Oregon State University News and Communications
CORVALLIS, Ore. – In research that will help address a long-running debate and apparent contradiction between short- and long-term evolutionary change, scientists have discovered that although evolution is a constant and sometimes rapid process, the changes that hit and stick tend to take a long time.
Give or take a little, one million years seems to be the magic number.
A new study, published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, combined for the first time data from short periods such as 10-100 years with much longer evidence found in the fossil record over millions of years.
It determined that rapid changes in local populations often don’t continue, stand the test of time or spread through a species.
In other words, just because humans are two or three inches taller now than they were 200 years ago, it doesn’t mean that process will continue and we’ll be two or three feet taller in 2,000 years. Or even as tall in one million years as we are now.