Friday, March 4, 2011

Human DNA similarities to chimps and bananas, what does it mean?

When I was a child I remember hearing humans came from monkeys.  I asked myself, "Then why are monkeys still around?" A valid question.  The problem with the initial statement though is that we did not come from monkeys, but rather we share a common ancestor.  When it comes to common ancestors and evolution, genetic sequencing has provided a great understanding.

I'm sure you've heard it before; humans and chimpanzees are about 98.8% similar.  What does that really mean though? This number refers to comparing single nucleotide changes in the DNA, or changes in the sequence of the A,C,G,T code.

Comparing genetic duplications in genes, the number lowers to 96%.  What's a duplication? As Even Eichler of University of Washington says, if we consider the genetic code as a book, entire pages will be repeated in one species but not the other.  So conservatively, we are 96% alike with out closest cousin.  Here's some other common animals and our genetic similarites (these numbers are consistent across all reliable sources):

Cat: 90%
Cow: 80%
Mouse: 75%
Fruit Fly: 60%
Banana: 50%


 Interesting to look at.  What I find most fascinating is the 50% match to bananas! Animal and plant life share so much ancient DNA coding from way back when plant and animal life diverged approximately 1.5 billion years ago.

The sequencing technology allowing for genetic comparison has been huge for anthropologists and evolutionary biologists.  Anthropologists have used comparisons of genes between humans and our closest cousins to better understand when and how genetic variations occurred.  Evolution was already well established before this technology existed with fossil records, embryology, comparisons of skeletal systems, study of vestigal appendages, and finally the understanding of the driver of evolution: natural selection.  Genetic sequencing confirmed our understanding of species divergence and evolution, and also allowed scientists to better understand and build the the fascinating "tree of life."

60 comments:

  1. The banana thing is interesting, but for me the fruit fly thing even more so. I don't know if you remember the 2008 presidential election, but Sarah Palin got caught making a big deal over the federal government funding fruit fly research (her point was that big government had gotten too big and was bordering on the absurd). Others followed up with the point, however, that what was funded was actually genetic research on fruit flies, which was intended to benefit people who were born with genetic anomalies. Like Down's Syndrome, which Palin's son has.

    It's a political stretch on both sides, these arguments, but pretty fascinating to see how it all plays out. Would have been even more interesting if she had picked on banana research!

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    1. Yes, but spending will happen in the private sector if the government isn't there and the private sector will be much more flexible, moving with the development of the technology than the government can possibly be. I've worked in both sectors and have see it first hand. Also no one knows the future, so investing everyone's wealth in a few government mega-progams run counter to the need for diverse investment that the private sector does give in a real free market (which we don't have). Check out http://mises.org Also look up Stefan Molyneux on youtube and freedomainradio

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    2. I know this is more than a year after you'd posted this, but I hope you'll bear with me.

      While the private sector is necessarily more flexible and efficient, there is no guarantee that the private sector will ever enter, sustain or complete fruit fly genetic research to better understand human genetic anomalies.

      It needs a motivation, particularly one that provides a profit, to warrant any useful expectation of the private sector.

      We need a private sector to do the things government can't: Be creative, fluid, create and distribute fantastic new products and services at reasonable prices and go where no man had thought to go.

      And we need a government to do the things the private sector can't: be rooted, diligent, sit still and ensure that contracts are met without the prospect of unmitigated violence and stay where no man is willing to stay.

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    3. Bloody hell, a backed up, well structured argument below something on the internet, I applaud both of you! and that early in the morning as well!

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  2. Coming from an overly religious town (small town in the south), I know a lot of people that fight the opposite side. They claim genes are a perfect display of "God's work". The fact genes are so similar and the animals (or fruit!) are different means God created us from the same material, but gave us different lifestyles.

    If you ever get the chance, talk to someone that has that view. I haven't met anyone up here that is like that- but it makes for an interesting conversation!

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  3. Cam's viewpoint is fairly well represented in the documentary Expelled, which some of your fellow students suggested I watch. It's not a fantastic documentary, but it does provide an interesting counterpoint to pro-GM arguments.

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  4. When considering just the genetic percentage similarities I presented above, it is a very easy argument to make that God created life: since God made humans similar to chimps, slightly less like mice, and very different from bananas, the genetic percentages work out.

    When considering that these percentages reaffirmed evolutionary biologists' already constructed "tree of life", and that this genetic information is only a small slice of the large pie of evidence for evolution, the argument Cam presents is difficult to make.

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    1. As I have heard and read, the similarities argue for a common designer.

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  5. nice! were common ancestors with a bananas too.

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  6. Does that mean when we eat cows or bananas we are cannibals?

