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Our inverted retina: Not a bad design

Evolutionists frequently maintain that the vertebrate retina exhibits a feature which indicates that it was not designed because its organisation appears to be less than ideal. They refer to the fact that for light to reach the photoreceptors it has to pass through the bulk of the retina’s neural apparatus, and presume that consequent degradation of the image formed at the level of the photoreceptors occurs. In biological terms this arrangement of the retina is said to be inverted because the visual cells are oriented so that their sensory ends are directed away from incident light. It is typical of vertebrates but rare among invertebrates, being seen in a few molluscs and arachnids.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As usual, evolutionists like to point this out as an evidence of “bad design”, thus, being supposedly more explainable under the light of natural, unguided view. Dawkins, while admitting that light traversing the inverted retina is not disturbed significantly during its passage to the photoreceptors, writes as follows :

‘Any engineer would naturally assume that the photocells would point towards the light, with their wires leading backwards towards the brain. He would laugh at any suggestion that the photocells might point away, from the light, with their wires departing on the side nearest the light. Yet this is exactly what happens in all vertebrate retinas. Each photocell is, in effect, wired in backwards, with its wire sticking out on the side nearest the light. The wire has to travel over the surface of the retina to a point where it dives through a hole in the retina (the so-called ‘blind spot’) to join the optic nerve. This means that the light, instead of being granted an unrestricted passage to the photocells, has to pass through a forest of connecting wires, presumably suffering at least some attenuation and distortion (actually, probably not much but, still, it is the principle of the thing that would offend any tidy-minded engineer). I don’t know the exact explanation for this strange state of affairs. The relevant period of evolution is so long ago.’ 1

First, we must review some things about ocular anatomy:

 

Figure 2Light enters the human eye via the transparent cornea, the eye’s front window, which acts as a powerful convex lens. After passing through the pupil (the aperture in the iris diaphragm) light is further refracted by the crystalline lens. An image of the external environment is thus focused on the retina which transduces light into neural signals and is the innermost (relative to the geometric centre of the eyeball) of the three tunics of the eye’s posterior segment. The other two tunics of the eye’s posterior segment are the white tough fibrous sclera which is outermost and continuous with the cornea anteriorly, and thechoroid, a pigmented and highly vascular layer which lies sandwiched between the retina and sclera.

The retina consists of ten layers, of which the outermost is the dark retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) which because of its melanin pigment is opaque to light. The RPE cells have fine hair-like projections on their inner surface called microvilli which lie between and ensheath the tips of the photoreceptor outer segments. There is thus a potential plane of cleavage between the RPE and the photoreceptors which is manifested when the neurosensory retina becomes separated from the RPE, e.g. as a result of injury, a condition known as retinal detachment.

Each photoreceptor, whether rod or cone, consists of an inner and an outer segment, the former having organelles (intracellular apparatus) for manufacturing the visual pigment present in the latter. The rod and cone layer and all eight layers internal to it constitute (in distinction from the RPE) what is known as the neurosensory retina which is virtually transparent to light. By means of many complex nerve connections within the neurosensory retina, electrical impulses generated by light reaching the photoreceptors are processed and transmitted to the retina’s nerve fibre layer and thence pass up the optic nerve to the brain.

In many species for whom vision in very low levels of illumination is important, a layer of reflective crystalline material, the tapetum (Latin: carpet) is incorporated in the RPE or choroid.1 Acting as a mirror, the tapetum reflects light which has passed between the photoreceptors, so augmenting the light bombarding the photoreceptors. Hence the proverbial ‘cat’s eyes’ when caught by a beam of light in the dark.

The retinal pigment epithelium

Fundamental to understanding the inverted retina is the crucial role played by the RPE. Many of its important functions are now well known. Each RPE cell is in intimate contact with the tips of 20 or more photoreceptor outer segments which number over 130 million. Without the RPE the photoreceptors and the rest of the neurosensory retina cannot function normally and ultimately atrophy.

The outer segment of a photoreceptor consists of a stack of discs containing light-sensitive photopigment. These discs are being continually formed by the inner segment from where they move in succession outwards in the outer segment towards the RPE which phagocytoses (Greek: φάγω (phagō) = eat) them and recycles their chemical components.

The RPE stores vitamin A, a precursor of the photopigments, and thus participates in their regeneration. There are four photopigments which are all bleached on exposure to light: rhodopsin (found in the rods, for night vision) and one for each of the three different types of cones (one for each of the primary colours). It synthesises glycosaminoglycans for the interphotoreceptor matrix, i.e. the material lying between and separating the photoreceptors.

Besides oxygen, the RPE selectively transports nutrients from the choroid to supply the outer third of the retina and removes the waste products of photoreceptor metabolism to be cleared by the choroidal circulation. By selective pumping of metabolites and the presence of its tight intercellular junctions, the RPE acts as a barrier, called the blood-retinal barrier, preventing access of larger or harmful chemicals to retinal tissue, thereby contributing to the maintenance of a stable and optimal retinal environment.

The RPE has complex mechanisms for dealing with toxic molecules and free radicals produced by the action of light. Specific enzymes such as the superoxide dismutases, catalases, and peroxidases are present to catalyse the breakdown of potentially harmful molecules such as superoxide and hydrogen peroxide. Antioxidants such as a-tocopherol (vitamin E) and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) are available to reduce oxidative damage.

Our photoreceptors thus continually synthesise new outer segment discs with their specific photopigments, recycling materials from used discs digested by the RPE. This prompts the question, ‘Why have such a complicated process?’ The answer must be that it is an example of biological renewal, by means of which tissues exposed to damaging chemicals, radiation, mechanical trauma, etc., are able to survive. Without self renewal, tissues such as the skin, the lining of the gut, blood cells etc would quickly accumulate fatal defects. In the same way, by the continual replacing of their discs the photoreceptors counter the relentless process of disintegration accelerated by toxic agents, particularly short wavelength light.

 

The choroidal heat sink

 

It has been observed that the damage to photoreceptors in an experimental model is strongly related to temperature, and other studies have confirmed that heat exacerbates photochemical injury. Any system designed to protect against the latter should also protect against the former. In 1980, a paper was published which explained for the first time something already known about the choroid.2 That is, its very high rate of blood flow which far exceeds the nutritional needs of the retina, despite the latter being highly active metabolically, as indicated.

The choroidal capillaries (the choriocapillaris) form a rich plexus lying immediately external to the RPE, predominantly its central area, and separated from it by only a very thin membrane (Bruch’s). The absorption of excess light by the RPE produces heat in the outer retina which has to be dissipated if thermal damage to the delicate and complex biological machinery, its own and that of its neighbourhood, is to be avoided.

The authors of this study cogently argue that an important function of the choroid with its torrential blood flow (in local terms) and its close proximity to the RPE, is to act as a heat sink and cooling device. Still more fascinating are the results of further studies by the same workers indicating that there are central (via the brain), light-mediated nervous reflexes regulating choroidal blood flow, increasing the blood flow with increased illumination. Both RPE and choroid are essential for vision, but they are opaque, so it follows that for light to reach the photoreceptors, both RPE and choroid have to be located external to the neurosensory retina; hence we can conclude that there are sound reasons for the inverted configuration of the human and vertebrate retina.

 

The foveola

Although the neurosensory retina is virtually transparent apart from the blood in its very slender blood vessels, there is an additional refinement of its structure in its central region called the macula. The retina and the occipital cerebral cortex (called the visual cortex) of the brain, to which the former transmits visual information, are so organised that the VA is maximal in the visual axis. The visual axis passes through the foveola which forms the floor of a circular pit with a sloping wall, the fovea (Latin: pit) at the centre of the macula. Away from the fovea the VA diminishes progressively towards the periphery of the retina. Thus the colour photoreceptors—the cones for red, green and possibly also blue—have their greatest density of 150,000 per square mm at the foveola, which measures only 300–330 µm across.

 

Xanthophyll pigment

The optical system of the human eye is such that ambient light tends to fall with peak intensity on the macular area of the retina with much less on the retinal periphery. It must be significant therefore that not only is melanin more abundant in the macular region because its RPE cells are taller and more numerous per unit area than elsewhere30 but there is also in the retina’s central area the yellow pigment xanthophyll (Greek: ξάνθος xanthos, yellow). In this region of the retina, xanthophyll permeates all layers of the neurosensory retina between its two limiting membranes and is concentrated in the retinal cells, both the neurons and the supporting tissue cells. Recently attention has been drawn to the presence of a collection of retinal supporting tissue cells (called Müller cells after the person who first described them) over the internal surface of the fovea and forming a cone whose apex plugs the foveolar depression.

Retinal xanthophyll is a carotenoid, chemically related to vitamin A, whose absorption spectrum peaks at about 460 nm and ranges from 480 nm down to 390 nm It helps to protect the neurosensory retina by absorbing much of the potentially damaging shorter wavelength visible light, i.e. blue and violet, which is more scattered by small molecules and structures.

