Wednesday, October 8, 2014

You're Older Than I Thought

Could it be possible that we only evolved from our common ancestor with the chimpanzees a mere 300-400,000 years ago instead of the millions of years that are commonly talked about?

According to a presentation recently by a renowned evolutionary geneticist, we differ from each other by 0.1-0.5% when we look at our genetic material. In other words, 1 in 1000 genes are different between you and me. Meanwhile, we differ from chimpanzees by 1 in 10 genes or 10%. We differ from Neandertals by 1.2% and Denisovans (a new hominid confirmed in the past few years) by 2.3%. The geneticist said that the genetic variation 'confirms' that Danisovans lived about 60-80,000 years ago.

If so, then the difference between you and me means that one of us is 3-4,000 years old at best. Okay, fess up. You say you're only 29 or 39, but you've been holding at that age for 3,000+ years. Your lack of gray hair is amazing. Methuselah's got nothing on you.

And Ronald Reagan and his co-star Bonzo share a great-great-great-...great-grandfather about 300,000 years ago instead of what many scientists say he lived one million years ago.

Now this all changes if we start with the present and work back. What if the 0.1% change is due to 5000 generations or 100,000 years--based on the changes that occur within one generation? Geneticists do say random changes happen all the time. Genetic variation is common among twins. We differ from our parents by a small portion (60 in 3 billion nucleotides). Then our Neandertal cousins are more like a million years old and our Denisovan cousins are 2 million years old. Or maybe double that if you want to have a 40-year generation instead of a 20-year generation (people are getting married and having kids later now).

Forget "Six Degrees of Separation". We're now talking about no common forefathers or foremothers for tens of thousands of years.

Hmm, maybe we all need to rethink our assumptions around this whole thing!

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