Santiago island

People in Cape Verde evolved better malaria resistance in 550 years

The human population of Santiago Island is evolving rapidly

Peter Adams/Getty Images

Yes, we are still evolving. And one of the strongest examples of recent evolution in people has been found on the Cape Verde islands in the Atlantic, where a gene variant conferring a form of malaria resistance has become more common.

Portuguese voyagers settled the uninhabited islands in 1462, bringing slaves from Africa with them. Most of the archipelago’s half a million inhabitants are descended from these peoples.

Most people of West African origin have a variant in a gene called DARC that protects against …