Evidence for Common Descent

Christian Creationists tell me all the time, “I didn’t come from a dirty ape!” It is usually at this point that I laugh at them. These are usually the same Creationists Christians who tell me that they have studied evolution. It is at this point that I laugh even louder because if they have really studied evolution from a reputable science book and not just “From Pandas to People” or at least paid some semblance of attention in 10th grade science class, they would know that the theory of evolution doesn’t claims that humans “came” from monkeys or apes. The claim is that humans and apes share a common ancestry.

Mountains of evidence support this claim of “common descent.” Dr. Alan Mann of Princeton University brought one of the most convincing pieces of evidence to my attention. Dr. Mann gave a talk on the subject at a Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia meeting awhile back. In his lecture, Dr. Mann pointed out the oddity of the 2nd Chromosome. Humans and Chimpanzees have almost identical DNA. The main difference is that our second chromosome looks a lot like two separate ape chromosomes. Every chromosome has two vestigial telomeres. These are normally found only at the ends of a chromosome, but in chromosome 2 we see additional telomere sequences in the middle. This is evidence of an ancient telomere-telomere fusion that marks the point at which two ancestral ape chromosomes fused to give rise to human chromosome number two.

This is a pretty clear-cut piece of evidence even the most idiotic Creationist can comprehend it just by looking at the picture above. So next time you talk to a Creationist (I’d say wacky Creationist, but that would be redundant) be sure to tell them about the telomere-telemere fusion and the second chromosome.

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