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Chimps Evolved More Than Humans 541

Posted by kdawson
from the our-chimp-overlords dept.
jas_public writes "Since the human and chimp families split about 6 million years ago, chimpanzee genes seem to have evolved more than human genes. The results, detailed in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, go against the conventional wisdom that humans are the result of a high degree of genetic selection, evidenced by our relatively large brains, cognitive abilities, and bipedalism. The researchers found that 'substantially more genes in chimps evolved in ways that were beneficial than was the case with human genes.'"
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Chimps Evolved More Than Humans

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @05:46PM (#18774023)
    The researchers found that 'substantially more genes in chimps evolved in ways that were beneficial than was the case with human genes.'"

    Well, that explains the creationists, anyway...
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by eneville (745111)

      The researchers found that 'substantially more genes in chimps evolved in ways that were beneficial than was the case with human genes.'"

      Well, that explains the creationists, anyway...

      I think Darwin stated that domestication causes more variation. Therefore humans should have more variety in the genes than the chimps.. But were different genre. This is true when looking at things like genetic disorders anyway, things that would otherwise be killed in the wild, but under domestication can survive and create offspring.

      • Re:Creationists (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @07:43PM (#18775715) Homepage Journal
        I don't think that counts when it's your species domesticating your local environment to fit your current genes. The rest just makes sense- the chimps, without major building projects and air conditioning, were forced to evolve to fit local conditions. Mankind, who had these luxuries in various forms over the last 50,000 years or so, didn't need to evolve-he changed his environment instead of changing his body.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Jorgandar (450573)
          It makes sense to me. For example: I cant see worth a damn without some sort of correction device. In nature i should have been a bigger animals lunch or starved to death a long time ago. Therefore the "bad vision" gene should have been selected out of the gene pool a long time ago as well. Yet here it remains for a lot of us.

          We have are a few more 'features' i can think of that probablly should have been selected out of the gene pool:

          Teeth that dont last (without brushing) and are prone to rotting
          Fles
          • by myowntrueself (607117) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @10:38PM (#18777313)
            Fleshy feet that cant walk along most surfaces without shoes

            Bull *shit*.

            Maybe your pansy, city-slicker feet are too soft and lily-white for you to stand to walk barefoot long enough for you to adapt but I've lived barefoot a fair bit in my life and a LOT of people walk barefoot on surfaces which you may not think possible.

            There are a couple of factors which contribute: the toughness of the soles of your feet will improve quite a lot and the way in which you walk counts for a lot as well. Then theres being observant.

            Most people going barefoot for the first time over rough or sharp surfaces, such as rocky coastlines or dirt roads, try to walk in the same style as they walk when wearing shoes; this is going to lead to pain and injury. They are also used to being able to walk pretty much without looking where they are going.

            After watching how 'native' people walk barefoot I realised that it helps a lot to put the foot down fairly flatly, not heel first but as if you are trying to plant the whole surface of the foot on the ground at the same time.

            Then you have to look ahead of yourself and get used to having a view of the world which includes the surface of the ground which you are about to step on. People in 'civilised' parts of the world are *incredibly* unobservant and self-absorbed. *INCREDIBLY*. Walking barefoot with your head in the clouds is going to get you hurt.

            I've found myself able to walk on sharp, bare, volcanic rock with no pain or injury even with deconditioned (ie: softened) soles of my feet (after not going barefoot for a long time) merely by looking where I'm going and treading properly.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Kaboom13 (235759)
              While it's true that with experience the soles of your feet toughen, but a lot of people have fallen arches, bone splints, etc. that can make walking without proper supportive shoes painful. Just because our feet are capable of getting us around, doesn't mean we aren't a lot better off with shoes, and considering the the major cultures throughout history all over the world have invented various forms of shoes or sandals and considered them important. Unsupported/protected human feet are prone to injury a
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Drawkcab (550036)
            Well, some of these factors are pretty recent in human history. Evolution isn't that quick, and hasn't had nearly enough time to catch up with modern civilization. Humans and chimps branched from each other long long before most of these changes in environment. If you had grown up several thousand years ago, your same genes may not have resulted in the same problems, due to environment. For example, our teeth rot particularly quick due to our diet high in simple carbohydrates, made possible by agricultu
        • by Guppy06 (410832) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @10:12PM (#18777125)
          "The rest just makes sense- the chimps, without major building projects and air conditioning,"

