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Oryx
October 24th, 2011, 12:30 PM
This is something that I've thought about for quite a long time. Evolution basically works like this:

1. Something within a species mutates, making some individuals different than others.
2. This mutation helps those individuals survive, so they live longer and reproduce more than the other individuals without the mutation.
3. Because they reproduce more, the mutation is more likely to be spread until the helpful mutation is common and the species has changed.

This makes total sense when you think about animals - rabbits that mutated to become white in the North lived longer because they weren't seen against the snow, so more and more rabbits became white. Turtles with notches in their shells can reach more food so are more likely to survive, so notched shells become part of the species.

But it doesn't apply too well to humans. Imagine some people were born with a mutation that made them significantly stronger than the people around them. If humans lived like animals, this would give them an advantage, and the human race might evolve to be stronger. However, in society strength wouldn't determine if you reproduce more or not. Similarly, high intelligence, a trait that is unique to humans, does not cause a person to reproduce more, as evidenced by the fact that there are plenty of not so smart people reproducing (probably as you read this). Basically, the mutations that help animals in the wild and contribute to their evolution don't seem to affect us at all. The same goes for mutations that would make an animal die in the wild, therefore leaving the gene pool. People with mutations like that will be kept alive and give the chance to find love and reproduce, something that would not happen in the wild. (Not saying it's a bad thing, just that it happens.)

So basically, my question is, given all this, do you think humans will continue to evolve? Will a bottleneck happen some time in the future and cause only those with a beneficial mutation (such as someone affected less by radiation or something if a nuclear bomb hit) to survive, possibly moving us further towards our final evolution? Or are we there already?

Mr Cat Dog
October 24th, 2011, 12:35 PM
Evolution isn't progressive; we're not striving towards a perfect 'model' of humanity. I've had debates over this with some of my friends who think that we're progressing towards perfection, and have sat them down and explained that we are who were are (heh... Ke$ha reference) because of what has happened before us, not because of some gameplan to evolve, Pokemon-style, into the best we can be.

I can't forsee a circumstance in which humans DON'T evolve, in all honesty; however, none of us will be alive when it happens, and it'd probably take a life-changing event, like an Ice Age (or the opposite) for something to finally change.

Lezza
October 24th, 2011, 12:36 PM
As we discover more advanced technology we will evolve less and less but I still think we can evolve as there are problems all the time that humans face.
(The funny thing is i'm watching a program called origins of us that shows how we evolve lol)

PkMnTrainer Yellow
October 24th, 2011, 12:38 PM
We evolve every single new generation of kids. It's just not immediately noticeable in any one batch. Only when stepping back and looking at people a long time ago would reveal a truly noticeable change through many small changes resulting in some more noticeable, bigger ones.

Lezza
October 24th, 2011, 12:48 PM
Aparently it was cooking that increased our brain sized and made us human

Oryx
October 24th, 2011, 01:06 PM
Evolution isn't progressive; we're not striving towards a perfect 'model' of humanity. I've had debates over this with some of my friends who think that we're progressing towards perfection, and have sat them down and explained that we are who were are (heh... Ke$ha reference) because of what has happened before us, not because of some gameplan to evolve, Pokemon-style, into the best we can be.

I can't forsee a circumstance in which humans DON'T evolve, in all honesty; however, none of us will be alive when it happens, and it'd probably take a life-changing event, like an Ice Age (or the opposite) for something to finally change.

But if/when we do evolve again, if we're not going to evolve into something worse, aren't we always getting better? And if we're always getting better, then isn't that one step towards perfection? I mean we're probably going to go extinct long before our species is perfect, but unless we evolve to be something worse then aren't we technically evolving towards perfection all the time?

I was thinking about this more and also thought of the main cause of evolution: environment. Would different colors of skin had evolved if we had had the technology that kept us from needing to be in the sun? Because we have so much technology now, we don't have much of a need to adapt to our environments, which is the biggest thing that spurs on natural evolution. One mutation helps an animal adapt more to the environment it's in, therefore surviving more. But with more and more technology, much of the world has no need for real adaptation to their environment, since they can negate most negative effects.

