Is that a lot of stuff gets dragged along for the ride whether we want it to or not. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal discusses the problems of modernity are often due to traits that were highly beneficial when we were nomadic mastodon hunters. Our environment changed without requiring our bodies to do so:

[For example] the human mouth has also evolved unevenly. Teeth shrank considerably as agriculture changed our ancestors’ diets from mostly meat and plants to mostly carbohydrates. The human jaw shrank even faster, making wisdom teeth largely useless and creating the overcrowding that people face today.

Why haven’t years of evolution corrected these quirks? “Many features of our anatomy operate ‘under the radar’ of natural selection,” says Dr. Held. That is, they generally aren’t problematic enough to affect people’s survival before they reach reproductive age, so they keep getting passed on. Some experts think that wisdom teeth and the appendix may be slowly on their way out—some people are already born without them—since they do sometimes cause life-threatening infections.

And yet we treat many of these complications routinely, removing wisdom teeth and appendixes that show signs of causing trouble. So is that an enhancement or therapeutic?

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