- ScienceNOW: “Evolutionary Sprint Made Us Human”
Evolutionists are fond of citing studies that indicate human/chimp DNA similarity of 98% or greater, and such citations have worked their way into popular culture, amounting in the eyes of most people as another piece of evidence in favor of evolution.
What seems to be less well known is that such estimates are inaccurate because they exclude other genomic differences. Elie Dolgin reports for ScienceNOW:
It’s often said that there’s only 1% to 2% difference between the genomes of chimps and humans, two species that had their most recent common ancestor about 5 million years ago. But that percentage refers to the nucleotide differences in shared genes.
A team at Indiana University–Bloomington took a “closer look” at gene duplication and loss in six mammalian genomes, a project that entailed looking at 120,000 genes in 10,000 gene families. They discovered that gene turnover is
faster in primates than in dogs or in rodents, and even faster in humans, who swapped genes 1.6 times faster than monkeys and 2.8 times quicker than nonprimates. Thanks to this rapid change, 6.4% of the 22,000-odd human genes aren’t present in chimps, making the gap between the two suddenly seem much wider.
The divergence includes a group of brain genes that “more than doubled in size in humans.”
For evolutionists, the discovery is interpreted as “providing fuel” for natural selection; after all, in the evolutionary framework, any difference between two genomes can only be explained by such forces as natural selection and genetic drift. If humans and chimps have similar genomes, it’s considered a signpost of our evolutionary lineage; if we have dissimilar genomes, an evolutionary mechanism is invoked to understand and interpret the dissimilarity. That’s how presuppositions work: by recasting and interpreting what we observe such that it fits with what we already believe. For creationists, this news fits perfectly with our understanding that chimps and humans are unique creations of God, not siblings with a few trivial genomic differences.
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