Could humans have evolved from an ape-like creature through slow and gradual mutations?
Published: 3 September 2016 (GMT+10)
I have had a question about apes-to-man evolution involving mutations. I’ve read on your website that mutations don’t add any genetic information. So my question is, is it possible that an ape-like creature could’ve evolved into human resulting from mutations? Is it possible that mutations could of changed the ape’s features little by little and each mutation could make a feature that results in the ape becoming more of a human? Thanks! NW
CMI’s Joel Tay responds:
Thank you for writing to us.
Concerning the phrase, “Mutations cannot create new information”, it is necessary to read some of our more recent articles on this issue. In this article, “Can mutations create new information”, Dr Robert Carter explains why he does not agree with this statement.
There is a common myth that Human-Chimp DNA is 98% similar. This figure was based on some early experimental evidence (Reassociation kinetics) in 1975. What the researchers did was to extract DNA from two species, add them to the same test tube, warmed the tube up, and then measured how much light was absorbed by the combination as it cooled. These early reports were popularized by some evolutionists but this was long before even the initial drafts of the human and chimp genome that were announced in 2001 and 2005, respectively. As explained in Evolution’s Achilles’ Heels, and other places, with our modern understanding of genetics, we now know that “98%” is simply not the case.
Many portions of the genome are so different that a one-on-one comparison between human and chimpanzee DNA is impossible. For example, humans have several hundred protein-coding genes (all tightly integrated into the spliceosome) that are absent in chimps, the “similar” genes are scattered about in different places in the genome, and there are also entire gene families that are found in humans that are not in chimps. In the segments of the genome that are similar enough to make a comparison, the percentage of actual similarity between human and chimp DNA is probably closer to 80% – and when we compare the human and chimp Y chromosomes, the figure is even lower. These drastic differences between human and chimp DNA cannot be accounted for by evolutionary mathematics, so the statement that humans and chimps are 98% identical is nothing more than evolutionary dogma.
Evolutionists believe that humans and chimps split from a common ancestor 5–7 million years ago. As ‘evidence’, for decades, evolutionists have been claiming that humans and chimpanzees are nearly identical. One often hears “98% similarity”, or something similar. But is this true? Consider the following:
- The published chimpanzee genome was built using the human genome as a guide, a ‘scaffold’ upon which to ‘hang’ short sequence reads from the chimpanzee sequencing project. Thus, there is a built-in extra degree of similarity. Note how they presupposed common ancestry with chimpanzees without actually testing it.
- The chimpanzee genome was built before the revelation that nearly all sequencing projects were contaminated by human DNA.2 Since chimpanzees and humans are close, it is expected that human contamination adds another degree of false similarity.
- The human and chimpanzee Y chromosomes are radically different from one another. Half of the chimpanzee Y chromosome is “missing” and the rest is only ~70% identical to human. Evolutionists struggle to explain how such a tremendous difference happened, even given their assumption that we have been separated by millions of years.
- There are about 35 million single-letter differences that separate our two species, a huge number of short insertions and deletions, and thousands of genomic rearrangements. Under evolutionary theory, they have to account for these in just a few hundred thousand generations, in 7 million years at the most.
- If you randomly take sections of the chimpanzee sequencing data and try to find matches in the human genome, and vice versa, you will find less than 90% similarity. And, many sections of the chimpanzee genome simply do not exist in humans. Clearly, the degree of similarity is much less than most people claim!
In the supposedly six million years since evolutionists believe humans and chimps split from a common ancestor, there is a need to account for 35,000,000 single letter differences that had to arise and become fixed in the two genomes (i.e. the original letter in that location was lost completely); tens of millions of chromosomal rearrangements had to occur, spread, and fix; as well as tens of millions of basepair insertions and deletions. (See Evolution’s Achilles’ Heels, p.75 for more details). In short, there is simply insufficient time for evolutionists to account for the differences between chimp and human DNA. Evolutionary time is measured in generations, not years. In six million years, there would only have been a few hundred thousand generations since chimps and humans were supposedly the same species. How then can there be enough time for so many brand-new genes to arise and be integrated? Each generation would have to select and retain an unbelievably huge number of mutations. This problem has come to be known as Haldane’s dilemma. Despite many claims to the contrary, Haldane’s Dilemma has never been solved. If anything, in recent years, our understanding of genetics has demonstrated that the problem is far greater for evolutionists than even Haldane imagined.1
Evolutionists have in the past cited junk DNA as a potential mechanism for solving this problem. ‘junk DNA’ refers to what was thought to be non-functioning portions of DNA. It was assumed that these were vestigial genomic ‘debris’ left behind from our evolutionary past. Since 97% of the DNA in the genome does not code for proteins, evolutionists proposed that these sections of ‘junk DNA’ would be free to mutate and evolve over time without significant consequences for the organism. The concept of junk DNA was extremely important for evolutionists as it was a last gasp in justifying how so many mutations could have arisen and remained fixed in the genome in such a short period of time (i.e. generations).
