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Are we still evolving?

Modern technologies and medicines have eliminated many of the hazards that proved lethal to our ancestors. Does this mean human evolution has come to a full stop? Or can changes in culture introduce new selection pressures? And what about HIV?

Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection struck a body-blow to human hubris. We were not, after all, an elevated species, untainted by the vagaries of nature. Instead, we had obtained our exalted powers in the same manner as all other living things – through fortuitous evolutionary adaptations to a natural world characterised by what Darwin called “blind, pitiless indifference.”

Natural selection works on us because millions of random mutations occur in our genetic blueprint between one generation and the next. Suppose one of those gives rise to a trait that enhances your capacity to survive some environmental hazard; you live…

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