Essay on Human-Chimpanzee Divergent Genetics

Essay on Human-Chimpanzee Divergent Genetics

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Being human, we possess a quality that is unlikely to be found in other known organisms. Since perhaps the dawn of existence, the human psyche has strived to explain the origins of this quality and what it reveals about man’s conception. The ancient Greeks surmised that the Titan god Prometheus sculpted humans in the image of the gods from the mud of the earth. The ancient Egyptians posited that humans came into being from their sun god Ra’s tears. Now in modern times, scientists believe the key to our origins lies within our closest relative, Pan troglodytes, commonly known as the chimpanzee. But with nearly 99% of our DNA being completely identical to that of the chimpanzees, it is difficult to comprehend all the phenotypic differences between man and chimp. This paper strives to show that not only is it within this 1% genetic mismatch but within the mechanisms that regulate and maintain the mismatch that phenotypically separate man from the chimpanzee and endow us with abilities unique only to humankind. Furthermore, by understanding our human evolutionary past, we will be better equipped to understand and prepare for our human evolutionary future.
Since the middle of the twentieth century, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) has been known to be the blueprint for an organism’s structure and function. The nucleotide bases that make up DNA are complementarily transcribed into RNA, edited and altered, and translated into proteins. These proteins then function as building blocks for an organism’s body, or as construction workers to actually build and maintain the function of the body. Because human and chimpanzee genomes are more than 98.5% identical at loci that code for proteins, a U.S. research team theorized that it was not likely...


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...M., Bilheu, A., Albert, V., Englert, F., Noel, J., Sotiriou, C., Holloway, A., Pollard, K.,
Detours, V., Vanderhaeghen, P. (2011). Genes Expressed in Specific Areas of the Human Fetal Cerebral Cortex Display Distinct Patters of Evolution. PLoS ONE, 6 (3), 1-13.

McLean, C., Reno, P., Pollen, A., Bassan, A., Capellini, T., Guenther, C., Indjeian, V., Lim, X., Menke, D., Schaar, B., Wenger, A., Bejerano, G., Kingsley, D. (2011). Human-specific Loss of Regulatory DNA and the Evolution of Human specific Traits. Nature, 471.7337, 216-19.

Polavarapu, N., Arora, G., Mittal, V., McDonald, J. (2011) Characterization and Potential
Functional Significance of Human-chimpanzee Large INDEL Variation. Mobile DNA, 2-13.

Portin, P. (2007). Evolution of Man in the Light of Molecular Genetics: A Review. Part I. Our Evolutionary History
and Genomics. Hereditas, 144, 80-95.

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