The insolent, arrogant Michael Balter wrote:

It is rare that one sees as many factual and conceptual errors in one place as Robert has provided us in his post, but let me focus on just one: In terms of DNA polynucleotide sequence, individual humans vary by less than one base-pair per thousand.      

        Michael implies this is a negligible proportion.  But 10^-3, in a total of 10^9, is not obviously neglible, is it?

  Neither Venter nor anyone else involved in the human genome project pretended that the sequence they produced was the only sequence that existed, ie that it was anything more than a reference sequence.  But producing such a reference sequence was a huge accomplishment, and it is now possible to sequence part or all of the genome of any particular individual because of the new methodologies that were developed and continue to be improved upon.

        The fact remains unchallenged  -  J. Celera Venter & key other operatives used the term "the human genome" in a knowingly deceitful way, implying that some useful generality about all humans was being produced.

 And the sequence provided a huge amount of new information as anyone who has paid any attention will know, ranging from a reliable estimate of the number of genes

        And why should we believe that figure is now stable, settled?  It went down by a factor of several during "the human genome project".

, a new ability to identify previously unknown genes, the ability to compare our genome with that of chimps and other animals, and of course the HapMap project would not have been possible without it.

Oh, one more thing: horizontal gene transfer was probably important in bacterial evolution, but I wouldn't count on it having much to do with human evolution--unless Robert wants to provide us with a scenario of how Neanderthal genes made their way into the human genome other than by interbreeding.

        Not much support for that first fine insolent outburst, eh?  No denial, indeed, that HGT may have occurred between Neanderthal & human  -  which is all I suggested.  I made no implication of HGT having 'much to do with human evolution', nor of any frequency, even vaguely.  I merely suggested the possibility.  Without contradicting that, Balter issues insults.  Goebbels wouldn't have hired you, Michael  -  you're too crude, too obviously stupid.


On Tue, Aug 12, 2008 at 9:20 AM, Robt Mann <[log in to unmask]> wrote:,0,41616.story
From the Los Angeles Times
Neanderthals, modern humans share ancestor, scientists say

Researchers find a DNA link between the two species.
By Karen Kaplan
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

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August 9, 2008

Neanderthals and modern humans shared an ancestor that lived about 660,000 years ago, according to scientists who have pieced together the first complete sequence of maternal DNA from humanity's closest cousins.

The DNA evidence also verified that the two species did not interbreed during the 10,000 to 20,000 years they coexisted in Europe and western Asia after humans migrated there from Africa.  The last of the Neanderthals died out about 30,000 years ago, though some scientists speculate that at least a few of their genes live on in humans.

"Neanderthals made no lasting contribution to the modern human [maternal] DNA gene pool," a team of German, American, Croatian and Finnish researchers wrote in Friday's edition of the journal Cell.
The team focused on mitochondrial DNA, a relatively short string of 16,565 As, Ts, Cs and Gs that spell out 13 genes for controlling the energy sources of cells.

        Let's pause here to note that the 'Dolly' and other "cloning" con-artists base their racket on ignoring this DNA in the cytoplasm which very largely remains after the nucleus has been sucked out of the target cell.  The foreign nucleus then inserted (containing e.g added DNA to code for a human protein of no proven therapeutic use) can certainly not define the genome of the target cell, if only because thousands of mitochondria remain in the target cell's cytoplasm.
        Estimates of the number of genes in a mitochondrion have ranged as high as 300, illustrating inter alia the surprising range (unknown to lay folk) of defns for 'gene'.  But whether only 13 in number, these genes are agreed to be important, indeed crucial, for the cell (mainly in aerobic metabolism).
        It is that easy to see why the "clone" sheep, goats, cows etc of e.g AgResearch® cannot be clones, cannot be as similar as identical twins.  What is not so easy to see is why so many venture-drongos, and governments, have allowed themselves to be conned by this "clones" furphy.  These gene-jockey racketeers make the nookuluh pushers look honest!

  Unlike nuclear DNA, which is unique for every person

        Let's pause again to note that this statement is true (aside from the presumed identical DNA in identical twins), giving the lie to the "the human genome" furphy.  I have heard J. Celera Venter tell a large audience that the draft he had published was for "the" sequence from some sort of blend of several individuals.  There was even a rumour at one stage that one of those DNA donors was non-white.  Numerous DNA sequences, even within a given gene (e.g for cystic fibrosis) differ between individuals.  There can be no such thing as "the" human genome.  Yet a con-man like J. Celera Venter can be admired by Pres. Clinton and many other important people.  This deceit far outstrips the nookuluh racket.
        What will happen to a society in which such drastic degradation of truthfulness has become not only tolerated but also heavily rewarded & prestigious?  Ask the Germans  ...


, mitochondrial DNA is passed virtually unchanged from mother to child.
Members of the research group are engaged in a two-year effort to decode the roughly 3 billion letters of nuclear DNA contained in a 38,000-year-old Neanderthal bone fragment discovered in a Croatian cave.

In the process, they collected enough maternal DNA to sequence that genome with a high degree of certainty, said lead author Ed Green, a postdoctoral scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

Comparison of the Neanderthal sequence to 10 human sequences suggests that the species diverged 520,000 to 800,000 years ago -- earlier than the 400,000 years scientists had previously estimated using fossil finds.

Scientists have sequenced maternal DNA from thousands of people around the world to study the history of human migration out of Africa. All of them are distinct from the Neanderthal version, Green said.

Most scientists accept the view that there aren't any Neanderthal genes in the human genome, but evolutionary geneticist Jeff Wall of UC San Francisco said that only "large amounts of high-quality Neanderthal nuclear DNA sequences" will resolve the issue once and for all.

        Some could even have got in by non-sexual means of horizontal gene transfer (a process of which eminent gene-jiggerers denied the existence only a few y ago).

Michael Balter
Contributing Correspondent, Science
Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
Boston University

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