          Don't forget the digital watches!
    • by Forge (2456) <kevinforgeNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @06:22PM (#18774665) Homepage Journal
      Once man learned to manipulate his environment rather than evolve to fit it, the rate of human evolution slowed down. Not only that but it started going in strange directions.

      Think about it. Gazels have been getting faster because the slowest gazel ends up in a Lions stomach before mating season. Humans have devised ways to protect even our paraplegics.

      A chimp with the physical limitations of Stephen Hawkins would be lunch. As a human he not only survives but has managed to reproduce and even maintains high ranking in our social order.

      Think about it. If you can be an Alpha Male without even being able to stand then genetic features become less relevant in determining who reproduces. Dramatically slowing the process of human evolution.

      As for direction. Our professional athletes, scientists and Engineers produce far fewer children than those at the bottom of our social order. For the sake of our species, I would advise you all (Creationists and Evolutionist) to pray (To Jesus or Darwin) that human intelligence is not seriously impacted by our genetic makeup. If it is our society will collapse when we are no longer able to maintain what our parents built.

      • by king-manic (409855) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @06:35PM (#18774869)
        Think about it. If you can be an Alpha Male without even being able to stand then genetic features become less relevant in determining who reproduces. Dramatically slowing the process of human evolution.

        Your selecting for different genes. Instead of beign faster, stronger, tougher. You get smarter, craftier, less moral, hornier, and better looking. Since these tend to be the features that get you more kids. Although the pressure in those direction would be weaker because you dont' get killed if your below a certain IQ. The pressure is weaker.
      • If you consider that humans are to the "society" what cells are to the human body, it makes sense. Humans get specialized, and brain cells don't reproduce (much*) either. It's also probably better because they use a lot more energy and live longer.

        * (IIRC it has been found a few years ago that they can duplicate, though at a slow pace, while before it was believed they didn't)
        • by Kandenshi (832555) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @08:11PM (#18776013)
          Neuroscience student here, and yes there do appear to be some growth of new neurons in the adult brain, but at vastly reduced numbers. While we have pretty good evidence for neurogenesis(birth of new neurons) in most parts of the primate brain, there's somewhat less good evidence for it in the neocortex of humans. silly ethics rules slow research down! >;(

          There's also somewhat debateable data on what these new neurons do exactly. What the consequences of them are. The data on their being related to learning/memory and such is a bit muddy. They do get functionally integrated in other species anyway, and there seems to be a link to depression. Possibly lower neurogenesis is what mediates stress inducing depression. And the lag of a few weeks before alot of the SSRIs begin to work seems to fit with the few weeks needed for new neurons to be made and mature.

          And just to clear one other thing up, these new neurons aren't being made from mature neurons undergoing mitosis and splitting in two. They're made from multipotent stem cells in the dentate gyrus and along the subventricular zone.

          As for humans evolving to become smarter, I'm not really sure that being smarted conveys much evolutionary fitness. After all, don't most /.ers consider themselves to be a bit smarter than average? And the running joke for years has been that none of them get laid. :P Besides, the smart ones are the people who'll use birth control properly right? Instead of just accidently knocking someone up.
      • by smallpaul (65919) <paul@@@prescod...net> on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @07:01PM (#18775249)

        Our professional athletes, scientists and Engineers produce far fewer children than those at the bottom of our social order. For the sake of our species, I would advise you all (Creationists and Evolutionist) to pray (To Jesus or Darwin) that human intelligence is not seriously impacted by our genetic makeup.

