Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

We Dodged Extinction
ABCNews ^ | Lee Dye

Posted on 01/29/2002 7:23:19 PM PST by Sabertooth

We Dodged Extinction
Chimpanzees
‘Pruned’ Family Tree Leaves Little Genetic Variety

Just one group of chimpanzees can have more genetic diversity than all 6 billion humans on the planet. (Corel)



Special to ABCNEWS.com
A worldwide research program has come up with astonishing evidence that humans have come so close to extinction in the past that it’s surprising we’re here at all.
    Pascal Gagneux, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California at San Diego, and other members of a research team studied genetic variability among humans and our closest living relatives, the great apes of Africa.
     Humanoids are believed to have split off from chimpanzees about 5 million to 6 million years ago. With the passage of all that time, humans should have grown at least as genetically diverse as our “cousins.” That turns out to be not true.
     “We actually found that one single group of 55 chimpanzees in west Africa has twice the genetic variability of all humans,” Gagneux says. “In other words, chimps who live in the same little group on the Ivory Coast are genetically more different from each other than you are from any human anywhere on the planet.”

Primate Tree
The branch lengths illustrate the number of genetic differences, not only between species, but among species as well. The pruned bush for humans shows how little genetic diversity exists. (Marco Doelling/ABCNEWS.com)

The Family Bush
“The family tree shows that the human branch has been pruned,” Gagneux says. “Our ancestors lost much of their original variability.”
     “That makes perfectly good sense,” says Bernard Wood, the Henry R. Luce Professor of Human Origins at George Washington University and an expert on human evolution.
     “The amount of genetic variation that has accumulated in humans is just nowhere near compatible with the age” of the species, Wood says. “That means you’ve got to come up with a hypothesis for an event that wiped out the vast majority of that variation.”
     The most plausible explanation, he adds, is that at least once in our past, something caused the human population to drop drastically. When or how often that may have happened is anybody’s guess. Possible culprits include disease, environmental disaster and conflict.

Almost Extinct
“The evidence would suggest that we came within a cigarette paper’s thickness of becoming extinct,” Wood says.
     Gagneux, who has spent the last 10 years studying chimpanzees in Africa, says the implications are profound.
     “If you have a big bag full of marbles of different colors, and you lose most of them, then you will probably end up with a small bag that won’t have all the colors that you had in the big bag,” he says.
     Similarly, if the size of the human population was severely reduced some time in the past, or several times, the “colors” that make up our genetic variability will also be reduced.
     If that is indeed what happened, then we should be more like each other, genetically speaking, than the chimps and gorillas of Africa. And that’s just what the research shows.
     “We all have this view in our minds that we [humans] started precariously as sort of an ape-like creature” and our numbers grew continuously, adds Wood. “We’re so used to the population increasing inexorably over the past few hundred years that we think it has always been like that.”
     But if it had, Gagneux notes, our genetic variability should be at least as great as that of apes.

A Stormy Past
Gagneux is the lead author of a report that appeared in the April 27 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study, carried out with researchers in Germany, Switzerland and the United States, is the first to examine large numbers of all four ape species in Africa.
     “We can do that now because new technology allows us to non-invasively take some hair, or even some fruit that these apes chew, and then we get their DNA from a couple of cells that stick to a hair or a piece of fruit they chewed.”
     Then they compared the DNA variability of apes and chimps to that of 1,070 DNA sequences collected by other researchers from humans around the world. They also added the DNA from a bone of a Neanderthal in a German museum. The results, the researchers say, are very convincing.
     “We show that these taxa [or species] have very different amounts and patterns of genetic variation, with humans being the least variable,” they state.
     Yet humans have prevailed, even though low genetic variability leaves us more susceptible to disease.
     “Humans, with what little variation they have, seem to maximize their genetic diversity,” Gagneux says.
     “It’s ironic,” he notes, that after all these years the biggest threat to chimpanzees is human intrusion into their habitats. When he returned to Africa to study a group of chimps he had researched earlier, Gagneux found them gone.
     “They were dead,” he says, “and I mean the whole population had disappeared in five years.”
     Yet as our closest living relatives, chimps still have much to teach us about ourselves.

Lee Dye’s column appears Wednesdays on ABCNEWS.com. A former science writer for the Los Angeles Times, he now lives in Juneau, Alaska.



