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The Human Mutation

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the le-gene-juste dept.

Biotech 339

eldavojohn writes "Scientists in China have announced finding the gene that makes us human. The article explains that prior work has shown that humans, as compared with the great apes from which we diverged over 5 million years ago, have a longer form of a protein (type II neuropsin) located in the pre-frontal cortex of the brain. From the article: 'Gene sequencing revealed a mutation specific to humans that triggers a change in the splicing pattern of the neuropsin gene, creating a new splicing site and a longer protein. Introducing this mutation into chimpanzee DNA resulted in the creation of type II neuropsin. "Hence, the human-specific mutation is not only necessary but also sufficient in creating the novel splice form," the authors state.' The team is urging further analysis of the extra 45 amino acids in type II neuropsin since they believe that chain may cause protein structural and functional changes. The research didn't link anything with this protein, simply identifying it as a very distinct difference between us and our closest cousins."

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Obligatory Planet of the Apes (3, Funny)

PixieDust (971386) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046379)

Yes, let's introduce this gene into a bunch of apes.

I for one, welcome our new english speaking tyrannical ape-like overlords.

Re:Obligatory Planet of the Apes (5, Funny)

Mr. Bad Example (31092) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046481)

> I for one, welcome our new english speaking tyrannical ape-like overlords.

You're about six years too late for that.

Re:Obligatory Planet of the Apes (5, Funny)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046707)

that's a very disrespectful comparison to the chief and vice executives, you should be ashamed. Apes are noble creatures.

Re:Obligatory Planet of the Apes (4, Funny)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046999)

Politicians have been around a lot longer than that.

Re:Obligatory Planet of the Apes (-1, Redundant)

TekPolitik (147802) | more than 7 years ago | (#19047243)

Politicians have been around a lot longer than that.

No no, this is about replacing the gene that expresses chimpanzee intelligence with the one expressing human intelligence so that chimpanzees are more intelligent. In Bush they did exactly the opposite.

Re:Obligatory Planet of the Apes (5, Funny)

Glytch (4881) | more than 7 years ago | (#19047373)

>> I for one, welcome our new english speaking tyrannical ape-like overlords.

> You're about six years too late for that.

The original poster said "english speaking", clearly this can't be a reference to the president.

Re:Obligatory Planet of the Apes (2, Funny)

rde (17364) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046691)

Yes, let's introduce this gene into a bunch of apes.
I for one, welcome our new english speaking tyrannical ape-like overlords.

And I for one welcome the thoughts on the creationists and other fundies on this one. It's going to be fun.
"We can't do this!"
"Why not?"
"We'll be creating humans! Only God can do that!"
"So you're saying that humans and apes evolved from a common ancestor?"
"Err..."

Re:Obligatory Planet of the Apes (4, Interesting)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 7 years ago | (#19047247)

Actually this really worries me.
What if we produce a subspecies (I think that line is awfully close), are responsible for its care and preventing its extinction?
Now:
What if we create a subspecies with limited intellect and self awareness, but capable of simple tasks: dig here, carry this from here to there, turn the red lever sideways, turn the blue lever up and down, etc.
What now? What rights do they have? do we allow them to work in mines and nuclear plants? are they disposable? or better yet: are humans (homo sapiens) less disposable?
This worries me no end and has nothing to do with religion.
-nB

Re:Obligatory Planet of the Apes (3, Insightful)

Who235 (959706) | more than 7 years ago | (#19047557)

What if we create a subspecies with limited intellect and self awareness, but capable of simple tasks: dig here, carry this from here to there, turn the red lever sideways, turn the blue lever up and down, etc.
What now? What rights do they have? do we allow them to work in mines and nuclear plants? are they disposable? or better yet: are humans (homo sapiens) less disposable?
This worries me no end and has nothing to do with religion.

You hit the nail on the head, there.

Can they vote? All men are created equal, right? Even ones we create?

What if we can reproduce with them? (shudder) Cause if we can, someone will.

I can only see bad coming out of something like this and really not much potential good.

Less profitable if they can breed. (4, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#19047723)

What if we can reproduce with them? (shudder) Cause if we can, someone will.

I can only see bad coming out of something like this and really not much potential good.


