Humans have reached utopia in evolutionary terms, claims UK geneticist

October 7th, 2008 - 12:15 pm ICT by ANI  

London, October 7 (ANI): A leading British genetics expert says that humans will not evolve anymore.
Professor Steve Jones of University College London argues that, at least in the developed world, humans are as close to utopia as they are ever likely to be.
At a UCL Lunch Hour Lecture in London, he highlighted three components of evolution, namely natural selection, mutation and random change.
“In ancient times half our children would have died by the age of twenty. Now, in the Western world, 98 per cent of them are surviving to the age of 21. Our life expectancy is now so good that eliminating all accidents and infectious diseases would only raise it by a further two years. Natural selection no longer has death as a handy tool,” the Independent quoted him as saying.
He insisted that mutation rate was also slowing down.
While the odds of genetic changes happening due to chemical and radioactive pollution are still there, he said, one of the most important mutation triggers was advanced age in men.
“Perhaps surprisingly, the age of reproduction has gone down - the mean age of male reproduction means that most conceive no children after the age of 35. Fewer older fathers means that if anything, mutation is going down,” said Prof. Jones.
He further said that there was very little likelihood of random alterations to the human genetic blueprint.
“Humans are 10,000 times more common than we should be, according to the rules of the animal kingdom, and we have agriculture to thank for that. Without farming, the world population would probably have reached half a million by now - about the size of the population of Glasgow, he said.
“Small populations which are isolated can change - evolve - at random as genes are accidentally lost. Worldwide, all populations are becoming connected and the opportunity for random change is dwindling. History is made in bed, but nowadays the beds are getting closer together. Almost everywhere, inbreeding is becoming less common. In Britain, one marriage in fifty or so is between members of a different ethnic group, and the country is one of the most sexually open in the world. We are mixing into a global mass, and the future is brown.
“So, if you are worried about what utopia is going to be like, don”t; at least in the developed world, and at least for the time being, you are living in it now,” he added. (ANI)

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