TOPICS: Front Page News; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: crevolist; godsgravesglyphs
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-100101-150151-173 next last

1 posted on 01/29/2002 7:23:19 PM PST by Sabertooth
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: CheneyChick; vikingchick; Victoria Delsoul; WIMom; one_particular_harbour; kmiller1k; Snow Bunny...
It could happen to you, too!

(((ping))))


2 posted on 01/29/2002 7:24:14 PM PST by Sabertooth
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Sabertooth
Hey, how did you get you're picture on an ABC story? :-)

Running for cover.

3 posted on 01/29/2002 7:26:43 PM PST by Valin
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Sabertooth
I do not believe in evolution. End of story.
4 posted on 01/29/2002 7:26:57 PM PST by onyx
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Sabertooth

Fear not. I have nearly perfect my race of atomic supermen.

We will protect you sub-norms.

5 posted on 01/29/2002 7:27:45 PM PST by Doctor Doom
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: onyx
I do not believe in evolution.

It's okay. Evolution believes in you.

6 posted on 01/29/2002 7:28:34 PM PST by Doctor Doom
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

Comment #7 Removed by Moderator

To: Sabertooth
Could Genesis offer the missing solution?
8 posted on 01/29/2002 7:30:45 PM PST by One More Time
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

The most plausible explanation, he adds, is that at least once in our past, something caused the human population to drop drastically. When or how often that may have happened is anybody’s guess. Possible culprits include disease, environmental disaster and conflict.

Guess they never heard of Noah.

9 posted on 01/29/2002 7:31:23 PM PST by Diddle E. Squat
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Sabertooth
Nice find. Thanks.
10 posted on 01/29/2002 7:31:31 PM PST by GOPJ
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Doctor Doom
We will protect you sub-norms.

That's nice. :)

11 posted on 01/29/2002 7:32:08 PM PST by CheneyChick
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Diddle E. Squat
Nor Adam.
12 posted on 01/29/2002 7:32:16 PM PST by Diddle E. Squat
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: onyx
I do not believe in evolution. End of story.

Gee, brilliant, incisive argument there.

13 posted on 01/29/2002 7:32:32 PM PST by John H K
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: onyx;Sabertooth
I could see an argument that would say that , yes the primates evolved but man was placed here by a creator ......!
14 posted on 01/29/2002 7:33:04 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Sabertooth
Looks like Bill Clinton.
15 posted on 01/29/2002 7:33:42 PM PST by Buckeroo
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Diddle E. Squat
Guess they never heard of Noah.

They have, of course, but the problem is there isn't a scrap or shred of evidence, or any logical mechanism, for a simultaneous world-wide flood.

Most likely candidate I've seen for the cause of the almost-extinction was the eruption of the Supervolcano Toba in Indonesia 70,000 years ago...the last Supervolcano to have erupted.

16 posted on 01/29/2002 7:35:17 PM PST by John H K
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: Sabertooth
The human species is maybe 100,000 years old. The greater genetic variation in chimpanzees suggests that their species is much older. Perhaps they have been a stable species for 5 million years. Or, maybe humans are like cheetahs. Cheetahs have so little genetic variation that they suffered a population bottleneck sometime in the past.
17 posted on 01/29/2002 7:35:40 PM PST by Gladwin
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: John H K
Thank you! I'm so often correct, I sometimes forget to thank you little people.
18 posted on 01/29/2002 7:35:43 PM PST by onyx
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: onyx
I do not believe in evolution. End of story.

You haven't considered all of the ramifications of the article I sent...

Genesis 7

1
And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.

2
Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female.

3
Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth.

4
For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.

5
And Noah did according unto all that the LORD commanded him.

6
And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth.

7
And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood.

We almost dodged extinction in that story too.


19 posted on 01/29/2002 7:36:49 PM PST by Sabertooth
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Diddle E. Squat
Guess they never heard of Noah.

Well in the Flood story there were eight people left after the flood to populate the world, but only two chimps. I wonder how that would explain the chimps having more genetic diversity when they started with a smaller gene pool in the first place. The Noah story helps not a bit here . . . sorry.

20 posted on 01/29/2002 7:37:57 PM PST by realpatriot71
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: Sabertooth
“The evidence would suggest that we came within a cigarette paper’s thickness of becoming extinct,” Wood says.

Damn tobacco companies.

21 posted on 01/29/2002 7:38:48 PM PST by monkey
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: John H K
Most likely candidate I've seen for the cause of the almost-extinction was the eruption of the Supervolcano Toba in Indonesia 70,000 years ago...

