STATES CHRONICLE – We know that DNA is what makes us who we are: humans, our parent’s children, our siblings’ sibling, our children’s parents and so on. But according to a new study, what we previously thought that makes us human might actually be less human. More precisely, researchers have managed to find 19 new pieces of non-human DNA.
The study was conducted by a team of scientists at the University of Michigan on 2,500 subjects. Their findings suggest that the non-human DNA pieces are remains of viruses which have infected our human ancestors probably some hundreds of thousands of years ago.
The fragments of non-human DNA were compared to a “reference” human genome and this is how scientists figured out where the viral pieces have come from. What is not yet known is whether this strand of virus DNA can replicate or reproduce. However, other studies have showed that this ancient virus DNA could affect people who carry it.
Other studies have tried linking these viruses to cancer and other disease but without success as researchers haven’t been able to find all of the ancient pieces of DNA yet. However, the new discovery gives more insight on human evolution and shows us that we might not be as human as previously thought.
The researchers have been looking at genomes of people from all over the world, including Africa, where our first ancestors lived before relocating to other parts of the world. But the virus DNA was only found in 50 of 2,500 people, which means that although the finding proves our DNA is not only human, more studies must be conducted on a wider subject range, in order to get more conclusive results.
To give you a better idea of how we are not that human, you should know that according to estimates, about 8 percent of our DNA comes from viruses. The study provides information on how human DNA evolved along with virus DNA. This has certainly raised curiosity among scientists and will lead to further research which should eventually show exactly what our DNA is made of and whether it contains DNA not only of viruses but other organisms as well.
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