La evolución humana: sin soluciones fáciles

MADISON.–Los humanos somos indiscutiblemente complejos y estamos orgullosos de serlo. Creemos que no hace falta demostrar nuestra superioridad biológica. Nuestras funciones biológicas están reguladas exquisitamente y resisten las variaciones externas gracias a complejas redes de interacciones. Parece que la fuerza de voluntad y el intelecto nos diferencian de otras especies y, por lo tanto, somos capaces de modificar el ambiente para amortiguar los efectos de nuestras pérdidas de aptitud.

Aún así, es posible que nuestra especie esté condenada, precisamente por la forma en que surgió nuestra complejidad. Parafraseando al escritor de ciencia Philip Ball, la naturaleza parece haber activado una bomba de tiempo, y nuestra complejidad es solo un ajuste de corto plazo.

Para entender la naturaleza del problema tenemos que examinar la forma en que los humanos estamos construidos al nivel molecular, y comparar nuestra complexión con la de otras especies –que a menudo llamamos «rudimentarias»– como los organismos unicelulares. Este análisis nos lleva a examinar las proteínas –nuestros elementos básicos celulares, a cargo de las funciones biológicas– entre especies muy distintas. Las proteínas con orígenes compartidos que pertenecen a especies distintas, llamadas «ortólogos», ofrecen un sólido entorno para la comparación.

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