 

The blind spot

Because of the retina’s inverted arrangement, the axons (nerve fibres) transmitting data to the brain pass under cover of the retina’s inner surface to converge to a small area which is the optic nerve head, where they all exit the eye together as the optic nerve. The optic nerve head has no photoreceptors and so is blind, thereby producing a small blind spot in the visual field. No surprise, evolutionists criticized that. As Williams puts it:

‘Our retinal blind spots rarely cause any difficulty, but rarely is not the same as never. As I momentarily cover one eye to ward off an insect, an important event might be focused on the blind spot of the other.’ 3
Notwithstanding, this issue has to be viewed in perspective: the blind spot is centred at 15° away from the visual axis (3.7 mm from the foveola) and is very small in relation the visual field of an eye, occupying less than 0.25%. As mentioned above, the further away a point in the retina is from the foveola, the less will be its VA and its sensitivity. The retina surrounding the optic nerve head, in the light-adapted state, has a VA of only about 15% of that at the foveola. We can safely infer that the theoretical risk referred to by Williams arising from the blind spot in a one-eyed person, is negligible; and, in keeping with this, it is considered safe for a one-eyed person to drive a private motor car, i.e. for non-vocational purposes.’ 

Because the two visual fields overlap to a large degree, the blind spot of one eye is covered by the other eye’s visual field. It is true that occlusion or loss of one eye is a handicap, but this is not because of the blind spot of the seeing eye for the reasons given above.

 

Invertebrated eyes

Some claims that the verted retinae of cephalopods, such as squids and octopuses, are more efficient than the inverted retinae found in vertebrates. But this presupposes that the inverted retina is inefficient in the first place, and we’ve seen that isn’t the case. Also, they have never shown that cephalopods actually see better. On the contrary, their eyes merely ‘approach some of the lower vertebrate eyes in efficiency’ and they are probably colour blind. Further, the cephalopod retina, besides being ‘verted’, is actually much simpler than the ‘inverted’ retina of vertebrates; as Budelmann states, ‘The structure of the [cephalopod] retina is much simpler than in the vertebrate eye, with only two neural components, the receptor cells and efferent fibres’.5 It is an undulating structure with ‘long cylindrical photoreceptor cells with rhabdomeres consisting of microvilli’, so that the cephalopod eye has been described as a ‘compound eye with a single lens’. Finally, they live in regions with much lower light intensity than most vertebrates, which contributes to show that cephalopods eyes don’t need to be so complex as it’s usually claimed.

Despite the efforts of evolution promoters, the inverted retina isn’t an evidence of bad design; all the way around, even its “backwards wired” design poses a clear sign of planned origin, as to suit the demands of each living being, in accordance to its environment.

(From the article:  Is our ‘inverted’ retina really ‘bad design’?-Creation Ministries)

 

God bless you!

 

References

 

1 Dawkins, R., The Blind Watchmaker: Why the evidence of evolution reveals a universe without design. W.W. Norton and Company, New York, p. 93, 1986

2 Duke-Elder, S., System of Ophthalmology, Henry Kimpton, London, vol. 1, p. 147, 1958.

3 Parver, L.M., Auker, C., Carpenter, D.O., Choroidal blood flow as a heat dissipating mechanism in the macula, Am. J. Ophthalmol. 89:641–646, 1980.

4 Williams, G.C., Natural Selection: Domains, Levels and Challenges, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 72–73, 1992.

5 Budelmann, B.U., Cephalopod sense organs, nerves and brain, 1994. In Pörtner, H.O., O’Dor, R.J. and Macmillan, D.L., ed., Physiology of cephalopod molluscs: lifestyle and performance adaptations, Gordon and Breach, Basel, Switzerland, p. 15, 1994.

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Embarrassing texts of Darwin’s books and intellectual people

There’s a dark side in Darwin’s ideology (besides his pseudo-science, of course), as we will observe here, many parts in his writings sound quite racist, and a lot inhuman, indifferent, even Nazist…

Searching two books, his records of the years 1845, and the best-seller “The Descent of Man”, we can find these gruesome words:

 

“The savages followed the ship, and just before dark we saw
their fire, and again heard their wild cry “

“All savages appear to possess, to an uncommon degree,
this power of mimicry. I was told, almost in the same words,
of the same ludicrous habit among the Caffres: the
Australians, likewise, have long been notorious for being
able to imitate and describe the gait of any man, so that he
may be recognised. How can this faculty be explained? is it a
consequence of the more practised habits of perception and
keener senses, common to all men in a savage state, as
compared with those long civilized “

“It seems yet wonderful to me, when I think over all his
many good qualities, that he should have been of the same
race, and doubtless partaken of the same character, with the
miserable, degraded savages whom we first met here“

“They examined the colour of his skin, and
compared it with ours. One of our arms being bared, they
expressed the liveliest surprise and admiration at its
whiteness, just in the same way in which I have seen the
ourang-outang do at the Zoological Gardens.”

“Certainly I believe that many savages of the lowest grade,
such as these of Tierra del Fuego, have seen objects struck,
and even small animals killed by the musket, without being
in the least aware how deadly an instrument it is.“

“Although among these savages, the chief has absolute
power of life and death over his slave, yet there is an entire
absence of ceremony between them. Mr. Burchell has
remarked the same thing in Southern Africa, with the rude
Bachapins. “

“Some authors, in defining the primary races of mankind,
have separated these Indians into two classes; but this is
certainly incorrect. “

“It is impossible to reflect on the changed state of the
American continent without the deepest astonishment.
Formerly it must have swarmed with great monsters (wow, Darwin believed in “monsters”, where are the same critics that stand against the bible, now?): now we find
mere pigmies, compared with the antecedent, allied races

“As we see those animals, whose instinct compels them to
live in society and obey a chief, are most capable of
improvement, so is it with the races of mankind.”

“I believe, in this extreme part of South America, man exists
in a lower state of improvement than in any other part of the
world. The South Sea Islanders of the two races inhabiting
the Pacific, are comparatively civilized. “

“The various races of men walking in the streets afford the
most interesting spectacle
in Port Louis. Convicts from India are banished here for life“

He has made an interesting comment, in regard to Mr. Wallace:

“I cannot, therefore, understand how it is that Mr.
Wallace maintains, that “natural selection could only have
endowed the savage with a brain a little superior to that of
an ape.”

The thing goes worse in his book, The Descent of Man:

“A most important obstacle in civilised countries to an
increase in the
number of men of a superior class has been strongly insisted
on by Mr. Greg
and Mr. Galton (father of EUGENICS), namely, the fact
that the very
poor and reckless, who are often degraded by vice, almost
invariably marry
early, whilst the careful and frugal, who are generally
otherwise virtuous,
marry late in life, so that they may be able to support
themselves and
their children in comfort. Those who marry early produce
within a given
period not only a greater number of generations, but, as
shewn by Dr.
Duncan, they produce many more children. The children,
moreover, that
are borne by mothers during the prime of life are heavier and
larger, and
therefore probably more vigorous, than those born at other
periods. Thus
the reckless, degraded, and often vicious members of society,
tend to
increase at a quicker rate than the provident and generally
virtuous
members. Or as Mr. Greg puts the case: “The careless,
squalid, unaspiring
Irishman multiplies like rabbits: the frugal, foreseeing, selfrespecting,
ambitious Scot, stern in his morality, spiritual in his faith,
sagacious
and disciplined in his intelligence, passes his best years in
struggle and
in celibacy, marries late, and leaves few behind him. Given a
land
originally peopled by a thousand Saxons and a thousand
Celts–and in a
dozen generations five-sixths of the population would be
Celts, but fivesixths
of the property, of the power, of the intellect, would
belong to the
one-sixth of Saxons that remained. In the eternal ‘struggle for
existence,’ it would be the inferior and LESS favoured
race that had
prevailed–and prevailed by virtue not of its good
qualities but of its
faults.”

“At some future period,
not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised
races of man will
almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage
races throughout the
world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as
Professor
Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break between
man and his
nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene
between man in a
more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the
Caucasian, and some ape
as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro
or Australian and
the gorilla.”

“If the various checks specified in the two last
paragraphs, and perhaps
others as yet unknown, do not prevent the reckless, the
vicious and
otherwise inferior members of society from increasing at
a quicker rate
than the better class of men, the nation will retrograde,
as has too often
occurred in the history of the world. We must remember
that progress is no invariable rule.“

“We will now look to the intellectual faculties. If in
each grade of
society the members were divided into two equal bodies,
the one including
the intellectually superior and the other the inferior,
there can be little
doubt that the former would succeed best in all
occupations, and rear a
greater number of children. Even in the lowest walks of
life, skill and
ability must be of some advantage; though in many
occupations, owing to the
great division of labour, a very small one. Hence in
civilised nations
there will be some tendency to an increase both in the
number and in the
standard of the intellectually able. But I do not wish
to assert that this
tendency may not be more than counterbalanced in other
ways, as by the
multiplication of the reckless and improvident; but even
to such as these,
ability must be some advantage.
It has often been objected to views like the foregoing,
that the most
eminent men who have ever lived have left no offspring to
inherit their
great intellect. Mr. Galton says, “I regret I am unable
to solve the
simple question whether, and how far, men and women who
are prodigies of
genius are infertile. I have, however, shewn that men of
eminence are by
no means so.”“

“The advancement of the welfare of mankind is a most
intricate problem: all
ought to refrain from marriage who cannot avoid abject
poverty for their
children; for poverty is not only a great evil, but tends
to its own
increase by leading to recklessness in marriage. On the
other hand, as Mr.
Galton has remarked, if the prudent avoid marriage,
whilst the reckless
marry, the inferior members tend to supplant the better
members of society.”

“Otherwise he would sink
into indolence, and the more gifted men would not be more
successful in the
battle of life than the less gifted” (what battle? Aren’t all the men equal, and endowed with the same rights?)

