Nugget of Knowledge: Evolution continues


The human body is a little different overall than it was 170 years ago

(WYTV) – Are humans still evolving or are we going to look like this forever?

We are actually still evolving — some changes are noticeable and some are not.

In the not noticeable category, more and more adults have an extra artery in their arms.

The artery first forms while a baby is in the womb and is the main vessel that supplies blood to the forearm and hand. It usually disappears during gestation — the radial and ulnar arteries replace it. But some people keep all three.

We know from anatomical records that around 10% of the people born in, say, 1850, had this third artery. Today, it’s 30%. In terms of evolution, that’s warp speed.

People born 80 years from now may all carry it. Why?

We’re not sure. Genes may have been mutating for some reason we don’t yet understand, mothers may have seen more health problems during pregnancy or both reasons.

Another change — for the past 10,000 years, our jaws have been getting smaller because thanks to agriculture and processed foods, we don’t have to chew as much.

And if our jaws are smaller, we have less room for teeth and, sure enough, many people are being born today without wisdom teeth.

On top of that, our sense of smell is improving. We are more sensitive to odors that mean possible poison or danger.

So natural selection is constantly tinkering. No part of our body is more “recent” than another, but some are changing faster.

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