Natural Selection and Random Variation in Human Evolution

  • Frank B. Livingstone


Ever since science or its predecessor, philosophy, have considered the problem of human variation, there have been two opposing explanations. One can be termed deterministic or causal in that it attempts to relate human variation to some environmental determinant. Today, this kind of interpretation would most likely fall under the rubric of natural selection or adaptation. The other explanation tends to be nondeterministic in the sense that it relies on historical factors or happenstance. Today, this alternative would be concerned with or based on some form of random genetic drift, but generally drift is used as a more sophisticated model to justify the old practice of taxonomy. Hence the old nonadaptive traits and survivals are now marker genes and neutral amino acid substitutions.


Cystic Fibrosis Sickle Cell Anemia Family Size Sickle Cell Gene Frequency 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frank B. Livingstone
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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