Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

Jeremy Yoder on contemporary selection for increased human height

Posted 23 Nov 2015 / 0

Social Evolution ForumNatural Selection on Human Height Doesn’t Measure Up To Much

I agree overall with Yoder’s analysis, although it seems that he misreads the study a bit: by my reading, women’s height also had an effect on the survival of offspring, although the effect was nearly half that of men. But Yoder’s larger point is dead-on correct: these effect sizes are very small, and unimpressive compared to the overall increase in the height of Dutch men. So what is interesting here is that various forms of culture have to account for the vast majority of the observed height increase in Dutch men (particularly in the uncontrolled data, which is not surprising given the fact that the control was on cultural factors!). This is a good indication that culture has been more rapidly impacting our phenotypic evolution in recent time than good old natural selection on genes. But one does wonder when the effects of culture top out: if Dutch men continue to get taller and taller, I can’t imagine that effect will be one of ever-increasing nutrition and overall health. Eventually, only natural selection can lead to greater height. Will it?

Jeremy Yoder’s post discussed Stulp et al. 2015.

A Minor Post, Breeders, Propagators, & Creators, Development, Gene by Environment Interactions, Gene-Culture Coevolution, Genetics, Human Evolution, Natural Selection, Population Genetics, Web

Leave a Reply