We evolve every single new generation of kids. It's just not immediately noticeable in any one batch. Only when stepping back and looking at people a long time ago would reveal a truly noticeable change through many small changes resulting in some more noticeable, bigger ones.

I was asking for logical reasoning why I was wrong, not just stating "we're evolving" with no reasoning at all. :( Yes, we evolved from people a long time ago. But a long time ago, we didn't have all the technology and societal customs and such that we have now, the things that make me doubt whether or not we'll evolve further unless there's a bottleneck.

Esper
October 24th, 2011, 01:21 PM
Sometimes evolution is just a matter of being in the right place at the right time, not necessarily being the best adapted. If you can out-compete and out-number your evolutionary "rivals" then you don't need to be the best. That's the kind of thing I'm thinking will happen with humans: we'll simply evolve into whatever aspects are most common in the groups of humans who are having the most children. We won't have some exceptional quality that will make those people more likely to survive and pass it on since most people today can and do have the chance to have children.

Besides, from what I understand the divide between who is and isn't having the most children is mostly economic and social right now, rather than anything physiological. And just because you're poor/less educated/religious (not judging, but it's my understanding these factors are pretty common among people who have more children) doesn't mean your own children will be.

That leads me to think that we'll evolve as a species based on something that affects everyone more indiscriminately, like (hopefully!) higher tolerance for pollution or something along those lines. But maybe we'll evolve into a species of diabetics thanks to the food we eat.

Edit:

But if/when we do evolve again, if we're not going to evolve into something worse, aren't we always getting better? And if we're always getting better, then isn't that one step towards perfection? I mean we're probably going to go extinct long before our species is perfect, but unless we evolve to be something worse then aren't we technically evolving towards perfection all the time?
It could be a change that's neither better nor worse. A lateral change, although I'm sure you could always argue that any change could have benefits/drawbacks in different situations.

Mr Cat Dog
October 24th, 2011, 01:22 PM
But if/when we do evolve again, if we're not going to evolve into something worse, aren't we always getting better? And if we're always getting better, then isn't that one step towards perfection? I mean we're probably going to go extinct long before our species is perfect, but unless we evolve to be something worse then aren't we technically evolving towards perfection all the time?
It's not a case of "worse" and "better": terms like that assume that previous generations of humanity were inferior to what we are today. I'm not the best at summing it up, so I'll let smarter people voice my opinions for me:

Those that survive pass on their favored hereditary combinations for those adaptations to their progeny. Over long periods of time these accumulated changes can lead to new species and a divergence of body structure and organ systems adapted for new environments. The process of evolution is not progressive. There are no goals or destinies for life. Evolution is not on a trajectory to a foreordained end. Evolution is opportunistic: it makes do with what is there (it has no other choice). The process of evolution is not guided by a creator. There are no detectable signs of a creator's hand at work. The processes involved are natural and governed largely by chance.

Evolution will make us "better equipped to deal with our current environment", but doesn't make us better as a whole. If, in a hypothetical example, global warming goes all schizo and heats up like crazy, a good evolution would be to have skin much more resistant to heat. These new humans aren't better than any of us; they're just different and have adapted to their new environment. Likewise, if global warming goes the other way and the earth plunges into an ice age, another good evolution would be to turn cold blooded or something. This is an adaptation, not a betterment.

I hope that makes sense. I'm not entirely sure it did when I was typing it but... meh.

abnegation
October 25th, 2011, 04:45 AM
There is both the possibility that we will evolve, as well as devolve. If time allows us, I personally think that certain cultures will evolve more than others. More so mentally as opposed to physically. I don't see us growing any extra hands or anything. When you consider how much we've evolved from apes, it's actually very little in terms of physical appearance. We needed less body hair, stood a little more straight, and in general our size has changed. We are no longer the hunter gatherers we once were. However, mentally we have evolved immensely, and I think that the intellect of people will evolve more than anything else. Only for certain cultures, I do not think that every culture has the ability to move passed our current intellectuality.

