Human evolution – It was the cows wot done it!
As hunter/gatherers our diets were varied but dependent on the success of the hunt. We needed the protein from the meat but hunting was precarious and difficult. Life was hard and lived on the edge. There were times of famine.
Then we had the brainwave of farming. ‘Why go off hunting the buggers when we can capture a couple and breed ‘em up so that they’re easy to get and always available’, and ‘Why go out gathering the stuff when it’s hard to find and spread out? Why not sow some seeds and get it all to come up in one place and there’s lots of it?’
Intelligence is wonderful.
But even that did not solve our problems. The crops grew in season. There were gluts and shortages. Storage was hard. The pests took their share. There were still periods of starvation.
We had evolved to digest milk as babies but lost the ability in adulthood.
Natural selection weeded out the starving.
But now there was milk available and you could make butter, cheese and yoghourt if only it didn’t make you sick and you could digest it.
There was a mutation in a gene for lactose tolerance. It enabled adults to digest milk. The ones with the mutated gene had added nutrition through winter and their survival rates rocketed.
They were selected.
Nowadays we can see the prevalence of this gene. It is throughout populations in Europe and Asia.
It is an example of human evolution.
The Sci-fi novels assume the big evolutionary changes will be in intelligence. There is no reason why it should. It will only be beneficial if it gives a clear advantage. The most likely evolution in humans will be a mutation that affords resistance to a disease. Intelligence will count for nothing.
We owe our present success in temperate regions to cows and milk. It is the cows wot done it!