by Brian Thomas, M.S.

New research adds to an ever-lengthening stream of discoveries that confirm exactly what a Bible-believing scientist would expect—humans are distinct from chimpanzees. They should be, if they were created in the image of God, not as an imaginary pre-human primate. The study, published in American Journal of Human Genetics, investigated DNA methylation patterning in human and chimpanzee brains.1 Two observations from this research support the biblical origins of mankind.

In a process called methylation, cell systems add methyl groups to some regions of chromosomes. DNA methylation patterns are different in brain cells than they are in muscle cells, for example, and they differ between individuals and species. They do not change the genetic code, but they regulate some genetic functions. Therefore, they comprise a level of information separate from the genetic code. Studies show that they provide critical regulation of the activity of DNA-manipulating enzymes both during embryonic development and during the daily life of adult cells. When methylation patterns are errant, they cause gene malfunction and can lead to disease. Some types of abnormal methylation patterns are lethal.

The researchers used a new technique to peer in unprecedented detail at the methylation patterns of human and chimp DNA that they harvested from brain tissue of three cadavers of each species. They compared only those DNA sequences already known to have basically the same genes, ignoring the vast majority of DNA. If humans and chimps are close relatives, then they should have similar DNA methylation patterns in the areas of chromosomes that they have in common such as similar gene sequences.2 However, this team found major differences.

In particular, human and chimp DNA methylation patterns, called “methylomes,” were very different between the two species’ brain tissue. The data statistically indicated that “major principal components separate humans and chimpanzees,” according to their report in American Journal of Human Genetics.1,3

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