Data from half a million people show that natural selection has not stopped


MODERN life is so cushy that some wonder if human evolution has stopped. Unlikely, reply biologists, for family sizes (and therefore numbers of descendants) still vary. A study just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences uses a new statistical method to examine how genetic contributions to certain human traits correlate with how many children a person has. The data came from the UK Biobank, which contains genetic and medical data from half a million people. Positive values mean an association with successful reproduction; negative ones the opposite. Intriguingly, this analysis suggests genetic contributions to intelligence and educational achievement are currently disfavoured by natural selection. In evolutionary terms, it seems, humans are now brainy enough.



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