“There should be open competition for all men; and the
most able
should not be prevented by laws or customs from
succeeding best and rearing
the largest number of offspring.” (He held a great concern with the prevalence of the most prominent, “civilized” “races…)

“The main conclusion arrived at in this work, namely,
that man is descended
from some lowly organised form, will, I regret to think,
be highly
distasteful to many. But there can hardly be a doubt
that we are descended
from barbarians. The astonishment which I felt on first
seeing a party of
Fuegians on a wild and broken shore will never be
forgotten by me, for the
reflection at once rushed into my mind–such were our
ancestors. These men
were absolutely naked and bedaubed with paint, their long
hair was tangled,
their mouths frothed with excitement, and their
expression was wild,
startled, and distrustful. They possessed hardly any
arts, and like wild
animals lived on what they could catch; they had no
government, and were
merciless to every one not of their own small tribe. He
who has seen a
savage in his native land will not feel much shame, if
forced to
acknowledge that the blood of some more humble creature
flows in his veins.
For my own part I would as soon be descended from that
heroic little
monkey, who braved his dreaded enemy in order to save the
life of his
keeper, or from that old baboon, who descending from the
mountains, carried
away in triumph his young comrade from a crowd of
astonished dogs–as from
a savage who delights to torture his enemies […]”

 
 

Well, from this, we can have no doubt about the true origins, roots of many evil things that followed Darwin; such as Social Darwinism,  Eugenics, Nazism, Arianism, communism (which has killed almost 113 million persons)…

No wonder Darwin’s legacy has inspired so many racism and crimes against non-white people, it’s fact that, for the forwarding of researches on Evolution, many Aborigines were hunted, and killed as mere animals, guinea pigs (see more on  articles Darwin and racism and   Darwin’s bodysnatchers: new horrors, for example).

An increasing wave of racism against black people, Aboriginal descendants its occurring world-wide, and it wouldn’t surprise one after reading these texts about “evolution of man”.. Notice the shifting on the color of the “humanoids” in these OFFICIAL PICTURES:

This above image comes from the official Smithsonian site, just to mention…

This one above comes from official Australian textbooks

Hum…

Wow it’s a quite common trend, by the way! Well, this makes evolution even worse, not only for the sake of scientific advancement, but also for the social welfare, and human dignity… Decades after Darwin, many deformed people, has been treated as sub-humans, such as Ota Benga, Julia Pastrana, Krao Farini and others, thus called as “Missing links”, “ape-man” and “ape-woman”, due to a horrible evolution-poisoned view..

Even before Darwin, an racist atmosphere has permeated the so-called “intellectual” groups, which included renowned persons such as Voltaire, great critic of the bible, and great racist:

“Voltaire found biblical monogenism laughable, as he expressed: “It is a serious question among them whether the Africans are descended from monkeys or whether the monkeys come from them. Our wise men have said that man was created in the image of God. Now here is a lovely image of the Divine Maker: a flat and black nose with little or hardly any intelligence. A time will doubtless come when these animals will know how to cultivate the land well, beautify their houses and gardens, and know the paths of the stars: one needs time for everything”

”The negro race is a species of men different from ours as
the breed of spaniels is from that of greyhounds. The mucous membrane, or
network, which nature has spread between the muscles and the skin, is white
in us and black or copper-colored in them.” 

Christopher Meiners, another “enlightened thinker”:

“The more intelligent and noble people are by nature, the more adaptable, sensitive, delicate, and soft is their body; on the other hand, the less they possess the capacity and disposition towards virtue, the more they lack adaptability; and not only that, but the less sensitive are their bodies, the more can they tolerate extreme pain or the rapid alteration of heat and cold; when they are exposed to illnesses, the more rapid their recovery from wounds that would be fatal for more sensitive peoples, and the more they can partake of the worst and most indigestible foods … without noticeable ill effects.”

Georges Cuvier:

“The Negro race… is marked by black complexion, crisped or woolly hair, compressed cranium and a flat nose. The projection of the lower parts of the face, and the thick lips, evidently approximate it to the monkey tribe: the hordes of which it consists have always remained in the most complete state of barbarism.”

Arthur Schopenhauer:

“The highest civilization and culture, apart from the ancient Hindus and Egyptians, are found exclusively among the white races; and even with many dark peoples, the ruling caste, or race, is fairer in colour than the rest, and has, therefore, evidently immigrated, for example, the Brahmins, the Inca, and the rulers of the South Sea Islands. All this is due to the fact that necessity is the mother of invention, because those tribes that emigrated early to the north, and there gradually became white, had to develop all their intellectual powers, and invent and perfect all the arts in their struggle with need, want, and misery, which, in their many forms, were brought about by the climate. This they had to do in order to make up for the parsimony of nature, and out of it all came their high civilization.”

Well, even the most prominent and hailed thinkers of the world couldn’t come to the correct conclusion in regard to the common origin of every human, all the way around; they frequently held disgusting and awkward ideologies which only reinforced the racism along the centuries. Interesting, the only source that has match what the science has only recently discovered, i.e., that all the humans have one common origin was the bible, starting with the narrative of Adam and Eve, the parents of all humankind!

“And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.” Genesis 3.20

“He made from one [blood] every nation of men to dwell on all the surface of the earth, having determined appointed seasons, and the boundaries of their dwellings,” Acts 17.26

God bless you!

Human language

The Origin of Language and Communication

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.
Bert Thompson, Ph.D.
Brad Harrub, Ph.D.

From: Apologetics Press

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first article by our newest staff member, Dr. Dave Miller, who joins us this month as the chairman of our recently established Department of New Testament Studies. Dave’s doctorate is in speech communications, which makes him especially qualified to write on the topic of the origin of language and communication. See my “Note from the Editor” for an introduction to this talented addition to our staff.]

In 1994, an article appeared in Time magazine titled “How Man Began.” Within that article was the following bold assertion: “No single, essential difference separates human beings from other animals” (Lemonick, 143[11]:81). Yet, in what is obviously a contradiction to such a statement, all evolutionists admit that communication via speech is uniquely human—so much so that it often is used as the singular, and most important, dividing line between humans and animals. In his book titled Eve Spoke, evolutionist Philip Lieberman admitted:

Speech is so essential to our concept of intelligence that its possession is virtually equated with being human. Animals who talk are human, because what sets us apart from other animals is the “gift” of speech (1998, p. 5, emp. in orig.).

In The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Human Evolution, editors Jones, Martin, and Pilbeam conceded that “[t]here are no non-human languages,” and then went on to observe that “language is an adaptation unique to humans, and yet the nature of its uniqueness and its biological basis are notoriously difficult to define” (1992, p. 128, emp. added). In his book,The Symbolic Species: The Co-Evolution of Language and the Brain, Terrance Deacon noted:

In this context, then, consider the case of human language. It is one of the most distinctive behavioral adaptations on the planet. Languages evolved in only one species, in only one way, without precedent, except in the most general sense. And the differences between languages and all other natural modes of communicating are vast (1997, p. 25).

What events transpired that have allowed humans to speak, while animals remain silent? If we are to believe the evolutionary teaching currently taking place in colleges and universities around the world, speech evolved as a natural process over time. Yet no one is quite sure how, and there are no known animals that are in a transition phase from non-speaking to speaking. In fact, in the Atlas of Languages, this remarkable admission can be found: “No languageless community has ever been found” (Matthews, et al., 1996, p. 7). This represents no small problem for evolution.

In fact, the origin of speech and language (along with the development of sex and reproduction) remains one of the most significant hurdles in evolutionary theory, even in the twenty-first century. In fact, many evolutionists simply have stopped discussing the matter completely. Jean Aitchison noted:

In 1866, a ban on the topic was incorporated into the founding statues of the Linguistic Society of Paris, perhaps the foremost academic linguistic institution of the time: “The Society does not accept papers on either the origin of language or the invention of a universal language” (2000, p. 5).

That is an amazing (albeit inadvertent) admission of defeat, especially coming from a group of such eminent scientists, researchers, and scholars.

The truth of the matter is, however, that the origin of human languages can be discerned—but not via the theory of evolution. We invite your attention to the discussion that follows, which demonstrates conclusively that humans were created by God with the unique ability to employ speech for communication.

EVOLUTIONARY THEORIES ON
THE ORIGIN OF SPEECH

Many animals are capable of using sounds to communicate. However, there is a colossal difference between the hoot of an owl or the grunt of a pig, and a human standing before an audience reciting Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken.” This enormous chasm between humans and animals has led to a multiplicity of theories on exactly how man came upon this unequaled capability. But there is a single, common theme that stands out amidst all the theories: “The world’s languages evolved spontaneously. They were not designed” (Deacon, p. 110, emp. added).

Design implies a Designer; thus, evolutionists have conjured up theories that consider language nothing more than a fortuitous chain of events. Most of these theories involve humans growing bigger brains, which then made it physiologically possible for people to develop speech and language. For instance, in the foreword of her book, The Seeds of Speech, Jean Aitchison hypothesized:

Physically, a deprived physical environment led to more meat-eating and, as a result, a bigger brain. The enlarged brain led to the premature birth of humans, and in consequence a protracted childhood, during which mothers cooed and crooned to their offspring. An upright stance altered the shape of the mouth and vocal tract, allowing a range of coherent sounds to be uttered (2000, p. x).

Thus, according to Aitchison, we can thank “a deprived physical environment” for our ability to talk and communicate. Another evolutionist, John McCrone, put it this way:

It all started with an ape that learned to speak. Man’s hominid ancestors were doing well enough, even though the world had slipped into the cold grip of the ice ages. They had solved a few key problems that had held back the other branches of the ape family, such as how to find enough food to feed their rather oversized brains. Then man’s ancestors happened on the trick of language. Suddenly, a whole new mental landscape opened up. Man became self-aware and self-possessed (1991, p. 9).

