Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Evolution is speeding up

Seattle Times

By Karen Kaplan
Los Angeles Times

Blue eyes typically are associated with beauty, or perhaps Frank Sinatra. But to University of Wisconsin anthropologist John Hawks, they represent an evolutionary mystery.

For nearly all of human history, everyone in the world had brown eyes. Then, between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago, the first blue-eyed baby was born somewhere near the Black Sea.

For some reason, that baby's descendants gained a 5 percent evolutionary advantage over their brown-eyed competitors, and today the number of people with blue eyes tops half a billion.

"What does it mean?" said Hawks, who studies the forces that have shaped the human species for the past 6 million years.

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