Scientists say humans are still evolving faster than ever after discovering an increase in the prevalence of a forearm artery, which usually disappears in babies after birth since the 1800s.

A new study suggests humans are evolving "at a faster rate than at any point in the past 250 years".

The median artery begins to disappear around eight weeks after birth, and two other arteries form in its place – but there has been an increase of cases with all three.

In the 1880s, the prevalence of the artery began in about 10% of the population, but by the 20th century, the cases increased to 30%.

An investigation by Dr Teghan Lucas at Flinders University and Professor Maciej Henneberg and Dr Jaliya Kumaratilake at the University of Adelaide published in the Journal of Anatomy which has discovered the vessel is present in 35% of people.

Artery
Humans are evolving to grow a new artery, a study has found

Dr Teghan Lucas said: "Since the 18 th century, anatomists have been studying the prevalence of this artery in adults and our study shows it’s clearly increasing.

"The prevalence was around 10% in people born in the mid-1880s compared to 30% in those born in the late 20 th century, so that’s a significant increase in a fairly short period of time when it comes to evolution."

Human anatomy
Humans are evolving at the fastest rate in 250 years

This artery is formed when a baby is in the mother's womb – it is the main vessel that supplies blood to the foetus' forearm and hand.

However, it disappears when two arteries form instead.

In theory, the team believes those born 80 years from now will carry a median artery through evolution.

Senior author Professor Maciej Henneberg, of the University of Adelaide, said: "The median artery is a perfect example of how we are still evolving because people born more recently have a higher prevalence of this artery when compared to humans from previous generations.

"We’ve collected all the data published in anatomical literature and continued to dissect cadavers donated for studies in Adelaide.

"We found about one-third of Australians have the median artery in their forearm and everyone will have it by the end of the century if this process continues."