Tuesday, September 4, 2007

We are family

People aren't quite as similar as we thought:
People are less alike than scientists had thought when it comes to the billions of building blocks that make up each individual's DNA, according to a new analysis.

"Instead of 99.9 percent identical, maybe we're only 99 percent (alike)," said J. Craig Venter, an author of the study — and the person whose DNA was analyzed for it.

Several previous studies have argued for lowering the 99.9 percent estimate. Venter says this new analysis "proves the point."


The order of building blocks along a strand of DNA encodes genetic information, somewhat like the way a sequence of letters creates a sentence. Particular sequences form genes. Landmark studies published in 2001 indicated that the DNA of any two people is about 99.9 percent alike. The new paper suggests estimates of 99.5 percent to just 99 percent, Venter said.

The Venter paper joins several others published over the past three to four years that indicate an estimate of around 99 percent, said Richard Gibbs, a DNA expert at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston who didn't participate in Venter's study.

The studies produce the lower figure because they uncovered chunks of DNA that differ among people, whereas previous studies focused on differences in individual building blocks.

We're only 99% similar to each other? Obviously this means the dead racists were right--blacks are hardly people at all!

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