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Old 05-11-2011, 11:30 PM
auroraglacialis's Avatar
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Default Evolved for civilization?

I think almost all of us here can agree that humans as they exist now evolved towards something different than civilization - to a life as hunters, gatherers, fishermen. The palaeo diet and palaeo athlete movements try to adress that and there is plenty of evidence that our "diseases of civilization" indeed can be avoided by eating more like our ancestors did (meat, veggies, fruit) and moving around more (sports), maybe even barefoot (healthier than with shoes). We are not evolved to wear shoes, eat bread and milk, sit hours long in chairs and look at a screen and so on. We also did not evolve to live with too many people - or with no people.

I'd like to start an interesting thought experiment in face of that and in face of future developments in the department of "artificial evolution" (genetic manipulating humans). The question is, what do you think would specifically be the changes that would have to be done to humans to adapt them to civilization? (Or what would you expect to be the result if evolution took not tens of thousands of years but just a few decades). A more stable spine, a higher tolerance for sugars and grains - these could be examples. I am not looking to general statements like "better health", "longer life" and such, but how would human bodies work like, look like, feel like if they are made to adapt to civilized life?
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Last edited by auroraglacialis; 05-12-2011 at 11:15 AM.
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Old 05-12-2011, 03:37 AM
Sight Unseen's Avatar
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One thing that might change: we used to be hunter-gatherers, food was usually in great quantities with a lot of time in between. Now, in civilization with a constant food source, our bodies stay in "must store moar!" mode all the time, leading to obesity. This would be less of a physical change and more of a change in our instincts, since this excess food storage is now useless, even detrimental, eventually either the ability to store such massive amounts of chemical energy will die off or the way the brain handles the direction of metabolism will change.

Also, lungs changed to deal with the smog better? Maybe smaller alveoli and more of them?

Mental predisposition toward using technology effectively?

The more time we spend sitting around the less useful our extremities are. Maybe shorter extremities so the body conserves heat more efficiently and the heart doesn't have to work as hard?

Anyway, just some random thoughts.
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Old 05-12-2011, 04:41 AM
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IMHO, first thing in the list would be to make our amigdala more tolerant to stress. Panic and anxiety seem to be quite common in our environment.
Second in the list would be to separate the sexual act from the reproduction.
Third would be bigger eyes, we are surrounded by screens and we really need more efficient eyes (almost all my partners are starting to wear glasses). Bigger, more sensitive eyes would help to reduce the quantity of light needed to illuminate our environment.
Fourth, given that we already wear clothes, get rid of some hair (not in the head, BTW).
Fifth, stronger feet and column. Our feet didn't evolve for the hard concrete streets but for soft soil. A stronger vertebral column would help those who stand or sit for long periods of time a day.
Sixth, to limit the amount of fat that the body can accumulate.
Seventh, to limit the amount of food to the quantity we really need (no snacks).
Eight, to be able to modify our circadian rhythm at will.
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