Humans are continuing to evolve — in fact, they’re doing so at a faster rate than they have in at least 250 years.
That’s the conclusion of scientists in Australia who found that more and more people now have the median artery in their arms, and more people are now being born without wisdom teeth, among other findings.
The research was published last month in the Journal of Anatomy.
The once-rare median artery, long considered chiefly an “embryonic structure,” supplements the radial and ulnar arteries, increasing overall blood flow to the forearm and hand. Flinders University anatomy professor Teghan Lucas and University of Adelaide medical-sciences professors Maciej Henneberg and Jaliya Kumaratilake say their work shows that the median artery will be found in most humans by the end of the century.
In the video below, Lucas summarizes the research.
“Since the 18th century, anatomists have been studying the prevalence of this artery in adults, and our study shows it’s clearly increasing,” Lucas said in a statement via Flinders University in Adelaide. “The prevalence was around 10% in people born in the mid-1880s compared to 30% in those born in the late 20th century, so that’s a significant increase in a fairly short period of time, when it comes to evolution.”
The Journal of Anatomy study states that “people born 80 years from now will all carry a median artery if the trend continues. When the median artery prevalence reaches 50% or more, it should not be considered as a variant, but as a ‘normal’ human structure.”
The study also concludes that human faces are becoming shorter and jaws smaller, resulting in more people being born without wisdom teeth.
The research found other changes starting to occur in humans, including additional bones and bone connections in the legs and feet.
Lucas says such “microevolution” indicates that humans are evolving at “a faster rate than at any point in the past 250 years.”
— Douglas Perry