Are Humans Still Evolving?

Are humans still evolving? Have you thought about this question? To me, this is a fascinating subject to ponder over. We know that we have evolved into what we are now and so it would seem logical to assume that we would continue to evolve, but can we assume that? I think not. We've heard of the 'survival of the fittest' theory and though it does not exactly describe natural selection, if you go by the logic of it, then this theory is no longer relevant to humans, as it might have been in generations gone by. The reason being that courtesy the medical advances of our times, the weakest, who wouldn't have otherwise survived, continue to survive and pass on their genes to the next generation.

In today's world, almost everyone survives in the developed world (not that they shouldn't), but this basically should negate the 'survival of the fittest' theory.' Medical advances have also offered people the ability to mask their outward appearance through cosmetic surgery and hence what is advertised is not really what exists within their genes. Can this be called cheating evolution? It certainly isn’t natural for sure. There is also the fact that genetic mutations that may offer some benefit may not be passed down generations due to crossbreeding, since we don't live in isolated populations anymore, but travel widely and mix with other populations more often than in the past.

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It would seem then that humans have stopped evolving and would continue to remain the way they are in the future. However, this view can't be assumed as well. There is in fact another view that states that evolution in humans is accelerating, with selection of mates being one of the primary sources driving this evolution. So, would humans get more attractive in the future? Maybe, since with medical and genetic advances, people may choose traits for their babies and propagate a particular set of genes. Although this is artificial selection, natural selection may continue to play a role accounting for these man-made changes. We can only speculate as of now.

What happens if humans seek to colonize other planets though? Would humans not continue to evolve then? Well, one would think they would evolve, and evolve differently than us. Such humans would be isolated from the rest of us, on an alien planet, with a different environment, different gravity, etc., so it is possible that they would evolve to look different than us, living on that alien planet years into the future. In such a scenario, those future humans, in that alien world, would probably end up looking quite different than us.

Back on Earth, it is quite possible that, in the future, we may become immortals by uploading our memories (essentially us) online. We may use mechanical bodies to host our scanned/uploaded minds and thus escape the evolution we now know. In this case, humans would have taken control of their own evolution in some ways, and thus would have brought about unnatural selection as opposed to natural selection. Reproduction/replication would continue in this realm as well, the only difference being it will be much faster, than the generational phases we go through now. This may seem fantastical now, but it isn't really beyond the realm of being a possibility in the future. These humans would be immortal in essence, living forever, transcending their biological limitations and would redefine evolution the way we know it.

We may evolve, may stay the same, or not evolve at all. However, it would be most interesting to know how humans would look like a few millions years from now, assuming we survive as a species till then.

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13 comments

Paladin_ profile image

Paladin_ 4 years ago from Michigan, USA

Interesting and thought-provoking hub!

History shows us that evolution never stops. The most common mistake people make when considering natural selection is to assume that the process has a destination, that it has some ultimate goal. It doesn't

Natural selection favors whatever species possess the most beneficial characteristics given the current circumstances. If those circumstances change, the advantage may shift to other species with other characteristics.

We humans have made incredible advances that have managed to increase our longevity, our health and our safety, but it's impossible to see how circumstances could change to someday turn our current "advantages" into disadvantages.

Evolution will have its way.


Shil1978 profile image

Shil1978 4 years ago Author

Paladin, I understand your point of view. History though has never seen a species like us - that has managed to use its intelligence into making tools and devices that have resulted in making life far easier than it would normally have been, without the kind of pressures to survive on a daily basis that other species have to go through. Yes, we do face a pressure to survive too, but it isn't like the ones the other species have to face.

It is this that makes predicting future human evolution far more difficult than it would normally have been. Of course, a future catastrophe that might wipe out our technological superiority and perhaps wipe out a lot of our accumulated wisdom might alter things substantially.

We might then be subjected to the kind of pressure to survive that other species are subjected to. Of course, even without this, one cannot assume that human evolution has come to a standstill. It is this uncertainty that makes pondering over this question interesting.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your insights - appreciate it :)


Merlin Fraser profile image

Merlin Fraser 4 years ago from Cotswold Hills

I think if you are an ardent people watcher it might seem that humans stopped evolving some time ago and indeed the process may indeed be going backwards !


Rachelle Williams profile image

Rachelle Williams 4 years ago from Tempe, AZ

I think that it is the people whom we consider to be "different" that are the very beginnings of a more evolved human form.

Think about it, we give people with "ADHD Inattentive Type" medication to slow them down, because their mind runs in many different directions all at once.

