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Natural Selection Causes Drop in Human ‘Education Gene’ Over the Years

Jan 19, 2017 11:38 AM EST

Natural selection is working against humankind this time. A new study conducted by deCODE and published online in Proceedings of the National Academy of the United States of America (PNAS) revealed that genes that predispose people to study more are steadily decreasing over time.

According to an official release from deCODE, the study used data from over 100,000 people in Iceland from 1910 to 1975 and discovered that those who carry the sequence variations in genes linked to higher levels of education have fewer children. This means that these genes are becoming rarer over time and the number of people who carry them are consistently decreasing.

To put it simply, the "smartest" are reproducing less, so this so-called "education gene" is getting passed down to fewer and fewer people.

Furthermore, a report from The Guardian revealed that these new findings also correspond to the IQ decline of 0.04 points per decade. While the number may seem miniscule, over a longer period of time, this decline could be more pronounced and could affect the species more significantly.

Of course, it takes more than just genetics to determine the intelligence levels of people. Environmental factors and education play important roles in the development of the human mind, so there are ways to combat the apparent negative selection that is in play.

"In spite of the negative selection against these sequence variations, education levels have been increasing for decades," co-author of the study and CEO of deCODE Kari Stefansson pointed out in the deCODE report.

Stefansson added that educational level of the society could improve by making the betterment of the quality and availability of educational opportunities. 

"Time will tell whether the decline of the genetic propensity for education will have a notable impact on human society," Stefansson concluded. 

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