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    1. i hope your not serious

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    2. So please tread carefully and eat mindfully with the knowledge that the grass we walk on and the plants we harvest and animals we kill are our relatives and have a right to live on this earth as we do!

      This is why 2500 years ago Buddha went barefoot and only eat before midday what he had collected in his alms bowl.

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    3. No.. It means we're canabananibals.. Jk I hope you enjoyed my joke

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    4. Haha! I love this! ^^^^^^

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    5. Ha! That was awesome. Well played!

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    6. Luv the banana joke,as a lot of people like monkeying a round,i can think of a few politicans that should have stayed in the trees.

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  7. god created human being from a soil, we are connect to earth. so as bananas grow theru soil, surely we might even have similarities to an apple?

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  8. Did god really now? We have substantially more proof that the gods are the products of man's imagination, than the other way around. But that is a topic for another forum.

    I'm quite pleased about the banana, I'm even more pleased that my banana isn't 50% of my body.

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    1. Maybe plants are gods because they appear to suffer less than animals and provide us with food, shelter and peace?

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    2. Depends on which part of your body..... I can think of a place where being part Banana would help

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  9. Or, is it just simple... I mean, really- when God created the Earth- why would He not use similar features? Just like when you paint a painting- everything you do is not 100% different- yet the painting is never the same. It is simple common sense.

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    1. Common sense is realizing that science is backed by proof not just some word of mouth fairy tale story that contradicts itself. Science proves that the earth and universe is older than the bible says it is how does that make sense or Noah having a boat full of 2 of every animal do you realize how many animals that is and how far he would have to travel to get all those animals then build a boat big enough or the big one how did he keep them from eating each other? How did he keep the cold animals cold enough to live or the fresh and salt water animals alive how did no one die of disease from animal dung all over And If he and his wife and kids were the only people on the boat then they were insestuous so they were the first hillbilly family. "If your to stupid for science then try religion"

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    2. I agree. lrn 2 grammar.

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  10. People are so confused. Devolution is actually what is happening, not evolution. Some of us are DEvolving, and the devolved subject may devolve even further, and so on.

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    1. Please don't state your misinformation as fact, it confuses the creationists. There is no such thing as devolution. To evolve is to change, whether you perceive it as benfecial or not bares no consequence.

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    2. The fact is..there has never been any proof of something evolving or mutating anything beneficial..anytime there has been a mutation or de-evolution... it has taken away from the dna not added to it! So actually everything he said was spot on!

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    3. http://myxo.css.msu.edu/ecoli/ Please don't lie on the internet, it makes you look an absolute fool when reality is so easily researched.

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    4. They see me trolling; they hatin'.

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  11. I don't agree with this bit...
    "the driver of evolution: natural selection."

    Natural selection is not the driver. Mutation and genetic drift is the driver. The genetic body would be the car. Natural selection is the road, and all the road blocks in it. If you don't have the proper car, you can't navigate the different roads or their obstacles.

    Nothing ever evolved because they died (natural selection). They evolved because they survived, had offspring and mutated over vast amounts of time. All the mutated versions of organisms lived and died by the laws of life. Natural selection hacks the branches and gives us what we see. But the actual branching, the drive of difference, is mutation.

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    1. I find it hard to believe that mutation is a driver of evolution. I have never heard of a positive mutation. Mutations delete information, they don't add information. Also why haven't we found a "missing link" as they call it? For evolution to work you would think that there would be millions of remains of creatures in the in between stages of evolution. Yet the missing links that we have found have all turned out to be fakes. (Nebraska man was thought to be the missing link. But all scientists found was a tooth. They made great drawings of Nebraska man's lifestyle and what he looked like. But in the end it was found that this 'Missing link was no more than a PIGS TOOTH!) In all I have ever heard about missing links, all science has found has been just a few bones. Most times these bones are hundreds of feet sometimes even miles apart! If you put some of my bones with the bones of someone else (even a couple of others) you would come out with a very bizarre result. Some might even think it was the missing link.

      Some say our DNA is so alike because of a common ancestor, I say our DNA is so alike because of a common creator. Think about that.

