The human superorganism is less than it’s ever been. Examinations of ancient coprolites and dental remains have revealed that ancient humans harbored a much greater diversity of both micro and macro-organisms than modern, industrialized people. The same can be said for contemporary hunter-gatherers and non-westernized traditional people, in particular uncontacted Yanomami Amerindians, who were shown in a 2015 study to harbor the greatest diversity of bacteria and genetic functions ever reported in a human group. We humans have co-evolved with various worms and microorganisms. We’ve come to depend on our tiny partners in order to keep our bodies running smoothly. Hence, perhaps needless to say, the loss of biodiversity from the human superorganism has profound implications for our health and well-being.
Pic: Yanomami girl. Source.
Charles Robert Darwin’s wife Emma was a very religious woman. Charles, on the other hand, became increasingly more skeptical of Christianity and religion as he became older and promoted, via his scientific writings, ideas about the origins of man and the natural world that clashed with those of the Church. Emma never fully embraced the evolutionary ideas of her husband. She was afraid that she and Charles would be separated by their conflicting beliefs and that Charles would be punished for his lack of faith. This was likely one of the reasons why Charles hesitated to publish some of his most controversial ideas. He cared greatly for his wife, valued her opinions, and didn’t want to cause her distress.
In industrialized nations such as the U.S. and Sweden, the skin condition acne vulgaris is so common – it afflicts almost all teenagers, as well as many adults – that it’s often considered to be an unavoidable part of human life. Among non-westernized, traditional people such as the Kitavans and the Aché hunter-gatherers, however, acne is a very rare disorder. This clearly suggests that acne vulgaris is a disease of civilization that develops as a result of gene-environment conflicts.
Pic: Kitava girl. Taken by Staffan Lindeberg