Well if Monsanto, or any of the other big firms into genetic research produce them, you can be sure that they'll be sterile. They wouldn't want anyone breeding their own after delivery; they'd want you to go back to the source for another fresh batch of clones.

Re:Obligatory Planet of the Apes (3, Funny)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046899)

I for one, welcome our new english speaking tyrannical ape-like overlords.

You mean the RIAA?

Do you think.... (1)

EmotionToilet (1083453) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046993)

They'll be able to increase the genetic expression of this protein and create ultra intelligent humans? Maybe making us more human than we already are?

Or perhaps Soylent Gene (1)

timonbraun (1052832) | more than 7 years ago | (#19047013)

Soylent gene is people!

Re:Obligatory Planet of the Apes (1)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 7 years ago | (#19047445)

As soon as that happens, some super virus will evolve that will kill all our cats and dogs.

Re:Obligatory Planet of the Apes (1)

Heir Of The Mess (939658) | more than 7 years ago | (#19047793)

Why stop at apes. What if we introduced the gene into lots of different species? Like parrots which can already talk? Or cats and dogs, or politicians?

Uh oh, (5, Funny)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046381)

Putting human brain genes in chimps, this is how it all starts. A thousand years from now some astronaut returning to earth is going to be saying "Get your hands off me, you damn dirty ape!"

Re:Uh oh, (0)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046853)

After a thousand years in space, I'm betting on the chimp speaking that dialogue...

fp? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19046387)

I like putting golf balls in the blowholes of whales.

Good job (4, Funny)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046393)

The article explains that prior work has shown that humans, as compared with the great apes from which we diverged over 5 million years ago, have ...

Now that the prior work is already covered, the AACS can't copyright us.

Mix this protein into a food chain and... (4, Funny)

Ruvim (889012) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046413)

You have 6bln more monkeys running around the Earth.

Re:Mix this protein into a food chain and... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19047003)

No, not 6bln. monkeys. They will use this protein to create the ultimate monkey... with 6 asses.

genetic warfare (3, Funny)

amigabill (146897) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046415)

Great. Now someone will come up with a retrovirus or something that makes us all as dumb as Bush.

Actually, I expect something else... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19046623)

They'll just find that it contains the 09 F9 number when the gene sequence has every two base pairs encoded as one hex digit. Then they'll sue everyone who has sex in the USA for "unauthorized trafficking" per the DMCA.

The only good side of this is that, for once, Slashdotters will NOT be affected :)

Nah, they'll use jellyfish and banana genes... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19046937)

To make us yellow and spineless like a Democrat.

To bad Monty Python has "Run away! Run away!" copyrighted, else the Dems could have a new party motto to go with their white flag.

Duh (-1, Troll)

Icarus1919 (802533) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046421)

There's no way we could have evolved from other primates. Adding that many amino acid codes to dna through mutations would take like 10s of thousands if not millions of years, and the earth has only been around for like 8000! Intelligent design wins again, try again, Darwin!

Re:Duh (0, Offtopic)

kitsunewarlock (971818) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046477)

Yeah, everyone knows that the word "created", such as "God created man" means "instantly popped into existence". Like when an artist creates a sculpture. Rome wasn't created in a day. It was created in an instant. Lets just ignore the fact several religious texts like the Popul Vuh out there has proof pointing the other way. Besides, other religions are all run by God-less heathens.

Don't feed the trolls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19046589)

Are you saying that you believe that FSM created humans? What was the problem with the angels?

Why does FSM enjoy being worshipped so much? Nothing better to do? Lonely? Why does FSM care if anyone believes an unverifiable story? If a dog does not believe in its invisible master (or in a master that hides from the dog), should the dog be tortured?

Re:Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19046995)

Thank you. The word used in genesis that translates to "created" means "formed" (ie formed from other materials)... in fact, the word 'created' in ENGLISH doesn't mean to take something out of nothing... it means to form out of materials that already exist. (and it didn't have to happen in 6 days, either).

Re:Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19047145)

True. Genesis doesn't say it was created in 6 days. The first four days are not really days, because what exactly is a day defined as when the sun, moon, and heavens don't exist?