That would have between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis, and the rise of the Sons of Aryas - an age undreamed of...

22 posted on 01/29/2002 7:40:09 PM PST by Doctor Doom
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: John H K
Even if there was a flood, there were eight humans and two chimps on that boat. What would explain the greater genetic diversity from the smaller gene pool evolving over the same time period?
23 posted on 01/29/2002 7:40:11 PM PST by realpatriot71
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: Sabertooth
Of course the evolutionary biologists didn't say it,but it looks like their finding of the lack of genetic diversity in human beings is best explained by some catastrophic event. Darn, Moses must have thought of that and gave us the myth of Noah and the flood to explain it. You would have thought Darwin would have factored that in, but guess he didn't understand it as well as Moses.
24 posted on 01/29/2002 7:43:35 PM PST by Rushian
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: realpatriot71
7 of the 8 humans didn't have any children?
25 posted on 01/29/2002 7:43:36 PM PST by Gladwin
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: Sabertooth
Ah, but Noah took not only his genetic makeup but his wife's, his son's and THEIR wives' genetic makeup as well. The chimpanzees on board would have numbered only two...

Ergo, this explanation does not work because there would be MORE human variability than chimp... about four to one.

26 posted on 01/29/2002 7:44:04 PM PST by Swordmaker
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: Rushian
Or, humans are a recent species.
27 posted on 01/29/2002 7:44:39 PM PST by Gladwin
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: realpatriot71
Even if there was a flood, there were eight humans and two chimps on that boat. What would explain the greater genetic diversity from the smaller gene pool evolving over the same time period?

The humans were all from the same family, except perhaps, the wives (although incest prohibitions didn't come until later). If the chimps weren't, that would explain it.


28 posted on 01/29/2002 7:45:00 PM PST by Sabertooth
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: Sabertooth
Is there not another possibility, that the human "line" was sudden and somewhat unique?

The passing close by our atmosphere of a particularly radiation-active body, could have introduced the variant; as well as solar moments.

It is a mistake to think of evolution as only gradual, when the evidence has already presented over the last decades, that radiation, for example, can cause sudden and dramatic change.

29 posted on 01/29/2002 7:45:42 PM PST by First_Salute
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: realpatriot71
Because of the decreased life expectancy of the chimp, there have numerous more generations, and each generation offers the chance for diversity. They were only twice as diverse, so would have only needed twice the number of generations.
30 posted on 01/29/2002 7:46:28 PM PST by Rushian
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: Sabertooth
The amount of genetic variation that has accumulated in humans is just nowhere near compatible with the age” of the species, Wood says. “That means you’ve got to come up with a hypothesis for an event that wiped out the vast majority of that variation.”

I wonder how often this happens. The evidence contradicts our theories. So rather than reexamining the theory, we speculate new hypotheses to make the evidence fit our theories. I suspect it happens far more than anyone knows.

31 posted on 01/29/2002 7:46:47 PM PST by Sci Fi Guy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Swordmaker
Ergo, this explanation does not work because there would be MORE human variability than chimp... about four to one.

Great minds think alike?

(I said it first! Neeener, neeeener! :-p)

32 posted on 01/29/2002 7:46:48 PM PST by realpatriot71
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

To: Doctor Doom
We will protect you sub-norms.

Thank you very much for your kind offer but we already have the lovely and gracious hillary to take care of us and protect us.

33 posted on 01/29/2002 7:46:52 PM PST by Valin
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Gladwin
This agrees with the Toba event. Looks like that eruption wiped out most of the human race.
34 posted on 01/29/2002 7:47:24 PM PST by Doctor Stochastic
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: Sabertooth
Thanks for the heads up!
35 posted on 01/29/2002 7:48:31 PM PST by Alamo-Girl
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Sabertooth
So what you're saying is because the 8 humans were related, even though they numbered more, their gene pool was still less diverse in the first place. Interesting. Throw a bit of a monkey-wrench into my thoughts. I'll have to think some more about this one. Hmmmmmmm . . .
36 posted on 01/29/2002 7:49:04 PM PST by realpatriot71
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 28 | View Replies]

To: Sabertooth
Well, I have problems with the general theory of evolution, too. A good deal of it doesn't make much sense, scientifically. There is minor evolutionary development within species, certainly but after a century and a half of looking, they still haven't found any proof of evolution from one species to another.

