Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Smaller brains, bigger feet, blue eyes

I was having a discussion with a friend a couple of months ago about evolution and said that I didn't think the human body would evolve much because there are no longer any pockets of humanity in which giant spurts in evolution usually occur.

A wonderful article in today's Wall Street Journal confirms this, but it also surprised me on how the human body has evolved over the last 10,000 years. Here are some of the startling facts:

* Our brains have shrunk 10% over the last 5,000 years (I thought it had just been the species known as "liberal" and "Sarah Palin")

* Blue eyes were unknown until about 10,000 years ago, when a mutation occurred in the Baltic. More than 500,000 million people have them now, and their benefit is unclear to scientists.

* Scientists don't know when humans lost their ape hair (though the hair in Keith Ubermann's teeth has been proven to be from ObaMa's pubic region).

* The dark African skin began to disappear from homo sapiens who left Africa about 50,000 years ago. The lighter skin allows for more Vitamin D in altitudes with less direct sunlight.

* Protruding brow ridges receded about 3,000 years ago (and are now found only on Ubermann, who uses extensive MSNBC cosmetic cash accounts to disguise them)

* The gene to tolerate lactose arose in Europe about 7,000 years ago and spread rapidly because it allowed another food source. It is now found in 90% of people with European ancestry.

* The coccyx at the bottom of the spine used to be a tail, as we know, but it causes many disc problems in humans.

* 80% of Asians have dry earwax, whose benefit is unknown to scientists.

* 20% of humans can wiggle their ears, a vestige of primate ear moving to better hear sounds around them. Hey, Julie, my friend, can't you move your ears, you pretty ape chick?! (Boy, am I going to get killed for that one!)

* The gene for coarse hair is spreading through Asia, for unknown reasons.

* Our goose bumps are vestigial. On ape bodies they occurred to raise hair in cold or fear conditions.

* The appendix are vestigial and once housed good bacteria for digestion, but modern humans didn't need that bacteria anymore.

* In just the past 100 years, the size of men's and women's feet have increased by four shoe sizes (geeky scientists obviously don't know that you NEVER tell a woman she's got big feet)

* The human skull has gotten rounder and thinner in the last 10,000 years; we no longer needed it much to protect us from caveman clubs.

* Human jaws have shrunk faster than teeth in the last 20,000 years, making for overcrowding.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that the WSJ story also mentions that 44% of Americans in a Gallup Poll last year said that a god made us in our present form in the last 10,000 years. (that percentage also conforms with the percentage of people who like the species known as Sarah Palin)

No doubt that that 44% will not decrease with the release of this latest information. Maybe it's those damned smaller brains.

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