Question: How (and why) did that first ape learn to speak? It is easy to assert that “it all started with an ape that learned to speak.” But it is much more difficult to describe how this took place, especially in light of our failure to teach apes to speak today. In his book, From Hand to Mouth: The Origins of Language, Michael Corballis stated:

My own view is that language developed much more gradually, starting with the gestures of apes, then gathering momentum as the bipedal hominins evolved. The appearance of the larger-brained genus Homo some 2 million years ago may have signaled the emergence and later development of syntax, with vocalizations providing a mounting refrain. What may have distinguished Homo sapiens was the final switch from a mixture of gestural and vocal communication to an autonomous vocal language, embellished by gesture but not dependent on it (2002, p. 183).

The truth however, is that evolutionists can only speculate as to the origin of language. Evolutionist Carl Zimmer summed it up well when he wrote:

No one knows the exact chronology of this evolution, because language leaves precious few traces on the human skeleton. The voice box is a flimsy piece of cartilage that rots away. It is suspended from a slender C-shaped bone called a hyoid, but the ravages of time usually destroy the hyoid too (2001, p. 291).

Thus, theories are plentiful—while the evidence to support those theories remains mysteriously unavailable. Add to this the fact that humans acquire the ability to communicate (and even learn some of the basic rules of syntax) by the age of two, and you begin to see why Aitchison admitted:

Of course, holes still remain in our knowledge: in particular, at what stage did language leap from being something new which humans discovered to being something which every newborn human is scheduled to acquire? This is still a puzzle (p. ix).

A “puzzle” indeed!

ADAM—THE FIRST HUMAN
TO TALK AND COMMUNICATE

In a chapter he titled “What, When, and Where did Eve Speak to Adam and He to Her?,” Philip Lieberman commented:

In the five-million-year-long lineage that connects us to the common ancestors of apes and human beings, there have been many Adams and many Eves. In the beginning was the word, but the vocal communications of our most distant hominid ancestors five million years or so ago probably didn’t really differ from those of the ape-hominid ancestor (1998, p. 133).

Using biblical terminology, Lieberman had written a year earlier: “For with speech came a capacity for thought that had never existed before, and that has transformed the world. In the beginning was the word” (1997, p. 27).

When God created the first human beings—Adam and Eve—He created them in His own image (Genesis 1:26-27). This likeness unquestionably included the ability to engage in intelligible speech via human language. In fact, God spoke to them from the very beginning of their existence as humans (Genesis 1:28-30). Hence, they possessed the ability to understand verbal communication—and to speak themselves!

God gave very specific instructions to the man before the woman was even created (Genesis 2:15-17). Adam gave names to the animals before the creation of Eve (Genesis 2:19-20). Since both the man and the woman were created on the sixth day, the creation of the man preceded the creation of the woman by only hours. So, Adam had the ability to speak on the very day that he was brought into existence!

That same day, God put Adam to sleep and performed history’s first human surgery. He fashioned the female of the species from a portion of the male’s body. God then presented the woman to the man (no doubt in what we would refer to as the first marriage ceremony). Observe Adam’s response: “And Adam said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man’ ” (Genesis 2:23). Here is Adam—less than twenty-four hours old—articulating intelligible speech with a well-developed vocabulary and advanced powers of expression. Note also that Eve engaged in intelligent conversation with Satan (Genesis 3:1-5). An unbiased observer is forced to conclude that Adam and Eve were created by God with oral communication capability. Little wonder, then, that God said to Moses: “Who had made man’s mouth?… Have not I, the Lord? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say” (Exodus 4:11-12).

This circumstance should not surprise us, since the rest of the created order also was brought into existence fully formed and operational. Adam’s body was that of a man—not a child. His body possessed reproductive capability (Genesis 1:28). His mind was mentally and psychologically functional on the level of an adult. Likewise, trees and plants were completely operational in their photosynthetic, reproductive, and fruit-bearing capability (Genesis 1:11-12). Animals, too, were created fully functional (Genesis 1:20-25). And, the Sun, Moon, planets, and stars were created instantaneously to provide the services they were intended to provide (Genesis 1:14-18). Once again, the biblical explanation of the beginning of the human race and linguistic functionality is logical, reasonable, and scientifically feasible. The evolutionary model is not.

THE TOWER OF BABEL—
AND UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE

Nobody knows exactly how many languages there are in the world, partly because of the difficulty of distinguishing between a language and a sub-language (or dialects within it). But those who have tried to count usually end up around the 5,000 mark (Aitchison, 2000, p. 26).

The Bible’s explanation of the origin of multiple human languages is provided in the Tower of Babel incident recorded in Genesis 11:1-9. Scripture simply and confidently asserts: “Now the whole earth had one language and one speech” (11:1). When Noah and his family stepped off the ark, they spoke a single language that was passed on to their offspring. As the population increased, it apparently remained localized in a single geographical region. Consequently, little or no linguistic variation ensued. But when a generation defiantly rejected God’s instructions to scatter over the planet, God miraculously intervened and initiated the major language groupings of the human race. This action forced the population to proceed with God’s original intention to inhabit the Earth (cf. Isaiah 45:18) by clustering according to shared languages.

This depiction of the origin of languages coincides with the present status of these languages. The available linguistic evidence does not support the model postulated by evolutionary sources for the origin of languages. Evolutionary linguists believe that all human languages have descended from a single, primitive language, which itself evolved from the grunts and noises of the lower animals. The single most influential “hopeful monster” theory of the evolution of human language was proposed by the famous linguist from MIT, Noam Chomsky, and has since been echoed by numerous linguists, philosophers, anthropologists, and psychologists. Chomsky argued that the innate ability of children to acquire the grammar necessary for a language can be explained only if one assumes that all grammars are variations of a single, generic “universal grammar,” and that all human brains come “with a built-in language organ that contains this language blueprint” (Deacon, 1997, p. 35).

Explaining this “innate ability,” a “universal grammar,” and the “built-in language organ” of humans has proven to be, well, impossible! Steven Pinker, the eminent psychologist also ofMIT, candidly lamented this very fact in his best-selling book, How the Mind Works. In addressing the failure of “our species’ ” scientists to solve these types of plaguing, perennial problems, he wrote:

[T]he species’ best minds have flung themselves at the puzzles for millennia but have made no progress in solving them. Another is that they have a different character from even the most challenging problems of science. Problems such as how a child learns language or how a fertilized egg becomes an organism are horrendous in practice and may never be solved completely (1997a, p. 562, emp. added).

However, the existing state of human language nevertheless suggests that the variety of dialects and sub-languages has developed from a relatively few (perhaps even less than twenty) languages. These original “proto-languages”—from which all others allegedly have developed—were distinct within themselves, with no previous ancestral language. Creationist Carl Wieland rightly remarked: “The evidence is wonderfully consistent with the notion that a small number of languages, separately created at Babel, has diversified into the huge variety of languages we have today” (1999, p. 22).

THE BRAIN’S LANGUAGE CENTERS—
CREATED BY GOD

In contemplating how language arose, evolutionists frequently link the development of the brain to the appearance of languages. But when one considers that more than 5,000 languages exist, it is incomprehensible to suggest that the invention of language could be viewed as some sort of simple, clear-cut addition to human physiology made possible by an enlarged brain unique to Homo sapiens. Terrance Deacon commented on the intricacy of evolving a language when he said:

For a language feature to have such an impact on brain evolution that all members of the species come to share it, it must remain invariable across even the most drastic language change possible (p. 329, emp. in orig.).

Broca's and Wernicke's Areas of the Brain
Left hemisphere of human brain with language centers—Brocas’s area and Wernicke’s area— highlighted

The complexity underlying speech first revealed itself in patients who were suffering various communication problems. Researchers began noticing analogous responses among patients with similar injuries. The ancient Greeks noticed that brain damage could cause the loss of the ability to speak (a condition known as aphasia). Centuries later, in 1836, Marc Dax described a group of patients that could not speak normally. Dax reported that all of these patients experienced damage to the left hemisphere of their brain. In 1861, Paul Broca described a patient who could utter only a single word—“tan.” When this patient died, Broca examined his brain and observed significant damage to the left frontal cortex, which has since become known anatomically as “Broca’s area.” While patients with damage to Broca’s area can understand language, they generally are unable to produce speechbecause words are not formed properly, thus slurring their speech.

In 1876, Carl Wernicke discovered that language problems also could result from damage to another section of the brain. This area, later termed “Wernicke’s area,” is located in the posterior part of the temporal lobe. Damage to Wernicke’s area results in a loss of the ability to understand language. Thus, patients can continue to speak, but the words are put together in such a way that they make no sense. Interestingly, in most people (approximately 97%) both Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area are found only in the left hemisphere, which explains the language deficits observed in patients with brain damage to the left side of the brain. Evolutionists freely acknowledge that

[t]he relationship between brain size and language is unclear. Possibly, increased social interaction combined with tactical deception gave the brain an initial impetus. Better nourishment due to meat-eating may also have played a part. Then brain size and language possibly increased together (Aitchison, 2000, p. 85).

