatherer society without glasses.

But our society selects for other things, now. The ability to work in a group, to figure things out, to communicate clearly and persuasively, to use technology to improve our lives in various ways.

Is that bad? Well, it is different. That doesn't mean we are "less fit" than our ancestors were. We are by definition fit enough to have survived in our environment. The fact that we use technology to alter it to suit us is part of that fitness.

Will the future continue to select for the same things? Probably not - the link I gave above is an example of challenges coming our way. We are running out of effective antibiotics - bacteria are becoming resistant faster than we are discovering new ones. Maybe that will push to discover new ones faster. Or maybe we will focus more on bacterial vaccines instead of antibiotics (which happens to be what I work on). Or maybe we will have some major outbreaks that will kill a large percentage of our population and only leave behind those who are naturally resistant.

Certainly we could not support the current population without technology. Without modern agriculture and transporation, there would not be enough food to support much more than 1/10 the current world population. We have used our brains to improve our access to resources in many ways. Yes, we rely on our bodies less, but that doesn't necessarily make us "less fit". We are using different means to achieve our survival. As long as it works, we are fit enough.

Jarad


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petrus45
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Re: un-natural evolution new [Re: UND_astrophysics]
      #6111934 - 10/01/13 08:46 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Interesting question. I wonder what would happen if there were a worldwide EMP. How many humans would be "fit" to survive without scientific and technological infrastructure?

You also should take into account the very non-darwinian-seeming culling of hardy offspring which otherwise would be conceived and survive, due to advances in family planning science over the past 100 years. Arguably conception "mistakes" are the fittest offspring of all, for they come into existence despite the parents' desire to the contrary. So, due to modern science, you have both a positive pressure on less "fit" offspring, and a negative pressure on "fitter" offspring. I wonder if there would be any way to scientifically gauge how much the overall "fitness" of the human race has declined. Or, more precisely, how much human "fitness" has become adapted to, symbiotic with, and dependent upon, modern technology.




You obviously have confused Spencer and Fisher with Darwin. Social Darwinism and Darwinism are two completely different things, and well you are veering subtly into divisive politics.




Who are Spencer and Fisher? And what is social darwinism? I'm talking about reproducing species that mature to reproductive potential, and then produce another generation, propagating their genetic information. There's nothing "social darwinism" about that. It's straight up galapagos turtle snapping, sooty white moth pecking Chuck Darwin.


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UND_astrophysics
sage


Reged: 01/19/13

Re: un-natural evolution new [Re: petrus45]
      #6112167 - 10/01/13 10:46 PM

You have got to be kidding. You do not know what social Darwinism is? You cited an example in your previous post. I guess that is the problem. Survival of the fittest is a term coined by Spencer, who was an economic and social theorist. Darwin did not coin that phrase. Your example of "family planning science"is a social construct, and an extension of social Darwinism.
Galapagos turtles and finches did not have externally induced artificial evolutionary pressure that you are confusing for "Darwinism". Big difference. That is a very common misunderstood concept by the general public, and I see it often.


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GregLee1
professor emeritus


Reged: 07/21/13

Loc: Waimanalo, HI
Re: un-natural evolution new [Re: petrus45]
      #6112199 - 10/01/13 11:09 PM

Quote:

Who are Spencer and Fisher? And what is social darwinism? I'm talking about reproducing species that mature to reproductive potential, and then produce another generation, propagating their genetic information. There's nothing "social darwinism" about that. It's straight up galapagos turtle snapping, sooty white moth pecking Chuck Darwin.



There are differences of time scale. We observe social changes over 10s or 100s of years, but the biologicsl changes we see in the geological record are over tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of years, or more. So just because you think you're talking about biological evolution, that doesn't mean we have to believe you.

I suppose we all understand the very bad flavor that speculation about eugenics fell into due to racial bigotry and the holocaust, but just in case you wonder why there is not more discussion about how social policies might affect the biological future of our species, well, that's why.


