Natural selection has left man less well-adjusted than he may think, according to scientists
Man's evolution from prehistoric primate to 21st century animal has left a trail of evolutionary glitches in its wake, according to scientists.
Impacted wisdom teeth, flat-footedness, bad backs and obesity are among the legacies that Charles Darwin omitted to warn us about during the rapid development of the species over the millennia, US researchers have revealed.
Natural selection has left modern man less well adjusted than he may think, said Professor Alan Mann, an anthropologist at Princeton Univeristy.
Speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences in Boston, Professor Mann revealed how impacted wisdom teeth were the price we pay for our increased intelligence.
For the past two million years, natural selection appears to have prioritised larger brain size. But while the size of our brains quadrupled over this period, our jaws became wider and shorter, resulting in the third molar often becoming buried in the gum.
And the high metabolisms required to support such big brains left us increasingly prone to obesity, said Professor Mann, with energy no longer consumed as hunter-gatherers foraging for food.
Foot pain, meanwhile, appears to be a side-effect of our transition from an ape's "grasping" feet - good for tree-climbing - to a flatter model more suited to our two-footed, perambulatory way of life.
Sprains, collapsed arches and Achilles tendinitis were all consequences of the foot's faulty evolutionary modification.
"Even the modern ostrich foot is better for pibedal walking," said Professor Jeremy DeSilva of Boston University.
Back pains and slipped discs are further drawbacks that resulted from our decision to stand up on our hind legs and adopt a two-footed gait, said Professor Mann, rather than a consequence of our increasingly sedentary lifestyles, as had been assumed.
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