However, the human brain is not simply larger. The connections are vastly different as well. As Deacon admitted: “Looking more closely, we will discover that a radical re-engineering of the whole brain has taken place, and on a scale that is unprecedented” (p. 45). In order to speak a word that has been read, information is obtained from the eyes and travels to the visual cortex. From the primary visual cortex, information is transmitted to the posterior speech area (which includes Wernicke’s area). From there, information travels to Broca’s area, and then to the primary motor cortex to provide the necessary muscle contractions to produce the sound. To speak a word that has been heard, we must invoke the primaryauditory cortex, not the visual cortex. Deacon commented on this complex neuronal network—which does not occur in animals—when he wrote:

There is, without doubt, something special about human brains that enables us to do with ease what no other species can do even minimally without intense effort and remarkably insightful training. We not only have the ability to create and easily learn simple symbol systems such as the chimps Sherman and Austin struggled to learn, but in learning languages we acquire an immensely complex rule system and a rich vocabulary at a time in our lives when it is otherwise very difficult to learn even elementary arithmetic. Many a treatise on grammatical theory has failed to provide an adequate accounting of the implicit knowledge that even a four-year-old appears to possess about her newly acquired language (p. 103).

ANATOMY OF SPEECH

The specific mechanics involved in speaking have anatomical requirements that are foundonly in humans. There is no animal living presently, nor has one been observed in the fossil record, that possesses anything close to the “voice box” (as we commonly call it) present in humans. As information scientist Werner Gitt observed in his fascinating book,The Wonder of Man:

Only man has the gift of speech, a characteristic otherwise only possessed by God. This separates us clearly from the animal kingdom…. In addition to the necessary “software” for speech, we have also been provided with the required “hardware” (1999, p. 101).

Furthermore, the complete lack of any “transitional” animal form (with the requisite speech hardware) in the fossil record poses a significant continuity problem for evolutionists. As Deacon noted:

This lack of precedent makes language a problem for biologists. Evolutionary explanations are about biological continuity, so a lack of continuity limits the use of the comparative method in several important ways. We can’t ask, “What ecological variable correlates with increasing language use in a sample species?” Nor can we investigate the “neurological correlates of increased language complexity.” There is no range of species to include in our analysis (p. 34).

To simplify the anatomy required for human speech by using an analogy, think of a small tube resting inside a larger tube. The inner tube consists of the trachea going down to the lungs, and the larynx (which houses the voice box). At the larynx, the inner tube opens out to the larger tube, which is known as the pharynx. It carries only sound up to the mouth, but it also carries food and water from the mouth down to the stomach. A rather simplistic description of how humans utter sounds in speech can be characterized by the control of air generated by the lungs, flowing through the vocal tract, vibrating over the vocal cord, filtered by facial muscle activity, and released out of the mouth and nose. Just as sound is generated from blowing air across the narrow mouth of a bottle, air is passed over the vocal cords, which can be tightened or relaxed to produce various resonances.

The physiological components necessary can be divided into: (1) supralaryngeal vocal tract; (2) larynx; and (3) subglottal system (see illustration at below). In 1848, Johannes Muller demonstrated that human speech involved the modulation of acoustic energy by the airway above the larynx (referred to as the supralaryngeal tract). Sound energy for speech is generated in the larynx at the vocal folds. The subglottal system—which consists of the lungs, trachea, and their associated muscles—provides the necessary power for speech production. The lungs produce the initial air pressure that is essential for the speech signal; the pharyngeal cavity, oral cavity, and nasal cavity shape the final output sound that is perceived as speech.

Anatomy Used During Speech

BIRDS OF A FEATHER—OR NAKED APE?

Imagine the conundrum in which evolutionists find themselves when it comes to speech and language. The animal that comes closest to producing anything that even vaguely resembles human speech is not another primate, but rather a bird. Deacon observed:

In fact, most birds easily outshine any mammal in vocal skills, and though dogs, cats, horses, and monkeys are remarkably capable learners in many domains, vocalization is not one of them. Our remarkable vocal abilities are not part of a trend, but an exception (pp. 30-31).

For instance, a famous African gray parrot in England named Toto can pronounce words so clearly that he sounds rather human. Like humans, birds can produce fluent, complex sounds. We both share a double-barreled, double-layered system involving tunes and dialects—a system controlled by the left side of our brains. And just like young children, juvenile birds experience a period termed “sub-song” where they twitter in what resembles the babbling of a young child learning to speak. Yet Toto does not have a “language” as humans understand it. Humans use language for many more purposes than birds use song. Consider, too, that it is mostly male birds that sing. Females remain songless unless they are injected with the male hormone testosterone (see Nottebohm, 1980). Also consider that humans frequently communicate intimately between two or three people, while bird communication is a fairly long-distance affair.

One of the big “success” stories in looking at the human-like qualities of non-human primates is a male bonobo chimpanzee known as Kanzi (see Savage-Rumbaugh and Lewin, 1994; Skoyles and Sagan, 2002, pp. 217-220). Kanzi was born October 28, 1990, and began his long journey to learn to “speak” as a result of the training provided for his mother, Matata, via a “talking” keyboard. Matata never did master the keyboard, but Kanzi did. Through many years of intense training and close social contact with humans, this remarkable animal attained the language abilities of an average two-year-old human. By age ten, he had a “spoken” vocabulary (via the keyboard) of some two hundred words. In fact, Kanzi was able to go beyond the mere parroting or “aping” of humans; he actually could communicate his wants and needs, express feelings, and use tools. Inasmuch as Kanzi could accomplish such things, does this prove that chimps are merely hairy, child-like versions of humans?

Hardly. To use the words of the famous American news commentator, Paul Harvey, someone needs to tell “the rest of the story.” For example, in their 2002 volume, Up from Dragons, John Skoyles and Dorion Sagan discussed Kanzi at great length. Among other things, they wrote:

Kanzi shows that while chimps may have the potential to learn language, they require a “gifted” environment to do so. Kanzi was surrounded by intelligent apes with PhDs [i.e., humans—DM/BH/BT] who spoke to him and gave him a stream of rich interactions. They gave Kanzi’s brain a world in which it could play at developing its ability to communicate…. Therefore, as much as in his brain,Kanzi’s skill lies in the environment that helped shape it (pp. 215,216, emp. added).

Kanzi does not possess the anatomical equipment required for speech. Truth be told, no animal does. As Skoyles and Sagan went on to note: “Chimps lack the vocal abilities needed for making speech sounds—speech requires a skilled coordination between breathing and making movements with the larynx that chimps lack” (p. 214). Humans, however, dopossess the anatomical equipment required for speech.

But there is more. Regardless of how much instruction such animals receive, there appear to be built-in limits on their progress. On February 15, 1994, the public television programNOVA aired the show titled “Can Chimps Talk?” (for a full transcript of the show go to http://www.primate.wisc.edu/pin/nova/html). The show began with a “conversation” with Kanzi, who was required to use a talking keyboard to respond to queries from his human counterpart. As the television program demonstrated quite effectively, Kanzi frequently responded incorrectly when asked a question. For instance, one of the humans asked, “Is there any other food you’d like me to bring in the backpack?” Kanzi’s talking keyboard response was: “ball.”

The program then focused on Washoe, a chimpanzee that, in the 1970s, was taught a portion of American Sign Language by Allen and Beatrice Gardner at the University of Nevada. By the time Washoe was five, the trainers reported that she could use 133 signs. Headlines were quick to report that a non-human primate was using human language. This spurred other scientists, such as Herb Terrace, to begin experimenting with animal language. Terrace set out to replicate some of the Gardners’ study by using his own ape, Nim Chimsky (sarcastically named after MIT scientist Noam Chomsky, who believes language is confined strictly to humans). The main goal of the project was to determine if a chimpanzee could create a sentence. In the documentary, Terrace stated: “I have concluded that, unfortunately, the answer to that question is no.” Nim’s sign usage could best be interpreted as a series of “conditioned discriminations” similar to behaviors seen in many less-intelligent animals. This work suggested that Nim, like circus animals, was using words only to obtain food rewards. Terrace realized that while Nim seemed to be using a combination of signs, he actually was imitating the trainer. This prompted Terrace to examine some of the Gardners’ films. He decided that Washoe, too, was being led by his teacher and was merely imitating.

As Skoyles and Sagan candidly admitted, Kanzi’s skill was “in the environment that helped shape it.” That is precisely what Terrace discovered. Such an assessment always will be true of “talking animals.” But it is not always true of humans! Consider the following case in point.

As we mentioned earlier, the eminent linguist Noam Chomsky has championed the idea that humans are born with a built-in “universal grammar”—a series of biological switches for complex language that is set in place in the early years of childhood. This, he believes, is why children can grasp elaborate language rules, even at an early age—without adults to teach them. Powerful support for Chomsky’s theory emerged from a decade-long study of 500 deaf children in Managua, Nicaragua, which was reported in the December 1995 issue of Scientific American (Horgan, 1995, 273[6]:18-19). These children started attending special schools in 1979, but none used or was taught a formal sign language. Within a few years, and under no direction from teachers or other adults, they began to develop a basic “pidgin” sign language. This quickly was modified by younger children entering school, with the current version taking on a complex and consistent grammar. If Chomsky is correct, where, then, did humans get their innate ability for language? Chomsky himself will not even hazard a guess. In his opinion, “very few people are concerned with the origin of language because most consider it a hopeless question” (as quoted in Ross, 1991, 264[4]:146). The development of language, he admits, is a “mystery.” The fundamental failing of naturalistic theories is that they are inadequate to explain the origins of something so complex and information-rich as human language, which itself is a gift of God and part of man’s having been created “in His image” (see Lyons and Thompson, 2002).

