By Plummer, Carlson McGeary
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Perhaps indeed that might be worth acknowledging zoologically. Humans are marked by a large number of physical, ecological, mental, and social distinctions from other life. Not improvements, of course—we have no objective way to evaluate “improvement” in the natural world—but merely differences. Other primate species spend time on two legs, and other vertebrate species are bipedal (birds and kangaroos come readily to mind), but not in the same manner as humans. Other species communicate, but not via the absurdly arbitrary and symbolic media we call language.
9% different. 9% estimate is a consequence of the fact that this DNA comparison includes much more nongenic DNA than genic DNA (which is the only class that would be translated into protein differences). Indeed, the DNA sequences of genes included in that region are virtually identical between the two species. But again, that is a high estimate, because it focuses on a region known to contain genes and hence is more conservative than the overall DNA would be expected to be. Genes are rare in the genome.
The mutations have little or no effect on the life of the organism, and so the differences simply accumulate. Two organisms will therefore be far more similar in their nuclear DNA than in their mtDNA. 2% difference), whose nuclear DNAs are so similar as to preclude that kind of study generally. The point is an important one: different bits of DNA evolve at their own rates, and therefore in the six or seven million years of evolutionary time separating humans, chimps, and gorillas, some bits are 10% different, some are not comparable because they are different in kind rather than amount, and most are less than 3% different.