Men more different from chimps than women, say boffins

if you have any poo, fling it now - ladies


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." ®


Other stories you might like

  • Experts: AI should be recognized as inventors in patent law
    Plus: Police release deepfake of murdered teen in cold case, and more

    In-brief Governments around the world should pass intellectual property laws that grant rights to AI systems, two academics at the University of New South Wales in Australia argued.

    Alexandra George, and Toby Walsh, professors of law and AI, respectively, believe failing to recognize machines as inventors could have long-lasting impacts on economies and societies. 

    "If courts and governments decide that AI-made inventions cannot be patented, the implications could be huge," they wrote in a comment article published in Nature. "Funders and businesses would be less incentivized to pursue useful research using AI inventors when a return on their investment could be limited. Society could miss out on the development of worthwhile and life-saving inventions."

    Continue reading
  • Declassified and released: More secret files on US govt's emergency doomsday powers
    Nuke incoming? Quick break out the plans for rationing, censorship, property seizures, and more

    More papers describing the orders and messages the US President can issue in the event of apocalyptic crises, such as a devastating nuclear attack, have been declassified and released for all to see.

    These government files are part of a larger collection of records that discuss the nature, reach, and use of secret Presidential Emergency Action Documents: these are executive orders, announcements, and statements to Congress that are all ready to sign and send out as soon as a doomsday scenario occurs. PEADs are supposed to give America's commander-in-chief immediate extraordinary powers to overcome extraordinary events.

    PEADs have never been declassified or revealed before. They remain hush-hush, and their exact details are not publicly known.

    Continue reading
  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022