Here's Why the Dutch Are So Tall

A new study shows natural selection is alive and well in the Netherlands

By Erin Blakemore
April 10, 2015

If you associate canals, tulips and tall people with the Netherlands, you’re not alone. Now, scientists have figured out a new reason for the height of the Dutch - and it has to do with natural selection. 

Scientists have long been fascinated by the sheer tallness of the Dutch, who gained over eight inches in height over the past century and a half. In their search for the secret of that impressive stature, they’ve floated many theories: environmental causes, perhaps, or economics. But a new study suggests that evolution made the Dutch taller than the rest of us.

When a group of behavioral biologists looked at a database of nearly 100,000 Dutch people, they decided to focus on people over the age of 45 who were born (or grown) in the Netherlands to Dutch parents. The sample that remained (about 42,000 people) shared a surprising characteristic: more children per taller man. And taller men were less likely to be childless or single.

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