Evolution's Human and Chimp Twist
This is interesting stuff!
Evolution's human and chimp twist
umans and chimpanzees may have split away from a common ancestor far more recently than was previously thought.
A detailed analysis of human and chimp DNA suggests the lines finally diverged less than 5.4 million years ago.
The finding, published in the journal Nature, is about 1-2 million years later than the fossils have indicated.
A US team says its results hint at the possibility that interbreeding occurred between the two lines for thousands, even millions, of years.
This hybridisation would have been important in swapping genes for traits that allowed the emerging species to survive in their environments, explain the scientists affiliated to the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and the Harvard Medical School.
And it underlines, they believe, just how complex human evolution has been.
The new finding raises questions about the Toumai fossil from Chad
"This is a hypothesis; we haven't proved it but it would explain multiple features of our data," said David Reich, assistant professor of genetics at the Harvard Medical School and an author on the Nature paper.
"The hypothesis is that there was gene flow between the ancestors of humans and chimpanzees after their original divergence.
"So, there might have been an original divergence and a separation for long enough that the species became differentiated - for example, we might have adapted features such as upright walking - and then there was a re-mixture event quite a while after; a hybridisation event," he told the Science in Action programme on the BBC World Service.
Humans and chimps contain DNA sequences that are very similar to each other; the differences are due to mutations, or errors, in the genetic code that have occurred since these animals diverged on to separate evolutionary paths.
How much you want to bet that the humans that breed with the chimps were Chefs fans???
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