Wednesday, April 8, 2015

How the Dutch went from shortest to tallest in 200 years

Scimex: An international study has looked at how the Dutch were able to change from having one of the shortest populations, to currently being the tallest people on earth, over a 200 year period. The change was so quick, it was first assumed that it must be an environmental reason, but the study has raised the theory that it could also have been caused by natural selection. The Dutch are currently the tallest people on earth, but 200 years ago they were among the shortest. Such a substantial increase—a gain of 20 cm—over such a short period suggests an environmental cause. Yet, the height increase in the Netherlands is more pronounced than in other Western populations, raising the possibility that natural selection has also favoured taller stature. Across three decades, we found that taller men and average height women had more children than their shorter counterparts. Both natural selection and environmental conditions may help explain why the Dutch are so very tall.