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Josh S
  • Josh S
  • Washington, MO
  • United States

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What is an example of a random genetic mutation in humans that has proven to be beneficial?

Well, basic natural selection states that random mutations, while usually negative, can sometimes be positive and will help the creature successfully reproduce. We atrribute this to how we ourselves became our species. We classify ourselves as animals, and genetically speaking, we still show many mutations, approximately ~2.5×10−8 mutations per base per generation. With approximately 100 billion humans ever having lived on earth, shouldn't we have seen or heard of at least 1 reported beneficial mutation?

Now of course it would be hard to document someone with a beneficial mutation 20,000 years ago, but what about in the past 500 years?

So have you ever heard of a positive mutation that has been seen in humans? If yes, what was it?

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutation_rate
http://www.prb.org/Articles/2002/HowManyPeopleHaveEverLivedonEarth.aspx

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    Oct 19 2012: If you are ever in DC, check out the Smithsonian's clothing collections and see how much taller we all are.

    The Netherlands has the biggest growth, having come from one of the shortest people to one of the tallest.

    Girls are entering puberty earlier.

    Apparently, genetic adaptation that allowed one to either get the plague or not get it has been documented.
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      Oct 19 2012: I think both of those examples are due to better nutrition and health care rather than genetics.
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        Gail . 50+

        • +2
        Oct 19 2012: Perhaps, but once the genetics change because of better nutrition, the genetics are changed. If a well-nourished mother causes the embryonic genes to recognize the abundance of nutrition, they can select for tallness based on availability of food. Once genes have selected for tallness, then the genes transmit tallness to future generations.

        Quote from "Scientific American": Peter M. Visscher of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Australia recently reported that the heritability of height is 80 percent, based on 3,375 pairs of Australian twins and siblings. This estimate is considered to be unbiased, as it was based on a large population of twins and siblings and a broad survey of genetic markers. In the U.S., the heritability of height was estimated as 80 percent for white men. These estimates are well supported by another study of 8,798 pairs of Finnish twins, in which the heritability was 78 percent for men and 75 percent for women. Other studies have shown height heritability among whites to be even higher than 80 percent.

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