Reconstructing human history from genome Open Classroom New challenges of biology: from Neanderthals to the Prestige

Reconstructing human history from genome

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Jaume Bertranpetit


  1. Jaume Bertranpetit

    Doctor en Ciencias Biológicas por la Universidad de Barcelona. Es catedrático de Antropología en las Universidades de Barcelona y Pompeu Fabra. En esa universidad, ha sido decano de la Facultad de Ciencias de la Salud y de la Vida; Vicerrector de Política Científica y Director del programa de doctorado. Asímismo ha sido director of the International PhD Program on Basic Biomedical Research y Director-Coordinador del Centro Nacional de Genotipado (CeGen). Ha colaborado en numerosas publicaciones y revistas científicas. Desarrolla una importante labor docente, entre la que se puede destacar la dirección de numerosas tesis doctorales, y su participación en importantes congresos.

The knowledge on our genome is discovering the most profound intimacies of ourselves: our biological and genetical basis is being know with more detail each day. But the study of the genome provides us with much more. This way, for example, when comparing our genome with other species (e.g., the chimpanzee), we have been struck by their similarities: we only posses 1% of differences. And the similarity is even more surprising when compared to other, more distant, species. The study of the genome allows us to reconstruct the evolutionary process in regards to the species that are closer to ours, proving to be a powerful tool to reconstruct the past.

Nevertheless, these results pose new questions; among them, the question about what makes us human and how in our genes we try to identify our evolutionary singularity. Without doubt what makes us human must be found in the differences we observe in our genome in comparison to other species, and these will lie at the basis of the formation of the human specific traits, including language and cerebral complexity.

The comparison of genomes can also be done within our own species providing us with the keys to reconstruct our species' evolutionary history and providing us with the basis to reconstruct the proliferation of our ancestors in Earth: genetics in the aid of reconstructing the great travel of the first humans. The knowledge of the human genome sequence opens a new era of comprehension of the genetical diversity within our species, between the different human populations and even between individuals.