Saturday, October 22, 2011

Recent evolution in response to natural selection in a contemporary human population

I just remembered this article I read from the NY Times earlier this month titled "Natural Selection Leaves Fresh Footprints on a Canadian Island". Parish records from the French-Canadian Island of Île aux Coudres have revealed an astonishing decrease in age at first reproduction (AFR, from 26 to 22 years) for women born on the island between the years of 1799 and 1940. Using powerful statistical tests, researchers were able to distinguish between cultural practices and natural selection, two potential drivers of this change. The unique social equality conditions of the island allowed for the detection of a clear genetic and heritable component to AFR. This is one of few studies to show convincing evidence for detection of microevolution over a few generations in a human population.

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