Comparing Human Genetic Similarity to Other Life Forms
Of the three billion genetic building blocks that make us living things, only a handful are uniquely ours. In fact, despite our differences on the outside, humans are 99.9% genetically similar to one another.
But how alike are we to other, non-human life forms? Turns out, we’re a lot more similar than you might think.
Comparative Genomics 101
First, how do scientists compare the genetic makeup of various life forms?
Comparative genomics is a branch of biology that compares genome sequences across different species to identify their similarities and differences.
This field of research is important because it:
- Helps us better understand evolution, and how living things have adapted over time.
- Builds knowledge around genes and how they influence various systems in our bodies.
- Has wider applications in agriculture, especially in conservation efforts among endangered species.
According to the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), scientists have already sequenced the genomes of more than 250 animal species, as well as 50 bird species.
Human Genetic Makeup vs. Other Life Forms
Perhaps unsurprisingly, chimps are one of our closest genetic relatives in the animal kingdom.
Because of our similarities, chimpanzees have a similar immune system to humans, which means they’re susceptible to viruses such as AIDS and hepatitis.
Though chimps are one of our closest (Read more...)