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Dr. Scott Solomon

Are Humans Still Evolving? 

October 16, 2018
By Allison Johnson, Blog Editor 

Dr. Scott Solomon speaking onstage with image of old movie poster on screen behind him

Dr. Scott Solomon is a biologist and professor at Rice University. He is also the author of Future Humans which is about the evolution of humans and what it means for our future. What do you think of when you hear evolution? If it’s “survival of the fittest” and you think of fitness, then you may be misled. The main idea of evolution is actually reproduction.

Dr. Solomon opened with an example about raising cattle. After a certain age, people would become unable to digest the lactose in milk. This meant some people weren’t able to receive all the nutrients from milk, including vitamin D. Now how does this tie into survival of the fittest? Remember, reproduction. Also think about a healthy newborn in this case too.

If someone has a vitamin D deficiency, it is possible they have a weak skeleton, meaning if they were to reproduce, their offspring would probably have a vitamin D deficiency, resulting in a weak skeleton for the baby. How much longer would a species survive if they made a pattern out of producing humans with weak skeletons?

Reproduction is one of the most significant forms of evolution. Every baby is born with 60 different mutations in their genome. There are about 130 million babies born each year. Just think about how many existing traits are competing to be beneficial. What are factors contributing to mutations? One is the age of fathers. The older the father is of a baby the more mutations there are.

Another thing is the way we are meeting our mates. Dating apps in 2018 are playing a huge role. Believe it or not, our natural body chemistry plays a huge role as well. Women are able to pick mates that they are as distant as possible related to them based on smell. This leaves an abundance of generations of different mutations in our offspring’ genomes. Obviously picking a mate based on a quote in their Bumble bio and six photos in their dating profile will affect who we choose to mate with.

The goal of evolution is to continue reproduction, so we can keep our species alive for as long as possible. This means we need genomes that are beneficial to our offspring when they enter a world that is constantly changing. This easily ties into our theme of innovation, because how our new generations evolve with affect many day to day operations like how we eat, learn, and even possibly how we breathe air one day.

I encourage you to research recent shifts in the human genome and see how much we have changed from our parents and grandparents. Some changes may be bad, some may be better for our new generation. If you’d like to see our species continue reproduction, let’s be conscious of things we do have control of when continuing reproduction.