The big news in the scientific community this week was the announcement that scientists have decoded the genetic sequence of chimpanzees, the closest living relative to mankind.
In articles published in the journal Nature and published online by the journal Science, an international team of researchers identified virtually all the roughly 3 billion building blocks of chimp DNA.
The scientists found a very small difference between human DNA and chimp DNA--between 1 percent and 4 percent. But the number of genetic differences between a chimp and a human is about 10 times higher than that between two humans. Exploring those differences could help scientists figure what exactly makes us human.
Blog community response:
"There are no firm answers yet about how humans picked up key traits such as walking upright and developing complex language. But the work has produced a long list of DNA differences with the chimp and some hints about which ones might be crucial."
--Just Hangin' on a Cross
"It's not just a few scientists who have studied and reported on the similarities between chimpanzees and humans. The results, which are being published in Nature, are the result of 67 different studies from scientists in five countries--a lot of heavy hitters. It will be interesting to hear what the creationists have to say about this."
--the occasional pundit
"Our cousin the chimpanzee has a genetic code 99% similar to our own genetic code. What make human beings special compared to other animals? If the answer seems obvious to us, this is not an easy question for geneticians." -- Sailom's Philosophy
"This is fantastic news, and it's difficult to overstate the importance of this. We want many different organisms sequenced to sample diversity, but having the sequence of two closely related species is going to be incredibly useful. Aren't you just itching to see what the differences are?" --Pharyngula