Although people and great apes share many genomic similarities, some genes belong to humans alone.
Why is it so difficult to locate and study the parts of the human genome that make humans distinct from other animals? In looking a this question, The Altantic spoke with Evan Eichler, professor of genome sciences, and a Ph.D. student and Medical Scientist Training Program fellow in his lab, Max Doughtery.
In the article by Ed Jong, "Searching for the Genes that are Unique to Humans," Eichler and Dougherty mention work on the gene called HYDIN2, which first appeared about 3.1 million years ago as a truncated form of an earlier gene. Instead of becoming a deadly mistake to cast out, HYDIN2 weathered a stormy region of the human genome and joined forces with another gene. The result is now believed to occur in every living person.