by Erica Murphy, blogger
Do you ever wonder what humans looked like 300 years ago? In pictures and paintings, our settlers and founding fathers don’t really resemble our looks today. While many think this change of appearance is due to simple evolution, Robert W. Fogel thinks otherwise.
This Nobel Prize-winning economist has brought together a team of researchers to see what the size and shape of the human body say about economic and social changes in history. The New York Times reports that Fogel believes technology has sped human evolution during the past century.
At 84 years old, Fogel is about to launch one of the most groundbreaking theories in the development of humanity. In the report, Fogel credits this speed of evolution to advances in food production and public health. Fogel says in the New York Times article that people today stand apart not just from every other species, but from all previous generations of Homo sapiens as well.
For example, in 1850 the average adult male stood about 5 feet 7 inches and weighed about 146 pounds. He was only expected to live until about 45. In the 1980s, a typical man was about 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighed about 174 pounds. He was expected to live past 75 years old.
While data for growth, mortality, labor productivity, food and manufacturing standards was always available, no one had put it together the way Fogel has. Fogel has arranged masses of data into a simple argument: technology has superpowered evolution.