What explains the extraordinarily fast rate of evolution in the human lineage over the past two million years?

A leading human origins researcher has come up with an idea that involves aggression between groups and the boom-bust cycles that have punctuated our spread into new environments.

Prof Ian Tattersall said there were few examples to rival the accelerated evolution that led to our species.

He was speaking at the 2012 Calpe conference in Gibraltar.

“However you slice it, evolution within this [human family] has been very rapid indeed,” Prof Tattersall, from the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York, told the conference.

“I think it’s fair to say that our species Homo sapiens and its antecedents have come much farther, much faster than any other mammalian group that has been documented in this very tight time-frame.”

This phenomenon of accelerated evolution is known as “tachytely”.

Read more at BBC News.

Published On: September 15, 2012


  • Tim Tyler says:

    Er, that’s completely the wrong answer. Our intimate relationship with rapidly-reproducing cultural symbionts – that were able to evolve much faster than human DNA – is obviously what accelerated human evolution.

  • Helga Vieirch says:

    If he is referring to the evolution of the genus Homo and within the genus Homo, then he is on very shaky empirical ground. Conflict? I don’t think so… but the climatic reversals certainly happened.

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