Only one base pair needs to mutate... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19046591)

The PhysOrg article doesn't say, but it's likely the mutation is only in one or a few base pairs; the "extra 45 amino acids" most certainly do not require 45 (if you're counting amino residues) or 135 (if you're counting base pairs) mutations. When making proteins, DNA is transcribed into pre-mRNA, which in eukaryotes (including chimps and humans) then undergoes a process called splicing [wikipedia.org] (wikipedia). Splicing removes certain interim sequence segments (introns) and joins the remaining sections (exons) back together, before the final mRNA is translated into protein. This splicing process can often happen in several different ways for a given gene depending on a variety of factors. That's what they're talking about here -- some mutation in the coding sequence lead to splicing changes, which in turn lead to a more dramatic change in the final gene product (the protein). It only takes a single base pair mutation to cause alternative splicing.

longer form of a protein? (2, Funny)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046431)

longer form of a protein

As long as... a spaghetti noodle, perhaps?

Re:longer form of a protein? (1)

Plutonite (999141) | more than 7 years ago | (#19047267)

Excellent! I will now run off to the heretic Christian boards and show them which god exactly made us in his image. This is scientific proof! They can't deny his noodliness now!

The best part about this protein.... (5, Funny)

chiph (523845) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046437)

...is that your pets have been already eating it for two months!

Chip H.

Re:The best part about this protein.... (1)

sdavid (556770) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046507)

Only if you are recently deceased and forgot to feed the cats!

Maybe that's what killed my dog... (2, Funny)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046535)

stupid Chinese proteins.

I hope Karma is real and he comes back as a piss-off research ape in a Chinese lab and rips some arms off of someone responsible.

Lies! (0, Troll)

Monkeman (827301) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046467)

The Jews just put it there to throw us fine patriotic American Christians off. It's just what they did with the fossil record. Damn Jews!

Re:Lies! (0, Offtopic)

kclittle (625128) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046537)

Chinese Jews?

Hot and Sour Matzah ball soup, anyone?

Re:Lies! (1)

Stile 65 (722451) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046889)

That... sounds surprisingly delicious. *makes note*

Re:Lies!/soup (3, Informative)

arbitraryaardvark (845916) | more than 7 years ago | (#19047155)

You don't have to be Chinese/Jewish or wait for Passover/Gnu Years to enjoy matzo balls. Matzo balls are delicious dumplings made from unleavened bread meal, usually served in broth or soup.
INGREDIENTS:

        * 4 eggs or egg substitute
        * 1/2 cup club soda
        * 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
        * 2 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
        * Salt
        * Freshly ground black pepper
        * 1 cup matzo meal

PREPARATION:
Whisk the eggs until blended. Now add the club soda, vegetable oil or schmaltz, salt and pepper. Easy on the salt, you can always add but you can never take away.
Sponsored Links
Blend in the parsley and matzo meal. Cover and refrigerate this mixture for about 1 hour.
Bring about 5 quarts of water to boil. Rub vegetable oil on hands and form matzo balls with about two tablespoons of mixture. Drop in boiling water and simmer covered and don't peek (okay, maybe once or twice) for about 25 to 35 minutes. Serve in broth, to which add 1/4 teaspoon red pepper and 2 tablespoons vinegar.

For matzoh-miso soup, use miso paste to make the broth.

Re:Lies!/soup (1)

Plutonite (999141) | more than 7 years ago | (#19047569)

Mod parent informative.

If only the world knew what happens on slashdot..

Re:Lies!/soup (1)

Stile 65 (722451) | more than 7 years ago | (#19047661)

My parents and grandparents make/made excellent matzoh ball soup. I usually put cayenne pepper in it instead of salt, though. The miso paste idea sounds awesome! I found a recipe for hot and sour soup, too, and I might try to combine it... maybe replace the tofu with matzoh balls or something.

Re:Lies! (1)

Eli Gottlieb (917758) | more than 7 years ago | (#19047105)

Would you like soy sauce on your falafel?

OK, seriously, the GP wrote the worst troll I've ever read. He wrote so stupidly that I almost think he really believes we Jews fuck with the human genome.