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WaterMasterAdministrator
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Re: un-natural evolution new [Re: GregLee1]
      #6112979 - 10/02/13 11:39 AM

There is a general and widespread misunderstanding of the evolutionary biology concept of 'fitness'. Simply stated, 'fitness' is the number of viable offspring and individual produces (it can be expressed in absolute or relative terms, and can apply to complete organisms or genes).

Assuming that pre-reproductive death is prevented by some means, the progenitor's fitness would increase.


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llanitedave
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Re: un-natural evolution new [Re: WaterMaster]
      #6115046 - 10/03/13 12:18 PM

From an evolutionary standpoint, of course, that concept of "fitness" is only valid if the fitter organism has some means of transmitting that fitness to its offspring, some form of heredity. Human populations and societies are evolutionarily unique because our inheritance is not merely genetic, but cultural as well. Our descendents will (hopefully) inherit the technology that adds to our fitness, and (wishfully) the prosperity to afford it and willingness to make use of it.

Otherwise, they're in poor straights.


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GregLee1
professor emeritus


Reged: 07/21/13

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Re: un-natural evolution new [Re: llanitedave]
      #6115161 - 10/03/13 01:15 PM

Quote:

Otherwise, they're in poor straights.



And in narrowing nitches.


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dickbill
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 09/30/08

Re: un-natural evolution new [Re: WaterMaster]
      #6115247 - 10/03/13 01:53 PM

I'll go back to this: the riff raffs, the imperfects, may actually be better stuff for evolution, while the alphas have no reasons to change. The alphas nay have the most abundant progeny, but this progeny is most likely like them, therefore with no real evolutionary progress done.
For example, 10 000 years ago, imperfect vision, say short sightedness, is a very bad omen for a boy-child whose destiny is to become a hunter.
But maybe this child, instead of going hunting, will survive by inventing herding or agricultural techniques.
So if you consider farming and herding an evolutionary step over hunting, then perhaps this step was made by a short sighted riff raff boy, rather than by the good looking male hunters (with lots of children) of the clan.
'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger' would say the riff raff.

Quote:

There is a general and widespread misunderstanding of the evolutionary biology concept of 'fitness'. Simply stated, 'fitness' is the number of viable offspring and individual produces (it can be expressed in absolute or relative terms, and can apply to complete organisms or genes)



Correct, this means that 'Evolution' and 'Fitness/Survival' are not the same thing.
One can even consider that 'Evolution' is a risky business which may have no great positive impact on the population numbers, at least initially. Then when the evolutionary changes have settle, the population growths again, but this time with no appreciable change (Gould stasis).

One can even goes further. In a model where the fluctuations of the characteristics of a species are just that: the fluctuations around an average and general species stereotype (Gould again, said that), these fluctuations are not considered as 'evolutionary changes' per se. Which means that Natural Selection, which nevertheless never stops acting in this fluctuating population, does not drive evolution anywhere here. Therefore Natural Selection might not be the Deus ex machina of Evolution, at least not as described by the Darwinian supporters.
For anything, Natural Selection should even be a brake to evolutionary change. It's role should be only to keep things fit, but un-changed, that is, Natural selection should stop evolution rather than drive it.
And that's totally consistent with this paper we discussed a few month ago. 'Evolution' was reframed with Information Theory concepts. Natural Selection was just a filter of entropic decay, it was not driving the complexity of the virtual organisms up, properties in the algorithmic complexity of the digital organisms was.
Now if Natural selection is just one filter, then un-natural selection is also a filter. What would be the fate of digital virtual organisms if medicine for the unfit was applied to them?

Darwinian who pose Natural Selection as the required Deus ex machina should predict an evolutionary stall, since Natural Selection is removed. They have to be consistent with their own theory: 'descendant with modification and survival of the fittest', when nobody, or everybody is the fittest, can only increase population numbers, but cannot drive Evolution.
But if Natural Selection is merely a filter, and one that can even slow down the trend in increased complexity, then the relaxation of a very stringent selection will have the opposite effect: accelerated Evolution.


