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The Role of Human Culture In Natural Selection

March 2nd, 2010 03:05 admin Leave a comment Go to comments

gollum123 writes with this excerpt from the NY Times: “… for the last 20,000 years or so, people have inadvertently been shaping their own evolution. The force is human culture, broadly defined as any learned behavior, including technology. The evidence of its activity is the more surprising because culture has long seemed to play just the opposite role. Biologists have seen it as a shield that protects people from the full force of other selective pressures, since clothes and shelter dull the bite of cold and farming helps build surpluses to ride out famine. Because of this buffering action, culture was thought to have blunted the rate of human evolution, or even brought it to a halt, in the distant past. Many biologists are now seeing the role of culture in a quite different light. Although it does shield people from other forces, culture itself seems to be a powerful force of natural selection. People adapt genetically to sustained cultural changes, like new diets. And this interaction works more quickly than other selective forces, ‘leading some practitioners to argue that gene-culture co-evolution could be the dominant mode of human evolution.’”

Source: The Role of Human Culture In Natural Selection

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