In this case, they find an embarassing discrepancy with the way things should be among humans, according to their theory. So, they posit an "extinction" event to explain this embarrassing discrepancy, although there is no scientific evidence for it whatever. That's not science. It's what used to be called "saving the appearances." That is to say, desperately thinking up new theories to explain why your old theories don't fit the evidence.

As I understand it, DNA evidence suggests that all the human races probably go back to something that looks suspiciously like a single female ancestor--a woman whom some scientists jokingly refer to as "Eve."

37 posted on 01/29/2002 7:49:34 PM PST by Cicero
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Cicero
they still haven't found any proof of evolution from one species to another.

Creationist Myth #244 "There's no proof of speciation."

38 posted on 01/29/2002 7:51:17 PM PST by Doctor Doom
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 37 | View Replies]

To: Rushian
Frequent generations don't really help that much. For instance if you only originally had two possible outcomes for a particular trait in the first place. It does not matter how many come later, there will only be two options. There is always the chance for muation and genetic recombination. However, these changes normally end up with deletrious results. If the flood happened between 10,000 and 4000 years ago, there is no where near enough time for this much non-deletrious mutation and recombination to occur in order to see the differences that we do. Sorry.
39 posted on 01/29/2002 7:52:09 PM PST by realpatriot71
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: realpatriot71
Keep in mind, I'm not offering a definitive argument one way, or the other. I kind of enjoy the areas where Genesis and science seem like they might overlap.


40 posted on 01/29/2002 7:52:28 PM PST by Sabertooth
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 36 | View Replies]

To: Sabertooth
We almost dodged extinction in that story too.

Good one!

41 posted on 01/29/2002 7:54:38 PM PST by CheneyChick
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: Doctor Doom
Plenty of evidence of speciation. Most species are species because they never interact, not because they can't. Sheeesh. Anyone who says speciation does not occur is being intellectually dishonest. However, the types of mutations and changes needed to move from one taxa to another is something we have not seen at all. I cannot think of a single case of a modern switch even at the genus level.
42 posted on 01/29/2002 7:55:46 PM PST by realpatriot71
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 38 | View Replies]

To: Sabertooth
The dinosaurs died off by smoking!! The Gov is saving us by the billion dollar lawsuits (sarcasm) Whether evolution or Creation, the hand of God was on the human race form the beginning. Atheism is indefensible. When will science become unshackled from Naturalistic Presuppositions!?
43 posted on 01/29/2002 7:56:34 PM PST by trevorjohnson
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 40 | View Replies]

To: Cicero
Observed Instances of Speciation
44 posted on 01/29/2002 7:56:40 PM PST by Doctor Doom
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 37 | View Replies]

To: realpatriot71
A grand statement totally unsupported by any evidence whatsoever!
45 posted on 01/29/2002 7:56:56 PM PST by Rushian
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 39 | View Replies]

To: Rushian
Which statement are you referring to?
46 posted on 01/29/2002 7:58:19 PM PST by realpatriot71
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 45 | View Replies]

To: Sabertooth
see, the issue I have with harmonizing modern science with Biblical narrative is the anachronism. If you say that the true meaning of Genesis only makes sense according to modern science, what you're really saying is that Jesus, his Disciples, the prophets, Moses, etc. did not really understand Genesis 1. I don't know if I want to say that.
47 posted on 01/29/2002 7:58:22 PM PST by modern_orthodox
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 40 | View Replies]

To: John H K
"Most likely candidate I've seen for the cause of the almost-extinction was the eruption of the Supervolcano Toba in Indonesia 70,000 years ago...the last Supervolcano to have erupted."

Yup. I think you are correct. However, there have been a number of 'thinning out' periods. There have been five worldwide catastrophies in the last 10k years alone, some refer to these as 'near extinction' events. The last one occurred in 540AD. Toba was the 'butt kicker' though.

48 posted on 01/29/2002 8:00:25 PM PST by blam
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: Sabertooth
“The amount of genetic variation that has accumulated in humans is just nowhere near compatible with the age” of the species, Wood says. “That means you’ve got to come up with a hypothesis for an event that wiped out the vast majority of that variation.”

Hmmm...
Like a really big flood, maybe?

49 posted on 01/29/2002 8:00:49 PM PST by Salman
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Sabertooth
oh please. More junk science....
50 posted on 01/29/2002 8:04:05 PM PST by GeronL
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-100101-150151-173 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson