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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Cityblog Science Club: Mutations that Caused Evolution in the Humans

Cityblog introduces Science club for young and old interested readers. This section is edited by  Riya

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Mutations that caused evolution in the humans

The human body has evolved over the course of million years to perform highly complex mechanisms which are essential for its normal functioning in addition to complex mechanisms like thinking logically and the development of the language. These mechanisms include the development of the signaling in the nervous system which helps in responding to the stimuli, metabolism to provide energy for carrying out other functions in the body, understanding, and thinking, being able to communicate and even a simple task as holding something which is possible because of the development of the thumb. Ever thought how these developed?
It all starts with our good old friends- Primates.  Evidence for this theory can be the mitochondrial difference of 99% between the chimpanzee and the humans. The mitochondrion is the organelle in the cell which is responsible for the cellular respiration. It produces energy in the form of ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate). As the mitochondria contain their own DNA, they are used to identify how distantly or closely related the species are. Primates were basically arboreal which indicates that they lived on the trees.  The most significant evolution was Bipedalism. Bipedalism is a unique characteristic in the humans which allows them to walk on their two limbs. There have been many speculations about how the ancestors of humans developed bipedalism. This connects to the idea of Natural Selection that Charles Darwin presented in his famous work, Origin of Species. Darwin proposed that an offspring inherits the mutation from the parents. And as this mutation, becomes beneficial in a particular species it stays in the gene pool.  Maybe, a mutation was inherited and was beneficial; thus, remained in the gene pool.
Perhaps, the size of the human brain is a noteworthy evolution which gives us the ability to think and to communicate. We need to appreciate the human ability to do so many things many species cannot. Like the development of more than 100 languages and being able to reason and logically applying knowledge in our everyday lives. Extensive research indicates that genetic changes in the human genome were the main causality behind the brain size enlargement. Gene family which is suspected to be responsible for the brain enlargement is called the DUF1220 (Vallender). This is considered a novel gene. Novel genes are hypothesized to be the reason for the evolution in the human phenotype. The function of the DUF1220 is unknown; however, the researchers have discovered that it is expressed in the brain and the neurons. Another significant finding is that the amount of the gene being expressed increases in primates if they are closer to the human phenotype. Therefore, with larger brains, humans are capable of doing many things yet we sometimes find ourselves using it for the wrong means like cheating on a test! Just learn to appreciate the genes as they do so much for us, for example, they express many proteins so that we think and do good for our society!

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