Originally Posted by Lightkeeper
Species have died out before. New species have emerged. Each having better survival skills.
This is true, but the new species emerging are indeed new
. No species that went extinct has -- to our knowledge, anyway -- ever re-evolved.
The question is are humans intelligent enough to increase their survival skills? Have humans finished evolving? Are humans the last link in evolution? Where does consciousness fit into this equation?
Hard questions to answer. I don't think that consciousness has anything to do with it, but certainly humans have not "finished evolving." It is certainly possible that we have slowed our evolution down a tad, by virtue of the fact that we now adapt our environments to suit us, rather than us to suit our changing environments. (On the other hand, there are scientists who maintain that our evolution has actually speeded up!)
Here are a few signs of human evolution today:
We Drink Milk - our ancestors had a gene that shut down lactose digestion as we were weaned. But now that we domesticate dairy animals, it is a nutritional advantage to be able to digest lactose, and so we are -- a lot of us -- now evolved to do that.
We're Losing Our Wisdom Teeth - Our food today is softer than our ancestors, so our jaws are smaller and we don't need that third set of molars. Because our jaws are smaller, there's no room for them anyway, and a lot of them come in impacted. One estimate says 35 percent of the population is born without wisdom teeth altogether, and they may disappear altogether.
We're Resisting Diseases - we have about 1,800 genes that have only become prevalent in humans in the last 40,000 years, many of which are devoted to fighting infectious diseases like malaria. City dwellers are now more resistant to diseases like tuberculosis and leprosy, which being communicable would be more dangerous in the closer quarters of dense city life.
Our Brains Are Shrinking - down from 1,500 cc to about 1,350 cc on average today, but probably rewired to be faster, and therefore smarter with less energy consumption -- and probably less competitive and more cooperative.
We Have Blue Eyes - where originally brown was it. About 10,000 years ago, someone who lived near the Black Sea developed a genetic mutation that turned brown eyes blue, and for reasons that are not entirely clear, the gene has persisted.
Read the full text here: mental_floss!