characteristic of living organisms. To account for the adaptations of organisms and those innumerable features that equip
them for survival and reproduction, Darwin (and Wallace) independently came up with the central theory of evolutionary
process: natural selection. Natural selection gives insight in to why organisms are the way that they are. Adaptations are
phenotypic variants that result in the highest fitness among a specified set of variants in a given environment. In reference
to humans, there are many traits that have been selected and adapted for throughout their evolutionary history giving them
the characteristics that they have today. In this paper I will discuss some parts of the human body, which have been found
to be selected for by the evolutionary mechanisms of natural selection, adaptation and mutation.
Natural selection, adaptation, and mutations are three components of the evolutionary process, each one having either
positive or negative effects on the other. What exactly is natural selection? There are many variations of the definition but
most agree that it must include the following concepts: some attribute or trait must vary among biological entities, and there
must be a consistent relationship, within a defined context, between the trait and one or more components of reproductive
success, where "reproductive success" includes both survival and the reproductive processes themselves (Futuyma, 1998).
Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection states "if variations useful to any organic being ever occur, assuredly
individuals thus characterized will have the best chance of being preserved in the struggle for life; and from the strong
principle of inheritance, these will tend to produce offspring similarly characterized." Regardless of how it is defined,
natural selection and its action can have tremendous effects on the members of a population. It is natural selection that
causes adaptation, and these adaptations evolve to ensure the survival of a species.
Evolution, in a very broad sense, is defined as descent with modification and often with diversification (Futuyma, 1998).
Darwin's idea of evolution was that it occurred by descent with modificatio...
... middle of paper ...
...-carbohydrate, high protein
diet. Certain metabolic adaptations were therefore necessary to accommodate the low glucose intake. Many indicate that
the adaptive response to the low carbohydrate intake is insulin resistance(Miller, Colagiuri, 1994).
A study done by J.C. Brand Miller and S. Colagirui proposes that insulin resistance offered a survival and
reproductive advantage during the Ice Ages. This study also proposed that a carnivorous diet would have disadvantaged
reproduction in insulin-sensitive individuals and positively selected for individuals with insulin resistance. Another factor
mentioned was the various environmental factors that contributed to the low carbohydrate intake such as the types of
foods that were available.
The forces of natural selection on the evolutionary processes in humans can have a broad range of effects on the
characteristics of humans. There are no concrete answers to some of the questions proposed in this paper, but time will
soon tell exactly how the evolutionary mechanisms have effected the human race. The human species will continue to
evolve as long as the mechanisms of evolution and environmental factors act upon us.
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