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Thread: Effect of environment on DNA?

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    Effect of environment on DNA?

    It might be a silly question but I'll still ask. Assume that we took millions of Nigerians and made them settle in an isolated island in North Atlantic and assume that they all bred with themselves for millennia. In the end of those millennia, will their descendants' DNA ethnicity estimates be North-Atlantic-like?

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    99.999% no. Seals and fish don't have the same DNA, despite one being effectively a weasel that decided to jump in the water and act like a fish. Of course you might get a handful of mutations that pop up by random chance which happen to be the same and selected for because it was selected for in other people that have been hanging around the North Atlantic or similar environment for some time.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kale View Post
    99.999% no. Seals and fish don't have the same DNA, despite one being effectively a weasel that decided to jump in the water and act like a fish. Of course you might get a handful of mutations that pop up by random chance which happen to be the same and selected for because it was selected for in other people that have been hanging around the North Atlantic or similar environment for some time.
    What about their phenotype? Will they be lighter-skinned, narrower-nosed, etc.?

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    After long enough probably, search the term 'convergent evolution' for an explanation of such phenomena.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kale View Post
    After long enough probably, search the term 'convergent evolution' for an explanation of such phenomena.
    When we think of convergent evolution, we often think of the development of the same kind of physical feature(s) to deal with the same kind of problem.
    But life is much more creative.
    Living in high latitudes provides little sunlight for Vitamin D to be produced.
    In the west, lighter skins and hair may have let more light through to the skin.
    In the east, the EDAR suite of genes ended up with black hair and a different way of increasing Vitamin D at a critical stage in life when it might be most needed.

    Responses to animal milk being useful to consume in adulthood also led to different developments.
    Some people found it so helpful that certain gene mutations spread throughout the community.
    But in different parts of the world, different mutations accomplish the same task.
    Being humans, we also found that certain technologies could decrease the amount of a problematic ingredient in milk, but retain the calcium we were after.
    And some people just happened to come across some gut bacteria that did the work for them.
    In the last two cases, the solutions are not even genetic.

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    Depends on what you call millenia. If by millenia you mean 2000 years or something like that, definitely no. But if you mean 30.000 years or something like that then they would probably be very different from modern day Nigerians in DNA and physical features, it's just not certain that they would necessarily evolve features similar to modern NW European populations since these features are a product of adaptation of traits originally subject to pressure elsewhere (Steppes and Anatolia mostly) and combined in the North Atlantic. And you would need to make them artificially isolated from other populations and with no access to modern technology.

    The greatest changes in human biology in the next centuries will be triggered by technology and genomic manipulation. The modifications in human beings will accelerate faster and it's possible that most human ethnicities as we know now will become extint in the next 500 years. Possibly the future humanity will be able to manipulate the features of different persons in a more free way regardless of ethnic background.

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