Home » Evolution, Mind, Neuroscience, News » Human evolution is a “privileged” process?

Human evolution is a “privileged” process?

From The Guardian, 2004, and still of interest:

Professor Lahn’s research, published this week in the journal Cell, suggests that humans evolved their cognitive abilities not owing to a few sporadic and accidental genetic mutations – as is the usual way with traits in living things – but rather from an enormous number of mutations in a short period of time, acquired though an intense selection process favouring complex cognitive abilities.

The Guardian writer, without perhaps realizing it, goes on to make Bruce Lahn’s proposed evolution sound non-Darwinian, whereas Lahn seems to want to fit it in somehow. Also:

The scientists found that the human brain’s genes had gone through an intense amount of evolution in a short amount of time – a process that far outstripped the evolution of the genes of other animals.

“We’ve proven that there is a big distinction,” Prof Lahn said. “Human evolution is, in fact, a privileged process because it involves a large number of mutations in a large number of genes.

Lahn probably hadn’t got the memo yet about how loaded the concept of privileged is in this context. In any event, he attributed the rapidity of the process to the development of human society, which he says, made selection for intelligence work faster:

“As humans become more social, differences in intelligence will translate into much greater differences in fitness, because you can manipulate your social structure to your advantage,” he said.

The problem is, of course, that the relationship between intelligence and fitness (higher rates of fertile offspring) in humans is something we have been able to observe for a long time. And the results aren’t encouraging.

Millennia of observations have not shown that more intelligent humans produce markedly greater numbers of fertile offspring. As David Stove pointed out in Darwinian Fairytales, it usually works the other way. And, as Richard Dawkins would tell you, that’s the money shot as far as Darwinian evolution is concerned. 

From a 2011 interview with Lahn:

BL: Yes. What happens is a random-chance mutation that is advantageous strikes only one individual in a population belonging to a particular species. The person who has that mutation will reproduce a little better. Some of their kids would inherit this mutation and also reproduce a little better because the mutation makes them more attractive, stronger, whatever. Over time, this mutation would spread in the population to the point where it basically takes over the entire population and everybody has it. So we saw, based on comparisons between humans and other species, that signatures of adaptive evolution for these genes meant that they have gone through many of these sweeps. One sweep fixing one advantageous mutation, another sweep comes along and fixes another.

That’s not what the available history shows with human intelligence. But it is how the large Hadron Collider assembled itself, right?

Abstract
Human evolution is characterized by a dramatic increase in brain size and complexity. To probe its genetic basis, we examined the evolution of genes involved in diverse aspects of nervous system biology. We found that these genes display significantly higher rates of protein evolution in primates than in rodents. Importantly, this trend is most pronounced for the subset of genes implicated in nervous system development. Moreover, within primates, the acceleration of protein evolution is most prominent in the lineage leading from ancestral primates to humans. Thus, the remarkable phenotypic evolution of the human nervous system has a salient molecular correlate, i.e., accelerated evolution of the underlying genes, particularly those linked to nervous system development. In addition to uncovering broad evolutionary trends, our study also identified many candidate genes—most of which are implicated in regulating brain size and behavior—that might have played important roles in the evolution of the human brain. (paywall)

Keep looking.

Hat tip: Reifat Aitta at ID Facebook page.

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8 Responses to Human evolution is a “privileged” process?

  1. Um, the fossil evidence indicates that modern humans arose directly without any known ancestors. So the hypothesis that human brains went through some accelerated development makes no more sense than one that says our hips and neck went through accelerated development to make us upright bipeds.

    Some decades ago I watched a show on Learning Channel in which an anthropologist pointed out that the key difference between a human skull and any other primate skull is 2 large holes that allow large arteries to feed blood to our brains. That is, brain capacity is limited by blood supply. So you don’t need the extra blood if you only have a gorilla brain, but you won’t have a gorilla brain if you have the extra blood supply. Another chicken and egg problem, non?

    I accept Ann Gauger’s explanation: there has only ever been 1 species of humans, and we have no known ancestors.

  2. Here is a funny article about Ann Gauger,

    http://arstechnica.com/science.....ock-image/

    So mahuna, does she look like she came from a male rib ?

  3. Professor Lahn is another lying and condescending Darwinist. Selective pressure has no causal effect on the rate of mutations. Lahn is obviously a paid propagandist, He’s not even wrong.

  4. does she look like she came from a male rib ?

    Perhaps you should leave the jokes to Mr. Fips, Mr. Phipps.

    And the article speaks volumes. What kind of Kindergarten is running that website?

    Sebestyen

  5. Mapou,

    but selective pressure, much like selective breeding is using already existing naturally occurring variations.

    Many around here try and misrepresent selective breeding as some kind of design but selective breeders of animals do not design genomes but select from existing variations.

    That’s not design and not at odds with modern synthesis. It is hijacked by ID as evidence for design but until modern times animal breeders hadn’t a clue as to the exact genotype changes and they certainly don’t change those other than choosing what has already been changed for them by nature.

    What it does show those is that quite large changes can be effected in phenotypes if the population is subjected to pressures other than an ecological niche that consists of food and water and finding mates.

  6. LP:

    but selective pressure, much like selective breeding is using already existing naturally occurring variations.

    And that doiesn’t seem to be able to produce macroevolution.

    Many around here try and misrepresent selective breeding as some kind of design but selective breeders of animals do not design genomes but select from existing variations.

    Selective breeding is design. Even Darwin said so.

  7. they have to jump to explain human intelligence.
    They have to say it was quick selection on machine gun mutationism.
    oh brother. give it up already!
    If selection created human intelligence then why EVER say it stopped doing this is segregated mankind?
    I know Stephen Pinker says this to justify his JEWS are smarter theory and the Nazi’s did it and lots others bUT lets see some research dollars from Barack Obama about race/ethnicity/sex and intelligence.
    If the brain is the origin of intelligence then why does the world say all are equally intelligent when selection surely was not turned off over several tens or hundreds of thousands of years of humans on the planet.
    Watson, of Watson/crick, got busted on this.
    Evolutionists need to settle this. Destiny of man awaits.

  8. Prof Lahn : “Human evolution is, in fact, a privileged process because it involves a large number of mutations in a large number of genes.”

    Don’t forget about epigenetical and homeostatical changes which have to evolve synchronically professor! What good are “lucky” mutations in genes if the epigenetics and homeostasis are maladaptive? Chicken and egg, dear professor … chicken and egg.

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