Thursday, June 14, 2012

Bonobo DNA Sequenced

The Los Angeles Times is reporting on a story from Nature in which the complete genome sequence of the Bonobo or Pygmy Chimpanzee, has been sequenced. Eryn Brown writes:
“There's a common ancestor that we and these apes were derived from. We want to know what that ancestor looked like,” said Wes Warren, a geneticist at Washington University in St. Louis, who was not involved in the research. “By adding the bonobo to the mix, we have a better idea.”

Now, with all the great ape sequences complete, scientists can better use genetics to help determine whether a particular trait cropped up for the first time in humans, said Kay Pruefer, a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany.
Bonobos and Chimpanzees separated around 1 million years ago and are now very different behaviorally.

As an aside, much whooping and howling occurred when this story first appeared this morning. The headline now reads “Scientists map genome of the bonobo, a key human relative.” When it first came out, it read “Scientists map genome of the bonobo, a key human ancestor.” The comments were swift and brutal. Many accused the writer, Eryn Brown, of not knowing anything about science. What most don't realize is that the article is often written without the headline, which is then put in by an editor. In this case, it is likely the editor who didn't know, not the author.

It was also a tad heart-warming to see so many of the readers actually knew the correct relationship between humans and bonobos.

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