The fact is, no animal is capable of speaking in the manner in which people can speak. Speech is a peculiarly human trait. Steven Pinker, director of MIT’s Center of Cognitive Neuroscience, stated in The Language Instinct: The New Science of Language and Mind:

As you are reading these words, you are taking part in one of the wonders of the natural world. For you and I belong to a species with a remarkable ability: we can shape events in each other’s brains with remarkable precision. I am not referring to telepathy or mind control or the other obsessions of fringe science; even in the depictions of believers, these are blunt instruments compared to an ability that is uncontroversially present in every one of us. That ability is language. Simply by making noises with our mouths, we can reliably cause precise new combinations of ideas to arise in each other’s minds. The ability comes so naturally that we are apt to forget what a miracle it is…. [H]uman language is based on a very different design…. Even the seat of human language in the brain is special… (1997b, pp. 1,365, emp. added).

Without detracting anything from primates like Kanzi and Washoe, fundamental differences between animals and humans nevertheless remain. Unlike human children, animals: (1) do not have a special region in the brain devoted to language; (2) possess a much smaller brain overall; and (3) lack the anatomy to speak the words they may think. In summary, humans have an innate, built-in, hard-wired ability to acquire and communicate complex language from the moment of their birth. Animals do not. Admittedly, animals do possess a measure of understanding. They can learn to respond to commands and signs, and in some instances even can be trained to use minimal portions of human sign language. But even though apes, dogs, and birds can be trained to do certain things, they cannot reason and communicate ideas with others so as to have true mental communion. Why? The intelligence of animals is, quite bluntly, unlike that of humankind. As biologist John N. Moore observed:

Animals can think in several ways…though only on the perceptual, not on the conceptual level. The key difference here is one between conceptual and perceptual thinking. The latter, which is typical of animal thinking, requires the actual or nearly immediate presence of the pertinent objects. Man’s thinking, on the other hand, is independent of the presence of pertinent objects. It is, in fact, independent of objects altogether, as is the case with logical or mathematical exercises. Secondly, the difference between human and animal thinking resides in the fact that, whether or not the object of the mental operation is present, animals cannot make judgments or engage in reasoning. For example, animals are unable to conclude that such and such is or is not the case in a given situation or that ifsuch and such is the case, then so and so is not (1983, p. 344, emp. and ellipses in orig.).

The issue is not “can animals think?,” but rather “can they think the way humans do?” The answer, obviously, is a resounding “No!” Although animal trainers and investigators since the seventeenth century have tried to teach chimpanzees to talk, no chimpanzee has ever managed it. A chimpanzee’s sound-producing anatomy is simply too different from that of humans. Chimpanzees might be able to produce a muffled approximation of human speech—if their brains could plan and execute the necessary articulate maneuvers. But to do this, they would have to have our brains, which they obviously do not (see Lieberman, 1997, p. 27).

COMPLEXITY OF LANGUAGE—
UNIQUELY HUMAN

No known language in the whole of human history can be considered “primitive” in any sense of the word. In her book, What is Linguistics?, Suzette Elgin wrote:

The most ancient languages for which we have written texts—Sanskrit for example—are often far more intricate and complicated in their grammatical forms than many other contemporary languages (1973, p. 44).

Lewis Thomas, a distinguished physician, scientist, and longtime director and chancellor of the Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan, acknowledged: “…Language is so incomprehensible a problem that the language we use for discussing the matter is itself becoming incomprehensible” (1980, p. 59). It appears that, from the beginning, human communication was designed with a tremendous amount of complexity and forethought, and has allowed us to communicate not only with one another, but also with the Designerof language.

In a paper titled “Evolution of Universal Grammar” that appeared in the January 2001 issue of Science, M.A. Nowak and his colleagues attempted to discount the gulf that separates human and animals (Nowak, et al., 2001). This paper, which was a continuation of a 1999 paper titled “The Evolution of Language” (Nowak and Krakauer, 1999), used mathematical calculations in an effort to predict the evolution of grammar and the rules surrounding it. While Nowak and his team inferred that the evolution of universal grammar can occur via natural selection, they freely admitted that “the question concerning why only humans evolved language is hard to answer” (1999, 96:8031, emp. added). Hard to answer indeed! The mathematical models presented in these papers do not tell us anything about the origination of the multitude of languages used in the world today. If man truly did evolve from an ape-like ancestor, how did the phonologic [the branch of linguistics that deals with the sounds of speech and their production] component of our languages become so diverse and variegated? Nowak’s paper also did not clarify the origination of written languages, or describe how the language process was initiated in the first humans, considering we know today that parents teach languages to their offspring.

Nowak and his collaborators believe that the “first step” in the evolution of language was “signal-object associations.” They speculate that common objects, frequently utilized, were given a representative signal or sign (in a manner similar to modern sign language). These researchers also believe that early in evolution, these signals were “likely to have been noisy” and therefore “mistaken for each other.” Nowak suggests that these errors necessitated the formation of words, and describes this step in the evolution of language as going “from an analogue to a digital system.” However, there is no evidence that demonstrates how these “prehistoric” people made the quantum leap from signals to words. The last step Nowak describes is the evolution of basic grammatical rules in an effort to convey even more information than just simple words. While these speculations make a nice, neat, progressive path toward human language, they do little to explain adequately the anatomical differences found in animals and humans. The human supralaryngeal airway differs from that of any other adult mammal, and is essential for speech. While it is true that chimpanzees have been taught to communicate by means of sign language, they cannot speak, and do not appear to use any complex syntax in communication.

Nowak and his colleagues began with the assumption that language “evolved as a means of communicating information between individuals” (1999, 96:8030), and then went on to speculate that natural selection favors the emergence of a universal, rule-based language system. But if it is true that natural selection “favors” a complex language, how do we account for the non-vocal communication observed in animals, and why hasn’t this communication “emerged” into a formal language in those animals? In an effort to explain this embarrassing lack of understanding, Nowak, et al. offered several speculations as to why animals have not evolved a better form of communication. In their explanation, they listed the following:

  • Signal-object associations form only when information transfer is beneficial to both speaker and listener.
  • In the presence of errors, only a very limited communication system describing a small number of objects can evolve by natural selection.
  • Although grammar can be an advantage for small systems, it may be necessary only if the language refers to many events.
  • Thus, animals may not possess the need to describe “many” events.

But such speculations leave gaping holes in regard to potential explanations as to why animals cannot use speech. As Deacon noted:

How could anyone doubt that language complexity is the problem? Languages are indeed complicated things. They are probably orders of magnitude more complicated than the next-most-complicated communication system outside of the human sphere. And they are indeed almost impossibly difficult for other species to acquire (1997, p. 40).

Also, consider that when language first appears on the scene, it already is fully developed and very complex. The late Harvard paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson described it this way:

Even the peoples with least complex cultures have highly sophisticated languages, with complex grammar and large vocabularies, capable of naming and discussing anything that occurs in the sphere occupied by their speakers. The oldest language that can be reconstructed is already modern, sophisticated, complete from an evolutionary point of view (1966, p. 477).

Chomsky summed it up well when he stated:

Human language appears to be a unique phenomenon, without significant analogue in the animal world…. There is no reason to suppose that the “gaps” are bridgeable. There is no more of a basis for assuming an evolutionary development from breathing to walking (1972, pp. 67-68).

CONCLUSION

The fact of the matter is that language is quintessentially a human trait. All attempts to shed light on the evolution of human language have failed—due to the lack of knowledge regarding the origin of any language, and due to the lack of an animal that possesses any “transitional” form of communication. This leaves evolutionists with a huge gulf to bridge between humans with their innate communication abilities, and the grunts, barks, or chatterings of animals. Deacon lamented:

So this is the real mystery. Even under these loosened criteria, there are no simple languages used among other species, though there are many other equally or more complicated modes of communication. Why not? And the problem is even more counterintuitive when we consider the almost insurmountable difficulties of teaching language to other species. This is surprising, because there are many clever species. Though researchers report that language-like communication has been taught to nonhuman species, even the best results are not above legitimate challenges, and the fact that it is difficult to prove whether or not some of these efforts have succeeded attests to the rather limited scope of the resulting behaviors, as well as to deep disagreements about what exactly constitutes language-like behavior (p. 41).

Another scholar who recognized this chasm between humans and animals commented:

The very fact…that human animals are ready to engage in a great “garrulity” over the merits and demerits of essentially unprovable hypotheses, is an exciting testimony to the gap between humans and other animals (Holloway, 1976, 280:330).

Gap indeed! Humans are capable of communicating in human language because God created them with the ability to do so! The Bible still offers the only plausible explanation for the origin of human language when it records: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;’…So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:26-27).

REFERENCES

Aitchson, Jean (2000), The Seeds of Speech: Language Origin and Evolution (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press).

Chomsky, Noam (1972), Language and the Mind (New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich).

Corballis, Michael C. (2002), From Hand to Mouth: The Origins of Language (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press).

Deacon, Terrance (1997), The Symbolic Species: The Co-Evolution of Language and the Brain(New York: W.W. Norton).

Elgin, Suzette H. (1973), What is Linguistics? (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall).

Gitt, Werner (1999), The Wonder of Man (Bielefeld, Germany: Christliche Literatur-Verbreitung E.V.).

Holloway, R.L. (1976), “Paleoneurological Evidence for Language Origins,” Origins and Evolution of Language and Speech, ed. S.R. Harnad, D. Horst, D. Steklis, and J. Lancaster,Annals of the New York Academy of Science, 280:330.