Re:Lies! (0, Offtopic)

Renig (1090765) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046557)

So as creationist Billg would say, "This is the dumbest fucking thing I have ever heard at Microsoft!"

8 posts and no creationists, a /. first (-1, Offtopic)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046495)

no doubt some zealot will ruin the party with his unscience nonsense.

So lemme get this straight.... (4, Insightful)

fishthegeek (943099) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046501)

1. Scientist suspects that there are differences between humans and apes.
2. Scientist looks for said difference.
3. Scientist discovers said difference.
4. World in awe of Scientists intellectual prowess.
5. Story makes Slashdot.
6. Jokes made about overlords and beowulf clusters.
7. World realizes that there are protein and amino acid differences encoded in our genes
8. World realizes that world already suspected as much and Scientist fades into obscurity.
9. "Neuropsin" ends up as most obscure Jeopardy answer EVER

This is cool and all, but unless we plan on manipulating those genes in Apes and three years later accepting simian dominance of our world I can't see how this impacts anyone but grant writers.

Re:So lemme get this straight.... (4, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046761)

One obvious impact would be to look and see if this gene has undergone any further mutations - however trivial - or whether the associated junk DNA has. Of particular interest would be polyglots or other people with exceptional ability in communicating and understanding. Also of interest would be archaeological DNA where the relevant protein has survived. (It's rare for Y chromosomes to survive hundreds or thousands of years, but every so often it happens. Maybe this gene can also survive.)

I'm assuming here that the mutation is involved in communication, as I know that the wiring in the front of the brain is linked to autism, which impacts the brain's I/O channels, and I/O is a major difference between apes and humans. However, this is an assumption and should be taken as such.

We know that the ability to filter information has changed over time. Some of that has been changes elsewhere in the brain, but there is no advantage in a brain adapting to process information it hasn't got. Whereas, we already know from tetrachromats and synesthetes that there IS a usable advantage in getting information that would not normally be processed. If this gene is responsible for improving I/O bandwidth, then we should see a series of minor mutations over time that correspond to known I/O improvements within the brain.

Could this be useful in some other way? Well, provided (a) it is involved in I/O enhancements, and (b) we can understand the relationship between changes within it and those enhancements, it should be possible to induce mutations that can improve the brain further, provided the change did not exceed the brain's ability to adapt.

Re:So lemme get this straight.... (4, Insightful)

radtea (464814) | more than 7 years ago | (#19047395)

I'm assuming here that the mutation is involved in communication...

Why? I mean, sure, it seems to have a role in the forward part of the brain, but rather a lot of things go on there.

What you are doing is variously known as "idle speculation" at best and "jumping to conclusions" at worst. Neither serve the ends of science particularly well, although a little bit of idle speculation can be scientifically valuable.

As usual for /., the headline is false. This gene does not "make us human." It appears to be an important locus in differentiating early hominids from there closest relatives. Only an idiot, a liar, or a journalist would confuse that with "making us human."

There is hope this might lead to advanced therapy (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 7 years ago | (#19047363)

For the humanity deficient. Compulsory vaccination with Type II Neuropsin enabling virus and the world may be cured of lawyerism in all its forms.

Re:So lemme get this straight.... (5, Insightful)

bogjobber (880402) | more than 7 years ago | (#19047621)

1. Scientist suspects that there are differences between humans and apes.
2. Scientist looks for said difference...
8. World realizes that world already suspected as much and Scientist fades into obscurity.

9. World's knowledge of the world is slightly improved by Scientist affirming suspected hypothesis and introducing more data to World.

Not every scientific discovery has to be of the earth-shaking, paradigm-shifting variety.

Tag this article deathofcreationism (-1, Flamebait)

dokebi (624663) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046509)

Or maybe diecreationismdie

Re:Tag this article deathofcreationism (1, Insightful)

FlyByPC (841016) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046667)

Oh, no. They can just claim that God designed this gene.

I gotta hand it to them -- no matter what the evidence, they can sidestep it...

Re:Tag this article deathofcreationism (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19046727)

science - systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation
Sorry to rain on your parade, but science deals with the natural, not the supernatural. It can neither prove nor disprove God's existence.

Re:Tag this article deathofcreationism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19046833)

Evolution is natural, not supernatural. Therefore, science *can* disprove these moronic ID theories.

