'Missing Link' Gene Found that Created the Human Brain
'Missing link' gene found that triggered leap in intelligence two million years ago - and allowed early humans to start talking
Daily Mail Reporter
15:01 GMT, 3 May 2012
06:39 GMT, 4 May 2012
It is a question that has long puzzled scientists. What made our ancestors break away from apes and advance so dramatically?
Now researchers believe they may have explained the missing link – a duplicated gene.
believe that a copy of gene SRGAP2, which appeared in ‘ape men’ around
2.5million years ago, helped our brain cells move faster and make more
connections – enabling the brain to become more complex.
A gene that could have been vital to human
evolution has been discovered - perhaps the crucial step that separated
early man from the apes
Writing in the journal Cell,
they suggest this process explains how our species developed speech,
complex behaviour and mastery of tools around that time. The copy and the original gene make similar proteins, which are known to help the brain develop.
in two studies, scientists found the second version made neurons
develop longer dendrites – the ‘fingers’ which pick up electrical
impulses from other cells.
Evolution: Scientists believe they have found a
gene that may have been the moment that 'separated' man from the apes,
developing intelligence key to our modern lives
This seems to have led to the
wiring of a larger brain around the time that the Australopithecus, or
ape man, started to transform into Homo Sapiens.Professor
Franck Polleux, of The Scripps Research Institute in California, said
SRGAP2 was one of around 30 genes which became duplicated in humans
after they separated from the apes. Genetic scientist Professor Evan Eichler,
of the University of Washington, said: ‘These events could have allowed
for radical changes in brain development and brain function.’
addition to providing insight into the origins of the modern human
brain, the findings offer clues to the neurological brain disorders
including autism, epilepsy and schizophrenia in which development of
cell connections is affected.The
researchers point to known cases of humans with structural brain
defects and other symptoms that can be traced to disruption of the
ancestral SRGAP2.They now intend to search for people carrying defects in the human-specific 'granddaughter' copy as well.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2138861/Missing-link-gene-triggered-leap-intelligence-million-years-ago--separated-man-apes.html#ixzz1tsw8H8WD
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