You might have heard and been amazed about the fact that DNA is a long list of the letters A, C, G, and T, which make up our genes and those of other species. But what is DNA, and is it indeed made of letters? Of course they’re not letters. DNA, also famous as DeoxyriboNucleic Acid, is a long chain of molecules–letters serve only as convenient abbreviations for parts of it, similar to how O represents oxygen in our chemical notation. There are no actual letter O’s floating around us–just molecules consisting of two bonded oxygen atoms.
It’s easy to calculate how many genes you share with your parents, children, siblings, and other relatives. Given the fact that parents pass half of their genes to their children, and siblings share half of their genes, the rest is just math. To determine this, you just have to divide genetic relatedness each time you […]
Genes define who we are, at least in a physical sense, since they determine your traits. A tiny difference in DNA can specify whether you are a human of a chimp. But how does it work? How can genes, fragments of DNA determine traits? How can genes, for example, determine your eye color, height or even what flowers you like? Let’s find out.
Depending on who you ask, humans and chimps share 96 to 99 percent of genes. Yet we look staggeringly different. Or do we? Since genes alter our traits, we would expect organisms with so much of their genome identical, also look similar, right?
You may have heard that we humans have 23 chromosome pairs, whereas our closest neighbors chimpanzees have 24 — one pair more. Do we have to worry that humans have fewer chromosomes than chimps do? What is the function of those extra chromosomes that chimps need and we don’t? Let’s find out.