New genetic study suggests that the offspring of genetically diverse parents are taller and smarter than the children who got their genes from parents belonging to an homogeneous gene pool.
The research confirms past studies that had shown height and IQ tend to increase as people tend to marry people living in distant parts of our planet. The recent research analyzed medical records and genetic background of more than 350,000 people living on four continents.
Study authors found that children who had parents that were distantly related were taller, scored better on IQ tests, and were more likely to attend college later in life. On the other hand, no correlation between genetic diversity and cardiovascular health was found.
Dr. Nathan Richardson at the Medical Research Council who sponsored the study said that other studies had shown that genetic diversity plays a major role in many aspects of a person’s life but none found a link between height and a diverse gene pool.
The new study was published in the journal Nature. During their research, study authors compared the genes of the study participants whose ancestors were related with those from participants who had genetically diverse ancestors. Genetic diversity influenced only four traits of 16 – height, well off, lung capacity and IQ.
Jim Wilson of the University of Edinburgh’s Reader in Population and Disease Genetics and co-author of the genetic study suggests that outbreeding can greatly benefit human species. In the light of survival of the fittest theory, a human ancestor that was smarter than his peers had increased chances of finding food and a better mate and was better off in terms of survival.
The recent genetic study may also help researchers unlock the inner resorts of the ‘Flynn Effect’ which was first documented last century by Dr. James R. Flynn. Dr. Flynn observed that we are outsmarting our parents with each passing generation. The first time the effect was documented was in the 1930s.
Previous research tried to explain the Flynn effect through advances in scientific research, improved nutrition, better educational opportunities and increased access to knowledge that skyrocketed over the course of the last century and genetic selection. But the latter is less likely because the effect evolved way too rapidly for it.
“The increases in intelligence [from the Flynn Effect] are too big to be explained by our results alone, but they might be a contributor,”
The results of the study were published this week in the journal Nature.
Image Source: Contemporary Families