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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
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- Spring '12