Is evolution responsible for the loss of wisdom teeth?
Some people are born with widsom teeth and some are not; is this enough evidence to prove that this is due to evolution? An article written by geneticist Leremy Colf from Standard University discusses this issue. The question of evolution is proposed by a person who shares the absence of wisdom teeth with their father; however, their mother, brother and sister were all born with them. Colf states that in order for the absence of wisdom teeth to be the result of evolution three things must be true.
The first is that there must be two traits. We know this is true because some people are born with wisdom teeth and some are not, plain as that. Second, the trait must be due to DNA. Colf explains that this is not as simple to prove. This has yet to be proven among scientists; some believe poor diet and hygiene could be the cause. The linkage to DNA is crucial to whether or not this trait is due to evolution because the linkage to DNA allows the trait to be passed on to future generations.
Lastly, the frequency of the trait must increase over time. This is dependent upon whether or not the absence of wisdom teeth puts those indivuals without them at an advantage. We do not need our wisdom teeth to chew the types of food we eat today but it is not necessarily true that the people who do not have them are at an advantage. It is just more convenient to be born without the teeth; our jaws are smaller than they used to be and therefore there is less room for the wisdom teeth resulting in problems among those individuals who have them.
So, until all three of these factors are proven to be true, this question still remains unanswered.