Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Chimps more evolved than humans?

The story Chimps 'more evolved' than humans in the latest New Scientist should give some food for thought for the believer in the standard model of genetic evolution. The story summarizes the article published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0701705104).
It is time to stop thinking we are the pinnacle of evolutionary success – chimpanzees are the more highly evolved species, according to new research.

Evolutionary geneticist Jianzhi Zhang and colleagues at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, US, compared DNA sequences for 13,888 genes shared by human, chimp and rhesus macaques.

For each DNA letter at which the human or chimp genes differ from our shared ancestral form – inferred from the corresponding gene in macaques – researchers noted whether the change led to an altered protein. Genes that have been transformed by natural selection show an unusually high proportion of mutations leading to altered proteins.

Zhang's team found that 233 chimp genes, compared with only 154 human ones, have been changed by selection since chimps and humans split from their common ancestor about 6 million years ago.

This contradicts what most evolutionary biologists had assumed. "We tend to see the differences between us and our common ancestor more easily than the differences between chimps and the common ancestor," observes Zhang.

The result makes sense, he says, because until relatively recently the human population has been smaller than that of chimps, leaving us more vulnerable to random fluctuations in gene frequencies. This prevents natural selection from having as strong an effect overall.

Now that the macaque genome has been sequenced, biologists will be able to learn more about the differences between the apes.

How to interpret this? In my own TGD world view I can imagine two interpretations.

1. Could this relate to introns?

The changes in genes coding for proteins are studied. Most (more than 95 per cent) of human genome however consist of introns which do not code for proteins but could express themselves in some other manner, say electromagnetically. For instance, language could reduce at the basic level to a gene expression but proceeding through, say, electromagnetic wave patterns. The portion of introns in the genome increases steadily as one climbs up along the evolutionary tree. It might be that our evolution is basically the evolution of introns and corresponding gene expression.

I have proposed the notion of memetic code along these lines as a third code in the hierarchy of codes labelled by Mersenne primes of so called Combinatorial Hierarchy. Mersenne primes are defined as Mn=2n-1 and the hierarchy is defined as M(n)= MM(n-1). More explicitly, the levels are given by

3=22-1,7=23-1, 127= 27-1,M127=2127-1.

It is not known whether higher Mersennes in the hierarchy are primes. 7 would correspond to the lowest level. 127 would correspond to genetic code, and M127 to what I call memetic code perhaps related to the cultural evolution. One motivation is that the fundamental biorhythm 10 Hz appearing also in alpha band corresponds to the secondary p-adic time scale associated with M127. At DNA level the codons would consist of sequences of 21 genetic codons and this kind of structural element should be found from the intronic sequences if they relate to the memetic code.

As a matter fact, M127 plays a fundamental role in TGD based physics. It codes for the p-adic length scale of electron and graviton. Also electro-pions which are bound states of color excitations of leptons correspond to M127: their existence was suggested by old anomaly in the heavy ion collisions near Coulomb wall and quite recently evidence for muo-pion has emerged. The exotic quarks appearinng in the nuclear string model about which I have been talking a lot recently, correspond to M127.

2. Could the notions of super- and hypergenome relate to the finding?

TGD inspired biology leads to the notions of super- and hyper-genome which could also allow to understand the strange discovery. The explanation need not exclude the interpretation of introns.

  • The key notion is that of magnetic body having size much larger than biological body. The notion of field body is forced by what I call topological field quantization. Magnetic body carrying dark matter would be the quantum controlling agent using biological body as a motor instrument and sensory receptor. Magnetic body has an onionlike fractal structure consisting of magnetic bodies within magnetic bodies. EEG consisting of dark photons with large Planck constant (to guarantee that EEG photon energies are above thermal energy at room temperature) and its fractal counterparts would be the tool of quantum control and communication.

  • Motor control would naturally take place via the genome: magnetic flux sheets of magnetic body would traverse through the DNA strands. Communication of the sensory data to the magnetic body would in turn take place from cell membranes which are full of sensory receptors. If one accepts the hypothesis about the hierarchy of increasing values of Planck constants explaining dark matter as macroscopic quantum phases, flux quantization implies a surprising result. The number of DNAs traversed by single magnetic flux sheets is very large if the flux sheets carry dark matter. Thus genomes would arrange to larger structures which could relate directly to the body scale coherence of biological activities.

  • Super-genome would be formed by flux sheets containing genomes associated with single organ or even organism and arrange like pages of book with lines of text at each paged formed by the sequences of genomes.

  • For hyper-genome lines of text would consist of super-genomes of different organisms, even those belonging to different species. Each great leap in the evolution at the level of individual would bring in a new level of dark matter hierarchy with larger Planck constant and scaled up characteristic quantum time scale relating directly to the time scale of planned action and memory. The explosive evolution of hypergenome would distinguish us from our cousins in jungle whose genetic evolution has been restricted to that of genome and super-genome. The emergence of language would have launched our cultural evolution.

For more details see the chapters of (say) TGD and EEG.

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