Re:Tag this article deathofcreationism (4, Insightful)

Metasquares (555685) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046971)

That's because ID is creationism attempting to invade the realm of science. Do so and you subject yourself to science's rules.

That said, there is no amount of evidence that will convince the really staunch ID proponents. Then again, there are still people who believe in geocentrism.

Re:Tag this article deathofcreationism (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19047785)

It's really not fair that you associate ID with geocentricism. Actually, there are a good number of scientists who support ID with actual scientific evidence. Granted, most of it doesn't try to support ID so much as it tries to disprove evolution. However, they are using science: the scientific method, actual data, real research, ect., and that can't be denied simply because of what they're pointing to. Anyone who disregards their findings simply on the grounds that they're trying to prove ID is as bad as the Catholic Church getting all worked up about the idea that Earth might not be the center of the universe. And, yes, there are a few (Ok, more than a few)creationists who never have, and never will, cared what scientific data says. However, there are also atheists who wouldn't change their views if God wrote his name on the moon in huge neon lights. People are stupid like that.

Re:Tag this article deathofcreationism (1)

ampathee (682788) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046997)

Yeah but ID is supernatural, so it cannot be disproved.

Re:Tag this article deathofcreationism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19047009)

In the same manner that religion cannot prove or disprove Flying Spaghetti Monster's existence?

Re:Tag this article deathofcreationism (1)

glittalogik (837604) | more than 7 years ago | (#19047225)

Touched by His noodly appendage, that gene was...

Re:Tag this article deathofcreationism (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19047321)

Oh, no. They can just claim that God designed this gene.

I gotta hand it to them -- no matter what the evidence, they can sidestep it...

We don't have to claim because it is implied. God set in motion the rules of physics and chemistry for the universe and created everything you see (and don't see). We aren't a result of the universe. It is a result of us. It didn't come from us but it is here for us to exist. Show me conclusive evidence for evolution and we'll talk. As it stands, the fact that multiple species share genes doesn't mean anything other than they share genes. Showing incomplete frames of "evolution" and filling in the gaps to fit a theory is creating evidence where none exists. You act like only one side of a debate ever does the sidestepping. Look in the mirror. I gotta hand it to you, no matter what the lack of evidence, you can still follow the wrong people.

You need to start thinking for yourself for once and not believe that everything you read is true. You conveniently forgot that scientists make mistakes (even the smart ones) and others take up the slack to correct incomplete and errored theories. Evolution is only a theory and doesn't even make predictions about the world; its existence relies on imperfect and biased humans making guesses about a time period when they weren't alive in order to fit their *own* theory. Biased? Nah, of course not. It's interesting how a few skeletons (why only a few? where was everyone else?) can be used to create a fully detailed timeline of human history. Seems some scientists are looking a little too hard to find what they want to find.

Re:Tag this article deathofcreationism (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19047393)


I don't believe in god, but I'll be damned if some of you atheist evangelicals aren't just as fucking annoying as the Christian variety.

You know those annoying assholes who mention god every time they open their mouths? Yeah, that's the way some of you atheists sound too. Ever seen the way some people slobber all over Dawkins like he was fucking Billy Graham?

interesting (1, Funny)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046515)

well I'll be a monkey's uncle...

Re:interesting (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#19047011)

well I'll be a monkey's uncle...

Other way around, I'm afraid.

Re:interesting (1)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 7 years ago | (#19047073)

Uncle fucka, is that you?

Re:interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19047097)

If that's true you might want to have a talk with your sister.

In other words (3, Funny)

eclectro (227083) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046539)

We're all mutants? That can't be good...

Re:In other words (1)

jd (1658) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046617)

We're all mutants? That can't be good...

You're right. There's no way Professor X will let that many Slashdotters hang out in his house.

Re:In other words (1)

fimbulvetr (598306) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046713)

If you're an adult, of European descent and can drink milk, you have another mutation to look after:

LACTOSE TOLERANT MAN!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lactose_intolerance [wikipedia.org]

Re:In other words (1)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 7 years ago | (#19047239)

Everyone and everything on this planet is a mutant from an earlier (read "simpler", but anyone with a slight amount of evolutionary sense knows that's not technically true) life form. I'm not saying it's GOOD, it's just not necessarily BAD.

