The Buzz: Recent Selection in Human Evolution

A new paper published in Genome Research provides the most comprehensive scan to date of the genetic signatures of natural selection resulting from the last 10-40,000 years of human evolution, with some intriguing results. The results show strikingly different patterns of selection in distantly related human populations, suggesting that different human groups have adapted to their environments in different ways. Many of the regions seen to be most subject to selection contain genes of unknown function—or no genes at all—but regions linked to increased risk of type 2 diabetes showed a remarkable enrichment of selection. The paper called into question John Hawks's theory of recent acceleration, popularized in the recently published The 10,000 Year Explosion. But Hawks explains in a blog post that the findings are not at odds with his theory, and the paper's author Joe Pickrell also clarified in a comment on Genetic Future, "I'll point out (as did John Hawks) that this paper is not an explicit test of the 'acceleration hypothesis.'"

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