Human evolution

Are humans still evolving? Will they finally lose their appendix since it is no longer needed since we do not digest bark and other vegatation? In the next 100,000 years what else may become vestigial?

First of all, I don’t think that’s the current theory as to the function of the appendix.

But more importantly, “not needing it” doesn’t matter in terms of evolution unless a mutation that eliminated the appendix also increased our chances to procreate somehow.

Yes. Probably not unless something changes and it interferes with human reproductive success. It would depend on the environment of the humans and what is necessary for successful reporoduction. However an evolutionary biologist may be able to give you a more specific guess or two.

Every species is still evolving.

That’s not how evolution works. Unless there is a strong reproductive value in losing the appendix, it stays. In a species as populous and spread out as H. sapiens, that is unlikely to happen.

Well, since there is no evidence that the appendix will become vestigial, the “else” is unwarranted. Beyond that, there is no factual answer to how any species will evolve in the future.

Human reproduction still produces genetic changes but the problem is that there ( for the most part) is no longer any natural selection. Many children born with genetic differences that would have mostly likely been deadly in an earlier time are nowdays able to live long enough to reproduce and pass on their genes. What that means for humanities future I have no idea.

I prefer to think of it as we’re all being naturally selected with evolution favoring those of us who tend to wear our corrective lenses, take our medications and see our doctors regularly.

Not true. Natural selection is just different than it was in the past, but keep in mind that much of the world lives under conditions with little or no medical care.

There could easily be a significant event, like the Influenza pandemic of 1918, that could week out certain genotypes. But again, with our population spread out so much geographically, that is increasingly difficult to do.

Something like that yes. A more cynical view point might be that evolution favors those that use corrective lenses when they need them, use the right kind of medicine and see doctors that know more or less what they’re doing. At least in as much as any of those traits are influenced by genetics (and I expect there is some influence there, but probably not a lot, and certainly indirectly).

The latter two criteria tend to be most significant in the post-reproductive stages of life. In reality, we’re probably being naturally selected to just be horny and irresponsible.

“I know I slept with your best friend, but baby, I’m evolving!”

As long as there is any variation in how many offspring different folks have, and as long as any part of that variation is due to genetic factors, evolution will work to make those genetic factors more common. For instance, if professional basketball players manage to sire more children than ordinary folks, then the genes for being good at basketball will become more prevalent in the population. Are those “good” genes, or “more advanced” ones? Yes, in the only sense that matters for evolution.

Here’s how it’ll probably go.

By 3535 everything we think do or say will be in the pill we took that day.

By 4545 we won’t need teeth or eyes and there will be nothing to do and nobody will look at each other.

By 5555 your arms and legs will be limp and useless and their functionality will be replaced by robotics.

By 6565 no more functional genitalia. All reproduction will be artificial

By 7510, look out cuz there’s gonna be trouble a-brewin. I’m not getting into any more of the details… but I have this feeling it will all be happening.

It’s also possible that we can’t lose it. The normal way we would ‘lose’ something would be for it to get smaller and smaller until it is gone. Even if we assume it has no use, and that we would be better off without it by eliminating the chance of appendicitis, it might be the case that a smaller appendix is worse than the appendix we have now. If a smaller appendix is more likely to develope appendicitis, it won’t be selected for. If this is the case, eliminating the appendix completely might be an evolutionary case of “you can’t get there from here.”

It’s a moot point anyway. There’s a good chance that humanity is about to begin undergoing major evolutionary changes using more"artificial" methods. Evolution through genetic engineering is still evolution.

in the world today, the population is growing fastest among poor countries where sexual selection doesn’t seem to favor any particular aspect. maybe we could still assume that the traditional model of sexual selection, strong man - beautiful woman, still holds in the majority; so men keep getting stronger and women keep getting more beautiful.

i can live with that. :smiley:

Useless organs consume resources that could go to other organs or simply not have to be consumed. Cave-dwelling animals tend to have no eyes or non-functional eyes since they’re not needed even though they evolved from animals that do have eyes. I fail to see how this is any different.

You forgot the year 2525, if man is still alive…

couple articles that might be interesting related to this topic (rather it is or not, its up to you)

http://nymag.com/print/?/health/features/aids-cure-2011-6/

http://pda.physorg.com/news/2011-04-mystery-sickle-hemoglobin-malaria.html

btw, some people are born without wisdom teeth. probably because we have no use for it

Some people are born without arms. That’s not evidence that we “have no use” for them.