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shawnhar
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Re: un-natural evolution new [Re: Jarad]
      #6115470 - 10/03/13 03:45 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Look on the bright side. Nature will always come up with new and wonderful ways to kill us.




Quote:

...but sharply resurgent in others like antibiotic resistance




Yep.
CDC Antimicrobial Resistance Threat Report

Jarad



YUK!....how can you even open a public door knowing what you know...


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frolinmod
Carpal Tunnel


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Re: un-natural evolution new [Re: shawnhar]
      #6120772 - 10/06/13 03:07 PM

Quote:

The abiltiy to digest cow's milk, lighter skin to produce more vitiman C from the Sun...



That's vitamin D. Humans do not produce vitamin C.


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Mister T
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 02/01/08

Loc: Upstate NY
Re: un-natural evolution new [Re: frolinmod]
      #6120897 - 10/06/13 04:21 PM

we grow oranges!



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llanitedave
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Re: un-natural evolution new [Re: Mister T]
      #6121289 - 10/06/13 08:56 PM

Good point!

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dickbill
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 09/30/08

Re: un-natural evolution new [Re: llanitedave]
      #6122119 - 10/07/13 10:46 AM

Regarding skin color

1) some populations have lived in more northern latitude than European populations for thousands or years, namely the inuits or eskimos, and still display a darker skin than Europeans. So: living north under low light cannot be the only explanation for having a white skin.
2)the first Europeans settled around 40000 years ago in Europe and they had a darker skin than modern Europeans. The genes for fair/white skin may have appeared only 12 to 6000 years ago, and possibly only as recently as 3000 years ago for some alleles. In any case, that means that people lived in Europe for ~30 000 years without a white skin and they had no trouble with vit.D during all that time.
Again, that means that the link Light exposure-Vit.D-skin color is not enough to explain the very white skin color of Europeans.

The explanation is likely to include sexual selection for neotenic and/or colorfull traits (for eyes and hair colors). Of course this is rarely mentioned in school books because of the political un-correctness of the fact. Indeed, how do you call, in 2013, a behavior that put preference on fair skin? a 'racist behavior'. So it is likely that the first Europeans may have display what would have appeared to us as a racist behavior, circa 2013, this for tenths of thousands of years. And when you repeat a behavior for that long, it is likely to hard wire in some extent.
Understand who want, but to punish somebody who would display this hard wired behavior inherited from the past in 2013 is like punishing dwarves for being dwarves, i.e, totally unfair.

Beside the point mentioned above, neoteny has some consequences in astro-cosmo-biological evolution.
In particular there is the question of what will look like the future martians? say, a few generation post first arrival. Well in almost all books they are described as tall elongated humans. Even KS Robinson made them that way. It's easy to understand why: human muscular and bone developmental program has been set under a 1g load and will produce bigger features under a lighter 0.33g load. Say 7 feet tall humans like in the KSR trilogy, or a John Carter who can jump a mile length.
But when you put the trend for neoteny in the equation, you are more likely to obtain some form of smaller humankind, more childish looking than pygmy looking. That would be consistent with a lighter muscular force requirement. It's also consistent with a smaller environment. Animals sense the size of their environment and grow accordingly to not overstretch the local resources, like dwarf elephant in small islands. So my bet is that martians will be much smaller than us.


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ColoHank
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Re: un-natural evolution new [Re: Mister T]
      #6122180 - 10/07/13 11:14 AM

Quote:

we grow oranges!





Not in my neck of the woods. We grow bindweed and goatheads, instead.


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llanitedave
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Re: un-natural evolution new [Re: dickbill]
      #6123813 - 10/07/13 11:25 PM

Quote:

Regarding skin color

1) some populations have lived in more northern latitude than European populations for thousands or years, namely the inuits or eskimos, and still display a darker skin than Europeans. So: living north under low light cannot be the only explanation for having a white skin.
2)the first Europeans settled around 40000 years ago in Europe and they had a darker skin than modern Europeans. The genes for fair/white skin may have appeared only 12 to 6000 years ago, and possibly only as recently as 3000 years ago for some alleles. In any case, that means that people lived in Europe for ~30 000 years without a white skin and they had no trouble with vit.D during all that time.
Again, that means that the link Light exposure-Vit.D-skin color is not enough to explain the very white skin color of Europeans.

The explanation is likely to include sexual selection for neotenic and/or colorfull traits (for eyes and hair colors). Of course this is rarely mentioned in school books because of the political un-correctness of the fact. Indeed, how do you call, in 2013, a behavior that put preference on fair skin? a 'racist behavior'. So it is likely that the first Europeans may have display what would have appeared to us as a racist behavior, circa 2013, this for tenths of thousands of years. And when you repeat a behavior for that long, it is likely to hard wire in some extent.
Understand who want, but to punish somebody who would display this hard wired behavior inherited from the past in 2013 is like punishing dwarves for being dwarves, i.e, totally unfair.

Beside the point mentioned above, neoteny has some consequences in astro-cosmo-biological evolution.
In particular there is the question of what will look like the future martians? say, a few generation post first arrival. Well in almost all books they are described as tall elongated humans. Even KS Robinson made them that way. It's easy to understand why: human muscular and bone developmental program has been set under a 1g load and will produce bigger features under a lighter 0.33g load. Say 7 feet tall humans like in the KSR trilogy, or a John Carter who can jump a mile length.
But when you put the trend for neoteny in the equation, you are more likely to obtain some form of smaller humankind, more childish looking than pygmy looking. That would be consistent with a lighter muscular force requirement. It's also consistent with a smaller environment. Animals sense the size of their environment and grow accordingly to not overstretch the local resources, like dwarf elephant in small islands. So my bet is that martians will be much smaller than us.




It's true that the mutation that led to fair skin in Europeans is relatively recent; it's actually a kind of entertaining irony to know that the common depiction of white-skinned Cro-Magnons appearing in Europe and replacing the more dull-witted Neandertals is wrong on several levels -- one of the most obvious being that we now know that the Cro-Magnons may have been as dark-skinned as any modern African population (and that the Neandertals weren't really dull-witted).

The Wikipedia discussion of skin pigmentation appears relatively comprehensive. Some interesting stuff there.

The Eskimo people are an interesting case, being descended from East Asian populations which did not experience the same mutations as did Europeans*. However, the Eskimo diet is already rich in vitamin D, consisting as it does of abundant oily fish. So there is no necessary selection pressure in their case that would amplify genes for light skin. Also, fish are much poorer sources of folate than are green leafy vegetables, which are in short supply in the Arctic. One of the primary affects of ultraviolet light on skin is the destruction of folate, which melanin protects against. Since the Eskimo diet is relatively low in folate, it would make sense to have some melanin protection for it. And finally, even though arctic winters are long and dark and cold, and bundling head to toe would seem the only option, the summers by contrast are accompanied with abundant sunlight, even more than in the temperate zones. Periods of continuous 24-hour sunlight, even though they may only last a few months of the year, will supply significant ultraviolet light, and the clothing worn during those months is probably not particularly heavy. So all in all, Eskimos have no real evolutionary need for light skin, and they have some biological advantages in retaining pigmentation.

*(Also interestingly, the lighter skinned East Asians are pale due to a different set of genetic mutations than are Europeans, and apparently the Asian version of pale skin does not come with the same genetic pre-disposition to skin cancer that European fairness does.)


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llanitedave
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Re: un-natural evolution new [Re: dickbill]
      #6123823 - 10/07/13 11:29 PM

Quote:


Darwinian who pose Natural Selection as the required Deus ex machina should predict an evolutionary stall, since Natural Selection is removed. They have to be consistent with their own theory: 'descendant with modification and survival of the fittest', when nobody, or everybody is the fittest, can only increase population numbers, but cannot drive Evolution.





