A chimpanzee brain at the Science Museum London

Image via Wikipedia

On my way home from Rome this past Sunday, I looked around the plane and couldn’t help but think how similar and different we all are. We have 99.9% the same DNA as each other yet we have no problem telling family and friends from strangers. But then chimps have about 99% the same DNA as humans. Does that .1% really make the difference? I don’t think so. It is now understood that epigenetics play our DNA in different ways. So chimps with nearly the same DNA have drastically different epigenetics and get built differently than humans. Life started with simple DNA components, amino acids, then virus and bacteria and then single cells. Each was an advance in epigenetics that took the organism to the next level of evolution. Epigenetics played and even more significant role as cells grouped together to form more complex organisms. It gave each type of cell special encoding to do different jobs (e.g. blood vs. muscle vs. skin, etc). Where is the logic in this evolutionary plan kept? There would seem to be a programming language that changes epigenetic and genetic roles as evolution continues on its way. Are we the last stage of evolution? I don’t think so. We now have genetics, epigenetics and the brain’s neural network all changing who we are and how we operate. Tomorrow we will continue on this topic with a possible next step in evolution.

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