Menschlicher Wandel, an den wir glauben können

Montreal – Bei einem Symposion über Evolution, das kürzlich in Montreal stattfand, konfrontierte man High-School-Schüler und Universitätsprofessoren mit folgender Frage: „Glauben Sie, dass sich der Mensch immer noch entwickelt?“ Ungefähr 80 Prozent der Teilnehmer beantworteten die Frage mit „nein“. Tatsächlich herrscht ein beinahe universeller Glaube vor, dass sich der Mensch angesichts vielfältiger Kulturen und komplexer Technologie vom Druck der natürlichen Selektion befreit hat. 

Jüngste Forschungsergebnisse zeichnen allerdings ein anderes Bild. Die Kultur bietet keineswegs Immunität gegen evolutionären Druck, vielmehr schafft sie oft neuen Druck. So sind beispielsweise Gene im Zusammenhang mit der Verdauung von Laktose häufiger in Populationen zu finden, die sich traditionell mit Rinderzucht beschäftigen und Kuhmilch zu sich nehmen.

In wissenschaftlichen Arbeiten, die in Nature Genetics und den Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America veröffentlicht wurden, legen der Evolutionsbiologe Stephen Stearns und seine Kollegen dar, dass die natürliche Selektion auch beim Menschen der Gegenwart ihre Wirkung entfaltet. Ihre Argumente sind durchaus überzeugend, wurden sie doch auf Grundlage umfangreicher Genealogien, einschließlich Kirchenbücher und nationale Krankheitsregister, erarbeitet.  

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