Is evolution beginning to favor the less fit?

11 May

BBC – Earth News.

Live fast, die young? Since 1859 when Darwin introduced his work On the Origin of Species, the ‘theory’ of evolution and natural selection has been widely accepted among scientists.  I remember being taught about evolution in school and thinking the data was convincing because it made so much sense.  Of course evolution would favor the stronger, faster and more fit – they could out run, out fight, out think their competition.  So, as I was reading today’s BBCs article, I couldn’t help but wonder if times have truly changed.  The study referenced in the article showed that snails with slower metabolism grew bigger, reproduced more and lived longer.  It stands to reason that those same snails actually move slower which is next up for the same research team.  Obviously human beings are much further evolved than the common slug but someday, will slower, bigger (re: fatter) people actually have a longer life expectancy?  Will the morbidly obese, someday be considered the fittest?

Our society already caters to this population in many ways encouraging an inactive lifestyle.  Hopefully evolution will not follow the same trend, but if it does, we can all take a little solace in the fact that evolution moves at a snails pace and that pace is slowing down.

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One Response to “Is evolution beginning to favor the less fit?”

  1. johnny4fit May 12, 2009 at 5:54 pm #

    The oldest known hominids (of the human group) had been the australopithecines, found in Africa, dating from 3.5–4.4 million years ago; the first to use tools was 2 million years ago. So even if we are conservative and mark the beginning of human descendant when we first picked up a stone and threw it at a wilder beast for food, this means that it took 2 million years for our DNA to deliver us to where we are: robust and thriving when we’re active, and sick when we’re less active. Our chance of remedial and biological survival drops when we become less fit. If evolution indeed ever favors the less fit, then it will probably take 2 to 4 million years to unravel the human DNA that it has produced. We can certainly call that “snail pace.”

    On the other hand, I believe that an overachievement of fitness–through brutal, constant overreaching methods–can be a quick path to an early demise of the organism. But, that’s not the fault of natural selection, rather the motivation to simulate one own’s body with society’s definition of: hotness. 🙂

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