So I’m sure that many of us have heard that scientists have discovered that the DNA sequences of humans and chimps are 98% identical, but what actually separates us from chimps. Researchers at the University of California-Santa Cruz have identified 49 regions in at least one gene that show the most changes between humans and chimps and it all comes down to brain size. The gene is critical to the development of larger brains in humans. The changed areas are referred to as human accelerated regions or HAR. They found that of all the HARs, HAR1 contained 18 major changes in humans and only two in chimps. HAR1 contains a gene that turns on during the twelfth week. This gene is very important because the gene comes on when a certain brain structure is forming in human embryos known as the cerebral cortex which is responsible for language, data processing, emotion and judgment.
The researchers believe the evolutionary split between humans and chimps started taking place about 2 million years ago. Up until that point those regions were identical in humans and other animals for 300 million years.
Well, you know what this means? If we’ve been able to identify this gene, the next step is cloning it into chimps to make smart monkeys. Then we become The Planet of the Apes.