Monday, September 25, 2006

Incredible Giant Humans

Not sure how interesting this is, but I just read in a book (Eric Hobsbawm The Age of Revolutions) that the average British male in 1800 was about five-feet tall. It's interesting to me, since the average Brit male today is about five ft. seven inches tall. Seemingly, the deciding factor for this evolution would be nutrition. People eat meat much more frequently than they did in 1800, and more red meat. I'm just trying to understand how this would work, since height tends to be passed along to one's offspring. Does the diet play a role in how the genetic disposition for height manifests itself? Are some people predisposed to be tall, but if they eat a shoddy diet, they don't get the protein to become tall. Because, I can't imagine that what has happened is what Darwin called 'sexual selection'. It's not as if shorter men have been unable to breed, or got killed off due to scarce resources! So, I think we see here that the physical attributes of the species evolve due to environmental factors, right? But, isn't this a bit more Lamarckian than Darwinian? I could be wrong. I am a history major, after all! Any bio people read this?

2 comments:

The Pagan Temple said...

I hadn't heard of this, but it does seem to tie in with what I've heard about people in North Korea being smaller and shorter because of poor nutrition. It could be there are so many genetic facotrs in any one person, due to the fact that you have had ancestors, some of whom were fat, skinny, tall, short, etc. It could be that a persons long term diet might key in to the genetic code you have that is most in fitting with that diet, therefore causing it to become predominant.

Fits said...

"Nobles" of all cultures were as tall as we are today. The Romans left much evidence about for example, the minimum height for a legonairre, which was 6' tall.Better nutrition did mean larger people but throughout history there have been people with access to good eats and for the most part we're no taller than they were.