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DNA Code Illuminates Rise of Brains

DevotedSkeptic (2715017) writes | about 2 years ago

Science 1

DevotedSkeptic writes "DNA analysis of an extinct human ancestor that lived 80,000 years ago has pinpointed fundamental genes tied to the brain’s evolution, showing how genome testing is changing anthropology and archaeology along with medicine.

At least eight genes that rose to prominence in human DNA since the time of the ancient relatives, called Denisovans, affect nerve growth and language, an international team of researchers said today in the journal Science. The cognitive power conferred by these genes may have keyed the development of complex thinking skills, culture and civilization said Svante Paabo, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

“This is perhaps in the long term, to me, the most fascinating part about this; what it will tell us in the future about what makes us special in the world,” he said yesterday on a conference call.

New DNA techniques are reshaping knowledge of human evolution just as quickly as they’re sparking the development of medical tests and treatments. Using a tiny amount of material from an ancient finger bone, scientists were able to analyze the ancient ancestor’s genes as closely as those of anyone who walked into a lab today, said David Reich, a Harvard Medical School genetics professor who contributed to the study.

Almost every cell in an organism holds a complete copy its genome, the chemical code for making proteins and tissues. The Denisovan genome analyzed in the study gives a broad visual picture of the individual it came from, holding genes that predict brown hair, brown eyes and dark skin in humans."

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1 comment

TFA is misleading (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 2 years ago | (#41219637)

TFA at businessweak is misleading

Denisovans are not ancestors for ALL humans on this planet

Only a portion of the human species have the Denisovans genes

As for the claim of "rise of brains", I doubt it

If you happen to know true descendants of the Denisovans, you would know that their "brains" aren't that much better than their Denisovans ancestors - in spite of 80,000 more years of "evolution"

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