        What makes you think that people at the bottom of our social order necessarily have "lesser" genes than those at the top? Your reference to professional athletes is especially telling.

        • by SEE (7681) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @07:10PM (#18775345) Homepage
          Are you seriously going to suggest that pro athletes don't have physical gifts superior to the average person, or that a significant factor in that superiority is their genes?
          • by TempeTerra (83076) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @11:52PM (#18777805)
            An athlete's ability is determined by their genes (and dedication and training, of course), but they are only 'superior' based on the value system you put them in. You could just as easily talk about the 'superior' people with long, silky hair, and how their 'superiority' is genetic. Their genes are not superior in an objective sense, they're just one of many sufficient arrangements for our way of life.

            From a survival-of-the-species perspective, genetic diversity is the best thing. What if everybody had the physique of a pro athlete, and then some kind of contagious wasting disease wiped them out because their body fat percentages were too low? The slobs and geeks would have been fine, but in that hypothetical situation the 'superior' genes are a liability. The broadening gene pool of humanity is an asset, and the gene pool is broadening specifically because survival no longer depends on having a narrowly specified genetic makeup.
        • by alexhmit01 (104757) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @07:21PM (#18775489)
          The traits that our capitalist society rewards (excellence in a field gives extreme wealth, and competence in certain people oriented skills trumps competence in technical fields, etc.) is the appearance of socially what we want. If the pay is better, the supply should increase. However, if you look at birth patterns, things that correspond with higher birthrates are: religion (more => more children), region of country, etc. Traits that are NEGATIVELY correlated are education (more education, for women especially, lowers birth rates), income, etc.

          Even MORE interesting is the rate of genetic diversity. The crew most decried by the family values crew (the single mother with multiple children from different fathers) has interestingly creating more genetic diversity. Gentlemen like "K-fed" are producing multiple offspring with multiple women, ensuring their genetic diversity.

          This is interesting because after generations of decreasing religiosity, increasing education, and healthier people living longer, it looks like those same biological forces are shrinking those characteristics. There was an amusing editorial a few years ago suggesting that Roe v. Wade destroyed the Democratic party, NOT because abortions were unpopular, but because they were popular. Because of the high correlation of political views with those of the parents, the the correlation of being a Democrat with abortion (roughly 2-3 times more likely to have an abortion if a Democrat than a Republican), then 18 year after Roe v. Wade we found a shrinking pool of Democrats.

          Similarly, the higher birthrates of fundamentalists of all religions is causing a slow reversal of post-enlightenment reforms and changes in religious communities. The "mainstream Protestant Churches" are losing numbers, the Catholics are holding steady overall, but their growth is in South America and Africa, while their presence in Europe shrinks and American Catholics are increasing of Latin origin, Judaism has watched a growth of its Orthodox wing (from about 8% 20 years ago to close to 15% of Jews), which itself has been shifting rightward, and Muslim growth rates are outstripping everyone.

          Basically. out secular atheistic culture has reached such a pinnacle of self indulgence and freedom that it might actually shrink itself. The American Left is constantly blaming the Bush administration, but the cultural shifts underneath America demonstrate that demographics and not demagoguery is actually causing the reactionary political pull.

          It's very interesting, but I find it the HEIGHT of irony that the bible-thumping anti-evolutionary wings of all religions, that were marginal a generation ago, are suddenly making gains, while the secular, science and reason based culture with decades of dominance after WW2 finds itself on the retreat, and the REASON is that the anti-evolution crew is spreading their genetic material and creating offspring to advance their agenda, and the pro-science pro-evolution crew is cutting off their genetic material with families of 0-2 children.

          In fact, most disturbing is that the men that engage in the most socially irresponsible behavior -- serial cheating, divorce, etc., are generally fathering many more children than those that "play by the rules." So with whatever genetic material influences behavior, we're going to find each generation a little more adulterous...

