Scientists believe they may have found a narrow slice of DNA that separates us from chimpanzees. Current research holds that humans and chimps split on the evolutionary tree about 7 million years ago. In identifying a section of DNA that has changed more than 70 times as rapidly as the rest of the human genome, researchers may have found out how, though not why, that split came about. ‘The suggestion is that this region of DNA is crucial to the development of uniquely human brains,’ said David Haussler, a molecular biologist at the University of California at Santa Cruz and the co-author of a study reported in the journal Nature. Finding the gene, or genes, that underpin the runaway brain of humans as compared to every other species is one of modern biology’s holy grails. ‘It’s not like the problem is solved,’ said Richard Gibbs, director of Baylor College of Medicine’s Human Genome Sequencing Center. ‘But this is a nice paper. And it’s persuasive to me that they have found a significant difference in the genomes. ‘But it’s unknown how many significant differences will have to add up to make us different from chimpanzees.’ […]

Read the Full Article