Feeds

Men more different from chimps than women, say boffins

if you have any poo, fling it now - ladies

Application security programs and practises

In genetic terms, as everyone but religious extremists acknowledges, human beings are in general very similar indeed to chimpanzees. However, scientists have now discovered that the Y chromosomes - found only in the males - of the two species are extremely dissimilar.

The new study is reported this week in hefty boffinry mag Nature, covering a study by David Page of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, America, and his colleagues.

According to the boffins' analysis, most parts of the human and chimp (Pan troglodytes) genome are very similar, differing by "less than one per cent" in gene number. But the human male's Y chromosome is hugely more complex than that of our remote arboreal cousins.

The chimp Y chromosome has only two-thirds as many distinct genes or gene families as the human Y chromosome and only 47% as many protein-coding elements.

The massive divergence between the relatively basic chimp male chromosome and the complex, information-packed one found in men is theorised to be the result of rapid evolution taking place over the six to seven million years since humanity's remote ancestors split off from those of chimps.

"If you're marching along the human chromosome 21, you might as well be marching along the chimp chromosome 21. It's like an unbroken piece of glass," Page tells Nature. "But the relationship between the human and chimp Y chromosomes has been blown to pieces."

What this means, of course, is that women are in fact much closer genetically to being chimps than men are. Some have even interpreted the research to mean that men are "more evolved" than women, having left their heritage as apes further behind than the ladies.

Technically speaking this is correct, but Page and his colleagues caution that most of the rapid changes taking place in men haven't involved anything that modern civilisation would necessarily regard as evidence of superiority: the shift from poo-flinging to speech and writing as means of expressing oneself, for instance, is unrelated to the Y chromosome.

What the Y chromosome is mainly about, seemingly, is spunkiness.

"When we sequenced the chimp genome people thought we'd understand why we have language and write poetry," says Page. "But one of the most dramatic differences turns out to be sperm production." ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.