This is where I think devolution comes into play. People will start to rely on technology so much more in certain cultures, while others will be the ones creating it. While one culture will move on and the other will look behind. Good technology has led to people will unfortunate genes with certain disabilities or even as simple s laziness, to be passed down the line because they are able to have the health to move on and find others. Meaning that those genes can be found in their children.

Guided evolution is going to be massive in future generations, we're going to see certain generations really look advanced, but it does not mean this is permanent. I believe this will happen a lot, and begin to slowly affect the evolution of people. However, people don't have the chance to evolve. To merit one reason as to why we're not evolving as rapidly as we did several hundreds years ago, is due to the fact we don't think for ourselves in that sense. The relinquishment of politics is the first step forward. Governments control so much of our existence. If we tore down the walls of our own destruction to this planet with our selfishness, and start being good to the planet, and then perhaps our technology will become good to the environment. But currently, in some cultures, all people are taught, is how to be indoctrinated puppets, and up to the age of about 18 they simply must conform to the education set by the government, and who's to say that they're creating what is right to learn?

Our evolution to this day is so rapid and so large, so our speculation can go from hopeful to dystopian. But the common assumption is that it will be the latter. I simply believe it depends on which culture, I think we already know there's more advanced ones out there.

femtrooper
October 25th, 2011, 10:49 AM
It is very possible that there will be a migrant population that will become reproductively isolated and become a new species of the homo genus. We won't become fish or something, that's not how evolution works. haha There may be another human-like species to come around, like how there use to be neanderthals and such. Humans could die out and the new homo genus species could take over. You never know. But this is something that takes thousands of years, sometimes a few million to happen. Humans could become extinct before a migrant population has the change to occur.

I am really iffy on this, however, there are other great apes that have the potential to produce migrant populations out there, so you never know. Another human-like species could happen...just not for a LONG time.

marz
October 25th, 2011, 11:30 AM
Evolution is very dependent on the environment. The reason mutations become norms is because, as you said, species without that mutation would be more likely to die out. The thing about humans is that our brain has pretty much led us to surpass any type of danger that would require us to have a mutation in order to survive. We have a one-up over every other living creature: intelligence.

You would think that the human species is not done evolving, but for us to evolve, something has to be genuinely threatening our existence. Right now, our population is ever-growing. We have several diseases that threaten our existence, but not in a genocide fashion. It'd take something of an apocalypse for us to start growing mutations which would lead to our evolution. And that's what I'm afraid of here. I'm starting to genuinely believe that man will succumb to its own creation: machine. Man is always striving to do the impossible: imagine way back when the thought of space travel, let alone flying, was a man's imagination running wild. We've done it. Perhaps Man is so obsessed with proving (or disproving) that there is God, that we will eventually bring ourselves to God status and create artificial intelligence. However, that is counter-intuitive. We're smarter than to create something that could eventually be our downfall. I'm afraid we accidentally stumble upon artificial intelligence.

But even then. We're so numerous. The human species could probably outlive anything. It'd take several nuclear meltdowns, acts of God, as well as an outbreak of a (or several) new diseases that we just don't have the time or money to fight against. If an apocalypse does happen, that's when the human race would have a chance to evolve. Our numbers would have to be whittled down tremendously.

But maybe our incredible high population will eventually be the death of us. We're seeing ressources, primarily oil, run out very fast. We're only now taking action against that and researching alternative energy solutions, like wind and solar, hybrid-electric transportation vehicles, and recyclable plastics. The planet is big, but it's only so big. If our population keeps growing exponentially, which we can probably assume will happen unless all governments put a limit on how many children adults are allowed to have, that could be our downfall. We may run out of ressources. I'm not exactly sure how a mutation would spring from that, perhaps we'd need less food to function and more sleep, perhaps our body would start creating necessary enzymes, proteins and vitamins that just aren't available to us anymore through food. I'm not sure.

