Only 7 percent of our DNA makes us human
Our brains are very similar to those of pigs, but in terms of DNA we are most similar to chimpanzees and other monkeys. In the end, it doesn’t take that much DNA at all to make a person a person: only 7 percent of our DNA makes us a unique person.
A report has been published in Science Advances in which researchers Nathan K. Schaefer, Beth Shapiro and Richard E. Green answer the question of what makes us special as humans. They have put our DNA next to that of our ancestors. Think of the Neanderthals and the Denisovans, whose DNA we can get from fossils. These people walked the earth about 50,000 years ago. They are not the ancestors of homo sapiens, but they do have the same ancestors as us.
The DNA of 279 modern people was compared because there was a good mix of the different people from all over the world. But 7 percent of our genome makes us unique. That is the DNA we share with modern humans, and not with Neanderthals and co. You’d think we’d have a completely different DNA by now if you compare images of our distant relatives. Yet we appear to be only 7 percent ‘unique’ as modern humans, versus earlier humans. That also means that we correspond for 93 percent with the ancestors who already lived millions of years ago.
The DNA of modern humans
It is very special that DNA is so indestructible and immutable. An interesting finding was also involved, because the researchers were immediately able to compare the DNA of those 279 modern humans. Is it true that we all have similar DNA, or are there differences? Only 1.5 percent of our genome is shared by all humans alive today. Also interesting: it then revolves around the genes that say something about the development and functioning of our brains. Processing information, for example, something that people sometimes worry about with all the screens we stare at these days.
However, this genome also means a lot for our survival. After all, how is it possible that those other types of people never survived? It’s clear that a lot of research is still needed to learn more about our own species, but this finding about that unique 7 percent shows that DNA takes many years to change.
Photo credits: Analogicus