How Similar is Our DNA?

Hall of Life—Human Exhibits

on July 4, 2016

Some newer museum exhibits have begun to cite genetic “evidence” that humans and chimps are related. Molecular geneticist Dr. Georgia Purdom discusses the alleged DNA similarities:

When studying the human genome and its similarity to that of the chimp, scientists have recently concluded that 96% of our genome is similar. However, most people are unaware that this percent pertains to the regions of our DNA that result in proteins. It seems logical that if a protein performs a certain function in one organism, then that same protein should perform the same function in a variety of organisms. This is evidence for a common designer as much as for a common ancestor.

But most of the DNA sequence performs an unknown function and has been largely dismissed as “junk DNA.” However, increasing evidence supports the view that “junk” DNA performs an important role. For example, a recent report unexpectedly found specific sequence patterns in “junk” DNA which scientists have termed “pyknons.” It has been suggested that these pyknons may be important in determining when and where proteins are made.

Within this “junk DNA” there may be large differences between man and chimp. The areas of greatest difference appear to involve regions which are structurally different (commonly called “rearrangements”) and areas of heterochromatin (tightly packed DNA).

She adds the following points:

  • The chimp genome is 12% larger than the human genome.
  • Several hundred million bases (individual components of the DNA) of the chimp genome are still unanalyzed.
  • In many areas of the genome, major “rearrangements” of DNA sequences seem apparent, accounting for another 4–10% dissimilarity.
  • Chimps have 23 chromosome pairs and humans have 22 chromosome pairs (excluding sex chromosomes for both species).

(Georgia Purdom, “If human and chimp DNA are so similar, why are there so many physical and mental differences between them?” online at

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