          If current trends continue, which of course they will NOT, things will swing the otherway, but amusingly, in 4 or 5 generations, we'll have a general population of non-white, deeply religious Americas who going to Church/Synagogue/Mosques regularly, while engaging in adulterous relationships during the week. :) But seriously, if you think that the religious right is bad now, well in 50-60 years, if they continue to have double the birth rate or more as secular America... well they WILL be the majority in time...

          Amusing amateur demographic observations...
          Alex
          • by jotok (728554) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @08:04PM (#18775945)
            I think they're spot-on, if a bit verbose.

            Summary:
            Reactionary and generally stupid people mate more, and thus have more offspring. This is a system with a positive feedback loop since the next generation of K-Feds and Britneys will also likely get pregnant and work shitty jobs (moreso than make it to Harvard).
            Whereas, progressive and generally smart people may fuck as much (or more) but do not mate as much. This system also has a feedback loop.

            Note that it is the PROGRESSIVE attitude towards sex (whatever, whenever) coupled (heh) with STUPIDITY that leads to the dumb outbreeding the smart.
          • Amusing amateur demographic observations...

            ...and very astute ones at that. I've been "wondering" along the same lines for years now.

            It makes more sense to me by viewing intelligence as the servant of reproduction, rather than the other way 'round.

            In "intelligent society" (with which I'm quite familiar and which much Western secular media essentially defines itself as representing, if not defining), people generally assume reproduction is all about making sure future generations are at least as intell

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dsanfte (443781)
          High degrees of specialization usually have trade-offs. I wouldn't be surprised if the high expression of genes for athletic performance had epistatic effects on other genes, perhaps such as spending more protein on muscle building at the expense of other vital systems.

          The human genome is a maze of interconnecting fibers, each supporting another. You can definitely say by pulling one fiber out that it causes a big defect (cerebral paulsy, down's syndrome), but you can't say just by looking that any one fibe
      • No (Score:3, Insightful)

        by geekoid (135745)
        "Once man learned to manipulate his environment rather than evolve to fit it, the rate of human evolution slowed down."

        Damn that bugs the hell out of me. It is wrong.
        Technology does not stop evolution, it is part of it.

        Natural selectio m akes what is best for the 'enviroment'. As an enviroment changes, the traits that are desirable in a mate change, but evolution marches on.

        Why do you think 'Engineers' are the only people who are smart? what amount of shear gall is needed to say that?

        There are smart people
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by espressojim (224775)
        The time frame for this is 6 million years (since the human-chimp divergence.) How long have we been meaningfully been manipulating our enviornment in a way that blunts the forces of natural selection? Let's be generous and say...10,000 years? That's 1/600th of the time, and your hypothesis is that all of the 'extra' chimp evolution has occurred in that period of time?

        It just doesn't make any sense. I understand your ideas about how humans (in 1st world countries, anyway) are much less subjected to some
    • It also explains this rather well: http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/04/16/195422 8 [slashdot.org]
  • Proof! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Psmylie (169236) * on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @05:46PM (#18774039) Homepage
    All that means is that we perfected our design sooner than the chimps did.

    Once again, we prove our vast superiority over the monkeys!

    ...

    Apes! I meant apes!

    dammit...

    • by gardyloo (512791)
      Careful. You'll get a lot of poo thrown in your direction. I'm not sayin' from whom...
    • by Itninja (937614)

      Once again, we prove our vast superiority over the monkeys!
      I think these were the exact words of Danny Bonaduce, but in regards to "The Monkees"; not "the monkeys"
    • Perhaps, but this is more of a case of natural selection is still there with apes. As long as a human survives past the first year or two the only thing that will kill them before they reproduce is usually their own stupidity, or another human. This isn't really that big of news. Without the eager push of natural selection a species doesn't get the weaker strains filtered out nearly as fast as the one who does.
  • by jakosc (649857) * on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @05:47PM (#18774053) Homepage
    I work in a closely related field, and it's very hard even for those who work on evolutionary biology to hold in our minds the idea that things don't evolve towards greater complexity (with human beings at the pinacle), they evolve towards whatever works.