Typical... (2, Insightful)

ls -la (937805) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046551)

... overstatement by the summary.

They did not actually find the gene which "makes us human," as that would actually be several million genes (1.2% of the human genome). They found a gene which causes apes to produce "neuropsin, a protein that plays a role in learning and memory."

Tell me if I'm wrong (sources if you can find them) but don't apes already have near the level of learning and memory we have? They have some level of socialization and tool use, which are two of the important ideas that set us apart from "animals". IMO, a better breakthrough would be to see if apes have some sort of moral code, or even finding the genes that give us a voicebox. Speech is the one thing we have that no other animal does. Speech leads to language, which is really the only way (I can think of, at least) to exchange abstract ideas (another gene to look for, abstract thought).

Re:Typical... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19046649)

I don't think you know what a 'gene' is. A gene is not a base pair. There aren't several million genes in the human genome! The current best guesses from what we have analyzed from the human genome project is probably around 50,000 genes.

Re:Typical... (2, Insightful)

tinrobot (314936) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046799)

IMO, a better breakthrough would be to see if apes have some sort of moral code

Why? Because humans actually have some sort of moral code? I think most scientific research has proved otherwise.

Speech is the only thing that makes us human? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19046945)

That's not what my parrot said.

Re:Speech is the only thing that makes us human? (1)

ls -la (937805) | more than 7 years ago | (#19047197)

I actually thought of that while writing the comment, but ignored it because I didn't think I would classify their imitations as speech. After looking into the matter a bit, I now see that parrots are much closer to speech than I thought (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parrot#Sound_imitati on_and_speech). Does anyone know for sure whether parrots have a language and can talk to each other like humans can?

Re:Speech is the only thing that makes us human? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19047639)

I'm not logging in because I'm lazy, but not a coward. Anyways, there are some linguists who believe that the origin of language lies not only in speech, but gesture as well. Deaf humans communicate abstract ideas just fine without any form of speech at all. It is certainly possible that part or all of our abstract thinking did not begin with any connection to vocalization.

As far as we know, no other species have anything like human language with recursive, hierarchical syntax and other distinct features.

New adverts: (2, Funny)

priestx (822223) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046567)

Make your protein chain longer! For a limited time only!

Infinite Typing Monkey (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046573)

The Human Mutation
[...]
simply identifying it as a very distinct difference

There are other genes different between humans and other apes. Identifying them requires something like a diff run, not the complex analysis reported in this story. Apparently lacking the human neuropsin gene doesn't disqualify submitters from Slashdot.

Typical Evolutionism B.S. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19046639)

The only thing that makes us human is GOD! Look forward to Hell, Slashdotters!

Re:Typical Evolutionism B.S. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19046815)

So heaven is full of people saying, "go to hell" . . .

Damn. (2, Funny)

Midnight Voyager (803970) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046645)

I open this topic, thinking I'm gonna get to hear that someone's finally able to shoot eyebeams or read minds and it's just some silly science thing. I demand powers!

Re:Damn. (1)

chill (34294) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046711)

They're on the list, right after flying cars, personal jet packs and affordable, convenient Lunar vacations.

Ummm.... (5, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046647)

This is one of a large number of variants between humans and apes. There's no reason to think this is "the gene that makes us human", they're not claiming it is, and reporting this not-especially-interesting news accurately would allow just as many moronic comments about creationism.

Re:Ummm.... (2, Funny)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046841)

We are one step closer to ManBearPig! Yee-haw!

Re:Ummm.... (1)

espressojim (224775) | more than 7 years ago | (#19047543)

Thank you. I'm feeling too lazy to write out a whole flame of this summary right now (and I should go read the paper before I really lay into it), but that's how I'd sum this up. Sure, chimps and humans are 99% similar, and we've already noted a ton of differences in the literature. What makes this gene in particular more interesting than say...FOXP (which is believed to be responsible for speech.)

you maniacs! (1, Insightful)

crayz (1056) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046869)

You created type II neuropsin in chimp brains! Damn you! God damn you all to hell!

