Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Jux, Apr 22, 2007.
That's some pretty interesting stuff. I've always been fascinated by genetics, but never had the focus to really delve into it.
Lately, I've been wondering if one of the things we need to be doing in order to improve our species and promote positive mutation/evolution is artificially increasing our genetic diversity through breeding programs. No, I'm not suggesting that government choose our mates for us (that would be a disaster), and I realize that there are ethical problems with the thought...and I'm also aware that my thinking here is really nothing new. Nevertheless, it seems to me that humans are doing a pretty lousy job of breeding on our own and we're slowing our development down as a result.
I mean, think about it for a minute. Interracial mating is still something of a taboo in many cultures. It's no secret that many of our best and brightest don't mate/reproduce because of their work, because they've no desire to mate/reproduce, or because they're found to be physically undesirable (Einstein's bad hair, etc). Hell, look at the TV show Beauty and the Geek, or the film Idiocracy.
I dunno. It just seems to me that if chimpanzees are more genetically diverse than we are, that means they're doing something right and we're doing something wrong.
Spekkio: In a similar vein, I've wondered if many of the advances in health care are actually weakening our genetic strength as a species, by allowing people with conditions that would normally be fatal well before they reproduced to survive and pass along the genes that contribute to the condition. Again, not we should interfere, just that it's something to wonder about.
As far as chimp diversity, the article doesn't seem to address the difference between two chimps from the same region. The variation between two geographic populations might be primarily a result of their isolation--not an issue for humans due to technology. Wasn't isolation one of Darwin's prerequisites for speciation?
Yeah, I've had the same thought. Because, by rights of natural selection, I should probably already be dead. Or never have been born in the first place. (I have lousy genetics.) Not that I'm making any judgment one way or another on that - just a statement of fact. And truth be told, without modern medicine, a lot of our overpopulation issues might not be....
Yeah, I'd love more specifics on the differences between the chimps, too. The article seems to suggest that they're largely similar - but then, I wonder what criteria they use to determine that. Do the different populations have different resistances to disease, for example?
As for humans, though...we still maintain isolation, even though technology allows us to cross that border. (Biracial is still kinda a dirty word, isn't it?) That's why sometimes I wonder about liberal eugenics...not forcing people to mate, but perhaps getting bright/strong/healthy people to donate their gametes, matching up those gametes and then fertilizing willing carriers with the zygotes. The gametes could be randomized so as to prevent it from being a "designer baby/test tube baby" issue. And I'd think that it wouldn't be too difficult to get willing carriers/parents - people who are sterile, homosexual couples, etc. Some might think it unethical, but if it could/would contribute to the longevity and evolution of humanity....
I was just reading about how humans are not quite as genetically diverse as they "should be".
The prevailing theory is that humans were almost extinct at one point, reduced to a very small number of individuals.
Cheetahs are in an even worse situation, in that they are all closely related to one another: http://www.cheetah.org/?nd=41
Facinating stuff Jux.
And thanks for the links DC, I didn't know about this theory. It's always amazing to read the extraordinary measures we've taken to survive as a species.
Yeah, the Discovery Channel once said that the bottleneck in our population might've been due to a super volcano eruption.
But we survived... and now the Animal Kingdom trembles in fear over our opposable thumbs! Muhuhahaha!
By natural selection, I should be dead as well, I'm very short sighted... but yes, the Human race is now locked in to its current state (or at least evolution is greatly slowed) because we no longer adapt to our environment, but change it to suit us.
These days the Human race just seems to be geting taller.
And fatter (looks down at gut). And I've heard that kids are hitting puberty earlier, too.
Interesting links I found about the future of our species: 1 and 2.
The taller, fatter, and early puberty thing are all at least partly the result of our nutrition, especially in the developed world. We eat well, and our bodies retain the fat for the long winter evolution has us expecting. Same thing with getting taller--excess fuel enables our bodies to spend resources on growth instead of burning calories running away from sabertooth tigers and all. The puberty thing is basically the same thing. Our bodies think we're in a plentiful environment thanks to our genorous intake of food, and figure it's a good time to get with the reproducing.
I think hormones in meat have a lot to do with the latter two also, though.
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