10,000 years ago something funny began to happen within the human genome. We didn’t know it at the time, but minute changes that would haunt every generation to come were slowly and imperceptibly unfolding inside each and every one of our ancestors.
Almost like flipping a switch, what had once been a steady rate of mutation suddenly increased, and “the pace of change accelerated to 10 to 100 times the average long-term rate.” These changes were driven at least in part by the development of agriculture, the domestication of both plants and animals. Some human guts retained the ability to digest lactose as adults, others adapted to deal with a grain-heavy diet. Although agriculture wasn’t the only factor and there were certainly other forces at play, we do know, without question, that 10,000 years ago mutations in our genome began to accumulate at a pace never before seen in human prehistory.
Life as we’d known it would never be the same.
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