I can’t run into an article about evolution that doesn’t contemplate the question: are we still evolving, and if so, where to?
Frankly, it seems like there’s some X-Men like desire in a lot of people to eventually evolve into cooler, superhuman beings. Not that I’d mind that (since I already can fly and sprout coca-cola from my fingertips) we eventually gain more adaptations, but the word “adaptation” itself makes me throttle down a bit.
Wait a minute, adaptations, adaptations to what?
If anything, it’s more likely that in some populations (in the Western world, ceteris paribus), certain physical traits would devolve, rather than evolve.
I think it’s safe to say that almost 100% of our physical adaptations are adaptations to running around, almost naked, in the Savannah, chasing wild animals, picking berries, and running like hell from tigers.
That said – we don’t really need most of that stuff. When I’m hungry, I go to the fridge. I don’t need to co-operate with my peers in hunting groups, I just send them an e-mail and we have coffee together. (Obviously a silly example, but it serves as some filler to denote the fact that the modern era allows humanity to survive well and safely without a lot of the adaptations nature has endowed us with)
In short – a certain law in evolution states that useless traits tend to devolve and diminish (a la eyes in cave fish).
Well, don’t start writing goodbye notes to your pinkies and robust physique just yet -lacking selective pressure in human beings doesn’t obstruct their freedom to choose which adaptations to keep and maintain, and which to enhance and cultivate. That said – we could, in theory, “artificially breed” ourselves into bigger, smarter human beings. (I’m not a eugenicist, I’m just betting that the competetive spirit in nature, and in humans in particular, would probably create such selective pressure. That isn’t eugenics, that’s just natural selection. )
Somehow, this to me sounds more likely – a lot more likely than us developing an insanely convoluted new trait – although I’m sure that if some variant of Homo sapiens somehow develops the ability to fly or see in the dark, I’m sure his genes would spread rather fast. Don’t stay up all night for that to happen, though.