Horgan, John (1995), “A Sign is Born,” Scientific American, 273[6]:18-19, December.

Jones, Steve, Robert Martin, and David Pilbeam, eds. (1999), Cambridge Encyclopedia of Human Evolution (New York: Cambridge University Press).

Lemonick, Michael D. (1994), “How Man Began,” Time, 143[11]:80-87, March 14.

Liebereman, Philip (1997), “Peak Capacity,” The Sciences, 37:27, November/December.

Lieberman, Philip (1998), Eve Spoke: Human Language and Human Evolution (New York: W.W. Norton).

Lyons, Eric and Bert Thompson (2002), “In the ‘Image and Likeness of God,’ ” Reason & Revelation [Parts I and II], 22:17-23,25-31, March and April.

Matthews, Stephen, Bernard Comrie, and Marcia Polinsky, eds. (1996), Atlas of Languages: The Origin and Development of Languages Throughout the World (New York: Facts on File).

McCrone, John (1991), The Ape That Spoke: Language and the Evolution of the Human Mind (New York: William Morrow).

Moore, John N. (1983), How to Teach Origins Without ACLU Interference (Milford, MI: Mott Media).

Nottebohm, F. (1980), “Testosterone Triggers Growth of Brain Vocal Control Nuclei in Adult Female Canaries,” Brain Research, 189:429–436.

Nowak, Martin A. and David C. Krakauer (1999), “The Evolution of Language,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 96:8028-8033, July 6.

Nowak, Martin A., N.L. Komarova, and P. Niyogi (2001), “Evolution of Universal Grammar,”Science, 291:114-118, January 5.

Pinker, Steven (1997a), How the Mind Works (New York: W.W. Norton).

Pinker, Steven (1997b), The Language Instinct: The New Science of Language and Mind(London: Penguin).

Ross, Phillip E. (1991), “Hard Words,” Scientific American, 264[4]:138-147, April.

Savage-Rumbaugh, Sue and Roger Lewin (1994), “Ape at the Brink,” Discover, 15[9]:90-96,98.

Simpson, George Gaylord (1966), “The Biological Nature of Man,” Science, 152:467-477, April 22.

Skoyles, John R. and Dorion Sagan (2002), Up from Dragons (New York: McGraw-Hill).

Thomas, Lewis (1980), “On Science and Uncertainty,” Discover, 1:59, October.

Wieland, Carl (1999), “Towering Change,” Creation Ex Nihilo, 22[1]:22-26, December 1999– February 2000.

Zimmer, Carl (2001), Evolution (New York: HarperCollins).


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Human–chimp DNA similarity re-evaluated

A review of the common claim that the human and chimpanzee (chimp) genomes are nearly identical was found to be highly questionable solely by an analysis of the methodology and data outlined in an assortment of key research publications. Reported high DNA sequence similarity estimates are primarily based on prescreened biological samples and/or data. Data too dissimilar to be conveniently aligned was typically omitted, masked and/or not reported. Furthermore, gap data from final alignments was also often discarded, further inflating final similarity estimates. It is these highly selective data-omission processes, driven by Darwinian dogma, that produce the commonly touted 98% similarity figure for human–chimp DNA comparisons. Based on the analysis of data provided in various publications, including the often cited 2005 chimpanzee genome report, it is safe to conclude that human–chimp genome similarity is not more than ~87% identical, and possibly not higher than 81%.

 

 


A common claim is that the DNA of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and humans (Homo sapiens) are about 98% similar. This oversimplified and often-touted estimate can actually involve two completely separate concepts. 1) Gene content (the comparative counts of similar types of coding sequences present or absent between different species) and 2) similarities between the actual base pairs of DNA sequences in alignments. For the most part, the modern similarity paradigm refers to DNA sequence alignment research. Biological sequence data often goes through several levels of prescreening, filtering and selection before being summarized and discussed.

One of the major problems with overall research in the field of comparative genetics, as we will show, is that in most studies there is a great deal of preselection applied to the available biological samples and data before the final analysis is undertaken. Only the most promising data from a larger pool is typically extracted for a final analysis.

 

Early human–chimp studies with reassociation kinetics

The initial estimates of high human-chimp DNA similarity came from a field of study called reassociation kinetics. These initial reports fueled early claims by such popular evolutionary luminaries as Oxford Professor Richard Dawkins, who stated “Chimpanzees and we share more than 99 per cent of our genes.” At the time, this statement was presumptuous, because gene numbers for humans and chimps were not known. The initial drafts of the human and chimp genomes were not announced until 2001 and 2005, respectively.

The supposed gene data Dawkins referred to in 1986 was an indirect estimate based on the reassociation kinetics of mixed human and chimp DNA, not clearly defined genes.1 In reassociation kinetics, heat and/or chemistry are used to separate double-stranded DNA into single strands. When the DNA is allowed to reassociate in a controlled manner, it can be fractionated using various protocols. The slower the reassociation, the more complex and gene-dense the DNA is thought to be. In general, three types of DNA can be recovered: high-copy (highly repetitive, gene poor), low-copy (moderately repetitive, low levels of genes), and single copy (gene-rich). For comparative studies, the single copy fraction of DNA is collected from two species, mixed together, disassociated and allowed to reassociate so that human and chimp DNA can recombine. The level of complementary base matching between strands can be indirectly measured by a variety of methods that indirectly measure rates/levels of reassociation.

The caveat is that only the single-copy fractions of the human and chimp genomes were utilized to obtain early estimates of similarity. Scientists focused on the single-copy fraction because of the high gene content. However, many genes are located in the other genome fractions and were thus left out of the analysis. Another problem is that virtually the entire genome is now known to be functional in some aspect and the non-coding regions have been shown to provide many critical control features and nucleotide templates.

 

Genomics research—affirming the myth

Subsequent research using sequenced DNA built upon the early high similarity dogma established by reassociation kinetics. In a companion to this paper, we discuss the possibility that an unspoken dogma-based ‘Gold Standard’ regarding the human–chimp similarity issue was established during the initial studies involving reassociation kinetics.

A review paper written by creationist Todd Wood on biological similarity between human and chimp highlighted and supposedly confirmed evolutionary similarity claims, yet ignored the important bioinformatic issues surrounding widespread data omission and selective analyses. Wood’s review did little to support creationist claims that humans were uniquely created in the image of God rather than being a few DNA base pairs from a chimp. Therefore, our focus on DNA sequence similarity will address the same publications listed in Wood’s review in addition to several more recent papers.

Reference

Total genomic bases analyzed

Aligned bases

Reported DNA identity

Actual DNA identity*

Britten, 2002

846,016

779,132

95.2%

~ 87%

Ebersberger et al., 2002

3,000,286

1,944,162

98.8%

< 65%

Liu et al., 2003

10,600,000 (total for human, chimp, baboon, and marmoset)

4,968,069 (human–chimp)

98.9% no indels

?

Wildman et al., 2003

~90,000 (exons from 97 genes)

?

98.4–99.4%

?

Chimp. Chrom. 22 Consort.

32,799,845

?

98.5% excluding indels

80–85% including indels

Nielson et al., 2005

?

?

99.4% selected gene regions

?

Chimp. Seq. Consort. 2005

Whole genome (5X redundant coverage)

2.4 Gb

95.8%

81%**

 

* Based on the amount of omitted DNA sequence in the alignments
** Compared to data from The International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium (2004)—((.9577 x 2.4 Gb) / 2.85 Gb) x 100
? Cannot calculate actual percent identity because data was not provided.

Roy Britten, one of the early pioneers in DNA reassociation kinetics, compared the genomic sequence from five chimp large-insert DNA clones (Bacterial Artificial Chromosomes, or BACs) to human genomic sequence using an atypical fortran-based computer program. These five chimp BAC sequences were chosen because they were the only ones then available.Researchers typically choose initial seed BACs for genome sequencing because of their single-copy DNA content, which makes them easier to assemble and compare to other species. The total length of the DNA sequence for all 5 BACs was 846,016 bases. However, only 92% of this was alignable to human DNA, thus the final statistics reported on only 779,132 bases. To his credit, Britten included the alignment data on insertions and deletions (indels) and reported a human–chimp similarity of ~95%. However, a more realistic figure would include the complete high-quality sequence of all five BACs, which is just as legitimate as the indels within the alignments; giving a final DNA similarity of 87%

 

Figure 1. Illustration showing the caveats of a hypothetical pairwise alignment between homologous sequences from two different species Figure 1.

Another notable study published by Ebersberger et al. the same year as Britten’s paper utilized chimp genome sequence obtained from randomly sheared, size-selected fragments in the 300 to 600 base range.These DNA sequences were aligned to an early version of the human genome assembly using the BLAT (Blast-Like Alignment Tool) algorithm. Researchers selected two-thirds of the total sequence for more detailed analyses. One-third of the chimp sequence would not align to the human genome and was discarded. The methods section in the paper19 describes how the subset of prescreened data was further filtered to obtain only the very best alignments. The resulting data was then subjected to a variety of comparative analyses that, for all practical purposes, are completely meaningless given the extremely high level of selection, data masking, and filtering applied. Not surprisingly, they report only a 1.24% difference in only highly similar aligned areas between human and chimp. A more realistic sequence similarity  is not more than 65% .

