Growing population size would have affected our

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Unformatted text preview: l have been consequences of swelling population size. Growing population size would have affected our forebears another way, too: by accelerating the pace of evolution. As John Hawks of the University of Wisconsin–Madison has emphasized, more people mean more mutations and opportunities for advantageous mutations to sweep through populations as their members reproduce. This trend may have had an even more striking effect on recent humans than on Upper Paleolithic ones, compounding the dramatic population growth that accompanied the domestication of plants 10,000 years ago. In their 2009 book The 10,000 Year Explosion, Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending, both at the University of Utah, describe multiple gene variants—from those influencing skin color to those that determine tolerance of cow milk—that arose and spread swiftly over the past 10,000 years, thanks to the ever larger numbers of breeding individuals. The relation between adult survivorship and the emergence of sophisticated new cultural traditions, starting with those of the Upper...
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