i haven’t had a chance to read the research article yet, but here from nicholas wade in the nyt:

“Natural Selection Leaves Fresh Footprints on a Canadian Island”

“From parish records in a French-Canadian island, researchers have uncovered what may be the most recent known instance of human evolution in response to natural selection.

“The island, Île aux Coudres, lies in the St. Lawrence River 50 miles northeast of Quebec. Its church registries hold an unusually complete record of births, marriages and deaths. From this data, a team of researchers led by Emmanuel Milot and Denis Réale of the University of Quebec at Montreal have extracted the histories of women born on the island between 1799 and 1940.

“Over this 140-year period, the age at which a woman had her first child — a trait that is highly heritable — fell to 22 years, from 26. Because of this change, women on average had four more children during their reproductive lifetime, the researchers report.

“The finding ‘supports the idea that humans are still evolving,’ the researchers write in Monday’s issue of The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”


but wait! there’s more:

“Dr. Milot said the genetic changes in his study showed up so clearly because other factors that might cloud them had been held to a minimum by the particular social conditions on Île aux Coudres. The island was granted by royal decree to the priests who managed the Quebec seminary and was settled by 30 families who arrived between 1720 and 1773. The families took up farming, then other professions, like fishing. Throughout the period, considerable equality was maintained, and the population lacked the gradations of wealth that can influence who has how many children.

Also, because most people married locally, the island’s population became considerably inbred, despite a ban on marrying first or second cousins.

“These two factors, and the homogeneity of the population, left the field open for genetic effects to become prominent, Dr. Milot said.”

inbreeding?! wait, wait, wait. of course this somewhat isolated population could’ve evolved faster ’cause they were homogeneous so the “genetic effects” could more quickly “become prominent.” but couldn’t it be that they just had more babies ’cause they were inbreeding?! (or maybe the two are the same thing….)

i gotta go look at the research article.

(see, françois? a post about french canadians! at least one sub-group of you guys anyway. (^_^) )

see also: amish paradise from greg cochran.

(note: comments do not require an email. i <3 canada!)