A post about… Type 4

(Nb this post is not about the Magic format Type 4, of which I have virtually no knowledge)
This post is about evolution, it’s just something of interest.

This picture - almost entirely irrelevant.

So, my good friend Barret passed this essay on to me at the pub the other day, saying that it was probably something that I would be interested in – ‘A common inversion under selection in Europeans‘ – and indeed I was interested. I would guess that about 90% of the jargon went over my head upon first glance because, I should stress, I am not a scientist. Barrett however is a scientist (I don’t know if ‘revealing’ this information helps or hinders the image he jested I was portraying of him – as some sort of idiot savant). Anyway, he told me that the paper was a couple of years old and so a few of the things that they were saying / doing / using were out-of-date but that nonetheless, it showed something quite cool.

I won’t patronise anyone by going through the entirety of evolution, suffice to say that I have studied a little as part of my degree and have a casual interest, having read a fair amount of Dawkins¹, etc. (one last time – not a scientist). The study is from 2005 and amounts to the discovery of something that has never before been recorded – a direct observation of natural selection taking place in human beings. Rather than oversimplifying it or getting it completely wrong, if it is of interest to the reader, you can pick up a copy here: http://www.nature.com/ng/journal/v37/n2/full/ng1508.html

Natural selection to the layperson, i.e. me, is something that happens over a considerable period of time in large animals with the only real examples I can think of having been aware of before being that of insects becoming resistant to pesticides, and the same with bacteria and antibiotics e.g. MRSA. To have observed natural selection occurring in humans is obviously quite big, and was probably a lot bigger back in 2005, but I got told how much it would likely cost to subscribe to the major scientific journals. No chance for me, I’m afraid.

Sorry I can’t go into any more detail, don’t want to get stung by the publishers – nor by anyone with a better grasp of science than I. This is just a recommendation to check it out!

¹If you haven’t read anything by Dawkins, but decide to do so, then please pay heed to this warning. He’s a very intelligent man, a good writer and his science is faultless, but whether you are atheist or not, it is possible to get buried under his arrogance and superiority. I would recommend starting with ‘The Selfish Gene,’ as it’s well worth the read. But the man does get my goat sometimes.

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