Saturday, February 14, 2009

homi vs. homi

From ScienceDaily: Humans And Chimpanzees Genetically More Similar Than One Yeast Variety Is To Another

Scientists at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden say that humans and chimps are more similar on that level than two yeast species in the same genus. (FYI, we're in the same family as chimps, Hominidae or the great apes.)

I do think it's pretty cool... I like chimps, at least theoretically, as I don't know if I've ever met them. But they're cute, and they seem smart and feisty, and except for the whole endangered-species thing, I sometimes think I'd rather be an ape than a human.

I think this is a crappy comparison, though. This article says that there is a 4% difference in genes between the two yeast species, Saccharomyces cerevisiae and S. paradoxus, and a 1% difference between chimps and humans.

So, S. cerevisiae has 12,156,677 base pairs. I couldn't find a figure for the other. But say it's the same amount. With a 4% difference, that means around 486,267 base pairs are out of order or replaced in some way.

Not such an exact number for humans; everything says "approximately 3 billion." We can go with that, though. No numbers for the chimps, either, but you should look at the wiki article because they are adorable. Anyway. A 1% difference in 3 billion genes is... 3 million.

I just think there is a slight difference between almost 500,000 and 3 million, no matter the percentages.

Ah, well, I'm not a geneticist or anything. Maybe it is deep and meaningful. It is pretty cool to read about the Chimpanzee genome project and look at the only really obvious difference: at some point, for us, the 2nd and 3rd chromosomes that the chimp and human lines shared fused into one larger chromosome, with the addition about 150,000 or so base pairs. And since according to that article I posted this morning, the human and chimp line underwent the burst of genetic duplication that is thought to be the basis of our "human-ness," chimps are like our extended family, and I'm not trying to make a taxonomy pun here. They're like our cousin. Maybe second cousin, once removed. Hey, I don't mind grooming, but I won't eat mites.

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