[Taxacom] human-specific loss of regulatory DNA

Kenneth Kinman kennethkinman at webtv.net
Tue Mar 15 20:47:21 CDT 2011

Dear All,
      My impression is that this situation is more complicated than is
being expressed in this recent paper (even more so than in the press,
which usually tends to be even more simplistic).     
       The lack of such spines could be due to two different events: (1)
separate spine loss in various great apes due to similar parallel
pressures to promote more prolonged sexual intercourse (although we must
be aware that other factors may be involved in the presence of penile
spines); or even (2) loss of penile spines in the common ancestor of
great apes, and a reversal resulting in the redevelopment of penile
spines in chimpanzees (for whatever reason).      
      Anyway, I would definitely encourage John to submit his response
to Nature.  I have cricitized him for a possible failure to distinguish
between synapomorphies and plesiomorphies, but the authors of this
recent paper could also need such a warning as well.  Homoplasy can jump
up and bite you in the behind when you least expect it.  The authors of
this recent Nature paper could be overly influenced by the assumption
that chimps and hominids are definitely sister groups, and thus even
more susceptible to overlooking the problem of synapomorphy vs.
plesiomorphy in great ape phylogeny.      
            -------Ken Kinman   

Sergio Vargas wrote: 
     I think they did compared compared against orangutans in at least
two cases of human specific deletions... is in the supplementary
materials, and I'm not 100% sure but I think the analysis points to a
deletion event in humans.

More information about the Taxacom mailing list