It's been a conundrum to humans, why monkeys are not more human? But recent research indicates there are more similarities than one thinks. Scientists have sequenced the genome of the chimpanzee and found that humans are 96 percent similar to the great ape species. In fact, when Darwin said we descended from apes, he didn't go far enough. A comparison of genetic blueprints show that our closest living relatives share most or our DNA. In fact, the number of genetic differences between humans and chimps is ten times less than than that of mice and rats.
Humans and chimps originated from a common ancestor, and researchers have postulated that it was six million years ago when we started to diverge.
The studies go on . . .
There are varying hypotheses that account for the evolution of human traits. Wen-Hsiung Li, a molecular evolutionist at the University of Chicago in Illinois. believes these traits come from modification in the parts of the genome that regulate other gene activity.
Scientists agree that many questions remain unanswered but the chimp genome provides important clues to understanding what makes us human and them . . . well, apes!
"We're in a very nice intermediate stage of understanding human-chimp differences," said Evan Eichler, a genome scientist at the University of Washington in Seattle. "We can't say, this is the difference that makes us human, but we can say, these are the regions of the genome that show a lot of potential and are excellent candidates to do further work."
Hacking Genes to make Monkeys More Humanlike
For the first time in history, scientists have started using gene-editing techniques to make monkey brains more human-like. This has kicked off a fiery debate among ethicists about how far scientists should be able to take genetic experimentation.
A team of Chinese scientists inserted the human version of a gene called MCPH1 into macaques. The new gene made the monkeys’ brains develop along a more human-like timeline. The gene-hacked monkeys had better reaction times and enhanced short-term memories compared to their unaltered peers, according to China Daily.
But not everyone is on board . . .
“The use of transgenic monkeys to study human genes linked to brain evolution is a very risky road to take,” University of Colorado geneticist James Sikela told the MIT Technology Review. “It is a classic slippery slope issue and one that we can expect to recur as this type of research is pursued.”
Could this gene-technology enhance memory to create the possibility that they convert our cousins into a "Planet of the Apes" uprising scenario? Like robot technology creating a fear of singularity, this type of unchecked research might lead to dire results. Time will tell on this one.
But give us your thoughts readers? Are you for or against this type of research and why?
Primary Source: Futurism