Human Genome



Surprise, surprise: we don’t know everything about the human genome just yet. A five-year project called ENCODE, for “Encyclopedia of DNA Elements,” found that about 80 percent of the human genome is…



Interesting article from Alasdair Wilkins on io9.com: The evidence has been mounting for years that early humans and Neanderthals interbred, but now it’s pretty much a certainty. Part of the X chromosome…


From the recent March/April issue of Archaeology. Zach Zorich writes: If Neanderthals ever walk the earth again, the primordial ooze from which they will rise is an emulsion of oil, water, and…


Ozzy Osbourne

Silly scientists, Ozzy’s still alive because he’s a werewolf. We’ve known this since the ’80s. Elizabeth Scott writes on Sky News:

Scientists are to map Ozzy Osbourne’s genetic code in a bid to find out how he is still alive after decades of drug and alcohol abuse.

The former Black Sabbath frontman is only one of a few people in the world to have his full genome analysed. It is hoped the results from the £27,000 test, which takes three months, will provide information on how drugs are absorbed in the body.

Ozzy, 61, has lived a life that would presumably kill any ordinary person. Even the singer himself cannot understand how he has survived this long, recently describing himself as a “medical miracle” after going on a “bender” for “40 years.”


Frank Ryan writes in New Scientist:

When, in 2001, the human genome was sequenced for the first time, we were confronted by several surprises. One was the sheer lack of genes: where we had anticipated perhaps 100,000 there were actually as few as 20,000. A bigger surprise came from analysis of the genetic sequences, which revealed that these genes made up a mere 1.5 per cent of the genome.

This is dwarfed by DNA deriving from viruses, which amounts to roughly 9 per cent.On top of that, huge chunks of the genome are made up of mysterious virus-like entities called retrotransposons, pieces of selfish DNA that appear to serve no function other than to make copies of themselves. These account for no less than 34 per cent of our genome.

All in all, the virus-like components of the human genome amount to almost half of our DNA. This would once have been dismissed as mere “junk DNA”, but we now know that some of it plays a critical role in our biology. As to the origins and function of the rest, we simply do not know…