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    2. Please allow me to correct a couple of flaws in this; you are working from a faulty premise. Mutations are any change in the DNA. Mutations can be insertion, deletion, substitution, duplication, or transposition. That is, many different kinds of mutations can occur, and destruction of information is only one kind of mutation. Mutations can and do create new traits. You are correct that deletion mutations almost always cause a loss of function; most of the time, the resulting mutant does not survive.
      The ability to see red is the result of two mutations. First we had a duplication of an existing vision gene, then one of the copies mutated, creating the ability to see red. That is a beneficial mutation. Another beneficial mutation is lactose tolerance; some people have lost the ability to turn off their production of lactase, meaning that they can continue to drink milk and eat yogurt throughout their adult lives.
      As for 'all missing links are conspiracies', clearly nothing I can write will convince you of anything, so I won't bother addressing it. All I can say is, you need a new source of information for those things. You also seem to be laboring under a misconception of how scientist use the term 'missing link'. You should look into it.
      Evolution does not require fossils to 'work'. Fossils are merely the accidental result of a plant or animal dying in a time and a place where the circumstances were right for preservation. Since these circumstances occur very, very rarely, fossils are rare.
      Further, you should be aware that deliberate fraud or data manipulation is a serious crime for a scientist, and will end the career of any scientist found doing it. Think carefully before you malign people with that sort of accusation, as your previous post implied.

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  12. You have totally got that the wrong way round. Mutations are the roads and natural selection is the driver steering the vehicle towards solutions. IMO.

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    1. How about God being the designer that built the vehicle and the roads. Our own conscience being the determinent factor that decides which roads we take and our own good choices being the type of vehicle we choose to drive these roads? Different perspective....that's all. I also believe in the big bang theory. I just know who banged it....God.

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    2. So true Lisa! Science finds that the world came into existence in just a fraction of a second. That was the second that God spoke the universe into existence.

      “I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon the earth and be an atheist, but I cannot conceive how a man could look up into the heavens and say there is no God.”-Abraham Lincoln

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  13. HE LAWS OF NATURE.
    We live in a world of natural laws and would not be alive without them. We test & observe such laws with modern science.
    So while evolution remains full of limitless possibilities & fanciful claims for 150 years (and counting), thankfully modern science allows us to now decipher it's mixture of facts from fairy tales.

    Example; natural selection & mutations are facts, and are considered key mechanisms & drivers of evolution.

    Now for the fairy tale; evolution also states that humans evolved from pond scum to fish to humans to whatever is next, say flying unicorns.
    But is this even scientifically possible?
    Such a transition requires, first of all the origin of live matter, DNA & coding requiring precise programming, then new DNA would need to be added somewhere along the way, say for our next step of evolving into unicorns.
    So start looking at the whole picture, and you begin to see the greater part of evolution is illogical nonsense.

    When you look at the human form you see a well constructed, fully functioning form with incredibly complex functions & features. We can observe & appreciate the incredible complexity of our own forms from an outside perspective.

    Now try and picture what evolution is saying; unintelligent matter was able to in time, create the human form at random with no logic, no outside perspective, no intelligence, no knowledge, no thought, no purpose & no concept of design or function.
    It's like giving a group of deaf dumb & blind people wood & nails & expecting them to work together & build an entire mansion, so long as they are given long enough.
    It's completely illogical.
    Yet evolution says this is how humans & all life forms were made, because enough time was given to allow this process to take place.
    So lets add time to this equation, say billions of years, as the evolution process requires plenty of time to make millions of fully functioning humans & other species.
    What does your logical mind conclude?
    My logical thinking mind tells me that time does little to change the original factors of unintelligent random matter. Add natural selection & mutations, and you still have the original problem of explaining where the DNA information, coding & crucially precise programming come into existence.

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    1. Dude, Evolution is a Natural Law.
      It happens, whether you choose to believe or not.
      Please do mankind a favor, and don't get on any school boards.

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    2. "Such a transition requires, first of all the origin of live matter"
      which is refferred to as "abiogenesis", has nothing to do with the theory of evolution.

      " then new DNA would need to be added somewhere along the way, say for our next step of evolving into unicorns. "
      just because an organism looks more sophisticated it doesn't necessarily have to have a larger genome, for example: the genome of the amoeba, a single-cell organism, is MANY times larger than that of humans.

      "create the human form at random with no logic,"
      evolution is the exact opposite of randomness, what drives the evolutionary process is 'natural selection' simply:weak ones die, strong ones don't.it's that easy.

      i suggest you try to understand what evolution actually is before you post things like this, you clearly don't understand the term and show an obvious lack of understanding when it comes to genetics.

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    3. So your 'logical' mind prefers to believe some divine being poofed a man into existence, took a bone of his body and made a woman? Then what? They weren't allowed to have sex without being married right? Who married them? Here's where it gets really creepy... after they had sex out of wedlock, where did their grandchildren come from?!

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  14. Even our eyes are more advanced computers than any man made computer on earth.
    Yet evolutionists continue to claim that unintelligent, randomly selected matter created all life. Even our functioning, rational brains? So unintelligent matter is more intelligent than us and can create more complex computers & functions than the human race could ever attempt? And does our intelligence & logic come from no intelligence & no logic?

