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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: Casey is right, we are in fact a string of beneficial genetic mutations, so there are litelally billions of such mutations along the histroy of humans forming. It is how we formed.But if we were to exemplify some that took place recently, as in after we became what we are today, here is a cool one:

    During the black plague, there was subset of the population that presented a genetic mutation that rendered their T cells immune to the plague because they lack the gateway that permits the plague to invade the cell. So basically they can be injected with live culture and the plague will simply die inside them, because it cannot attack the very specic cells it attacks in general population. Interestingly enough, because the plague attacks the same cells as HIV does, these people and their descendents who were lucky enough to inherit the mutation are also immune to HIV. They will never get it, even if they are injected directly with a high dose of the the virus.
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      Josh S

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      Oct 19 2012: Thank you! that was a great example that i was looking for!

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