In “500 million-year-old ‘mistake’ led to humans” (MSNBC.com, , 7/24/2012), Jennifer Viegas reports “Spineless creature had two doublings in DNA, triggering evolution of humans.” Well, probably not, really, but Viegas’ telling is a good example of why MSNBC.com is one of our favourite sources of hot weather news:
Over 500 million years ago a spineless creature on the ocean floor experienced two successive doublings in the amount of its DNA, a “mistake” that eventually triggered the evolution of humans and many other animals, says a new study.
(If the word “mistake” is in scare quotes, may we assume that MSNBC doesn’t consider it a mistake? If intended, that would be the real news. Last we heard, they thought the m=billions of habitalbe planets out there were all a mistake.)
The good news is that these ancient DNA doublings boosted cellular communication systems, so that our body cells are now better at integrating information than even the smartest smartphones.
Well, that’s no surprise. We invented smartphones; they didn’t invent us, at least not in this universe.
The bad part is that communication breakdowns, traced back to the very same genome duplications of the Cambrian Period, can cause diabetes, cancer and neurological disorders.
Sounds like a bit too easy explanation for these medical problems. No communication problems have ever happened since?
We need to replace the cup of coffee graphic with a glass of lemonade.
Photo by Hans Hillewaert of a lancelet (or amphioxus) specimen —Subphylum: Cephalochordata— collected in coarse sand sediments (600?μm) on the Belgian continental shelf.