A team from Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Stanford University have been busy scanning human and animal genomes to find out what makes us different—genetically, that is. Recently, the team located 510 genetic segments that are found in chimps and other animals but are missing from humans.
Interestingly, only one of the 510 missing segments disrupts a gene; 509 of the discrepancies are in the gene-regulating sequences surrounding the actual protein-coding genes. The researchers believe the missing sequences can account for much of what makes humans unique, such as our larger brains. For example, many of the missing sequences were clustered around the genes that help control neural development.
The team also experimented on mice to further understand the consequences of the missing genes; one of the stranger results of the differences is that humans lack sensory whiskers.
Mutations leading to information loss are not incompatible with young-earth creation, and it is theoretically possible some of the smaller differences could have arisen naturally.
Although the scientists are cautious, pointing out that there is still much work to be done to more fully understand what makes us human, they believe the results are a start. Of course, the idea that the gene sequences have gone “missing” is an evolutionary artifact. Instead, it seems more reasonable that the differences are the result of God’s unique creation of humans in His image (Genesis 1:27); however, mutations leading to information loss are not incompatible with young-earth creation, and it is theoretically possible some of the smaller differences could have arisen naturally.
Also of note is that a press release for the news states that we share 96 percent of our DNA with chimpanzees, while a news release on a related topic puts the figure at 98.7 percent; for more on this debate, see Greater than 98% Chimp/human DNA similarity? Not any more.
For more information:
- Get Answers: Genetics
- If Human and Chimp DNA Are So Similar, Why Are There So Many Physical and Mental Differences Between Them?
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