A research paper recently published in the Journal of Anatomy claims that humans are evolving at a faster rate in that more are being born with a median artery in their limbs instead of it degenerating before birth, and fewer people have wisdom teeth. A Christian apologist organization says that such does not prove evolution but simply the variability among human beings.
“A lot of people think that humans have evolved [and] that we’ve stopped evolving. But our study has shown that humans are still evolving today,” Dr. Teghan Lucas of the College of Medicine and Public Health at Flinders University in Australia said in a video posted to YouTube.
She pointed to the median artery as an example of “microevolution of modern humans.” The artery, which supplies blood to the forearm and hand, forms in the early stages of human development and then normally disappears by the eighth week of the first trimester once the radial and ulnar arteries are formed.
Lucas, along with Professor Maciej Henneberg from the Institute of Evolutionary Medicine at the University of Zurich, Switzerland and Dr. Jaliya Kumaratilake, senior lecturer at the University of Adelaide, found that, since the 19th century, an increasing number of people still have the median artery in their adulthood.
They drew the conclusion from analyzing data and dissecting donated Australian cadavers.
“Since the 18th century, anatomists have been studying the prevalence of this artery in adults and our study shows it’s clearly increasing. The prevalence was around 10% in people born in the mid-1880s compared to 30% in those born in the late 20th century, so that’s a significant increase in a fairly short period of time, when it comes to evolution,” Lucas said in a blog post from Flinders University.
Lucas stated that the presence of the artery could have occurred because of “mutations of genes involved in median artery development or health problems in mothers during pregnancy, or both actually.”
However, she and the others concluded that “[i]f this trend continues, a majority of people will have median artery of the forearm by 2100.”
In the video released by the three, Lucas also talked about how more people are purportedly being born without wisdom teeth.
“[A]s our faces are becoming a lot shorter, we don’t have as much room for our teeth. And this is happening over time because we’ve learned to use fire, we’ve learned to process our food a lot more, so a lot of people are just born without their wisdom teeth,” she claimed.
Her view is a common one among evolutionists and has been stated for quite some time, such as published in Prevention magazine in 1991, “[O]ur ancestors had larger jaws, so there was room in the human mouth for 32 permanent teeth, including third molars — wisdom teeth. But now our jaws are smaller. The result: There’s no longer room in most of our mouths to house 32 teeth. So the last teeth we develop — our wisdom teeth — often become impacted, or blocked from erupting.”
Lucas also stated that a greater number of people are being born with extra joints in their feet as part of the evolutionary process of modern humans.
However, Dr. David Menton of Answers in Genesis, who formerly served as a award-winning professor at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri for 34 years, says that the find does not show evolution at all but simply variability in human beings.
“[T]he failure of the median artery to degenerate in a small percentage of humans tells us nothing about the evolution of the median artery,” he wrote in an article for the ministry.
“Anyone who has been involved in the dissection of numerous human cadavers is well aware that no two human bodies are identical. Blood vessels in particular (and especially veins) can be highly variable from individual to individual,” Menton stated.
He noted that, for some people, their kidneys may have more than one renal artery attaching the organ to their abdominal aorta.
“[U]sually the human kidney has one short renal artery attached to the abdominal aorta, but there can be several such arteries attached along the length of the abdominal aorta,” Menton explained. “The kidney itself may be located in its normal position just under the ribs on each side of the vertebral column, or it can on occasion be located down in the pelvis on either one or both sides.”
“This tells us something about embryology but nothing about evolution,” he said.
Although then speaking solely about impaction, Answers in Genesis had previously published an article on wisdom teeth in 2018, similarly stating that while diet does affect one’s teeth, it does not point to evolution. It noted that the matter is simply reflective of the negative impact of processed food in today’s society.
“[S]tudies on Australian aboriginal people groups with processed and non-processed food sources found that, in those individuals taking in the non-processed food, the resulting heavy attrition and masticatory forces may be able to alleviate third molar impaction,” wrote James Trexel, a former researcher at Blum Laboratory at the University of Nebraska and currently a dentist at Geneva Family Dentistry.
“So we can see that humans, when utilizing nonmodern nutrition, generally have good use of their wisdom teeth and avoid many of the problems that plague the partakers of a soft, modern diet.”
He said that the dental system, as intended by the creation of God, is “designed to endure heavy use with the most abrasive of foods, which a God full of love, foresight, and careful provision for his creatures would have logically incorporated into their design. … That impaction/disorders are increasingly frequent in today’s world implies nothing about the supposed evolution of humans from primates or a supposed poor design.”