From: Wade T. Smith (email@example.com)
Date: Wed 19 Feb 2003 - 12:28:27 GMT
The gene that maketh man?
The gene is found only in human-like primates US scientists have
identified a gene which they say could explain why humans are unique.
It seems to have arisen between 21 and 33 million years ago, when
primates were becoming more human-like.
The gene emerged about the time the path that led to humans, chimps,
orangutans and gorillas was splitting off from that of old and new
The gene could have duplicated itself, creating many new ones specific
to humans, according to researchers at Harvard University in
Science has long sought to explain why we are different from our
closest animal cousins - the primates.
Knowledge of the human DNA sequence gained by the Human Genome Project
allows the question to be explored by comparing stretches of DNA.
The newly-discovered gene, known as Tre2, is found in very few mammals
apart from humans and their closest relatives.
It is absent from more primitive primates such as the lemur, but is
found in higher primates such as gorillas, chimps and orangutans.
Ascent of humans
The gene seems to have emerged when two other genes fused together
during the evolution of higher primates.
Half of it is similar to an ancient gene found in many animals, while
the rest has much in common with a gene confined to human-like primates.
Its sudden appearance relatively late in the history of the animal
kingdom could have been the trigger for the evolution of humankind,
although so far this is only a theory.
The products of the gene are found mainly in the testes, so the
researchers think that it may be linked to human reproduction.
"Our findings have potential implications for understanding genetic
differences between humans and other primates," says team leader Dr
The research is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of
This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed 19 Feb 2003 - 12:34:35 GMT