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Sir David Attenborough: Evolution Has Stopped For People

Sir David Attenborough - Humans are no longer evolving

Sir David Attenborough believes evolution among humans is drawing to a close. Attenborough believes our ability to keep even the weakest of our species alive has stunted our physical evolution.

Attenborough notes that we can now safely deliver upwards of 99 percent of our babies and therefore people are no longer the victims of Darwinian theories and natural selection.

Attenborough doesn’t think we are culturally stunted; instead, he believes we will evolves through inherited knowledge from previous generations.

Speaking with Radio Times this week, Sir David said: “I think that we’ve stopped evolving.”

Attenborough further laments:

“Because if natural selection, as proposed by Darwin, is the main mechanism of evolution – there may be other things, but it does look as though that’s the case – then we’ve stopped natural selection. We stopped natural selection as soon as we started being able to rear 95–99 per cent of our babies that are born. We are the only species to have put a halt to natural selection, of its own free will, as it were.”

To explain his view of human evolution, Sir David Attenborough will present Rise of Animals on BBC2.

So is stunting human evolution a bad thing? According to Attenborough, it’s not as bad as it might seem:

“Stopping natural selection is not as important, or as depressing, as it might sound – because our evolutionary process is now cultural. Humans have a great cultural inheritance as well as a physical, genetic inheritance – we can inherit a knowledge of computers or television, electronics, aeroplanes and so on. Each generation has got all these books that tell them these things, so our cultural evolution is proceeding with extraordinary swiftness.”

Do you think David Attenborough’s human evolution claim is correct? Have we stunted our own physical evolution through our advances in technology and medicine?

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One Response to “Sir David Attenborough: Evolution Has Stopped For People”

  1. Patrick Frye

    It's pretty self apparent. Natural selection can be represented with a bell curve. Directional selection relies on a good percentage of a localized group dying off completely in order for a random mutation to become prevalent in a population. These deaths tend to be the middle of the bell curve.

    For example, in Africa it's still possible to have those with the natural genetic immunity to malaria to survive and spread that gene on. But if that family were to be removed from an environment that no longer has the selective force of malaria that immunity is likely to be lost. That's pretty much the same situation with Darwin's finches, where a certain group might be selected for in the short term but when the environment changes the full range of finches start reappearing.