We have to actually slow down their thinking process to match up with what is considered to be the norm.

I think that one day, their fast paced way of thinking will be "the norm" and they will learn to harness their gift instead of feeling abnormal because of it...

This is an Excellent Hub!


Shil1978 profile image

Shil1978 4 years ago Author

Rachelle, that's a very interesting view. I must say I haven't thought along those lines when I've pondered over this subject. Thanks for sharing your views and am glad you liked this hub :)


Davidwork 4 years ago

Shil1978,

I first became interested in human evolution in 1977, and it was a life-changing thing for me; I had been religious all my life up to that time, (I was 22 then) and I stopped believing in God and turned to science and logic almost overnight.

It's a difficult one this. If we remain only on Earth, then I think evolutionary changes of some kind are inevitable, because the Earth is going to change, environmentally and geologically. There have been changes in the past, continental drift, ice ages, etc., and there will be changes in the future, further continental drift, and in several billion years’ time, the Sun will change; popular thinking amongst astrophysicists is that it will begin to expand, gradually making the Earth much hotter.

If we do eventually go to live on other planets, in our own solar system or others, then unless we can recreate the conditions here on earth, e.g. some sort of artificial gravity, then I would think yes, after several generations, humans born there will begin to evolve physical differences from humans here on Earth.

One of the things that really surprises me about our evolution up to now is the fact that human females still suffer so much pain when in natural childbirth. I cannot understand why, after several million years to adapt to this process, from the time when we were primates living in the open, it has not become less difficult.

Another thing to consider is that evolutionary change may come upon us quite suddenly; for a few years now, some scientists have been putting forward a theory that evolution may not be a long slow process, as was previously thought. They now think that it could happen quite rapidly if the need for a change has been building up for some time. Have a look at the site below.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/11062...


Shil1978 profile image

Shil1978 4 years ago Author

David, thanks for stopping by and sharing your view. You bring some fresh perspective on this subject - if only one could gaze into the future and see how evolution pans out in the human context!!


makeitmatter profile image

makeitmatter 4 years ago from New Zealand

Very interesting hub. I dont know anything about science or evolution but have often wondered what the world will look like years from now. A crazy theory has popped into my head now and then that we are not the first humans here, that maybe the 'alien sightings' etc are old mutated humans coming back to see how we are doing etc. That maybe all the cosmetic surgery/trying to live forever ultimately deforms us and makes us immortal and we end up killing our planet because were so selfish and moving whats left of us into space where we become 'aliens'. Then we watch it happen all over again as evolution begins again on another planet. Weird I know! Hopefully that theory's not true!


Shil1978 profile image

Shil1978 4 years ago Author

Thank you, 'makeitmatter,' for stopping by and commenting. Glad you found this hub interesting. Strange theory indeed, that! All species would need to be spacefaring eventually to survive beyond a planet's lifespan, or to avoid planetary annihilation.

So, life on Earth may have come from elsewhere. And humans may move beyond to colonize other planets eventually. We may then evolve to look totally different than how we look now! Only time would tell!!


parentsreview profile image

parentsreview 4 years ago from Lansdowne, PA

This is a great topic, and it's definitely interesting. But it's likely we will continue to evolve, it's a part of what makes humanity great. We adapt, and improve. When I had my wisdom teeth taken out, I only had two top ones to be removed. My dentist called this evolution. It seems irrelevant, other than saving me some pain, but it's progress.

Look at the way we live now versus 30 years ago. Multi-tasking is a word that gets thrown around so much, it's bound to eventually affect humanity. When my son grows up, will he be capably of watching TV, texting a friend across the planet (or on another planet), all while driving a car. There's no way to know, but human beings continue to change.


Shil1978 profile image

Shil1978 4 years ago Author

Thank you for stopping by and commenting, 'parentsreview.' Yes, it is an interesting topic and one that fascinates me. My dentist mentioned that to me too when I had to have one of my wisdom tooth removed - ouch!!

I wonder what effect would the tendency of modern humans to sit in front of computers for prolonged periods of time would have on human evolution, if any! Change we will perhaps, but not by much I'd think!!


Writer Fox profile image

Writer Fox 18 months ago from the wadi near the little river

Interesting information. I'm waiting for the day when humans evolve into kinder people. Wishful thinking, I know!


Shil1978 profile image

Shil1978 18 months ago Author

Thank you, Writer Fox, for stopping by and commenting. I know, seems to me that instead of kinder people, we're becoming more cruel and harsher with each passing day!!

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