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This Picture Has Creationists Terrified

Science & Tech  (tags: ancient, archaeology, DNA, discovery, humans, investigation, research, science, scientists, study )

- 1714 days ago -
And no wonder: It's the most powerful evidence for evolution that you can imagine.


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Kit B (276)
Tuesday February 4, 2014, 11:22 am
Photo: Side-by-side comparison of the chromosomes of humans, chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans (from left to right for each chromosome) From JJ Yunis, O Prakash, "The origin of man: a chromosomal pictorial legacy," Science, March 19 1982. Reprinted with permission from AAAS.

**(See more photos at Site)

This evening, Bill Nye the Science Guy will debate creationist leader Ken Ham at the Creation Museum in Kentucky. Tickets to the event sold out in just two minutes, according to the museum (though you will be able to stream the debate live here). So how will Nye fare in this lion's den? The evidence for evolution is overwhelming, but debating it successfully against a creationist armed with "facts" of his own is another matter. It's about style as much as substance, and Nye, an entertainer, may fare better than an average scientist in this regard.

We don't know how Nye will argue his case. But if you want to clinch the argument for evolution with one compelling piece of evidence—and with one single image—you (and Nye) probably want to choose the one above. Here's why.

According to many experts, including famed evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, the most powerful evidence of evolution lies in the genetic code. Simply put, evolution predicts that organisms that are more closely related to one another will have more of their DNA in common. We can now sequence the genomes of different species and prove that this is indeed the case. Thus, humans share more DNA with chimpanzees than with gorillas, more DNA with gorillas than with rhesus monkeys, and so on.

When it comes to DNA, comparing the chromosomes of humans with those of closely related ape species provides particularly stunning evidence of evolution. That brings us to the image above, which was originally published in a landmark paper in the journal Science in 1982. What you are looking at are highly magnified photographs of the chromosomes of humans, chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans, aligned in that order for each chromosome.

Displayed in this way, the most striking thing about the four genomes is how remarkably similar they are; in the parlance of the Science paper, they show "extensive homology." But they're not perfectly similar. Humans have 23 chromosome pairs in each of their cells (only one member of each pair is shown above). The other three apes, by contrast, have 24 chromosome pairs. So if we're really close cousins, evolution has a puzzle to explain: How did we end up with one fewer chromosome pair than they have?

As it turns out, modern genetic science has answered that question flawlessly. In the image above, notice chromosome 2. You'll see that in chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans, there are actually two smaller chromosomes here (the Science paper called them 2p and 2q), but in humans there is just one:

And maybe you can already see where this is going: That's because the ancestral equivalents of chromosomes 2p and 2q fused together over the course of evolution and became human chromosome 2. In other words, this is sort of the genetic version of the missing link.

How do we know that this fusion occurred? The proof is written, indelibly, in the genetic material itself.

Chromosomes have multiple different regions, including two "telomeres," structures at the end of each chromosome that contain repetitive DNA and serve as a protective "cap," and one centromere, a region that binds together chromosome pairs during cell division. So if the ancestral equivalents of chromosomes 2p and 2q fused together, end to end, to become human chromosome 2, then there should be genetic proof of this evolutionary event. More specifically, that chromosome should be a bit odd: It should have telomere DNA in its middle as well as on its ends, and two centromeres (or at least, their genetic remnants), rather than one. Here's a highly simplified visualization of this fusion process, courtesy of Brown University biologist Kenneth Miller:

So does human chromosome 2 have the telltale DNA evidence of a fusion event? Yes, it does.

The authors of the 1982 Science paper had no hesitancy in declaring that "the telomeric fusion of chromosomes 2p and 2q accounts for the reduction of the 24 pairs of chromosomes of the great apes to 23 in modern man." But they could not confirm this with the high-powered techniques of modern genetics.

In a 2005 study published in Nature, however, the "precise fusion site" was located on human chromosome 2. The paper noted the presence of "multiple subtelomeric duplications" in this location (i.e., the expected telomere DNA) and also the vestiges of a second centromere on the chromosome that has since been "inactivated" (represented by the orange region above). In a 2012 study, meanwhile, an international team of scientists published a more detailed evolutionary account of how modern-day versions of human, chimpanzee, and gorilla chromosomes attained their current form. (For an easy-to-understand explanation of what they found, see here.)