But to properly answer the question: yes, I do think the human race is subject to further evolution. It just won't be very easy.

Ineffable~
October 25th, 2011, 12:34 PM
But it doesn't apply too well to humans. Imagine some people were born with a mutation that made them significantly stronger than the people around them. If humans lived like animals, this would give them an advantage, and the human race might evolve to be stronger. However, in society strength wouldn't determine if you reproduce more or not. Similarly, high intelligence, a trait that is unique to humans, does not cause a person to reproduce more, as evidenced by the fact that there are plenty of not so smart people reproducing (probably as you read this). Basically, the mutations that help animals in the wild and contribute to their evolution don't seem to affect us at all. The same goes for mutations that would make an animal die in the wild, therefore leaving the gene pool. People with mutations like that will be kept alive and give the chance to find love and reproduce, something that would not happen in the wild. (Not saying it's a bad thing, just that it happens.)
This.

The thing is, we have something other animals don't have: equality.
For better or worse (I think better but that's just me), we are beyond natural selection because we protect the needy. We keep sick people healthy so they can pass down pass down their sickly sick genes to their kids; many of us look for "mates" based on "true love" rather than logical instinctual aspects such as strength or intelligence or good looks. Don't get me wrong, of course people want a guy/girl that's "cute, smart, funny . . . " but that's not so important that whenever two guys see the same girl they immediately duel even if neither of them knows her, which tends to happen in nature. Also, certain traits of one's appearance won't get selected for this same reason, so we'll continue all looking different. And, if I found out suddenly there were people who could fly thanks to a magical mutation, I wouldn't right away think "WELL I GOTTA HAVE BABIES WITH THAT SEXY BIRDWOMAN RIGHT AWAY" as I believe most people wouldn't, and so far flying hasn't seemed to be a very important skill for us as far as survival goes, considering there are over six billion humans out there who in fact have to buy airplane tickets if they want to do any flying.

Anyway, the way I see it, since natural "better" traits (although who in the blue hell decides what traits are better than others) are not particularly encouraged in our society, and a lack of "better" traits is not discouraged, we're not really due for evolution any time soon.

Unless, of course, we have a nuclear disaster and only the few roach-people among us survive.

Impo
October 25th, 2011, 01:02 PM
everyone's making such smart posts, all I want to say is I hope I get a tail if I evolve further.

Azure
October 25th, 2011, 04:01 PM
I don't see this happening, not for millions of years.

The Nightmare
October 25th, 2011, 10:40 PM
if we evolve further then wouldn't it mean the human race would be extinct and the new generation would be a different race that like they had tails or wings that were called something else?

But I think we will evolve further but we don't exactly know what we will look like in the future.

Reddit
October 25th, 2011, 10:48 PM
if we evolve further then wouldn't it mean the human race would be extinct and the new generation would be a different race that like they had tails or wings that were called something else?

But I think we will evolve further but we don't exactly know what we will look like in the future.

Technically yes, although we will also be called the equivalent to "humans" in whatever language exist then.

Humans, and all other life on the planet are constantly evolving.

PkMnTrainer Yellow
October 26th, 2011, 08:38 AM
But a long time ago, we didn't have all the technology and societal customs and such that we have now, the things that make me doubt whether or not we'll evolve further unless there's a bottleneck.

Something to keep in mind, but all this technology and society is a perfectly natural part of evolution. We're not nor have we ever been above nature. At worst, we're rather unlikely statistically speaking.

Oryx
October 26th, 2011, 08:41 AM
Something to keep in mind, but all this technology and society is a perfectly natural part of evolution. We're not nor have we ever been above nature. At worst, we're rather unlikely statistically speaking.

