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Publication of the gorilla genome opens window onto human evolution - Comments

Cook@Tahiti's Avatar Comment 1 by Cook@Tahiti

Next to be sequenced will the Evangelical Conservative Tea-bagging Republican-voting war-mongering gun-toting Bible-bashing genome

Thu, 08 Mar 2012 16:09:13 UTC | #925393

Functional Atheist's Avatar Comment 2 by Functional Atheist

From the article: "15 per cent of the human genome is closer to the gorilla genome than it is to chimpanzee, and 15 per cent of the chimpanzee genome is closer to the gorilla than human."

The quote above contributes to my suspicion regarding assertions that the human and chimpanzee genomes are 98% (or even 99%) identical. I know we're near relatives to chimpanzees, but either I'm misunderstanding those estimates or those estimates are plainly wrong and should no longer be bandied about. I know Ricky Gervais is no scientist, but he recently tossed estimates like that in his show with Karl Pilkington, "An Idiot Abroad," so I'm not the only layman who needs some clarification: what is the latest and best percentage estimates here? And what's the difference between, say, 98% identical and 98% "similar"?

If there is wiggle room there, where genes that code for the same protein in both genomes, but aren't quite letter-for-letter identical, how does that impact the estimates?

Gut instinct is not scientific, but 95% IDENTICAL sounds much more credible to me than 99%. Variation between and among individual humans must amount to something measurable, so how can a species we diverged from millions of years ago be so close?

Thanks. Apologies if I sound stupid--I'm a mere layman seeking clarification.

Thu, 08 Mar 2012 16:52:42 UTC | #925411

sparafucile's Avatar Comment 3 by sparafucile

Comment 1 by Rtambree :

Next to be sequenced will the Evangelical Conservative Tea-bagging Republican-voting war-mongering gun-toting Bible-bashing genome

That was included in the 2003 publication.

Thu, 08 Mar 2012 17:27:33 UTC | #925422

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 4 by Alan4discussion

@OP - This is the first time scientists have been able to compare the genomes of all four living great apes: humans, chimpanzees, gorillas and orang-utans.

This should indeed help clarify core evolutionary issues. It will be interesting when the comparative genome sequencing of a wider range of primates is also available for comparisons with the likes of Lemurs at the base of the primate evolutionary tree. - http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168952507000601

Thu, 08 Mar 2012 18:17:00 UTC | #925434

Chris Boccia's Avatar Comment 5 by Chris Boccia

Comment 2 by Functional Atheist :

From the article: "15 per cent of the human genome is closer to the gorilla genome than it is to chimpanzee, and 15 per cent of the chimpanzee genome is closer to the gorilla than human."

The quote above contributes to my suspicion regarding assertions that the human and chimpanzee genomes are 98% (or even 99%) identical. I know we're near relatives to chimpanzees, but either I'm misunderstanding those estimates or those estimates are plainly wrong and should no longer be bandied about. I know Ricky Gervais is no scientist, but he recently tossed estimates like that in his show with Karl Pilkington, "An Idiot Abroad," so I'm not the only layman who needs some clarification: what is the latest and best percentage estimates here? And what's the difference between, say, 98% identical and 98% "similar"?

If there is wiggle room there, where genes that code for the same protein in both genomes, but aren't quite letter-for-letter identical, how does that impact the estimates?

Gut instinct is not scientific, but 95% IDENTICAL sounds much more credible to me than 99%. Variation between and among individual humans must amount to something measurable, so how can a species we diverged from millions of years ago be so close?

Thanks. Apologies if I sound stupid--I'm a mere layman seeking clarification.

I'm not sure about the 15% thing, but we our genomes are 98% IDENTICAL to chimpanzee's. This means that 98% of the letters of our dna match, and only 2% don't. So, to be absolutely clear, if our genomes were 100 letters long, 98 of them would match the chimpanzee's.

Now, we actually have about 25000 genes, and that's about 3 billion nucleotide bases (letters). So, if we differ by 2%, that's a difference of 60 million nucleotides. So, yes, we're very closely related, but we still have over 60 million letters 'wrong.'

Thu, 08 Mar 2012 19:54:24 UTC | #925451

raytoman's Avatar Comment 6 by raytoman

For what it's worth, it seems clear to me that the human apes much faster evolution is due to success and the consequent population explosion.

We had to move to find homes and the rate of movement accelerated evolutionary change as we encountered different environments and survival challenges.

We've had lots of Hominoid (sub?) species with no doubt some interbreeding and the first waves moved out of Africa long before Homo Sapiens.

We were just the nasty bastards that defeated all of the others though Neandrathals did cling on until about 25000 years ago. They obviously had death rites (and probably primitive religion) before us. They buried their dead with food and tools and other artifacts as well as decorated corpses with red ochre).

A pity none of the hominoid species invented the scientific method before they invented religion. We would be hundreds of thousands more advanced if they had.

Thu, 08 Mar 2012 21:47:05 UTC | #925474

Bigtimedwarfer's Avatar Comment 7 by Bigtimedwarfer

Comment 5 by Chris Boccia :

Comment 2 by Functional Atheist :

From the article: "15 per cent of the human genome is closer to the gorilla genome than it is to chimpanzee, and 15 per cent of the chimpanzee genome is closer to the gorilla than human."

The quote above contributes to my suspicion regarding assertions that the human and chimpanzee genomes are 98% (or even 99%) identical. I know we're near relatives to chimpanzees, but either I'm misunderstanding those estimates or those estimates are plainly wrong and should no longer be bandied about. I know Ricky Gervais is no scientist, but he recently tossed estimates like that in his show with Karl Pilkington, "An Idiot Abroad," so I'm not the only layman who needs some clarification: what is the latest and best percentage estimates here? And what's the difference between, say, 98% identical and 98% "similar"? If there is wiggle room there, where genes that code for the same protein in both genomes, but aren't quite letter-for-letter identical, how does that impact the estimates?

