March 24, 2009
A month ago I reviewed The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution. As an interdisciplinary work it rested on several foundations, but one of them was evolutionary genomics. A very important paper came out yesterday which is going to touch off a new round of debates about recent human evolution, and selection vs. drift. It’s Signals of recent positive selection in a worldwide sample of human populations, and you can read it for free (it’s Open Access). If you don’t have a science background you might benefit from my summary at ScienceBlogs. The short of it is that the authors seem to be back pedaling from earlier research the same group published suggesting widespread selection in the human genome. See my ScienceBlogs for the details, but I think my post The new races of man…. is more relevant than ever. One of the main traits which the authors of this new paper seem to be agreeing exhibits the hallmarks of selection is skin color. Another are a couple of genes which have been implicated in the particular hair form of East Asians. In other words, even if the expanse of the genome subject to selective events is restricted, those regions may still be biased towards phenotypes which we find of interest.
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