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Human brain still evolving, gene-tracking study suggests - Most significant changes may have arisen at points of great cultural achievement

WASHINGTON - The human brain may still be evolving.

So suggests new research that tracked changes in two genes thought to help regulate brain growth, changes that appeared well after the rise of modern humans 200,000 years ago.

That the defining feature of humans -- our large brains -- continued to evolve as recently as 5,800 years ago, and may be doing so today, promises to surprise the average person, if not biologists.

"We, including scientists, have considered ourselves as sort of the pinnacle of evolution," noted lead researcher Bruce Lahn, a University of Chicago geneticist whose studies appear in today's edition of the journal Science.

"There's a sense we as humans have kind of peaked," agreed Greg Wray, director of Duke University's Center for Evolutionary Genomics. "A different way to look at is it's almost impossible for evolution not to happen."

They must have missed the memo that there is not evolution. :-)

by Fran on Sat Sep 10th, 2005 at 12:57:46 AM EST

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