Y chromosome shock
Posted on homepage: 13 August 2012 (GMT+10)
Researchers were unprepared for what they would find when they recently completed sequencing of the chimpanzee Y chromosome, and compared it to the human Y chromosome.
“The Y is full of surprises,” said David Page of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He and his team had just found that the Y chromosomes of chimps and humans are “horrendously different from each other”1,2
Why did Dr Page use the word “horrendously”? Because he believes evolution—that chimps are our closest evolutionary relatives. But Page’s team found that the chimp Y chromosome has only two-thirds as many distinct genes or gene families as the human Y chromosome and only 47% as many protein-coding elements as humans. Also, more than 30% of the chimp Y chromosome lacks an alignable counterpart on the human Y chromosome and vice versa.
Upon seeing these and other stark differences between the respective Y chromosomes, Page now says “the relationship between the human and chimp Y chromosomes has been blown to pieces”.
However, that doesn’t mean that Page and his research colleagues doubt evolution. Indeed, the cleverly spin-laden announcement in Nature journal heralded that “Rapid evolution distances chimp Y chromosome from human equivalent”.3 But Page’s language tellingly invokes creator-like powers to explain the chimp/human genomic origins: “It looks like there’s been a dramatic renovation or reinvention of the Y chromosome in the chimpanzee and human lineages.”
It surely makes much more sense that the “extraordinary divergence”2 of the human and chimp Y chromosomes has nothing to do with supposed evolutionary ancestry but everything to do with having been designed that way. Design explains not just Y chromosomes, but why (there can be) chromosomes. They certainly didn’t happen by accident (Genesis 1:26–27, Romans 1:20).
References and notes
- Buchen, L., The fickle Y chromosome, Nature 463(7278):149, 14 January 2010. (Unless otherwise indicated, quotes from David Page sourced from here.) Return to text.
- Hughes, J., and 16 others (including David Page), Chimpanzee and human Y chromosomes are remarkably divergent in structure and gene content, Nature 463(7280):536–539, 28 January 2010. Return to text.
- Ref. 1 contents page, i.e. p. 129. Return to text.