Anatomical changes in modern humans show that we are still evolving, say Australian scientists. And not only that but in evolutionary terms we are actually speeding up.
In a study published in the Journal of Anatomy, researchers found that there have been several changes in human anatomy which seem to show that we are evolving faster than at any point in the last 250 years.
One of their findings is that more babies are being born without wisdom teeth.
Wisdom teeth are the final teeth to emerge in early adulthood. They usually appear sometime between the ages of 17 and 25.
The skulls of our human ancestors had larger jaws containing more teeth which helped to chew the early human diet of roots, meat, and nuts – but today, we no longer need them.
Lead researcher Teghan Lucas, of Flinders University in Adelaide, said “As we have learnt to use fire and process foods more, a lot of people are just being born without wisdom teeth. Faces are becoming a lot shorter, with smaller jaws meaning there is less room for teeth.”
The investigation also found a “significant increase” since the late 19th century in the prevalence of an additional artery, called a median artery, in people’s forearms.
Lucas said, “If this trend continues, a majority of people will have a median artery of the forearm by 2100.”
“A lot of people think that humans have stopped evolving,” said Lucas. “But our study shows that humans are indeed still evolving. This is what we call micro-evolution in modern humans.
The researchers called their findings “evolutionary trends”, saying that they are “perfect examples of how we are still evolving”.