I'd like to hear your reasoning that the technology we have is 'natural'. Our ability to keep someone alive indefinitely that would die the second they were taken off a machine or stopped taking their pills does not at all seem part of the natural order.

marz
October 26th, 2011, 09:00 AM
Something to keep in mind, but all this technology and society is a perfectly natural part of evolution. We're not nor have we ever been above nature. At worst, we're rather unlikely statistically speaking.

I have to agree with Toujours here. Humans have quite extended the natural life expectancy of our race. Our advancements in technology and medication have helped keep alive those who, without treatment, would have otherwise died.

Ineffable~
October 26th, 2011, 09:02 AM
Our ability to keep someone alive indefinitely that would die the second they were taken off a machine or stopped taking their pills does not at all seem part of the natural order.
This this this all over the place.
By the way everyone figurative evolution (advancing, progressing) isn't the same as genetic evolution. I mean, that's what I assume we're talking about.

pokecole
October 26th, 2011, 04:02 PM
Well, I think that we are definently not perfect (as some of you are implying) and also not the worst possible. We are somewhere inbetween. Where does this all start? With people. The intelligent, or talented, or good-looking get far in this society and usually find mates. So now these strange new people with mutations to adapt (be it environmental or genetic) come into the society created by us today. They will be rejected and shunned and prolly not survive, so their genetics will not be passed on. Thats what i see happening.

Oryx
October 26th, 2011, 04:09 PM
Well, I think that we are definently not perfect (as some of you are implying) and also not the worst possible. We are somewhere inbetween. Where does this all start? With people. The intelligent, or talented, or good-looking get far in this society and usually find mates. So now these strange new people with mutations to adapt (be it environmental or genetic) come into the society created by us today. They will be rejected and shunned and prolly not survive, so their genetics will not be passed on. Thats what i see happening.

But are you looking for the most intelligent, talented, prettiest person when you personally look for someone to be with? No one is dating someone and then sees someone who's more intelligent and immediately breaks up with their current partner to date that person, because they'll make better genetic children with the other person. In our society, people aren't looking for the best to have kids with. If anything, you could say that our society is actually going the opposite way just because in my own experience people who wait to have kids and don't have many tend to be smart, while people who have a lot of kids and start early tend to be less so.

That's the point I'm trying to make - people don't treat mating like animals do. Animals just look for the best, and are also helped along by natural selection so only the strongest are left alive to breed. But humans aren't looking for the best genetic makeup for strong children, they're looking for love.

Esper
October 27th, 2011, 09:30 AM
I was hoping to hear more from Yellow about how technology was a natural part of evolution. I'll try to take a stab at it myself.

Maybe it's natural in that as a species evolves it will naturally create technology. There have been chimpanzees that use sticks to collect ants and other bugs where they can't otherwise reach and I believe several primates use rocks to open nuts or shells or whatnot. Since these animals are more advanced (more evolved, perhaps?) that could mean that developing technology is a natural part of evolution.

Perhaps we're just an evolutionary dead end since we aren't using our technology to our best advantage and using it to ensure the strongest/smartest/best of us reproduce and not the rest. I can't really believe in that kind of eugenics stuff though (and besides, I think a species survives best by living sustainably instead of competing for resources) so I'm out of ideas as far as technology being natural goes.

lx_theo
October 27th, 2011, 12:24 PM
Evolution will always progress. But evolution itself only comes about as relevant and consistent as the world and its nature proves a need for a change (causing the best fit of a species o reproduce the most and become the dominant version).

Every new generations will have a new set of DNA, giving new advantages to whoever may be lucky enough. Its a very slow process, and can only be seen much more drastically and notable when from a perspective of hundreds of thousands, millions, or more years.

The issue with humanity is that we evolved to manipulate nature to our own devices. As we manipulated it, we've done all we can to cut off its own course from that of our own, and have isolated parts of it in what is our technology. As we move from nature from being able to touch us, the less and less a situation can happen where the dominant advantages can take over the population because our technology is used to protect those without it.

