Not much “junk DNA.” From him:
Dan Graur has snarled at the authors of a paper defending ENCODE. How could I then resist? I read the offending paper, and I have to say something that will weaken my own reputation as a snarling attack dog myself: it does make a few good points. But it’s mostly using some valid criticisms to defend an indefensible position.
The world yawns and marches on.
Friends point out that we do not know anywhere near enough to know what is or is not junk in the geonme, but that under those circumstances, it is wise to assume that any given component is doing something useful.
One friend kindly writes to say that the term “junk DNA” was coined by Ohno in 1972, to identify the residue of nature’s failed experiments, comparable to extinct species. He assumed we’d find lots of that. So the concept started out as failed genes.
Now the story is something else, but no matter what happens, they’ll never really give up.
Note: “Useful” doesn’t mean “critical.” Redundancy is part of any well-designed system. Indeed, any system in a time-directed universe would have some obsolete features, however well-designed. See, for example, Who’ll give a buck for junk?:
If design is real, must all DNA be functional? I don’t see why that should necessarily be so. A designed system may accumulate junk. A well-designed system accumulates much less junk. So if design is real, we should see a system with only a small amount of junk, and the reason for it is inevitability.
By the way, Myers features at Skeptical about Skeptics.
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