We share 50% of our DNA with bananas
Like a dubious EU directive on bananas, let’s get one thing straight. I’m not saying that we are 50% banana. We are all very much 100% human and entirely unique thank you very much. No, the point of this article is to inform you somewhat in the ways of DNA.
DNA (or to give it its full, entirely forgettable, name, Deoxyribonucleic acid), is a double helix structure made up of sections called genes. These genes provide the biochemical instructions that are needed to make the individual components of all biological organisms. Some of those genes specify visible physical traits, some govern metabolic processes.
I know what you’re thinking. Unless you’re dressing up for a charity run, you’re still nothing like a banana. And you’re right of course. But all living things still share a surprising amount of DNA. Just over 1.5 billion years ago, all of us, including plants and animals, shared the same ancestor. And from this long lost cousin of ours, we’ve all retained those genes that worked so well at replicating life back then, as they do now.
However, genes can be thought of like building blocks. Even though we still share the same ones, we all use them slightly differently.
You may be surprised to learn just how much DNA we share with other organisms. According to Javier Herrero of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, we share:
88% with mice
85% with cows
84% with dogs
65% with chickens
47% with fruit flies
24% with wine grapes
18% with yeast
By Graham Foster
Graham is a graphic designer with a passion for science
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