Multiple copies of human brain gene could make us superclever 
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 Multiple copies of human brain gene could make us superclever

        And maybe even more unhappy like Socrates.


They compared the make-up of the human form of the gene with that in six other primate species, each
of which corresponds to a key stage in the evolutionary path of modern man.

They ranged from the chimpanzee, which is man's closest living relative, to the owl monkey, a
relatively primitive creature analogous to an early stage of human evolution.

They found evidence that the make-up of the gene changed significantly between the species - and the
higher up the evolutionary scale they went, the more changes they found.

The biggest difference was found between the human and chimpanzee forms of the gene - confirming
that the recent phase of human evolution has been the most speedy and profound.

Man's closest living relative
By contrast, when researchers looked at the make-up of the gene in more primitive animals such as
cows, sheep, cats and dogs they found little evidence of significant changes between species.

This implies that the speed of change was much slower further down the evolutionary ladder.

Dr Lahn said: "The fact that we see this accelerated evolution of ASPM specifically in the primate
lineage leading to humans, and not in these other mammals, makes a good case that the human lineage
is special."

The next stage in the research will be pin down exactly how ASPM functions in the brain.

Research has suggested that the gene regulates the rate at which brain cells are produced in the
cerebral cortex.

Sun, 02 Jul 2006 20:31:53 GMT
 [ 1 post ] 

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