    If I told you my perfectly landscaped garden randomly did so by itself over millions of years you would probably consider that illogical nonsense and conclude that I am not in touch with reality. Yet if millions of people started claiming it is true and began constructing theories in how it came about & began writing many books about it, would you start believing it?
    It's hard to believe how something as simple as a garden could organize itself without a gardener or landscaper. Yet many believe that all the millions of complex & fully functioning life forms, the earth, ocean, billions of planets and so on, all created themselves from a spec of matter & energy, with no programmer creator or designer necessary.

    Evolutionists continue to dodge important points & truths that may jeopardize their beliefs or power. Why? Because evolution is a way to take God out of the equation, so it HAS to work. Therefore, as with any man made religion, ignorance, power & control are crucial in order for it to survive.

    Perhaps power, human pride & ignorance are the true drivers of evolution.

    Take pride out of the equation, seek the truth and you shall find it.

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    1. 1. Did you know that scientists are mapping out the genes and mutations that made our eyes? Yes, it was through evolution.
      2. Life is not a perfectly landscaped garden. All living things have a host of problems to deal with. Thats why your perfect landscaped garden does not exist in nature.
      3. Evolution may be hard to believe, but like all science, when an over whelmeing amount of evidence supports an idea, then hover improbable, that idea is probably correct. How probable is it that all matter is made of atoms? Have you seen an atom? Scientists have found an overwheling evidence that all matter is made of atoms, hence the Atomic Theory.
      4. Evolutionary scientists do not dodge truths, thats a myth in your head.

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    2. Human Pride, power and ignorance. Exactly right! But do not forget Money, Books, jobs, federal and also private grants are at stake if you claim to be wrong.

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  15. Evolution implies the belief that given enough time, anything is possible. This is untrue. The truth is given enough time, anything is possible WITHIN THE LAWS OF NATURE.

    (oops this is the missing part of my first post above)

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    1. Study on DNA reveals that it contains huge informations which is equal to 10000 books, each containing 500 pages. How these informations/ instructions about the life came and from where? If even scienists can create a DNA molecule in future is it possible to put that information for creating life? If even it is possible then scientists will transfomed into "GOD" and still the question will remain : who created the 'FIRST DNA'?
      It was the 'ORGANIC SOUP' that is responsible for life on this universe and surely 'WE' are not 'ALONE'. Because 'ALL' is 'ONE'.
      To confirm see the similarity between DNA of human & banana. It is true that We all came from one origin but with the help of designer - 'THE GREAT SENSIBLE DESIGNER OF THIS UNIVERSE'

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    2. To use your own argument against you, who created this 'great sensible designer of the universe'? Please note that saying he/she/it didn't need creating is not a valid answer!

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    3. Why wouldn't that count as a valid answer? Saying the God of the bible did it means answering it from the descriptions the bible gives us. We don't make up who God is, He is what He is.

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  16. I actually respect Darwin's THEORYS on how things MAY have evolved over time, but how anyone can come to the conclusion that "Intelligent Design" does NOT exist is beyond me(!?) It is so unfortunate how so many of us get STUCK "inside the (DARWIN) box" when there are such factually compelling & less contrivercial "outside the box" examples ... the very FACT that we reside on a giant sphere which is SPINNING at apprx 1000 Miles/Hour WHILE simultaniously WHIRLING AROUND THE SUN at apprx 67000 Miles/Hour...is just about all the compelling proof I need to understand that Darwin's Theory of Evolution is NOT the final, end all "say" against the highly probable likely hood that an "intelligent designer" does indeed exist.

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    1. Genetics identifies the mechanics of inherited characteristics and mutation that are necessary to validate Darwin's original theory.

      If genetics proved otherwise, evolution would have failed this crucial test and have long since been rejected as a valid scientific theory.

      How much proof do you need?

      And I can easily look at "Intelligent Design" and declare it bunk because it can't be tested, unlike evolution.

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    2. i think you have no idea what the word "theory" actually means in a scientific context.

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  17. The engine of evolution is NOT natural selection. The driving force creating new types and greater diversity of life forms is in fact hybridisation, while natural selection is in fact the opposite, it is the agent of extinction.

    When new life forms are created by hybridisation, their genomes are in turmoil and their fertility is low. NAtural and sexual selection starts to get to work on the new genome immediately, adopting hte characteristics which enhance breeding success and survivability. In doing so, natural selection starts to eliminate variability from the genome. Innitially, the new life form prospers from its greater fertility and survivability, but as its genome becomes increasing more uniform, its ability to adapt to changing environmantal pressures is reduced, exposing the life form eventually to the fate of the great majority - EXTINCTION.

