It's easy to think humans have stopped evolving, but nothing could be farther from the truth. In the last few thousand years, in fact, a time when human evolution was once thought to have slowed, it may actually have sped up.
Charles Darwin, born on this day in 1809, might have been pleasantly surprised.
At least at first, the father of evolution -- pictured at right in the later stages of Wired's Darwin photoshop tennis contest -- didn't talk much about the human implications of his theory. "Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history," wrote Darwin in 1859's On the Origin of Species, leaving it to scientists like Thomas Huxley to make the full and then-controversial case for humanity's origins in a common ancestor with apes.
Only with The Descent of Man, published in 1871 for audiences that had finally wrapped their heads around evolution itself, did Darwin tackle its existence in humans. Though much of the book focused on the importance of mate preferences to shaping traits, he speculated in one section that humankind's altruistic tendencies may have changed our evolutionary trajectory, giving people who would once have died a chance to reproduce.
This type of reasoning would lead to a widely held view that human evolution had slowed or even stopped, but research over the last several decades, and in particular the last few years, has led to a very different view.
Human evolution is still going strong.