Comparing the Human and Chimpanzee Genomes

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Comparing the Human and Chimpanzee Genomes

As part of the Explore Evolution exhibit at the University of Nebraska State Museum, Judy Diamond displays a segment of the human genome in line with that of the chimpanzee that matches very closely. The point is to show how similar two are with the few differences represented by a drawing of a man, distinguished geneticist Svante Paabo.

See video of scintist Richard Dawkins explaining the exhibit.


Chimps & Humans & DNA - What makes us human?


From the May 2009 Scientific American Magazine:

Comparisons of the genomes of humans and chimpanzees are revealing those rare stretches of DNA that are ours alone

The 1 percent difference: Humans are distinct from chimpanzees in a number of important respects, despite sharing nearly 99 percent of their DNA. New analyses are revealing which parts of the genome set our species apart. continue reading

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The Selfless Gene

by Olivia Judson | October 2007 | Atlantic Monthly

It’s easy to see how evolution can account for the dark streaks in human nature—the violence, treachery, and cruelty. But how does it produce kindness, generosity, and heroism?

(This is a nice call-and-response to Richard Dawkins' 1976 book on adaptation and natural selection, The Selfish Gene.)

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gorillasHow does a propensity for self-sacrifice evolve?

And what about the myriad lesser acts of daily kindness—helping a little old lady across the street, giving up a seat on the subway, returning a wallet that’s been lost?

Are these impulses as primal as ferocity, lust, and greed? Or are they just a thin veneer over a savage nature?

Answers come from creatures as diverse as amoebas and baboons, but the story starts in the county of Kent, in southern England.

Race in a Bottle

Drugmakers are eager to develop medicines targeted at ethnic groups, but so far they have made poor choices based on unsound science. By Jonathan Kahn
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Two years ago, on June 23, 2005, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first “ethnic” drug. Called BiDil (pronounced “bye-dill”), it was intended to treat congestive heart failure—the progressive weakening of the heart muscle to the point where it can no longer pump blood efficiently—in African-Americans only. The approval was widely declared to be a significant step toward a new era of personalized medicine, an era in which pharmaceuticals would be specifically designed to work with an individual’s particular genetic makeup. Known as pharmacogenomics, this approach to drug development promises to reduce the cost and increase the safety and efficacy of new therapies. BiDil was also hailed as a means to improve the health of African-Americans, a community woefully underserved by the U.S. medical establishment. Organizations such as the Association of Black Cardiologists and the Congressional Black Caucus strongly supported the drug’s approval.

Intervention: Genetic Pollution, Smart Breeding and the Risks of Unregulated Transgenesis.

Article PhotoAs a kid in the 70's, I remember walking the shores of Lake Michigan and dodging the rotting piles of dead fish covered in maggots.

These small, silver fish, called alewives, grew in unchecked mega-pods because of the lack of a top predator in the lakes. Lake trout were essentially wiped out around the same time by overfishing and the invasion of the exotic, rapacious sea lamprey. For a time, alewives, which often exhibit seasonal die offs, washed up in putrid layers on the shorelines of the Great Lakes.

There was (and is) a crazy cascade of invasive species that were intentionally introduced to solve the problem. Each intentional introduction of a foreign species creates a new ecological issue that permanently altered the ecology of the Great Lakes. The most recent intruder? Massive Asian carp that can grow to be 80 to 100 pounds. They're ravenous eaters, consuming up to 40 percent of their own body weight in plankton each day. And they're bullies, pushing out weaker, native species. (Listen to NPR story.)

So... the prospect of having genetically modified organisms and micro-organisms invade my personal ecology fills me with dread. Even if measures of accountability are imposed, once the damage is done, there is no point of return.
The latest book by science writer, Denise Caruso, details the threats of introducing new organisms--whether on the nano, the micro and the macro-levels--into the fragile ecology of our planet. Ecological catastrophes that would dwarf the breech of New Orleans' levees.

These potential disasters would, in the words of Caruso, "create stewardship challenges for generations into the future that are already far beyond our present scientific knowledge or capabilities."

From Worldchanging:

Denise Caruso holds a somewhat legendary status among tech journalists. A columnist for the NY Times (her old Information Industries column was a must-read for years, while her new column Re:Framing just kicked off on a bang with a piece titled Someone (Other Than You) May Own Your Genes) and founder of the Hybrid Vigor Institute (an NGO dedicated to facilitating interdisciplinary and collaborative approaches to scientific problem solving), it's not going too far to say that Caruso's work has helped shape our society's thinking about the future of science.

That future may be riskier than we like to think. In her new book, Intervention: Confronting the Real Risks of Genetic Engineering and Life on a Biotech Planet, Caruso lays out in chilling detail exactly why even (perhaps especially) those of us who are strong supporters of science and innovation ought to be extremely concerned about the unintended consequences of contemporary biotechnological industrial research.