Even in relatively modern societies, humans are still changing and evolving in response to their environment, new research indicates.
The study was published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The researchers found a genetic push toward younger age at first reproduction and larger families while studying an island population in Quebec. The study used data from 30 families who settled on île aux Coudres, located in the St. Lawrence River outside of Quebec City, between 1720 and 1773.
The researchers analyzed the data from women who married between 1799 and 1940, comparing their family relationships, any social, cultural or economic differences, and the age at which they had their first child. Researchers found that over 140 years, the age at first reproduction dropped from 26 to 22.
The University of Quebec geneticist Emmanuel Milot and colleagues who did the study have reported that though it is often claimed that modern humans have stopped evolving because cultural and technological advancements have annihilated natural selection, this study supports the idea that humans are still evolving.”
What we learn from that population is that evolution is possible in relatively modern times in modern humans, Milot said. Where it is going to occur and in what ways is a different question.
The study has noted that results show that microevolution can be detectable over relatively few generations in humans and underscore the need for studies of human demography and reproductive ecology to consider the role of evolutionary processes.