Human Evolutionary Mismatches

  1. This article about jogging describes a potential conflict between the way that most people in the U.S. run today and the way that our bodies evolved to run in the Pleistocene- heel first versus ball of foot first. What change in the environment seems to have caused this shift? This article describes one way in which evolution can inform modern medicine. Do some research and describe another example of a case in which evolutionary theory can inform medical practice.
  2. Read about the evolution of lactose tolerance in humans. Does lactose tolerance/intolerance represent a mismatch between our evolutionary history and the modern world? If so, for whom? If not, why not? Explain your reasoning.
  3. Do you think natural selection is acting against the preference for fats and sugars in modern humans? Explain your reasoning.
  4. Review the process of natural selection. Use the four steps described on that page to explain how a preference for fats and sugars might have become the norm among human ancestors.
  5. What are other examples of possible “human evolutionary mismatches”? Pick an example and explain the mismatch.
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