That can only be the case when the external environment is static. But it rarely is. It's hard to reach an optimal peak when the landscape keeps changing out from under you.


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Mister T
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Re: un-natural evolution new [Re: ColoHank]
      #6124246 - 10/08/13 07:45 AM

you need better farmers...



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dickbill
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Re: un-natural evolution new [Re: llanitedave]
      #6124510 - 10/08/13 10:15 AM

Of course I agree. Just to mention though, that not 'everybody' depicts Cro-Magnons with a fair skin. Kim Stanley Robinson has correctly updated on that and describe them, in his latest book 'Shaman', as rather brown-bronze skinned. So people are getting used to the idea that Europeans were dark skinned for a long time, possibly as long as 30 000 years.
Another remark, since what you say about the Inuits is true, one could also say that for the Europeans too, only to a lesser extent. So Europeans didn't need to become completely fair-skinned as they did. And in addition, with the lactose tolerance mutation that appeared around -9000, and the additional vit.D provided by milk, there was even less selective pressure for a total skin discoloration. So clearly there was something else at work than the Vit.d selective pressure to explain the skin tone.

A word about 'farming' now, which was introduced late in Europe and which could explain a regained pressure for Vit.d, and therefore skin discoloration, because of an exclusive wheat-based diet.
I don't know where people get that idea that farmers were almost vegans. As a farmer's grandchild in Europe, I remember I never ate so much different meats than on the farm: pig, ducks, chicken and eggs, beef or cow (very rarely), rabbit, quails, complemented by a lot of wild animal meat: wild boars, dear, peacock, wild rabbits, often all sort of fishes from the rivers, snails and frogs (rarely) ! and to add to it, my grandfather had cows for milk, so we had lots of whole milk, i.e, Vit.D. To me it looks like more of a hunter-gatherer diet on the boost than what you would expect of a 'vegan' farmer's diet and it is probably the kind of switch that the hunter gatherers experienced when they started to herd cows: more of the same, but plus milk.


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llanitedave
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Re: un-natural evolution new [Re: dickbill]
      #6124584 - 10/08/13 10:50 AM

Agriculture didn't mean an immediate or total end to hunting, but eventually the amount of meat eaten by farmers decreased to levels that definitely affected the health of the farmers. The modern view of the general farm as having a large variety of livestock available is, I think, a more recent occurrance.

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dickbill
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Reged: 09/30/08

Re: un-natural evolution new [Re: llanitedave]
      #6124666 - 10/08/13 11:29 AM

Quote:

Agriculture didn't mean an immediate or total end to hunting, but eventually the amount of meat eaten by farmers decreased to levels that definitely affected the health of the farmers. The modern view of the general farm as having a large variety of livestock available is, I think, a more recent occurrance.




As I said above, my experience of a farmer's diet was better described as 'sedentarized hunters gatherers'. The big difference with real hunting is that instead to have to run long distances in winter to try to catch some big game, we just had to kill one of our 'animal prisoner' to eat it.
There are probably some studies on prehistoric bones that could precisely indicate how much meat and milk the hunters got when they transitioned to a more sedentarized lifestyle.


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llanitedave
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Re: un-natural evolution new [Re: dickbill]
      #6126022 - 10/08/13 10:40 PM

I don't know about precise, that's hard to do in bio-archeology, but there are a lot of indications that, as the population increased after the development of agriculture, the nutritional health of that population decreased significantly compared to previous hunter-gatherer populations. Until recently, agriculture could feed larger populations, but could never feed them well.

Farmers having access to abundant sources of livestock has until recently not been a common occurrence. As late as medieval times the "family cow" was a precious commodity, and not slaughtered lightly. She would be very expensive to replace.


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scopethis
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Re: un-natural evolution new [Re: llanitedave]
      #6130810 - 10/11/13 11:07 AM

dang right...I recall reading about a cow that burnt down a whole city..Chicago wasn't it??,,an utter catastrophe...

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