Shortly after these initial human–chimp comparison papers, a disturbing trend quickly emerged. This trend involved only reporting final alignment results and omitting the specific details of how such data was filtered, masked and selected. Key data to allow critical readers of human–chimp similarity papers to calculate a more accurate overall similarity began to be consistently omitted. For example, Liu et al. reported on the alignment of human genomic sequence with chimp, baboon, and marmoset. Important information concerning the starting set of sequences and specific data for the alignments was omitted. They state only that they used a total amount of 10.6 Mb of sequence for all species combined. Their similarity estimate on the final alignment, omitting indels and non-aligned areas, was 98.9%. Including indels, we derived a value of 95.6% for the alignments, similar to Britten’s research. Important data outside the aligned areas was impossible to evaluate because of the omitted sequence data.

Another disturbing trend is that only highly conserved protein-coding sequence (exons) are often utilized to report genome-wide similarity. We now know that non protein-coding sequences, which comprise greater than 95% of the genome, are critical to all aspects of genetics and genome function. Typical of the trend to only align exonic sequences, Wildman, et al. reported on a study that compared only human and chimp protein coding regions of 97 exon fragments for a total of 90,000 bases.

In 2004, Watanabe et al. used a variety of BAC libraries to select clones for DNA sequencing representing chimp chromosome 22. The sequence was then compared to its similar human homolog. The caveat is that the individual chimp BAC clones were only selected if they each contained 6 to 10 human DNA markers. Unfortunately, critical overall DNA alignment statistics are not given in the paper or in the supplemental information. The authors state a nucleotide substitution rate of 1.44% in aligned areas, but do not give similarity estimates to include indels. While indels are omitted from the alignment similarity, the authors indicate that there were 82,000 of them and provide a histogram that graphically shows the size distribution based on binned data groupings. Oddly, no data for average indel size or total indel length was provided. Likewise, the number of sequence gaps were given, but nothing about cummulative gap size.  Based on an estimate using the limited graphical data provided regarding base substitutions and indels, an estimate of about 80 to 85% overall similarity can be inferred.

One of the most ambiguous of all human–chimp studies was published by Nielson et al. In keeping with the established obfuscational trend, only highly conserved exons were used and no data were given to allow one to calculate any type of real overall similarity. Of the total starting number of gene sequences in the analysis (20,361) the researchers decided to throw out 33% (6,630) in an ambiguously stated “very conservative quality control”. In other words, one third of the initial chimp data did not align to human, so it got tossed out. In fact, no hard data was actually given.

 

Chimpanzee rough draft genome assembly data—81% similarity?

 

The major milestone publication regarding human–chimp genome comparisons was the 2005 Nature paper from the International Chimpanzee Genome Sequencing Consortium.4 Unfortunately, this paper followed the previously established trend where most of the comparative data was given in a highly selective and obfuscated format and detailed information about the alignments was absent. The majority of the paper was primarily concerned with a variety of hypothetical evolutionary analyses for various divergence rates and selective forces. Hence, the critical issue of overall similarity was carefully avoided.

However, based on the numbers given in the chimp genome paper, one can determine a rough overall genome similarity between humans and chimp by including published concurrent information from the human genome project. In regards to the overall alignment, the authors state, “Best reciprocal nucleotide-level alignments of the chimpanzee and human genomes cover ~2.4 gigabases (Gb) of high-quality sequence”. At this time, the human euchromatic assembly was estimated to be 99% complete at 2.85 Gb and had an error rate of 1 in 100,000 bases. The chimp genome authors state, “The indel differences between the genomes thus total ~90 Mb. This difference corresponds to ~3% of both genomes and dwarfs the 1.23% difference resulting from nucleotide substitutions.”

In summary, only 2.3 Gb of chimp sequence aligned onto the highly accurate and complete human genome (2.85 Gb) an operation that included the masking of low complexity sequences. For the chimp sequence that aligned, the data for substitutions and indels indicates 95.8% similarity, a biased figure which excludes the masked regions. Using these numbers, an overall estimate of chimp compared to human DNA produces a conservative estimate of genome-wide similarity at 80.6%.

 

The paradigm starts to crumble

 

A study by Ebersberger et al., in which a large pool of human, chimp, orangutan, rhesus and gorilla genomic sequences was used in constructing phylogenies (multiple alignments analyzed in evolutionary tree format). The original pool of DNA sequences actually went through several levels of selection to preanalyze, trim and filter them for optimal alignment. First, a set of 30,112 sequences were selected that shared homology (overlapping similarity) between the five species. These sequences were aligned and only those which produced ≥ 300 base alignments were retained for another series of alignments and only the sequences that produced superior statistical probabilities > 95% were used in the final analysis. This filtering process removed over 22% of already-known, pre-selected homologous sequence. Despite all of this data filtering designed to produce the most favourable evolutionary alignment and trees, the results did not show any clear path of ancestry for humans with chimps or any of the great apes. What emerged was a true mosaic of unique human and primate DNA sequences; discounting any clear path of common ancestry. Perhaps the best summary of the research can be found in the author’s own words.

“For about 23% of our genome, we share no immediate genetic ancestry with our closest living relative, the chimpanzee.

“Thus, in two-thirds of the cases a genealogy results in which humans and chimpanzees are not each other’s closest genetic relatives. The corresponding genealogies are incongruent with the species tree. In accordance with the experimental evidences, this implies that there is no such thing as a unique evolutionary history of the human genome. Rather, it resembles a patchwork of individual regions following their own genealogy.”

 

The Y-chromosome

One of the most intriguing studies is the Y-chromosome comparison between humans and chimps. In this study, the male-specific region (MSY), was compared between human and chimp. The result was 25,800,000 bases of highly accurate chimp Y-chromosome sequence distributed among eight contiguous segments. When compared to the human Y-chromosome, the differences were enormous. The authors state, “About half of the chimpanzee ampliconic sequence has no homologous, alignable counterpart in the human MSY, and vice versa.”

The ampliconic sequence contains ornate repeat units (called palindromes) that read the same forwards as they do backwards. Dispersed within these palindromes are families of genes that are expressed primarily in the male testes. Not only did 50% of this type of sequence fail to align between human and chimp in the Y-chromosome, humans had over twice as many total genes (60 in humans vs 25 in chimp). There were also three complete categories of genes (gene families) found in humans that were not even present in chimps. Related to this large difference in gene content, the authors note, “Despite the elaborate structure of the chimpanzee MSY, its gene repertoire is considerably smaller and simpler than that of the human MSY,” and “the chimpanzee MSY contains only two-thirds as many distinct genes or gene families as the human MSY, and only half as many protein-coding transcription units.”

A comparison of the so-called X-degenerate gene regions between humans and chimps also showed distinct organizational and locational differences in addition to differences in gene content. In fact, humans have three types (classes) of X-degenerate genes that are not even present in chimps.

Besides the large differences in gene content between human and chimp MSY regions, the overall structural differences were enormous. Take note of some of the additional comments from the authors:

“Moreover, the MSY sequences retained in both lineages have been extraordinarily subject to rearrangement: whole chromosome dot-plot comparison of chimpanzee and human MSYs shows marked differences in gross structure.

“The chimpanzee ampliconic regions are particularly massive (44% larger than in human) and architecturally ornate, with 19 palindromes (compared to eight in human) and elaborate mirroring of nucleotide sequences between the short and long arms of the chromosome, a feature not found in the human MSY.

“Of the 19 chimpanzee palindromes, only 7 are also found in the human MSY; the other 12 are chimpanzee-specific. Unlike the human MSY, nearly all of the chimpanzee MSY palindromes exist in multiple copies.”

The large differences in both structural arrangements of unique DNA features and gene content described in the Y-chromosome study, is particularly damaging to human-chimp DNA similarity mythos and the dogma of primate evolution. In fact, the authors shockingly note that given “ … 6 million years of separation, the difference in MSY gene content in chimpanzee and human is more comparable to the difference in autosomal gene content in chicken and human, at 310 million years of separation.”

A large study of genetic variation in the human genome showed that the Y-chromosome was exceptionally stable and had five times less genetic variation than the autosomes. This data makes perfect sense because the Y-chromosome has no similar homolog in the genome and undergoes very little recombination with the X-chromosome during meiosis. Given this lack of recombination and sequence diversity on the Y-chromosome, the primate evolution model encounters a serious problem, because the human and chimp Y-chromosomes should be considerably more similar to each other.

Some cases of high similarity may be due to contamination

Another factor to consider in the human-chimp similarity debate is that some cases of high sequence similarity may be due to contamination. Not only is the chimpanzee genome assembly still largely based on the human genomic framework, it also now appears that the wide-spread contamination of non-primate databases with human DNA is a serious problem and can run as high as 10% in some cases.Human contamination results from the process of cloning DNA fragments in the lab for sequencing where airborne human cells come from coughing, sneezing, and physical contact with contaminated fingers.

On a recent website at the Ensembl database (joint bioinformatics project between EMBL-EBI and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute), a webpage titled ‘Chimp Genebuild’ provides the following information as to one of the ways in which the human genome is used as a guide to assemble and annotate the chimp genome:

“Owing to the small number of proteins (many of which aligned in the same location) an additional layer of gene structures was added by projection of human genes. The high-quality annotation of the human genome and the high degree of similarity between the human and chimpanzee genomes enables us to identify genes in chimpanzee by transfer of human genes to the corresponding location in chimp.

“The protein-coding transcripts of the human gene structures are projected through the WGA [whole genome assembly] onto the chromosomes in the chimp genome. Small insertions/deletions that disrupt the reading-frame of the resultant transcripts are corrected for by inserting ‘frame-shift’ introns into the structure.”

 

From: Creation.com

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