Greetings to all Darwinian friends out there. Is it perhaps possible that
there has been a minor physical change in the anatomy of modern Homo sapiens since the Technological revolution-
e.g. weaker and shorter legs/feet from spendig a lot of time sitting in front of a PC/TV, longer/shorter or more/less dexterous fingers from prolonged keyboard/gadget usage, sharper/weaker eyesight from increased hours spent focused on a PC/TV/Gadget screen? Richard Dawkins claims in 'The greatest show on Earth' that there has been a selective advantage happening 'before our very eyes' in favour of smaller-tusked African elephants since humans hunting ivory have been targeting mainly those with the largest tusks which means that certain changes by Natural Selection could be witnessed within a humans lifetime.

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'has been'? I'm not sure that evolution could bear that out at this point. Diet and lack of exercise would contribute, but those aren't necessarily evolutionary at this point.

I'd say give it a few generations, then have a hypothesis. :-)
Thanks for your response.
I've learned something new today!

kinds regards
In short, no. None of these confers a selection advantage and they should not increase reproductive fitness. Attributes caused by ones environment are not heritable. Although some epigenetic changes are caused by the environment, they do not remain after a few generations, but there is some discussion in this area.

That being said, human technology (fire, buildings, agriculture etc.) assuredly has had some impact as it has changed our environment and pressures somewhat. An example, if very poor eyesight was caused by a deleterious genetic mutation, a person with this attribute may be a poor hunter/gather and/or be easily eaten by some predator. Generally, this would be a disadvantage, and this person would be thought to be less likely to pass on his/her genes, causing this deleterious mutation to be winnowed out of the population. However, if modern eyeglasses make this particular mutation inconsequential and the person is just as successful, then the mutation is no longer deleterious, thus the selective pressure is no longer there. This would allow the gene to spread through the population, via genetic drift.

The elephants have a clear selective pressure, and genes that directly correspond. The relative ease of modern life, would allow for mediocre humans to be just as successful as the "best" of us. So you are onto a much larger idea. This general ease has removed some selective pressure and allowed natural drift to have more of an effect. Hope that answers your question.

Good for thinking outside the box!
Thanks a lot for the lengthy response to my question-I really appreciate it.
Your response was very informative and profound. I now have to do further research
because of your response and seemingly encyclopedic knowledge about evolution.

Kind regards :-)
I came to answer the question based on the email alert, but Super fluid gave much the same information as I would have, and said it very well.

I'll add, however, that a more useful example than the fire, buildings, and agriculture might be spoken language and reading -- and in each case, there has been very suggestive evidence that the presence of spoken language and written language in culture has indeed applied selection pressure, the former much more than the latter.

More "so far", at least. Spoken language has been with Homo for a long time now, but even the "ease of modern life" would not likely be neutral for an individual with no ability to deal with abstract language. I don't mean "deaf", or "mute", or "dyslexic" -- I mean completely nonverbal. Such individuals are born regularly, but there is not such an absence of pressure that such an individual would be just as likely to have children, let alone raise successful children, as one not thus afflicted. "Ease of life" is relative, and "mediocre human" hides a lot of complexity that exists in the problem.

Written language is much newer, and coverage of literacy in the global population is much, much lower than spoken. But again, "so far". Whether orthography as we know it will continue to be key as communications change? We don't have a good idea yet. I did research in the field of Human/Computer Interaction for a number of years, and we were all certain that the "WIMP model" (Windows/Icons/Menus/Pointers) was not "here to stay", but when asked about "Well, then, what will it be?" we had nothing to say. Basically, if we knew, it'd be here already. Once acquainted with a mouse, it makes a lot of sense to most people -- but it wasn't at all obvious before it was conceived.

So, depending on the saturation of tech into global culture, is it possible that it will apply as much pressure to spoken language? Maybe not. But as some are arguing that we're seeing some pressure from reading already, is it possible that there will be *some* effect on the gene pool from high-tech developments? I'd say that's near-certain.
Appreciate the lengthy response. Thanks a lot.
I would definitely be a more informed Darwinian just buy getting profound insights
about evolution from people like you.

Kind regards :-)
Yes, my word choice does hide a lot of complexity, but generalities tend to do that.

I'd like to second your choice of abstract thought as a example, good stuff all around.

As a point of interest, have you heard of a man named Jarred Diamond? I believe he wrote a book called "Guns, germs, and steel". One of his hypothesis' was that the "luck" of a culture in native plants and animals that could be successfully domesticated has played perhaps the most significant role in which cultures become the hegemonic powers of their region.

Simply. Agriculture had a huge effect on humans for obvious reasons. However, if a population was lucky enough to have highly nutritious crops that required little effort to raise then more time could be devoted to the development of things like written language. You can see where this is going.

Thought that it might be of interest to you.
Hi, thanks for your response.

I'd like to second your choice of abstract thought as a example, good stuff all around.


Most certainly. But when the phrase is "mediocre human" in the context of genetic traits, it is by definition "eugenic" -- dealing with "good genes". Now whether it results in policies enforcing and controlling breeding and sterilization, etc., is an entirely different thing, and I am by no means suggesting that you or anyone else here is suggesting that. But employing "mediocre human" without hazmat-containment-level care is extremely worrisome, if for no other reason than imprecise generalities could be used by others for justifications of deplorable and scientifically unjustifiable behavior.

As a point of interest, have you heard of a man named Jarred Diamond?

Thank you, yes. I read Guns, Germs, and Steel about ten years ago, shortly after it came out. Awesome that you took the time to suggest outside works!
Certainly. I meant to have quotes around "mediocre" as well as "best", but still that is more of a sneeze guard than a haz-mat suit. You are also correct about the implications, and while I meant no such thing, I should be more careful. Good thing I'm not a politician, eh? In fact, those same generalities are often used by others to depict the science minded as cruel, heartless bastards.

Speaking of outside works, the original poster might be interested in reading "Why evolution is true". It is a solid primer written for a lay-audience. I have also heard "Greatest show on earth", is good for the same reasons, but I haven't read it myself.
That was classy. Thanks for being awesome.

I have also heard "Greatest show on earth", is good for the same reasons, but I haven't read it myself.

Another vote for that, but I think The Ancestor's Tale and Climbing Mount Improbable are even better. As for Diamond-type stuff, the very similarly-named Germs, Genes, & Civilization: How Epidemics Shaped Who We Are Today is fantastic, with respect to this specific topic of modern human evolution. Really do check it out.

Good thing I'm not a politician, eh?

No, do consider running for office. I'd vote for you. :-)
I have also heard "Greatest show on earth", is good for the same reasons, but I haven't read it myself.

Another vote for that, but I think The Ancestor's Tale and Climbing Mount Improbable are even better.


'The Greatest Show on Earth' is more primer-level stuff, for introducing people to the basics of Evolution and swaying them towards it with some of the vast array of evidence. Dawkins's previous books on the subject were written to explain the nuts and bolts of evolution to people who already knew the basics.

That said, I'd recommend the whole batch. 'The Greatest Show on Earth' is valuable reading, even for us, to help get a better grasp of how to argue the basics against Creationists. It's quite entertaining and contains many good bits of information you might not know.
I have often thought of resurrecting the freak power ticket and running for some local office like sheriff, a la HST.

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