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Friday, September 1st 2006

Without It We'd Be Probing Ant Hills With Sticks…

Does this gene make us human?

Scientists don’t know what the gene does. But they do know that humans have more copies of it than chimpanzees, monkeys, rats and mice. And they know that the gene makes a protein that is found in the human brain. That suggests that it may help to give the human brain its unique ability to think and reason, they say.

“This really is a remarkable discovery,” says Thomas Insel, director of the US National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland, which was not involved in the research and did not fund it. “People are going to argue about it and be fascinated by this, because it takes us in a couple of directions we haven’t really been in before.”

Basically this gene may convey upon us those most human of qualities – the ability to create musical theatre and break dance.

Although I think this is now taught in freshman biology, it is an interesting point,

[A] hot idea among genome scientists: that the number of copies of genes is an important source of variation that may be driving evolution. Until recently, scientists thought that most genetic variations between people and between species were due to small changes in the sequence of DNA lettering. But researchers are now discovering the importance of DNA variations that occur on a larger scale, including areas of repeated identical sequences that code for multiple copies of genes.

Those Are Real Apes…With Copies Of This Gene Put In