Gut instinct is not scientific, but 95% IDENTICAL sounds much more credible to me than 99%. Variation between and among individual humans must amount to something measurable, so how can a species we diverged from millions of years ago be so close? Thanks. Apologies if I sound stupid--I'm a mere layman seeking clarification.

I'm not sure about the 15% thing, but we our genomes are 98% IDENTICAL to chimpanzee's. This means that 98% of the letters of our dna match, and only 2% don't. So, to be absolutely clear, if our genomes were 100 letters long, 98 of them would match the chimpanzee's.

Now, we actually have about 25000 genes, and that's about 3 billion nucleotide bases (letters). So, if we differ by 2%, that's a difference of 60 million nucleotides. So, yes, we're very closely related, but we still have over 60 million letters 'wrong.'

Steven Pinker mentions this in the Language Instinct. I'm no expert but from memory he suggests that a 98% similarity can potentially translate to a 2% difference in every single gene of the genome. Any difference is enough to alter the phenotype of any particular gene. Astonishing though a 98% similarity is it can still therfore lead to substantial differences between the species.

Apologies if that is ridiculously mistaken!

Fri, 09 Mar 2012 13:19:59 UTC | #925607

Bigtimedwarfer's Avatar Comment 8 by Bigtimedwarfer

Comment 5 by Chris Boccia :

Apologies Chris. Having re-read your post I relaise that I've just repeated exactly what you said. Whoops.

Fri, 09 Mar 2012 14:10:53 UTC | #925612

raytoman's Avatar Comment 9 by raytoman

A sponge has 18,000 genes, we have 23,000 and many of these genes are common.

There are many hundreds of millions of years between the first sponge and the current sponges (hundreds of species) but they are basically the same animal genus and more importantly, they will all have had the same genes with only different combinations, some of which include a few other genes.

Apes have been around for over 10 million years but Homos for less than 4 million and us for, probably, less than a million. We should expect Apes to be pretty close to us, though still different species.

Apes and us, and sponges and the very first animal will have genes in common. The whole "tree of life" going back billions of years is simply genes reproducing themselves and combining into the most successful combination to ensure continuance. Natural selection decided this of course, not the individual gene, which of course will have existed in multiple species but in different combinations.

The genes which make up the worm which forms the basis for most current animals (including us, our intestine) have been a very successful combination. I suspect that the genes which make up our brain and central nervous system are a rare combination, especially those that connote sentience. They exist in few current species.

The main relevance here is that no gene combination for intelligence currently exists, thought it may be forming in some normal people (i.e. not in theist and superstitious individuals).

Most of our genes are many millions of years old, some billions of years old and our combination is currently unique. We are after all a single species (except maybe for those made of clay or a rib and made by a superman 6,000 years ago and which must have come as quite a shock to the Sumerians and Indians and Chinese).

Tue, 13 Mar 2012 02:21:02 UTC | #926593

pinball's Avatar Comment 10 by pinball

Now, we actually have about 25000 genes, and that's about 3 billion nucleotide bases (letters). So, if we differ by 2%, that's a difference of 60 million nucleotides. So, yes, we're very closely related, but we still have over 60 million letters 'wrong.'

I am glad someone has expanded on this as I am completely in dark on what these figures mean.

Everytime a base is different this is knocked off our 100%? What human is used as the 100%?

What would the difference be between the genome of say two brothers be (not twins)?

Are we talking tenth/hundredths of one percent? What about between an albino “white” European and a dark skinned south American Indian? Still just tenths/100ths?

If its 2% between a chimp and a human are these the genes coding for proteins we just do not have? Or a combination of those genes and variations on the ones we share on say skull size shape body hair muscle density etc?

What is the difference between a human man and woman? I am not saying I have more in common with a male chimp than a human woman but there a lot of obvious differences to me that must have a plethora of genes that construct them.

Wed, 14 Mar 2012 13:45:19 UTC | #926919

pinball's Avatar Comment 11 by pinball

Apologies the quote was from Comment 5 by Chris Boccia

Wed, 14 Mar 2012 13:47:26 UTC | #926922

raytoman's Avatar Comment 12 by raytoman

Though we have some genes that existed in the first lifeform billions of years ago, all current humans are ancestors of about 10,000 hominoids (which included some (sub) species which no longer exist) that survived a mass extinction event about 70,000 years ago.

We are currently the only humans and are practically clones of each other. Much of our diversity and all of our Homo (sub) species no longer exists. The last (Homo Neandrathalus) disappeared about 28-25,000 years ago.

There is minimal difference between humans and more within "races" than between "races" and we are, as you would expect, pretty damn close to our Ape Cousins. We would have been even closer to the other Homos is they still existed.

Remember, we are related to all lifeforms, yes, including plants. I am currently struggling my way through "The Ancestors Tale" and within a few concestors of the first animal.

Genetic relationships are not as simple as a % comparason. Genes are full of junk which includes repeated sequences of amino acids that superfluous. Remember, it is the genes that survive and we are only one combination. Most of out individual genes are found in millions of other species and will have been in extinct species. Only our unique combination makes us a distinct species and we have little genetic diversity since our evolution was limited by the extinction event (an Indian Volcano but of course a different tectonic plate configuration then.).

Put it this way. Humans are all brothers, only divided by religions and gods.

Thu, 15 Mar 2012 21:01:41 UTC | #927595