Wednesday, 20 December 2006

Great Apes

Someone who seems to know hardly the first thing about genetics sees fit to give us a lecture thereon:
The problem is that there is no such thing as ‘races’ . . . There are human beings with different appearances and cultures but we are all 100% the same in genetic make-up and only 1% removed from the apes of the world. [1]
It is certainly not true that all humans are genetically identical. As for the genetic differences between humans and their closest living ape-relatives, the chimpanzees, there have been “approximately thirty-five million single-nucleotide changes, five million insertion/deletion events, and various chromosomal rearrangements” since their divergence from a common ancestor. [2] Whilst most of the differences lie in so-called junk DNA, about three million do not, and therefore one may say that, although humans and chimpanzees share ninety-six percent of their genomes, humans are about three-million-times different from chimpanzees in crucial areas thereof. Phenotypically, the differences are obvious: chimpanzees are not capable of writing apish comments in the newspapers.
[1] Becka, commenting on Joseph Harker, “The problem is that he just doesn’t understand race”, The Guardian, 30th December 2006.
[2] The Chimpanzee Sequencing and Analysis Consortium, “Initial sequence of the chimpanzee genome and comparison with the human genome”, Nature, Vol. 437:7055, pp. 69-87. 1st September 2005.


James Higham said...

That's as maybe, Deogolwulf but are we descended from apes or angels?

dearieme said...

James, we are apes.