Human evolution genes found, according to reports in ScienceNOW, news@nature, Nature Advanced Online Publications 16 August 2006, and BBC News and The Independent 17 August 2006.
A team of researchers led by biostatistician Katherine Pollard have compared sections of the human genome to that of chimps and several other animals to search for gene changes that could explain how humans evolved larger brains. They found a group of genes called HAR genes that showed a large difference between the chimp and human versions.
They then studied one of these genes called HAR1 in humans, chimps and several other vertebrates. In one sequence of 118 letters they found 18 differences between the chimp and human version. Katherine Pollard commented: “It’s evolving incredibly rapidly. It’s really an extreme case. We found 18 differences between chimps and humans, which is an incredible amount of change to have happened in a few million years.”
When they compared the chimp genome with other vertebrates they found very few differences. For example, there were only two changes between chickens and chimps, who are believed to be separated by 310 million years of evolution. The HAR1 gene is most active when the cerebral cortex, or outer layer of the brain, is forming. This is the layer of cells involved in complex distinctively human functions such as language, and consciousness. The other surprising thing about the HAR1 gene is that it is not a protein coding gene.
Previous attempts to find genes that explain the difference between human and ape brains have concentrated on differences in proteins. In 2004 a gene called ASPM, which also has a function in forming the cerebral cortex, was found to be distinctly different between chimps and humans and scientists claimed that it helped create the human brain from an ape brain. The HAR1 gene was found in one of the regions in between genes that had been written off as being non-functional.
The researchers have not identified a function for the gene, but they have found that it codes for a short strand of RNA – a molecule similar to DNA that is used to transfer genetic information around the cell. Pollard’s team suspect the RNA coded by the HAR1 gene is used in regulating proteins involved in organising the cerebral cortex.
Editorial Comment: This is a classic example of the difference between observation and assumption. The differences in DNA letters (and the RNA they code for) are real scientific observations. However, the claim that one gene changed into the chimp and human varieties of the gene over a period of six million years is a pure faith belief, based on an apriori belief in evolution. No-one has observed any genes changing from one to the other.
The fact that the gene was found in a non-protein coding region is also significant. Non-protein coding DNA used to be called “junk DNA,” and was written off as useless evolutionary leftovers. However, scientists are now recognising that these regions could code for many control mechanisms, such as the RNA molecule found in the research described above, that is why chimps aren’t reading this report and you are.
The real differences between kinds of living creatures lie in how they are put together, rather than what they are made from. As shown in this research, genes that code for small RNA molecules can be quite small, but they have a big effect. This is further proof that the 98 percentage similarity between chimp and the human DNA claimed by the evolutionists is meaningless, even if it was true.
Evidence News 21st September 2006
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