Dairying and the evolution and consequences of lactase persistence in humans
Credit: Animal Frontiers
Publisher: American Society of Animal Science
Rights: Name must appear as a credit whenever the image is used- Animal Frontiers, Volume 13, Issue 3, June 2023, Pages 5-6, https://doi.org/10.1093/af/vfad043
Description: Relationship between patterns of dairy production and lactase persistence in humans. Lactase, the enzyme for digesting lactose in milk, is produced in infants but not in most human adults. However, approximately 5,000 years ago genetic changes to allow lactase persistence developed in many regions of the world where dairy products were an important supplement to other food sources. Lactase persistence allows more adults to consume dairy (especially raw milk) Stock and Wells (2023). Beyond calories, dairy intake may have accelerated development and increased growth, enabling earlier reproduction, and wider birth canals in women (and therefore better chances at individual and population survival).