Une évolution humaine crédible

Montreal – A l’occasion d’un récent symposium à Montréal sur l’évolution, la question suivante a été posée à des lycéens et des professeurs d’université : « Pensez-vous que les humains continuent d’évoluer ? » Approximativement 80% des personnes interrogées ont répondu « non ». On pense en effet généralement qu’entre les multiples facettes des différents visages culturels et les complexités technologiques, les humains se seraient libérés des pressions de la sélection naturelle.

De récentes études prouvent cependant le contraire. Loin de fournir une immunité contre les pressions évolutionnaires, la culture en crée souvent de nouvelles. Par exemple, les gènes associés à la digestion du lactose sont plus souvent prévalant dans les populations qui ont traditionnellement élevé du bétail et consommé du lait.

Dans une série d’articles scientifiques publiés dans Nature Genetics et Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, le biologiste évolutionnaire Stephen Stearns et ses collègues ont voulu démontrer que la sélection naturelle s’opère encore chez les humains contemporains. S’appuyant sur des généalogies étendues, déterminées entre autres à partir de siècles de registres paroissiaux et de santé nationale, leur argument est convainquant.

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