    See the theory which shows that Darwin was wrong.

    http://www.macroevolution.net/support-files/forms_of_life.pdf

    Evidence of hybridisation driving diversity is all around us.

    Derek Smith

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  18. If you learn nothing else, Creationist reading here, learn these facts: 1) Evolution is NOT random. Repeat. Evolution is NOT random. 2) Nothing about any part of the human body is perfect. Amazing? Yes. Perfect? No.

    Note to Anonymous: Darwin's achievement is almost without parallel in any field of human endeavor. He has been proven correct beyond a shadow of a doubt. To say he was wrong is... well, "embarrassing" is the first word that comes to mind...

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  19. We are what we eat... well at least partially. The proof is that we share genetic material with something like a banana and potato. It is difficult to say what the exact path of our evolution was but obviously, many species share the same genetic material because at the time of its acquisition, it was useful for survival in that specific environment. When the environment changes, so does the behavior. Logically, it would mean that species diverged because they happened to move to different environments (perhaps to reduce competition with other species) and by the same token they obviously had to adapt and develop different strategies for their survival. I wonder if pandas share a lot genes with bamboo?

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  20. Everything is made of stardust. So how could we be different from plants, animals, insects, bacteria, fungus etc.?
    Everything is stardust.

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  21. In all the genetic comparisons and percentages touted in early studies. It is now revealed that 1/3 of the total genetic material of a chimpanze was prefiltered out as it was too disimilar to match up. Therefore accurate true scientific methods and more honest approaches have lowered the genetic similarites between humans and apes. Each human cell has about 10,000 complex molecular machines to do all the necessary work. These machines need every part assembled to work and every machine working for the cell to live. How did this extremely complex system come into being and then be able to make a copy of itself without inteligent design. Certainly not the weather and environmental conditions. As for organs that were not of any use, true modern science no longer say that as there purpose have all been discoverd. But you may need to research these facts as they will not appear on our TVs.

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    1. Humans are apes, did you mean to write "similarities between humans and chimpanzees"?

      As difficult as it may be for many people to comprehend evolution, that is to say the argument that life is too complex to have come about by natural means, a designer would by definition be orders of magnitude more complicated then organic Earth life. A designer would had to have planed far in advance, to create the carbon in our bodies from the furnace of stars, to have the stars then supernova in a stellar explosion. Send these heavy elements out into space as dust and then with gravity , forming the Earth and allowing for all the basis of all life on our planet.

      When you think about this process that is ~14 billion years in the making. Everything needed for life, all the ingredients are present. The process does not require a designer. Even though for many minds it is easier to add a designer. But if one does add an intelligent designer on top of this long process, one also adds complexity. Immense complexity. In other words, it is a simpler conclusion to look to natural processes. Because an intelligent designer adds vast complexity on top of natural processes, an intelligent designer is therefore mathematically far less likely to exist when compared to the ability of natural and observable processes simply working as they do. The probability of an intelligent designer is quite low when you run the numbers.

      For some people, the possibility that the laws of physics might illuminate even the creation of our own universe, without the need for supernatural intervention or any demonstration of purpose, is truly terrifying. But just because one may not find it comforting life exists without a designer, doesn't make it any less true.

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    2. Furthermore, people have trouble separating populations from individuals. Evolution only occurs on a population level. An individual does not change. The following generations from that individual expresses a difference in phenotypic qualities. This is classified as micro-evolution. On a larger scale, speciation occurs. This is called macro-evolution. Though they function through the same phenomena, they are on scales that differ as much as a human life time does to a geologic period.

      Creationists already have issues with separating scales of time, so its not farfetched that they have issues separating the scales of evolution. That's only an issue because of adamant ignorance though. It disappoints me that I can point someone to answers and they either cannot understand them, or refuse to understand them. I see this frequently when teaching mathematics.

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  22. Nothing is perfect in this existence. The very air we breathe makes us age. As humans we are susceptible to many diseases. We have managed to conquer many of them through our study if genetics and chemistry.

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    1. Chemistry: the interaction of elements, is what makes everything work. As soon as the conditions needed for life are present it shows up, life uh uh uh uh finds a way.

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  23. Same building blocks, not necessarily ancestor linked.

    The LACK of a SPECIES to SPECIES transitional fossil makes the case for no MACRO evolution clear.

    as noted BY DARWIN HIMSELF....
    "So that the number of intermediate and transitional links, between all living and extinct species, must have been inconceivably great. But assuredly, if this theory be true, such have lived upon the earth."
    -Darwin

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