    Often people giving scientific talks about some detailed aspect of evolutionary biology slip into terms like 'primative' and correct themselves with 'simple'. I think part of this is because we tend to organize organisms by appearance, and before the genomic era this was the only thing we had to go on. We now know that many of the organisms that seem simple have the same or greater gene complexity as ourselves.

    Sometimes I think Evolution needs a better iconic image than the ape to man progression [google.com]
    • by TheMeuge (645043) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @05:52PM (#18774153)
      Exactly. People tend to think of evolution as having some sort of a goal, an endpoint of a "perfect" being.

      In reality, there is no "evolution" in the way that people understand it. There is natural selection, which results in changes that create animals that are more adapted to their environment. In this sense, it doesn't matter that chimps' genes have changed more than ours, because by developing a sophisticated brain capable of reasoning we have sidestepped the need for much of the adaptations chimps may have had to undergo. Once we learned to shape our environment to our tastes, rather than change ourselves, the game was over.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AeroIllini (726211)
        I think the trouble comes about when we start to think of evolution as a "force". Evolution is not the driving force behind change; instead, outside forces in the environment (temperature, weather, resources, competitors, etc.) create natural selection, which drives change. Evolution is merely the description of that change.

        Evolution is not a mechanism, it's a result.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cowscows (103644)
        If you really think about it, if you want to view evolution as a procession towards "perfection", the really interesting thing is that whatever the process was that created DNA based life, it looks like it only happened once. And since then, as things have continued towards that "perfection", species have continued to diversify and become more and more dissimilar. The "perfect" life form, from a biological standpoint, is completely adapted to it and as such is also highly reliant on it.

        I'm not entirely sure
        • by geekoid (135745)
          It may have only happened ones, but [probably not. It's just that there is active life which would stomp out now 'sparks' of life.

          But infact, different evolution is around us every daye. Plants, insects, etc.

    • What exactly is wrong with the iconic "ape to man progression"? I don't know if the details are correct, but in broad outline it seems like a reasonable depiction of our lineage given our state of knowledge at this time.
      • by jakosc (649857) *
        What's wrong is that it isn't a progression, it's a branching tree [uga.edu].

        I.e. it's not that man's ancestor was an ape, it's that apes and man have a common ancestor that was neither ape nor man.
        • by Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @06:29PM (#18774779)

          >it's not that man's ancestor was an ape, it's that apes and man have a common ancestor that was neither ape nor man.

          Any objective taxonomy of primates includes Homo, Australopithecus, and the other human ancestors among the African great apes (family Hominidae). Not only was our ancestor an ape; we are apes.
        • by phliar (87116)

          it's not that man's ancestor was an ape, it's that apes and man have a common ancestor that was neither ape nor man.

          Well, I don't know... many of my ancestors are apes!

          To be pedantic: humans are apes. So we could say that all apes -- including humans -- have a common ancestor, call it the ur-ape. (And that this ur-ape was not an ancestor of monkeys, baboons, or bears.) You could say gibbons and humans are evolved from an ancestor that was neither human nor gibbon.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Xonstantine (947614)
        What exactly is wrong with the iconic "ape to man progression"?

        Many people view chimps and other apes as our less evolved cousins, when, speaking from an evolutionary point of view, they are every bit as evolved as us, they just happen to have evolved in different directions.
      • by cyborg_zx (893396) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @06:10PM (#18774471)
        It reinforces the mistaken view that evolution is a progression towards a goal - the true picture of evolution is tree-like.

        So, you get a whole load of species radiating off a single branch, some branches producing further branching, others being cropped and ending that particular evolutionary pathway.

