Thursday, June 8, 2023

Primate Origins

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Biodiversity, Biological Evolution

Ed Hessler

Nature Briefing for  June 2, 2023 calls attention to a Nature News report on results from the largest (to date) primate-genome study. "The genomes of 233 primate species were used to classify 4.3 million common gene variants present in the human genome. By assessing how common those variants were across species, the researchers were able to infer that around 98.7% of the variants they checked probably do not cause disease in humans. Before the international effort, just 10% of primate species’ genomes had been sequenced. Now nearly half of them have been catalogued."

Dyani Lewis, writing for Nature News reports on research published in two journals and describes the effort in three numbers -- all 16 primate families were represented, 800 genomes were analyzed from a total of 233 species. Lewis' comments on the growing expansion of primate genome sequencing, how the research started, the geographic scope of the research group, insights it provides into humans -- disease, evolution of the primate family tree, revelations about genetic variants thought to be unique to our DNA, and a foray into the genetics of social structure in primates.

The Nature News story has a lovely photograph of one of the species studied, the golden snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus roxellana) about which there is more to be found in the story.  
Primate Studies is the cover of the journal Science  (June 2) * in which almost all of the research was published. The cover features a lovely photograph of golden snub-nosed monkeys, two adults and a young monkey. There are 11 citations which include access to the title of the paper, the authors and their affiliations and most of the content of the abstracts. 

The research publications are the result of a massive and coordinated research effort from which much has been learned as you will see about our human origins but the origins of primates of which we are but one representative.

*  Clicking on the link may result in the cover of the current issue, i.e., no monkeys.  If this occurs, link to any of the 10 citations from Nature News published in Science to view it.


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