In other words, the genetic evidence is precisely what you would expect to see if evolution is true. And that speaks volumes about the power of the theory to explain what we actually observe in the natural world.

"Evolution makes testable predictions," observes Brown's Miller, who has been a leading defender of evolution, and whose testimony about chromosome 2 played a prominent role in the 2005 Dover, Pennsylvania, trial over the legality of teaching "intelligent design" in public schools. When it comes to chromosomes, Miller explains, the prediction of evolution is that if we have 46 chromosomes and our closest cousins have 48, then "somewhere in our genome should be a chromosome formed by a recent fusion, and that chromosome should have telomere DNA, and it should have two centromeres. That is a prediction made by evolution, and bingo, you look and there it is."

(You Tube video at Site)

Because the evidence about human chromosome 2 and its evolutionary origins is so striking, it has naturally become a major target for attempted creationist refutations. "People are so bothered by this," remarks Miller.

Indeed, in a journal published by Answers in Genesis, Ken Ham's organization, there's a lengthy and wonky attempted rebuttal by a creationist geneticist named Jeffrey Tomkins. Tomkins naturally finds all kinds of supposed problems with the genetic evidence; perhaps his biggest claim is that at the alleged site on human chromosome 2 where the fusion occurred, there's actually a functioning gene, rather than the remnants of fused telomeres. "The alleged fusion site is not a degenerate fusion sequence but is and, since creation, has been a functional feature in an important gene," Tomkins writes at another creationist site, the Institute for Creation Research.

But that's just wrong, according to Miller. The fusion site is "more than 1,300 bases away from the gene," he says, based on a review of major gene databanks. "These increasingly desperate efforts to 'debunk' the chromosome 2 story have failed before, and they've failed this time, too," Miller concludes. "Once again, we can see that the story of human evolution is written not only in the language of bones and fossils, but in the far more eloquent script of the human genome."

By: Chris Mooney | Correspondent | Mother Jones Magazine |

Chris Mooney is a science and political journalist, podcaster, and the host of Climate Desk Live. He is the author of four books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science.

Please do see pictures and video at Site

David C (25)
Tuesday February 4, 2014, 11:30 am
> the most powerful evidence for evolution
- methinks anyone with IQ > about 80 no longer requires more evidence; and creationists are probably not going to change their beLIEf regardless of any amount of evidence

What's the difference between a hypothesis or assumption and a belief ? ....
The willingness to change it in the face of contradicting evidence.


David C (108)
Tuesday February 4, 2014, 12:36 pm

Terry King (113)
Tuesday February 4, 2014, 2:23 pm
Unfortunately, evidence has little to do with the belief systems of the "true believers of the imaginary friend!"

Kay H (0)
Tuesday February 4, 2014, 3:40 pm
Creationists are not capable of critical thinking, therefore facts, no matter how clear, can't penetrate the carapace of ignorance that shields them from reality.

Yvonne White (229)
Tuesday February 4, 2014, 3:42 pm
Creationists aren't afraid of science - it is beyond them, so they simply Ignore it. It's just another Foreign Language that they are deaf to. They can't read it or write it - "Once again, we can see that the story of human evolution is written not only in the language of bones and fossils, but in the far more eloquent script of the human genome."

Yvonne White (229)
Tuesday February 4, 2014, 3:44 pm
I wonder if science could prove Creationists are devolving into "Homophobic Erectus"????? ;)

Justin Vale (13)
Tuesday February 4, 2014, 4:22 pm
that's all linear thinking. but existence in non linear. whoever god is he apparently has the capabilities to control nature at the sub atomic level. the things attributed to him can only be done by someone who plays with quarks. turning sticks into snake, water from a rock and whatever all speaks towards manipulation in the sub atomic world. and if that's the case then everything we see or believe we see can be fake. the light we think is 15 billion years old could be a second old. the decay in atomic particles could all be staged.
hell no. there's no harm in believing. and i think it's a lot better too. because if he is there then you're screwed and i'm not. but if he isn't we both screwed. no harm, no foul.

