The ongoing research on human evolution is a fascinating and ever-changing field of science. Over the years, discoveries shed light on our ancestors and how they lived. Evolutionary history is full of fascinating insights from the earliest hominids to the first modern humans.One of the recent findings has been that of the homoNaledi, a new hominid species found in a cave in South Africa. The finding has helped fill some gaps in understanding human evolution. The newly discovered species seems to have lived between two and three million years ago.Some believe they were the first hominids to use fire and make tools. The deeper one digs into human evolution, the more inviting discoveries they may get to lap up.
The existence of homo sapiens
Humans have inhabited Earth for thousands of years. According to MyBioSource, the first homo sapiens likely appeared nearly 200,000 years back and, since then, have undergone constant changes. Modern humans have spread across the globe, invented new technologies, created rich cultures, and evolved physically and mentally. Despite the long history, humans can be a relatively young species, though. If you compare their existence against the billions of years that the universe has existed, or even the 4.5 billion years that this planet has been around, the history of human origincan feel relatively younger. Still, in that short span, humans have managed to accomplish a great deal.
If you wonder about their settlements, the estimates suggest that modern humans occupied Australia about 60,000 years back and the Americas about 13,000 years from now.
The process of human evolution
It has been a prolonged and incremental process that caused the development of the modern human species. The first step in this process was the departure of the human species from that of the apes. Again, the study of genesin apes and humans shows that this split may have occurred between 5 and 7 million years ago. It also opened the way for the emergence of homo Erectus, the first human ancestor to walk upright. Homo erectus then gave rise to homo sapiens, the first modern humans, between 300,000 and 200,000 years ago. Between the journey from homo erectus to homo sapiens, there have been H.antecessor, H.Heidelbergensis, Neanderthals, and Denisovans.
Overall, the human species have undergone several evolutionary changes, resulting in the diversity of humanity we see today.
Human evolution and COVID-19
Genetics expert Sharon Moalem believes that COVID-19 has shown the mirror that the real threats to humans are not climate change or asteroids but something else that is lurking. According to him, urban societies packed with people increase the possibility of human contact, which makes it easier for a pandemic to happen. He also revealed that the virus is hazardous across different age groups, including 30 to 50 years older. However, it will not cause many deaths because it needs a host to survive. However, being able to avoid it for hundred years indicates that human immunity has become resilient.
Moalem also cited that the virus is spreading through kids because the microorganism knows how to use them. But the underdeveloped immunity and immaturity help protect kids against the risk of Cytokine release. A high Cytokine production rate tends to increase white blood cell counts. Nevertheless, kids have a longer life, so the virus has found a long-term host in them.
The acclaimed researcher also informs us that COVID-19 traces will likely be present in us for the rest of our life. Like other diseases, coronavirus illness can also change our genetics and evolution. Viral pandemics affect growth in two distinct manners – 1) causing widespread deaths and 2) modifying the genetic code. The survivors tend to transfer their genes to their kids. If you study the human genome, you will discover that about 8% of this contains traces of older viruses. They spread and entered human cells, leaving their genetic payload behind. Suppose you are unsure of what genetic payload means. In that case, it refers to the DNA or RNA sequence carried by viruses and other contagious microorganisms into a host, leading to health challenges and risks. Instead of payload, one can also use the term DNA or RNA.
Some reports suggest that infected COVID-19 patients had virus remnants in their testicles. It hints at the possibility of passing it down to their children. There is also a chance that modified genetic code can also create new traits. One might decode why some individuals are more vulnerable to the virus when it occurs. However, one has to wait for it to develop until then.
It is still an early stage to conclude anything. More research works may help determine what will happen and how. Yet, one thing is clear some invisible agents like virus and bacteria can change everything, no matter how evolved humans become down the road. Hence, preparedness plays a critical role.