Researchers Note Increase in Rate of Natural Selection

on December 15, 2007

ScienceNOW: “Human Evolution Is Speeding Up The rate at which humans evolve is 100 times faster than it was 5,000 years ago, reports ScienceNOW on a human DNA analysis project reported on in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week.

Led by University of Utah paleoanthropologist Henry Harpending, the team analyzed DNA from 270 individuals, searching for single-nucleotide polymorphisms in sequence data from Europeans, Africans, and Asians. After the analysis, the team concluded that the rate of evolution “has accelerated in 1800 human genes, which encompass about 7% of the human genome.”

The source for most of the mutations, the scientists speculate, is a series of “recent” population booms.

“The pace of change has accelerated a lot in the last 40,000 years, especially since the end of the Ice Age,” explains Harpending. The source for most of the mutations, the scientists speculate, is a series of “recent” population booms.

Not all evolutionists are convinced, however. Yale University geneticist Kenneth Kidd cautions that, while he doesn’t deny recent rapid selection, “I am not yet convinced that so much rapid selection at so many places in the genome has occurred. ... I think we need much more data.”

AiG’s Dr. Georgia Purdom said of this research:

“The researchers suggest two reasons for human ‘evolution’ speeding up: an increase in population size and increased migration of humans to new environments (changing lifestyle, diet, and other selection pressures). Although creationists would not agree with the time scale of 40,000 years ago, these two reasons they suggest for the ‘speed up’ would have occurred shortly after Noah’s Flood and the Tower of Babel event around 4500 years ago. In Genesis 9:1 God commanded Noah and his sons to be fruitful and multiply, and after the confusion of languages at the Tower of Babel, people migrated to different parts of the earth that had been drastically altered by the Flood. It is conceivable that natural selection would have occurred in the human population helping them adapt to their new environments. However, this is not an example of human evolution. Humans are still humans! This is why it is so important to not equivocate the terms natural selection and evolution and to clearly define them (see this past Friday’s Feedback, The Nature of Myth, for more information on this issue).”

Be sure to check back soon for an in-depth article on this news from Dr. Purdom.


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Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.