Angela J (61)
Tuesday February 4, 2014, 4:52 pm

Virgene L (53)
Tuesday February 4, 2014, 5:07 pm
Sorry Kit, we scientists who believe in creation do not necessarily exclude evolution. What a grand and eloquent design to allow for adaptation!! Call us creative/evolutionists!! We also don't believe the Earth was created in 6 days (well Earth days I mean). We define day as the time it takes Earth to make one revolution. Who knows how long God's days are. She is of the universe.

Robert B (60)
Tuesday February 4, 2014, 5:59 pm
Justin Vale says: "hell no. there's no harm in believing. and i think it's a lot better too. because if he is there then you're screwed and i'm not. but if he isn't we both screwed. no harm, no foul." Really?! Why would rational thinking people be "screwed if there is a god and if not we're both screwed? Do you really think a god would jerk us all around like that? We were born with brains and we have an obligation to think our way out of the paper bag of ignorance. The only people screwed are those that believe in fairy tales and reject reality.

Terry King (113)
Tuesday February 4, 2014, 6:08 pm
I'm curious... What are our scientific credentials? I don't see anything on your page.

Lois Jordan (63)
Tuesday February 4, 2014, 6:16 pm
My son came in earlier to ask if I was watching the Nye-Ham debate. Guess I'll catch it later....but my son was excited about watching (he's26). So, I told him to tell me all about it later, then I'd watch. I am so happy that our young adults are taking an interest in this!
I will argue on the side FOR creationism if I can say that aliens put us here and have been our overlords for eons. THAT usually gets a conversation!
In my opinion, there is absolutely nothing to debate about scientific facts. Sure would be nice if this would make a whole bunch of idiots shut up....

JL A (281)
Tuesday February 4, 2014, 7:15 pm
thanks for the refresher on this study and related issues Kit!

DaleLovesOttawa O (198)
Tuesday February 4, 2014, 7:54 pm
Fascinating and intriguing.

Some religious people do not exclude evolution, some of them will say that God created evolution and then they will go and do battle with some of the more religious right wing factions who say that the planet is only 6,000 years old or whatever - quite the cat fight that can be for some people.


Kit B (276)
Tuesday February 4, 2014, 8:29 pm

I thought this was appropriate as tonight is the debate.

Michael A (28)
Tuesday February 4, 2014, 8:50 pm
Love this!

Ben O (140)
Wednesday February 5, 2014, 8:15 am
Reason and Science; -Thanks very much!

. (0)
Wednesday February 5, 2014, 10:05 am

Kit B (276)
Wednesday February 5, 2014, 10:06 am

Some years ago I was challenged to thoroughly explore the "scientific creationist" point of view and a documentary was suggested. That documentary was soon after available on one of the many Christian stations here. I watched it in it's entirety. Two of the scientist I was familiar with, or should say familiar with their work. The documentary if it should be called that was, Darwin's Dilemma". It is very long and intentionally complicated in an effort to bring the viewer into the illogical thinking of combining science with a belief system. Can a scientist also be religious? Sure as long as that person knows how to compartmentalize and separate the facts of one with fragile and non fact based belief system.

Robert B (60)
Wednesday February 5, 2014, 10:10 am
Time is an illusion. It only appears to exist because of the formation of physical matter and it's movement in relation to the speed of other moving physical matter. There is no time on the Quantum level. 3 dimensional matter formed from the Quantum field. The Quantum field exists because it is impossible for there to be nothing. Intelligence evolved from this Quantum field. The Quantum field is the "operating system" or if you want to name it God, feel free. The universe powered by the Quantum field has always been and will always be in one form or another. To argue with primitive religious concepts and books of myths is a waste of "time". .Peace.

Roger G (148)
Wednesday February 5, 2014, 12:54 pm
noted, thanks

TsalagiForHim Forever (2)
Wednesday February 5, 2014, 1:36 pm
1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.

8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.

10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.

11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.

12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.

14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.

16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.

17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,

18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.

19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.

23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.

25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

I think it is sad that people actually want to believe everything started from nothing, when you have such a loving God, who sent His son so that we have everlasting life...Now if you want to believe you came from monkeys or thin air or whatever then that is fine, but I know who I am in Christ and where I came from and that I am loved and blessed by a living God who created all..

