‘Mixed-race relationships are making us taller, smarter’
AS the world becomes more connected and cultures merge researchers are starting to see how this is playing a role in our evolution.
A study has found humans today are taller and more intelligent than their ancestors, and the cause has been linked to the rise in more genetically diverse populations.
And those born to parents from different races and cultures also tend to have higher levels of education.
The study is published in the journal Nature and was funded by the Medical Research Council.
Researchers from the University of Edinburgh analysed health and genetic information from more than 100 studies carried out around the world.
These included details on more than 350,000 people from urban and rural communities.
They pinpointed instances in which people had inherited identical copies of genes from both their mother and their father – an indicator their ancestors were related.
ONE IN 10 COUPLES MIXED RACE
Nearly one in 10 couples are now ethnically mixed, according to recent research. It found there are 2.3 million people living as part of a mixed couple in the United Kingdom (UK) and their numbers have gone up by more than a third in a decade.
The report also found that 833,000 children, some seven per cent of those under 16 or still at school in England and Wales, are being brought up in a home led by an ethnically-mixed couple.
The count of ethnically mixed couples was taken from the 2011 national census results. The most likely people to be living in a mixed relationship are those whose parents were ethnically mixed themselves, the report said.
The figures on inter-ethnic relationships were compiled by the Office for National Statistics.
Where few instances of this occur in a person’s genes, it indicated greater genetic diversity in their heritage and the two sides of their family are unlikely to be distantly related.
It had been thought that close family ties would raise a person’s risk of complex diseases but the researchers found this not to be the case.
The only traits they found to be affected by genetic diversity are height and the ability to think quickly.
The team found that greater genetic diversity is linked to increased height. It is also associated with better cognitive skills, as well as higher levels of education.
However, genetic diversity had no effect on factors such as high blood pressure or cholesterol levels, which affect a person’s chances of developing heart disease, diabetes and other complex conditions.
The findings suggest that over time, evolution is favouring people with increased stature and sharper thinking skills but does not impact on their propensity for developing a serious illness.
Dr. Jim Wilson, of the University of Edinburgh’s Usher Institute, said: “This study highlights the power of large-scale genetic analyses to uncover fundamental information about our evolutionary history.”
“Our research answers questions first posed by Darwin as to the benefits of genetic diversity,” Dr. Peter Joshi, of the University of Edinburgh’s Usher Institute added.
“Our next step will be to hone in on the specific parts of the genome that most benefit from diversity.”
*Culled from dailymailonlineUK
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