What's in the 4% Difference in DNA That Separates Us From Chimpanzees?

It doesn't take a lot to create a vastly different species.

You may have heard that scientists used a human gene to grow bigger monkey brains. This was made possible partly due to the fact that, genetically speaking, we are very similar to chimpanzees.

Small differences in DNA can have huge effects and our difference to chimpanzees is only 4%. Discovering this was no small feat, scientists had to map all of the human DNA and all of the chimpanzee DNA and then compare them both in all their complexity.

The genomes had over 3 billion As, Cs, Gs, and Ts, the DNA letters of each genetic code so you can imagine it was a massive undertaking. The scientists ended up finding three types of differences.

First, there were single-letter differences that made up about 1% of our DNA. There were also small insertions and deletions that made up 3% of the differences. Finally, there were bigger differences like whole chromosomes that had been moved around and duplications of whole genes.

Advertisement

These differences have accumulated over time since humans and chimpanzees shared a common ancestor. So what exactly are these differences? And how can a mere 4% change create such vastly different species? Watch the video to find out more.

Follow Us on

GET YOUR DAILY NEWS DIRECTLY IN YOUR INBOX

Stay ahead with the latest science, technology and innovation news, for free:

By subscribing, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. You may unsubscribe at any time.