        Essentially the process should be viewed as such:

        G encodes the information for a genome. The replication of G introduces mutations into that genome into the successors. This is mutation. If we take a simple asexual reproductive organism O1 then:
        • O1 is the parent with genome G1
        • O2 and O3 are the offspring with G2 and G3
        • O4 - O7 are the offspring with G4 - G7


        And so on... we rapidly try out a whole range of G, some of which will be branches that lead to dead-ends (i.e. solutions that produce organisms that are poorly adapted), some will lead to better solutions and eventually some of these solutions will incorporate significant phenotypical changes.

        So there was no 'progression' towards homo sapiens, we're just an end point of a huge exploration of a genetic search space.
    • by pilgrim23 (716938)
      I am not a scientist but, it seems pretty straight forward to me: Chimps live in nature, react to nature, and due to nature changing, evolve to meet nature. Human, uses brain plus opposable thumb to adapt nature, change nature, and basically shape the environment. Humans do not evolve or at least arrested evolution quite some while back.
      • This shows a pretty big misunderstanding of what evolution is, and what drives it. Whether genetic drift or mutation, human populations are no less influenced than any other. Our control of our environment does not mean that variation lessens, it merely replaces some pressures with others. We are not separate from nature, and as of yet our ability to actually manipulate evolutionary forces is very limited, and that largely through selective breeding (though direct genetic manipulation is becoming much mo
      • Chimps live in nature ... Humans ... shape the environment
        This doesn't prevent/slow human evolution compared to chimp evolution - it just means that the evolutionary pressures are different. Humans gain more from being good at politics than chimps do, chimps gain more from being able to survive periods of bad weather without shelter.* (Also - humans have only been shaping the environment for a very small portion of the ~5 million years since the human/chimp ancestor.)

        Here are some factors which theoreticall
    • by alexhs (877055)

      Sometimes I think Evolution needs a better iconic image than the ape to man progression
      What's wrong with that one [designtimeline.org] ? ;)

      (appears 4 times in the first page of results)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tbo (35008)
      I work in a closely related field, and it's very hard even for those who work on evolutionary biology to hold in our minds the idea that things don't evolve towards greater complexity (with human beings at the pinacle), they evolve towards whatever works.

      That may not be true. Suppose that "success" is evenly distributed over the full range of complexity. To define this more concretely, suppose that the probability that a particular DNA sequence codes for a "successful" organism is independent of the length
  • by 2nd Post! (213333) <gundbear@@@pacbell...net> on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @05:48PM (#18774083) Homepage
    It's only conventional if you don't understand evolution.

    The selective pressures on both species were/are different so different amounts of evolution will occur.
    • by Arker (91948)
      A key factor is the ability to adapt by cultural evolution. Both chimps and humans display some level of that ability, but in humans it's obviously at a much greater level. The higher the ability to adapt culturally, the less pressure there is to adapt physically. So this finding is actually not surprising in the least - it's exactly what we'd expect to find.
  • by sakdoctor (1087155) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @05:50PM (#18774115) Homepage
    Our relatively large brains, cognitive abilities, and bipedalism has allowed us to avoid selection pressure to a greater degree than the chimps.
    • by 2nd Post! (213333) <gundbear@@@pacbell...net> on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @05:58PM (#18774269) Homepage
      Which means our genepool is larger just in case there is a need for a classically unselected gene.
      • ...in case there is a need for a classically unselected gene...

        Which, if expressed in the population, would decimate /.

      • by denoir (960304) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @09:52PM (#18776965)

        Which means our genepool is larger just in case there is a need for a classically unselected gene.
        Never "just in case". Evolution through natural selection is a greedy algorithm, meaning that it can only go for immediate payoff and has zero look-ahead or planning capabilities.

        There is a certain irony to it in the human case. Since the first replicators appeared they have been engaged in mortal combat for survival through the phenotypes they build. In most cases the greedy nature of the algorithm has meant good short term solutions but catastrophic long term ones - as evidenced by the fact that >99% of all species that have existed on Earth are today extinct. The genes available today in the gene pools of all organisms are the elite - unlike countless other genes, they have survived so far.

        The big mistake our gene dictators made was the development of our human brain. Sure, it was an excellent short term solution - it clearly had its advantages. But now when that big brain thing has led to the development of bio-tech, the phenotype will rule the genotype. The survival machines that were built to protect and propagate the genes have revolted and are seizing power. Sure, natural selection will always exist, but it is way too slow. By giving us too much control they've sealed their fate. The genes that gave us our large brains may still be around for a while - but they too are at our mercy. Not that they could have foreseen it in any way, but still, it was certainly the wrong way to go from the selfish genes' point of view.

    • by dan828 (753380)
      Not really. The article suggests it had more to do with population size than anything else. large brains, cognitive abilities, and bipedalism only serve to change what is selected for, not to blunt selection itself.
    • by bl8n8r (649187)
      I don't know that I buy bipedalism as a sign of superior evolution. After all, chimps (monkeys) have evolved an adept adaptation that uses four limbs simultaneously and sometimes even a tail. Most people are not even ambidextrous let alone have enough balance to stand on one foot. Is it wise to say we are superious because we can walk upright, or is dexterity in multiple libs a sign of higer evolution?
  • Not to put too fine a point on it, but society currently rewards stupidity, and tends to punish intelligence, rather than the other way around. It should look like planet of the apes in no time.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MPAB (1074440)
      Back in time, the intelligent ones were more able to survive and raise their children to breed, whilst the less intelligent perished or killed their children because of their own stupidity. Nowadays, however, too many of the more intelligent and able dedicate most of their efforts to help the less intelligent ones to survive instead of breeding themselves. Intelligence has become a handicap in building a society that's intended to live off the intelligent and able. As we get higher on Maslow's Pyramid, our
  • Over the past few million years chimps fucked around more, while humans had a tendency to stick to their tribes, thus genes that provided advantage spread to the entire population more readily.

    The conclusion is, we need to fuck around more.
  • A chimp writes, "Those damned dirty humans keep shoving probes up our asses to find out if we evolved faster than they did. They should leave us alone and let us fling our poo."
  • Chimps may have evolved more, but humans evolved better!
  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @05:55PM (#18774199) Homepage Journal
    George Bush's family are preparing a statement:

    "Nerrrrr nerrrrr told you we were better!!!"
  • When was the last time a genetic predisposition to heart disease, diabetes or MS trumped feeling of genuine love? Or glasses for that matter. Until GATACCA [imdb.com] comes to pass and genetic descrimination is a way of life, "genetic progress" will be halted. And I am fine with that.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @05:56PM (#18774235)
    "On the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much - the wheel, New York, wars and so on - whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But, conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man - for precisely the same reasons." - Douglas Adams
  • ...stifles our evolution.

    if we need to fly we dont grow wings we make planes.

    if we need to swim we don't grow gills or fins we make SCUBA gear

    if we get too cold we don't grow fur we make clothes

    if we need to eat we don't hunt we go to McDonalds.

    so on and so forth...

    • Technology is part of our evolution.

      We evolve in a matter that lets us adapt to changes, some pretty darn rapid, and control our enviroment.

      Your examples seem to inply 'intant' evolution.

      We don't 'need' to fly.
      We don't 'need' to go under water.
      Tghose are all 'extras'. IF a large enough group of people were contantly in the water, and the mated for that trate, they would get a way to breath underwater..in a 100,000* years.

      *number used as an example.

