General Question

bil's avatar

Will evolution of human-beings continue endlessly?

Asked by bil (20points) June 16th, 2009
Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

26 Answers

Ivan's avatar

Well I guess technically evolution never stops.

Darwin's avatar

At least until we go extinct.

laureth's avatar

If we don’t suffocate on our own refuse and poison gas, probably. As long as new situations come up, we will have to adapt to them. And those who adapt the best, evolve.

arnbev959's avatar

It’s going on right now, as we speak, as it always does.

Blondesjon's avatar

Yes. In some ways better than others.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently, and my own theory that I’ve come to is that I’m sure we’ll continue to evolve in many ways, but not in some ways that one might expect. In most species, the individuals that are most successful at survival (gathering the most food, resources, etc) bear the most offspring, and so the traits that those offspring bear (ie the same traits that made their parents successful) become more dominant in the population.

But what we’re seeing with the population of developed countries now, is that the individuals most successful at gaining resources (ie the richest people) are having the fewest children, and the less wealthy classes are producing the most children.

This is, of course, the opposite of the typical situation, so it seems that one possible outcome is the most dominant traits might not be the most beneficial ones.

Darwin's avatar

“the most dominant traits might not be the most beneficial ones.”

But success in terms of having many possessions is not the same as success at having lots of children. Evolution tends to favor the latter and ignore the former. In that sense, then, gaining the most resources is not beneficial. Gaining enough resources that you can have and raise to adulthood more offspring is beneficial in an evolutionary sense.

You need to think like an evolutionary ecologist, not like a person.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

“Gaining enough resources that you can have and raise to adulthood more offspring is beneficial in an evolutionary sense.”

(just to play the devil’s advocate) And what about crackwhores that have 5 kids but they all end up in foster care or being wards or the state, and aren’t raised by either of their parents?

Or the innocent teenage mother that nobody taught sex education to, and didn’t have that heightened sense of concern or initiative to find out for herself, and she has 4 kids by the time she’s 22, and they live on welfare?

In neither of those situations is the parent providing the resources, and the children inherit some of the same traits that caused their parents to fall into whatever social or economical pitfalls that they did.

What about all that stuff?

Darwin's avatar

@La_chica_gomela – Evolution doesn’t care what anyone does for a living or how they get their resources, just that they pass on their genes successfully to offspring that then do the same.

That’s why saying someone is successful at survival because they have amassed a lot of stuff is hooey. Nature does not care about the individual’s lifestyle, just the successful passing on of traits.

AstroChuck's avatar

Not for me. I’m de-evolving.

mowens's avatar

Until we kill ourselves.

It is in our very nature to destroy eachother.

AstroChuck's avatar

And btw, nothing continues endlessly.

Mamradpivo's avatar

Yes. Unless we start reproducing through direct replication (i.e. perfect clones with no mutations at all), then by definition we (and everything else) are evolving over the generations.

wundayatta's avatar

Shhh. Don’t tell anyone. I have it on really good authority that the evolution of human beings is going to end in precisely 322 years, eleven days, five hours and 22 seconds. Really, really good authority! Mums the word, guys. Don’t let me down.

dynamicduo's avatar

Well, we’ve removed most of the natural selection aspects via social programs etc. And combined with the population and environmental impacts we have, I am 100% confident that human evolution has been tampered with to the point where the natural course of evolution will never be attained.

That said, we are gaining the knowledge and abilities to sustain and evolve ourselves through genetic modification, stem cell research, and increased health in general. We are understanding our own blueprints and will have the ability to modify them soon. So while our natural selection based evolution has for the most part ceased (genes are always around, after all), our capability to induce a far advanced and controlled artificial selection will open doors never imagined before.

Will our evolution continue endlessly? I think it will continue in tandem with our knowledge. So if our knowledge continues to progress, so will our evolution.

oratio's avatar

I stopped evolving years ago

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

We will stop evolving when we become extinct. Considering much of humanity’s distinct lack of wisdom but access to extreme power, I don’t think our extinction is far away (at least in terms of evolutionary time scales). Our power has always increased faster than our wisdom in the use of such power.

wundayatta's avatar

@dynamicduo We haven’t had “natural” (in the sense of not interfered with by humans) selection since humanity emerged as a separate species. We select our mates, whether we are conscious of it or not, by the traits we value, and this enhances the likelihood that these traits will be even more concentrated in our children. Genetic engineering is just a more efficient tool to effect the same end.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

@Darwin: I feel like you haven’t addressed the issues I brought up. “Social programs”, to borrow @dynamicduo‘s phrase, are changing the whole process, maybe evolution doesn’t “care”, but I think that whether evolution “cares” or not is irrelevant, I just it’s possible that evolution of the human race doesn’t work today the same way it has in the past, or the same way it works with regards to other species because of our own desires to avoid it, basically.

Vinifera7's avatar

Actually, evolution will continue until humans can no longer reproduce, which includes extinction as one possible cause.

Darwin's avatar

@La_chica_gomela – So these people have adapted to get what they need from their environment. In their case they are excellent users of social programs. The end result is that they produce more offspring than those who gather more resources and thus are more successful in an evolutionary sense.

So how does that not answer your question?

Material success doesn’t matter to the genome. Reproductive success does.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

@Darwin: Exactly, I’m saying that evolution in developed countries is changing. People are using birth control, etc etc. It used to be that success in gathering resources and dominating the gene pool did go hand in hand, but not anymore.

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes, but it’s rather ‘quiet’ at the moment. I’m a follower of this theory:

Punctuated equilibrium is a theory in evolutionary biology which states that most sexually reproducing species will experience little evolutionary change for most of their geological history (in an extended state called stasis). When evolution occurs, it is localized in rare, rapid events of branching speciation (called cladogenesis). Cladogenesis is simply the process by which species split into two distinct species, rather than one species gradually transforming into another.

laureth's avatar

@La_chica_gomela – the uneducated teenager with four kids on welfare is an excellent example of human adaptation, actually. Wealth and resources and food are only good inasmuch as they help the person have more offspring. In this case, the teenage mom has started young (able to have more young herself), been able to have other people support those young (like the cuckoo that lays its eggs in other birds’ nests) and thus been very successful at getting resources for her young.

Having lots of money and cars is, essentially, a fun game, but not necessarily the way we propagate the species unless that gets you more sex, or provides for children. Offspring is all that matters, for this. The teenage crack mom is far more successful by the rules of nature.

Crazy, ain’t it?

CMaz's avatar

Don’t give it much thought. My evolution ends when I am dead. Anything past that is pointless.

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