2.Romans 14:11
For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

Wednesday February 5, 2014, 2:07 pm
Lol, there are a lot of people here who are in for a big surprise, someday.

divergent revolution (309)
Wednesday February 5, 2014, 2:22 pm
about time
I am so tired of asking bible thumpers,"if adam and eve, were the first humans,and they had 2 sons, where
did they find their wives?"
thanks Kit

Kit B (276)
Wednesday February 5, 2014, 2:38 pm

Why do Adam and Eve have belly buttons? Every painting shows them. I realize that these people think that proselytizing is a duty but they sure are boring.

Nelson Baker (0)
Wednesday February 5, 2014, 5:34 pm
Interesting. Thank you.

Craig Pittman (52)
Thursday February 6, 2014, 4:54 am
I remember hearing, as a child, a creationist declare how disgusting and low it was to think that we had evolved from an animal - an ape but as a teen when reading the bible it occurred to me that the other option was that we are the product of an incestuous relationship between Eve and her sons. Genetically that would not have worked out all that well. Now days the major difference, in my view, between evolutionists and creationists is that latter don't go door to door and around the world trying to extol their belief system. Great reading and super comments here. Thanks Kit.

. (0)
Thursday February 6, 2014, 6:20 am
I think it's wonderful that the archaeologists of Tel Aviv University have discovered evidence that camels weren't introduced to the area until long after the time of depiction in the Bible. Link to story:

Can we all now please move on and take it as fact that the Bible is an ideological, theological and philosophical piece of literature - not scientific proof of anything. What is so wrong with admitting that humankind as progressed intellectually through literature?!

Bob P (394)
Thursday February 6, 2014, 8:00 am
Thanks Kit

Theodore Shayne (56)
Thursday February 6, 2014, 9:36 am

Bryan S (105)
Thursday February 6, 2014, 10:32 am
As others have said, this evidence won't sway people who believe the Earth is 6,000 years old and other equally absurd dogma.

I do think someone can believe in the findings of science and still have questions or other beliefs about the ultimate nature of consiousness and reality. And more and more of what may seem mystical or unexplainable will likely be explainable in scientific terms. One thing for sure, it's not a matter of either science or religious stories that have been invented to control and comfort through the ages.

Mitchell D (86)
Thursday February 6, 2014, 1:56 pm
I am sorry that I came to this so late, as so many people will probably not get to see it, but I have posted comments about Ham before.
He was interviewed on ABC's "Nightline," some years ago, and when asked what moved him to found the Creation Museum, he said that he was moved to do so "When I saw that the evidence for Evolution was so overwhelming, I knew I had to do something," or something very much like that. the phrase "evidence becoming overwhelming," I am certain, is a direct quote.
As I have said before: Of course, when you see the EVIDENCE for something you do noyt believe in, the only thing to do is dig your head still deeper into the sand!!

Michael A (28)
Friday February 7, 2014, 12:55 am
love it!

Michela M (3964)
Friday February 7, 2014, 9:13 am

Michela M (3964)
Friday February 7, 2014, 9:20 am

I know that the similarity between Man and other Primates is as follows:
Orang Utan 97% DNA similarity sharing to Man;
Chimpanzee 98% " " " ;
Bonobo 98.7% " " " .

Sherri G (128)
Friday February 7, 2014, 9:14 pm
If we keep giving Creationists with scientific facts maybe they will have to take their head out of the sand. Noted TY Kit.

Caitlin Stewart (0)
Saturday February 8, 2014, 4:30 am
Great post!

Monday February 10, 2014, 4:05 pm
We did not evolve from the animals, but rather were placed a little bit higher in the scale of life. We were placed in a position of guardianship over them, because we were supposed to be smarter. However, since so many people in the world don’t act as responsible as the animals that they are supposed to be in charge of, I would say that the animals are certainly smarter than us humans! You never see an animal doing all of the stupid, insane, ridiculous stuff that people do! Or destroying the earth their home, or doing drugs, etc, etc, etc, AD infinitum!

Giana P (398)
Monday February 17, 2014, 12:53 am
We do not need any more evidence of evolution, but now the really intelligent intellectual philosophical religious are debating on a different level, they accept evolution but keep stating that God created evolution, that there must be intelligent design, a higher being who created it. I cannot argue with that, you either believe that or you believe in the great bang, like I do, just a chance occurence.
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