  • by Chemisor (97276) * on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @06:03PM (#18774367)
    It should be remembered that in the context of evolution, "beneficial" always refers to an individual's ability to pass along his genes through reproduction. And, as most of Slashdot readers surely know from personal experience, larger brains and advanced cognitive abilities are not particularly beneficial in this task.
    • by Sciros (986030)
      I expect to see your comment on "seen on slash" :)
    • by melikamp (631205)
      On a serious note, the vast amount of the artificial selection might have been detrimental to the human evolution. I have nothing to back up my guess, though; it's just a thought.
  • by thewils (463314) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @06:16PM (#18774543) Journal
    ..past the point where they need to shoot each other with guns.
  • Just remember.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Arceliar (895609)
    Quantity doesn't necessarily beat quality. Ask yourself what's more efficient: making hundreds of minor adaptations to an environment, or making a few really good ones? Most animals grow what they need to gather food and defend themselves. We make what we need. Ideas change faster than genes.
  • Speaking of chimps.. if you have XM tune to 202 right now. O&A are interviewing Mikey the chimp (replay from earlier today)
  • by javelinco (652113) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @06:27PM (#18774747) Journal
    This should be obvious, people. The whole point of evolution is that a species changes over time to deal with pressure from its environment. Humankind has been "coddling the weak" for thousands upon thousands of years now. We protect and nurture those who would not, could not, make it on their own. This means that evolution, as it functions for say, apes, isn't working the same way for us. Our "large brains" and the technology and advantages that come from the abilities we get from it, mean that our genes do not need to change as much as most other species - because instead of changing ourselves, we develop technology, etc. to deal with our environment. Again, I'm guessing that most scientists are looking at this data and saying, "Well, no shit. I would certainly be surprised if the data showed something else, but this? It's confirmation - nothing exciting."
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by julesh (229690)
      The whole point of evolution is that a species changes over time to deal with pressure from its environment. Humankind has been "coddling the weak" for thousands upon thousands of years now.

      OTOH, the timescale of this study was 6,000,000 years. ~10,000 years of civilization shouldn't have had a huge overall effect on our evolution compared to the preceding 5,990,000 of them.
  • by camperdave (969942) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @06:30PM (#18774791) Journal
    Chimps evolved more? So what does that mean?
    1. Maybe chimps have shorter lifespans. Thus there have been more generations of chimps to mix and mingle the chimp gene pool.
    2. Perhaps chimps have a bigger gene pool. More chimps=more genetic variety=more chance for beneficial genes to surface.
    3. Maybe human DNA doesn't have the same genetic variety as chimp DNA. Thus the variability in chimps could be greater than in humans.
    4. Perhaps the population density has kept chimp DNA in greater flux. Humans have ranged all over the planet, thus human genes don't get as much of a chance to mix.
    5. Maybe human evolution has slowed because there are different social pressures on our mating practices. It's not all about physical prowess and attractiveness with people. Certain families/tribes don't mix with certain others, or perhaps only mix with others. Religion, money, power, history, language, etc all affect how (with whom) humans mate. Chimps are free from these pressures.
    In short, perhaps chimps are more evolved, but so what? Cockroaches are probably far more evolved than either of us.
  • Am I the only one who is completely not surprised by this? Human evolution slowed once we were able to adapt our tools rather than our bodies. While a fur covered man might be better suited for a cold climate, the naked man could don fur ensuring both were equally fit and able to pass on their genes. Apes don't have that luxury, so those that can't cope die. Humans just invent instead...
  • by cyborg_zx (893396) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @06:59PM (#18775227)
    It doesn't mean anything to say X is more evolved than Y or evolving more. It is a meaningless statement. Talking about the 'speed' of evolution doesn't mean anything unless you've got a predefined goal in mind and evolution most certainly does not - no matter what your Star Trek DVDs tell you.
  • by SadMarvin (1010929) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @08:31PM (#18776233)
    So that`s the reason why president Bush was elected twice. I knew US citizen had a
    very gooood reason :)
  • by Knutsi (959723) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @03:34AM (#18778933)
    If anything, it hints that life does not generally evolve towards big intelligence like ours, even when it gets the chance (there was after all 500+ million years of complex life prior to us, none of which could start a fire)-

    We may be specialists, evolved to think great thoughts since that was advantageous for our context at the time. Since it appears evolution does not favour philosphers, it might means we're an accident, and pretty alone in the cosmos.

    Would be kind of sad if we made our own extinction then, wouldn't it. .. K

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