Reprinted with permission.
The report of the Public Consortium is in Nature, Feb 15, 2001 and of Celera Genomics in Science of Feb 16th, 2001.
In whose image was The Adam – the prototype of modern humans, Homo sapiens – created?
The Bible asserts that the Elohim said: “Let us fashion the Adam in our image and after our likeness.” But if one is to accept a tentative explanation for enigmatic genes that humans possess, offered when the deciphering of the human genome was announced in mid-February, the feat was decided upon by a group of bacteria! “Humbling” was the prevalent adjective used by the scientific teams and the media to describe the principal finding – that the human genome contains not the anticipated 100,000 - 140,000 genes (the stretches of DNA that direct the production of amino-acids and proteins) but only some 30,000+ -- little more than double the 13,601 genes of a fruit fly and barely fifty percent more than the roundworm’s 19,098. What a comedown from the pinnacle of the genomic Tree of Life!
Moreover, there was hardly any uniqueness to the human genes. They are comparative to not the presumed 95 percent but to almost 99 percent of the chimpanzees, and 70 percent of the mouse. Human genes, with the same functions, were found to be identical to genes of other vertebrates, as well as invertebrates, plants, fungi, even yeast. The findings not only confirmed that there was one source of DNA for all life on Earth, but also enabled the scientists to trace the evolutionary process – how more complex organisms evolved, genetically, from simpler ones, adopting at each stage the genes of a lower life form to create a more complex higher life form – culminating with Homo sapiens.
The “Head-scratching” Discovery: It was here, in tracing the vertical evolutionary record contained in the human and the other analyzed genomes, that the scientists ran into an enigma. The “head-scratching discovery by the public consortium,” as Science termed it, was that the human genome contains 223 genes that do not have the required predecessors on the genomic evolutionary tree.
How did Man acquire such a bunch of enigmatic genes? In the evolutionary progression from bacteria to invertebrates (such as the lineages of yeast, worms, flies or mustard weed – which have been deciphered) to vertebrates (mice, chimpanzees) and finally modern humans, these 223 genes are completely missing in the invertebrate phase. Therefore, the scientists can explain their presence in the human genome by a “rather recent” (in evolutionary time scales) “probable horizontal transfer from bacteria.” In other words: At a relatively recent time as Evolution goes, modern humans acquired an extra 223 genes not through gradual evolution, not vertically on the Tree of Life, but horizontally, as a sideways insertion of genetic material from bacteria…
An Immense Difference: Now, at first glance it would seem that 223 genes is no big deal. In fact, while every single gene makes a great difference to every individual, 223 genes make an immense difference to a species such as ours....