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December 29 2012

An Evolutionary Whodunit: How Did Humans Develop Lactose Tolerance?


Got milk? Ancient European farmers who made cheese thousands of years ago certainly had it. But at that time, they lacked a genetic mutation that would have allowed them to digest raw milk's dominant sugar, lactose, after childhood.

Today, however, 35 percent of the global population mostly people with European ancestry can digest lactose in adulthood without a hitch.

So, how did we transition from milk-a-phobics to milkaholics? "The first and most correct answer is, we don't know," says Mark Thomas, an evolutionary geneticist at University College London in the U.K.

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