Longevity

Longevity Briefs: Presence of a foetal artery in adulthood: possible proof of human continued evolution?

Posted on 9 October 2020

Longevity briefs provides a short summary of a novel research, medicine, or technology that caught the attention of our researchers in Oxford, due to its potential to improve our health, wellbeing, and longevity.

Why is this research important: The median artery of the human forearm has been described as a foetal vessel, which usually disappears as the pregnancy progresses. Interestingly appearance of this artery in adults have been reported since the 18th century and perhaps there is more to this phenomena, than a simple developmental feature?

What did the researchers do: In this article, researches have dissected upper limbs of 78 cadavers of Australian origins, that have died in the period 2015-2016 between the ages 51 and 101. They also conducted a comprehensive literature review of studies since the 18th century to estimate the presence of the median artery in adults, excluding biased and faulty studies.

Key takeaway(s) from this research: It was discovered that 33.3% of cadavers that died in between 2015 and 2016 have median artery. Analysis of the literature showed that the presence of the median artery increased over time from 10% in people born in mid-1880 to approximately 30% by the end of the 20th century. The increase was statistically significant. Despite limitations, this study suggests the possibility of ‘microevolution’ where there was a natural selection favouring the presence of median artery in adulthood. This also provides some answers to the question of whether people have continued to evolve and it would interesting to conduct genetic studies to further test the hypothesis.


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