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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Number of Chromosomes does not Equate to Awesomeness

So, I just came across this thing above on facebook and I just felt like commenting on one thing it says: "Human beings have 46 chromosomes, 2 less than the common potato."

Yes it is true that potatoes usually (but not always) have 48 chromosomes, but what is the point of this statement?  It seems to be using this statement among others in an attempt to make our being human seem insignificant in the vast scheme of things.

This facebook post implies the following:

Human beings have less chromosomes than potatoes and are therefore less genetically complex and less important than potatoes.

This however is completely absurd and completely false!

Let's look at another example:  a carp has 104 chromosomes, but is a carp really more than twice as capable or twice as important as a human?

Actually chromosome numbers vary extensively from species to species.  The Adders-tongue (a type of fern) has the highest number of chromosomes of any known life form at 1440 (see wikipedia article).

The number of chromosomes is not a reflection of the genetic complexity of a species.  As far as DNA goes it's about quality not quantity.  Just as the computers of 1969 might have been the biggest baddest computers of all, a cheep cellphone of today has several thousands times the computing ability.

Yeah, it just kind of bugs me when people appeal to science to draw illogical conclusions.


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