Unfortunately for the evolutionist, most scientists have now rejected the idea of junk DNA. The non-coding portions in the genome are now known to be almost completely functional. You might want to read these articles: here, here, and here on functions of ‘junk’ DNA. The general lack of junk DNA is yet another Achilles heel of evolutionary mathematics and argues strongly against biological evolution.
I would also highly recommend reading up on what Dr Carter calls the four dimensional genome. In my opinion, this is even more devastating to evolution than Haldane’s dilemma and the lack of Junk DNA. The four dimensional genome is one of my personal favorite argument against evolution from genetics. When the human genome was first sequenced, we thought that we could understand how the genome worked by sequencing the linear string of nucleotides. But this simplified understanding was naïve as we now know that this is only one of four dimensions of DNA as an information storage mechanism. If this is something you are interested in, I would highly recommend having a look at Dr Carter’s talk, The High Tech Cell, as well as Evolution’s Achilles’ Heels. Both resources discuss the four dimensional genome.
In a recent edition of Creation magazine (Vol. 38, No. 4, 2016), we also have an interview with Geneticist, Dr Jeffrey Tomkins, where he discusses human and chimp DNA. I have included an excerpt from that article that relates to your question. (See “Chromosome 2 Fusion?” below).
I hope that helps,
Chromosome 2 Fusion?
Humans have 23 chromosome pairs. Apes have 24. Evolutionists often claim that two smaller chromosomes fused to create human chromosome 2 at some early point in human history. They base this claim on the fact that the banding patterns in two smaller chimpanzee chromosomes are similar to the banding pattern on human chromosome 2. However:
- The bands actually do not line up perfectly, thus the supposed evidence for the fusion event on human chromosome 2 is in the wrong place.
- While chromosome fusions have been documented in other species, there are no other examples of two chromosomes joining at the ends. The telomeres help prevent this.
- If a head-to-head fusion occurred, it should leave behind evidence of the original telomeres, i.e. characteristic repetitive telomere sequence (TTAGGG), in both forwards and backwards direction. There are telomere motifs in this area, but they rarely repeat in a tandem fashion as they would if they were truly telomeric, and they can be found in other parts of the genome as well.
- Since every chromosome has a centromere, a head-to-head fusion should produce a chromosome with two centromeres. But centromeres have a distinctive repeating sequences of 171 units that are specific for a species. Human Chromosome 2’s supposed vestigial centromere looks nothing like a chimp centromere, but it does match several other places in the non-centromeric human genome.
- If a head-to-head fusion occurred, there is no way that it happened in the middle of an active gene, for two halves of a single gene would not be found on different chromosomes. Yet the supposed fusion site is located in the middle of a highly expressed and tightly controlled human gene.
Considering all this, there is little evidence that human chromosome 2 is the result of an ancient fusion event.
References and notes
- Rupe, C.L. and Sanford J.C., Using Numerical Simulation to better understand fixation rates, and establishment of a New Principle: Haldane's Ratchet, Proceedings of the 7th ICC, Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, 2013; creationicc.org, accessed 18 July 2016. Return to text.
- Longo, M.S., et al., Abundant human DNA contamination identified in non-primate genome databases, PLOS ONE, 16 February 2011 | doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0016410. Return to text.
Thanks for a very informative article. I've recently been studying university genetics online, and even though the course is presented from an evolutionary perspective, my faith has only been strengthened as I learn about the obvious design and complexity in our genomes. In fact, it's hard to imagine how anyone can not question evolution given the impossibility that DNA and the associated cellular machinery could have evolved in the first place, and then that random mutations could have created new and irreducibly complex biological processes and structures.
In about an hour, when I'm done laughing at that totally awesome picture, I'll read the rest of the article. It would take me longer than that to gather together all the links from creation.com which explain exactly why "The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life" is monkey business. Unlike Richard Dawkins in his conversation with Giles Fraser on 2012 February 14, I have the title memorized. But I haven't read it at all, unlike the Bible, which I've read all the way through seven times. (http://creation.com/dumbed-down-debate)
God Bless, and keep up the good work!