Chimp and human

Ian A. York iayork at
Sun Nov 26 10:52:40 EST 2000

>On 26 Nov 2000, Ranga Uday Kumar
>> What does the statement that chimp genome is 98% identical to that of
>> humans? Does this also mean that the genetic variation among different
>> human races will be less than 2%?

In article <Pine.SGI.3.96.1001126134838.12120798A-100000 at>,
Michael Witty  <mw132 at> wrote:
>Dear Ranga, I think the figure 98% is popular with politically correct
>people who want to make a point.  Firstly because the whole genomes have

In fact, you're quite wrong.  Whole genomes can and have been compared, by
looking at the kinetics of renaturing of thermally denatured DNA, and this
has been done for a number of species including chimps and humans, in such
papers as Thermal stability of human DNA and chimpanzee DNA
heteroduplexes. Science 1976 Nov 19;194(4267):846-8 Deininger PL, Schmid
CW.  It's been a little while since I looked at this paper, but as I
recall the number was more like 98.5% similarity, a ballpark that has been
amply confirmed by sequencing.  

I don't know why you dragged "political correctness" into a simple
scientific question, but it certainly makes a point about people who use
the term, if not about the so-called politically correct themselves.

As for the question about variation between "different human races", it's
entirely meaningless. Certainly the variation between different humans is
far, far less than 2%; fractions of a percent.  The person who has done
the most work on this is Cavalli-Sforza, and if you're interested in the
question you should spend some time reviewing his papers.

    Ian York   (iayork at  <>
    "-but as he was a York, I am rather inclined to suppose him a
     very respectable Man." -Jane Austen, The History of England

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