Evolution will still happen, of course. It's simply a property of the progression of life. But with out intervention, it will likely happen at a much, much slower rate than the tired out slug it already was. The question becomes if humanity will be around long enough to see any significant changes.

littlebrother
October 28th, 2011, 06:04 PM
That's the point I'm trying to make - people don't treat mating like animals do. Animals just look for the best, and are also helped along by natural selection so only the strongest are left alive to breed. But humans aren't looking for the best genetic makeup for strong children, they're looking for love.
I disagree with that. They're still looking for the best genetic makeup subconsciously, the major change is that there's a conscious in play too. One could argue that humans are looking for the most suitable mate for their physical, mental, and social tastes.

インフェルノの津波
October 28th, 2011, 06:19 PM
Don't think so. We're pretty much on top of everything that we need in order to survive, such as resistance to the hot and the cold, not to mention we're the only animal to directly affect the entire earth (global warming...), so unless another meteor decides to say sup brahs I don't think we're gonna be evolving like Pikachu any time soon.

Oryx
October 28th, 2011, 06:53 PM
I disagree with that. They're still looking for the best genetic makeup subconsciously, the major change is that there's a conscious in play too. One could argue that humans are looking for the most suitable mate for their physical, mental, and social tastes.

Interesting point. But think of it this way - someone is born significantly smarter than the rest of the population, are they going to live longer because of that intelligence? Are they more likely to mate because of that intelligence? I would have to say no.

littlebrother
October 28th, 2011, 07:18 PM
Interesting point. But think of it this way - someone is born significantly smarter than the rest of the population, are they going to live longer because of that intelligence? Are they more likely to mate because of that intelligence? I would have to say no.
Depends where they're living, and how this person fits in with the rest of the people and the environment as well. That example doesn't ruin the reason behind "humans are looking for the most suitable mate for their physical, mental, and social tastes".

Oryx
October 28th, 2011, 07:27 PM
Depends where they're living, and how this person fits in with the rest of the people and the environment as well. That example doesn't ruin the reason behind "humans are looking for the most suitable mate for their physical, mental, and social tastes".

The point I was making is that beneficial mutations in our genes are no longer spread as they would if we were living like animals. I would even disagree on that statement though - many people date someone because of love, which isn't affected for the most part by those things. Otherwise scrawny dumb poor people wouldn't get married, but they do. Logically, they should be shunned biologically so their genes are not passed on but they're not because people fall in love and don't care about biological things. You could say that attractions to certain personalities is what sets us apart - This generally isn't something that's developed by your genes, but rather by how you were raised, so once again we're back to people choosing their mates in a way that isn't point towards evolution.

littlebrother
October 28th, 2011, 08:16 PM
The point I was making is that beneficial mutations in our genes are no longer spread as they would if we were living like animals. I would even disagree on that statement though - many people date someone because of love, which isn't affected for the most part by those things. Otherwise scrawny dumb poor people wouldn't get married, but they do. Logically, they should be shunned biologically so their genes are not passed on but they're not because people fall in love and don't care about biological things. You could say that attractions to certain personalities is what sets us apart - This generally isn't something that's developed by your genes, but rather by how you were raised, so once again we're back to people choosing their mates in a way that isn't point towards evolution.
I always thought animals don't really choose their mates, they usually just go with the one that hasn't died yet because mating with something that's been eaten or is decaying doesn't work at all.

Esper
October 31st, 2011, 11:39 AM
I always thought animals don't really choose their mates, they usually just go with the one that hasn't died yet because mating with something that's been eaten or is decaying doesn't work at all.
With some species you get individuals who are just... shunted out of the mating process because of competition from other individuals. I think that might be one more reason humans are less likely to evolve. We're (mostly) monogamous. We don't have an elite segment of society which breeds while the rest toil in unbreeding misery.

And many animals do choose their mates. Take birds for instance. Lots of species have really bright, colorful males who use their appearance to woo females and the females pick and choose among the shiniest, featheriest birds. We humans are a bit more complicated than that. We find appearance attractive, but also personality, and a whole lot of other things go into who we have children with, if we decide to do that at all.