In Russia... (0, Redundant)

ian-live (1017918) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046895)

... MUST I continue?

In Soviet Russia (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#19047297)

the joke continues YOU!

Re:In Soviet Russia (2, Funny)

ian-live (1017918) | more than 7 years ago | (#19047397)

OH you did make me laugh. Thank you!

A new form of that old cliche (5, Funny)

sabernet (751826) | more than 7 years ago | (#19046935)

Now, with the introduction of said protein, putting a hundred monkeys into a room with typewriters will indeed produce a work the likes of William Shakespear. Only now the chimps will each sue each other for infringing on each other's intellectual property.

Re:A new form of that old cliche (1)

pionzypher (886253) | more than 7 years ago | (#19047163)

Great.... Just what we need. More courtroom scat-slinging in the name of IP.

fetus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19047025)

So, does this mean that if the gene is present in a fetus it is therefore a human -- not trolling, just raising the question

oh great, a new weapon of mass distraction (1)

uncreativ (793402) | more than 7 years ago | (#19047047)

The Chinese will have super intelligent animal kingdom fighters in no time. We must not let the Chinese beat us to planting spies among wildlife.

David Brin would be proud (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19047147)

I'm in the middle of reading The Uplift War and next I'm gonna get Startide Rising. I hope we "uplift" some chimps and see what happens.

oblig soylent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19047169)

That protein is what makes us human... but that means that Soylent Green is people!!!

A distinct distinction (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#19047277)

The research didn't link anything...

Maybe because it's...missing?

No single human gene (2, Insightful)

eli pabst (948845) | more than 7 years ago | (#19047327)

The fact that they put this genes into chimps and they didn't magically become humans clearly shows that the summary is flat out wrong. I think it's pretty obvious that there is no *one* thing that makes you human, so the concept of a single gene that is responsible for "being human" is absurd. Is this one of many? Likely. A few years back FOXP2 was the big "human gene" and I'm sure there will be more.

Re:No single human gene (1)

BayaWeaver (1048744) | more than 7 years ago | (#19047637)

The article says they introduced the mutation into chimp DNA. It does not necessarily mean the chimp DNA was in a living chimp. We'll have to read the actual journal article to find out whether a living chimp was involved. I'm guessing it was just the relevant bits of chimp DNA that was experimented with.

'The gene' has very little to do with it (1)

vandan (151516) | more than 7 years ago | (#19047391)

This is another demonstration of the failure of the reductionist method to describe complex phenomena. Genetics is but a small portion of what 'makes us human', and this particular gene is but a small portion of genetics. Saying that one gene 'makes us human' is like saying "I've found the atom that makes this the Earth". People who insist that we are nothing but a product of our genetics are missing a very important point: reproduction is not a discrete process - it's a continuation of life, and therefore everything that is included in the parents' lives are also included in the makeup of the child, from body chemistry through to thought itself. Life is organised on many levels by many processes, NOT physical 'codes'. Genes exist, and are used, sure, but they are not the be-all and end-all.

What these reductionist scientists can claim is that they've found a gene that appears to be unique to humans. This is quite different from what they're claiming.

Quite the overreaching title (1)

brit74 (831798) | more than 7 years ago | (#19047427)

Calling this "the gene that makes us human" is quite a stretch, isn't it? Not only are there plenty of mutations all over the genome (like the FOXP2 gene [wikipedia.org] that is associated with speech and appeared within the last 200,000 years in the human lineage), but slashdot summary seems to undermine it's own summary when it says, "Introducing this mutation into chimpanzee DNA resulted in the creation of type II neuropsin." If this was "the gene that makes us human", then shouldn't that last sentence read: "Introducing this mutation into chimpanzee DNA resulted in the creation of a human"?

Isn't this from 2004? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19047711)

Recent origin of a hominoid-specific splice form of neuropsin, a gene involved in learning and memory. [nih.gov] Mol Biol Evol. 2004 Nov;21(11):2111-5. Epub 2004 Jul 28. At an impact factor of about 5... not bad.

Neuropsins have been implicated in being important in memory [nih.gov] (approximated by long-term potentiation - some very artificial forms of LTP require neuropsin).
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